Howling into the night, the two cars stayed side-by-side. The Spyder and Steven's beast both stayed adjacent each other, almost like they weren't moving at all. If it wasn't for the spinning tires, the smoke trails left behind them, and the continuous, growing roar of their engines, they would have look parked.
Steven decided to enjoy this with his foot hammered against the pedal. The air smelled fresher than ever before. The blackness looked brighter than even his own headlights, his were senses peaked, keen on everything. His heart felt like it would burst out of his chest with excitement. He wasn't sure if that was the Raptor that flowed through him or pure adrenalin. He didn't really care at this point. He was free. A lonely, empty road with just him, his powerful 700 horsepower mongrel, and the ghost-of-coolness-past. Life would never get better than this - never.
They both were coming up on the tread marks when Steven pressed the gas more, even though the accelerator wouldn't go down further and the speedometer's red needle was well past 140. That was when The Spyder edged past the Regal, gently gliding ahead. Steven frowned as he watched J.D run over the marks a car-length in front of him.
The two both relieved the gas pedals and slowed their monstrous machines to a crawl, each parking at opposite sides of the road. When Steven was sure they were stopped, Steven shut off the engine of his car slowly and sighed. He caressed the steering wheel with