The Last Ride
Written by: Zeronova
Posted on: 1-22-2007

Summary: Much like Internal Battlefield, this is just a small, emotional, metaphorical piece about moving on. I like it, and I wrote it from my own heart, so enjoy. If you do read it, please leave a review in the end. Thanks, and enjoy.


There are some of those fine days that one would have to think to themselves "God ordained this to be a good day". You know, the types where so much happens, so many lives change, or something magnanimous happens, and the world is left shaken. They can be historical, from the starting of a war, formation of countries, marriages of the royalty, death of a king, et. al. Or, they could be intrinsic and small glories, like a child being born, or a close one triumphing in their sporting event. You know, those achievements that seem to be days that won't be forgotten.

Then, there are those days that you know will resound, forever, to you. Like a bell tolled, and only you could hear it. The type of day you knew, inside of you, that something is changing, something changed, I am on something. No one would know, or even care, but to you, something was hit. That sort of day, those are the things that help define the truth of the person that stands before them. One of those days was about to rise. A good day, as any just Socratic rhetoric would understand, to be just and of virtue, not of harm, but for the dole of justice.

One last ride.

The type of day dawned. He had been there for hours before, taking it in. Even once, when the darkness was so thick, he had to use that lit cigarette and Zippo to lead him, he walked it. It was so familiar, so homely. Something was so right about it all, and his smile was only coupled with his grief. Something so beautiful, that he loved so much, was going to be away from him for so long. Walking out on that road, around the girders and tire-fences, taking the rubber-burned edges under his soles and the tight-turns looking like large alleys when walking, instead of speeding, he only thought of how it could be so beautiful.

It was the type of beauty no one saw unless they knew it was there. The kind of beauty that left everything to the imagination, and took someone in love to see. Was it ugly? Sure, definitely could have been. Rust on the gates, some of the lamps were broken and needed new bulbs, some of the advertisements on the sides of the track were faded, and had lost their sponsorship, but stood because no one bothered to take down the large PIRELLI, but no, it was gorgeous. It showed age, it showed love, it showed lust, it showed history and the real meaning of those who had made love to those curves.

His cigarette died, and he threw it on the ground. But, he stopped, and looked down, watching the butt in the dark. No, he thought, don't defile it like that. He stooped down, picking up the butt, and threw it over the fence, into the dirt. Not on his lady, no, no trash for her. Not on her last run with him. But, he lit another cigarette, walking with it and the Zippo. His hand ran along the cement side-skirts, where he had zoomed past, not being able to make out the small cracks in the old blockades, or the small bits of debris on the side of the track where a bumper or a tire had blown. Even a little bit of history had been tucked into the chain-link fence where crowds of people used to stand,a n old flier for a race that happened many months ago. He picked it up, read it with a smile, then let the wind pick it out of his hand and float off into the distance.

Making his way around the couple miles it took to walk the lonely maze, he came back to the start. He could see that line in the distance, and closed it slowly, as he walked. The darkness was creeping away, the bitter blackness that had held him strangled, holding to the nostalgia and chivalry, was weaning. A small snippet of light tinted the horizon, ebbing above like a child's head out of its cradle. Something hit him, something he never thought of. Of all the times he sped past that line, he had done it on the force of another, the drive of his emotions between his hands, never on his own two feet.

He sprinted.

Dropped his cigarette, and just started running. It must have been at least half-a-mile, but he kept running. Not to say he was out of shape, but he wasn't necessarily a star athlete. But, he didn't stop, and had any athletes been with him, he would have beat them. That checker-board designed line passed under his feet, slower than any time he had ever had it go under him, but more real than any time he had ever taken it over. Hurdling on his knees, choking on his own wear, cursing the smokes, he smiled a little, wiping spittle from his lip and sweat from his brow.

Yeah, that felt good. Now, let's do something right, one more time. It's the kind of day.

Looking off into that distance, he saw that day dawning. It was that type of day, the day where something was going to happen, something was changing. Not the sun, though, oh no. Helios had his chariot roaring, and be damn if any fucker was gonna stop him. Everyone just had to deal with him, doing his thing, and it wasn't bad, neither. They just knew...all of our actions, our lives, proceed on, day-in, day-out, and all we have to do is take those days in stride, and nights in lunge, because we're not getting them back, or stopping them from coming.

But, he was going to at least be faster than Helios.

Dipping into the garage, he was slow. Walking to the back, where his backpack was, he opened it, taking out the clothes he was going to wear. The racing suit...the old one he had not had a use for lately. It still had all of those patches on it, the patches from when he was sponsored, when he mattered to those people and to this track. When the Midas on his breast meant he could afford that house, or when the big IBM on his leg meant that he was going to put a better engine in the car, or when taking the cup at the end meant he could make her smile. He zipped the fire-proof nomex suit up, then slipped on the helmet, strapping the chin and flipping down the visor. And, he heard what mattered.

Thump-thump-thump.

His own heartbeat was all that echoed at him in that helmet. His hot and hard breaths plastered against the faceplate, blasting in his eyes. His ears pounded with each rush of blood, and they took over him, being so sensitive to only his own being that it was easy to make everything he touched become one with him. He was now only a piece of something more. That something more...he rubbed his hand on it, walking around it. The sun was slowly invading the garage on the side of the raceway, and filtered in.

Bounding off of the old toolbox, it lit the room with he reflection. Every curve, every small detail, the lights on the front and the decals on the sides, all silhouetted and embossed with the gilding light. The curves were dark of the car, the tips lit in the way a wax job always tends to make the reflection look better than whatever is being played off of it.

When he looked at the car, it still held true.

He looked better in that reflection. He looked again like what he knew, a racer. A man who had purpose, job, life, conviction, reality. He knew what truth laid in his veins when he saw himself, in that helmet and suit. It was the sort of thing that brings memories and makes them real again, only to have someone snap their fingers and say "remember, they don't exist now?", and hurt even more. But, not today, oh no...not today. Today was one of those days, remember?

He put the car in neutral, then rolled it out of the garage. The bumper first tipped out into the young light, grazing the emblem on the front, then spurning off of the rims, flowing into the window, shooting off of the mirrors, illuminating the dashboard, and filling the entire majestic creature until every lithe curve of the machine was held in the basking.

He walked back around after it rolled out, slipping into the car. Slowly, he buckled the harness over his body, through his legs, feeling each pin click in his seat. Last time he wore that. He pulled the plug and put the ignition key in, then flipped the switch, watching the dials roar to life and seeing the R.P.M.s rev up. The wheel was shaking in anticipation, each thrust of the massive V8 engine sending the drive-shaft into a sputter. Looking at it, he slowly brought his gloved hands forward, wrestling the shaking wheel still. She was heavy in anticipation. She knew it, too...this was to be a day for her, as well as him.

With his heartbeat in his ears, his hands on her, moving as one, they were one.

Slowly, his hand moved to the shifter-knob. It too was shaking, and then calmed in his hard grip. Sighing, he smiled. She knew his touch so well. But, after this morning...who knew. She would know others. She would be under the tutelage of other drivers, pushed to her limits with others, and made to scream and feel everything new with others. But, she knew it too, which is why she grabbed at every piece of his strength, wanted all of what he could give her, for that last piece of perfection.

First gear. Burning Italian rubber. God, the feeling.

The car rushed out, fish-tailing out onto the track. His foot was heavy on the pedal, feeling the rush of her squealing in delight. Then, pulling back, he threw it into second, another rush as she dropped into gear. He knew her, so well. He would hand her over to another man, and he would drive her just as well, maybe better, but for now, they knew each other, for fault and for beauty, and accepted, indulged.

A turn up ahead in the road approached. He slowed down with a gentle tap of her fine tuned brakes, going to the outside of the turn, then cutting tight onto the inside of the apex of the curve. Dropping gear, accelerating, next gear, flooring out. Beauty. Only he knew it, for now. The car, the track, all of it.

He screamed a lap out, over the cracked checkerboard starting line. The empty stands stood edificial. People should have been there, screaming, wailing, loving every moment of it. They would normally be there, how they both, together, could make everyone they knew happy, understand it, and together, make all of their worries go away. Together, he and that past, they were proof. Proof that something physical, something real, can have intangible weight, heavier than God, and have a manifestation of the emotion they embodied.

Art was putting an emotion into an actual form. Where did that leave his emotions?

The daylight slowly broke over the hills in the distance. They splattered the signs with their radiating luminescence, blanketed every curve of the track, and smothered every visage of the darkness. Whatever imagination laid in the possibility of something existing where no one looked, was veiled. It was all out now, nothing there but the truth.

Speeding by, the man knew his walk meant something. When it was dark, he thought to himself, thought whether somewhere, where he couldn't see, stood something real, something he hadn't thought of. Maybe, somehow, someway, there was something for him, something he had not thought of, or something beyond his comprehension. The light now showed him. It was what he always knew, always saw. And, it was absolutely beautiful, but it also embodied what he had somewhere known forever: it couldn't last forever.

So, he hit the car harder. He made her push harder than he ever had. They passed the corners without down shifting, slipped the hairpins with the emergency brake whining. She wasn't moaning anymore, she was crying. But, he kept going. This was the truth, this was the reality. Caress me no longer, because you can't, and I'll give you nothing else. Learn to hate me, because after we're done here, it'll be done.

110 M.P.H. Too fast for the turn, but he did it anyways. His tires lost traction, his car started sliding perpendicular, gripping the wheel hard and trying to veer it back in. The back bumper smashed into the wall, but the car sputtered out, gaining traction, and rocketing ahead again. He hurt her, he could even see it hanging loose now, only by a few metal shards.

"Damn," he thought. Not about that he might have to pay for it, or that his skill might be downing, but he had done something that had a physical response. He could see now, for real, something he had done had made a mark on the one whom he was one with. As one, he made that happen, so as one, he too felt it. Something was breaking.

But, we break together.

The car moved forward faster, shifting gears, slowly waxing the cry back into a strength, a power. Maybe this is the last, the end of it all, but we should make it perfect. Faster, better, more than anything ever. Go, push, make it beautiful. Make it everything. Do it, now, please.

Forget tomorrow, and forget what may come when this sun sets, lighting the track and leaving nothing to the imagination. These well-worn curves and these burned pieces of asphalt, they will exist when we leave, and they did before us, but while we had them, they were special. How many others have had something amazing on them? Who knows, but for us...you and I, we know this place to be holy. Sanctimonious.

That's the glory of a just man. Thats the glory of it all. The man knew it. Something hit him, something he had known somewhere to be true a long time ago. To be a good man, it meant a lot. Not only here, on the track, riding the curves, cutting the lanes, but to be righteous. To be a just man, of virtue. And, where most believed their justice to exist was to help their friends and harm their enemies, there was no true just in that. A just man does not want to harm his enemies, for that makes him unjust, and neither should he help his friends if they are bad people. No...a just man is good, because the virtue of justice exists to serve that justice is the value of a man's worth when no one is looking, not to his friends or enemies, but to himself. And, no retribution is to be taken to the cause of justice when it is unjust to surreptitiously indulge in farce action.

I could do it, he thought. What lies after it, though? What does a just man know about a life without the standard he exercises his just? Any road after this one...was different. It wasn't the well-worn one, where he knew Turn 3 had a bump on the inside corner, so take ti wider, or the straight aways always meant a right turn at the peak. No, these new roads, they would be hard to navigate, maybe even pedestrian. The vehicle, that, too, would be different. It would be slow, it would be less. There wouldn't be that strength, that power, that passion, that unity. They wouldn't speed by, where the walls became a blur and the sky was just the dreams that swirled above him. Where everyone's faces blended into one because of how fast and beautiful it was. Because the feeling of moving so fast in such a short time, to be so prodigious, meant destruction.

End it on a high note, he might have thought. On the next straightway, just close your eyes. Drive, shift into sixth, keep going, and don't look. Just...go. Take her with you, both of you, together, where you learned to love each other, fitting. Perfectly romantic. They had lost the romance, though. They were fueled on last remnants in this lonely race. The car would mangle into the girder, every piece of metal warping and seeming to ensnare the barrier, his body would be impaled and severed in every direction. The gas-line would ignite, and the entire car would burn until someone found it in a few hours on the Laguna Seca Raceway. And, they would be together, in their moments of happiness.

But, that was selfish, for both of them. Where they both loved it...to be able to make her go that fast, for him to be able to show her how much she was capable of, they weren't destined, it seemed. And, how that hurt. Destiny has a weird way of making you believe it has it in store for you, and maybe it still did, somewhere down the line. But, for now...immediate destiny had some other roads, for both of them. Other drives, other cars.

The driver slowed her down, and then parked her, slowly. Then, without turning her off, he sat in the seat, letting the engine purr. Leaning over the wheel, he cried. The tears fell from his face into the front of the helmet, staining. His hot breath found him in his ears, and his heartbeat feathered his brain, thumping like it needed to get out. He still sat in the car, but there, crying, found himself alone in that helmet once more. Eventually, he turned her off, reluctant and sad, stepped out, and then ran his hand over her, examining.

He did bust the bumper pretty bad, but nothing a pit crew couldn't fix in a matter of minutes. Kneeling down, he kissed his hand and then placed the hand on the bumper.

"I'm sorry if I ever hurt you, I never meant to, I only wanted to be so perfect, in everything for us, that we could do the impossible. But, that perfect was the impossible, and this is what happened."

He was caught off-guard a moment later, seeing another man standing there. Smiling, he threw the keys to the younger man.

"You're the new sponsored driver? The car's an amazing piece of machinery, but don't ever treat her wrong, because she will show you what it is like to know how to move faster than anything around you, and the entire time, you'll know what God is."

"God?" the other man asked.

"God, because you know that's what it has got to be like when you die, because even coming back from the race, you know when you step out of the car, you're not going to feel anything better until you're on the track again, with her, or you're dead. It's God, and you better Goddamn well appreciate it."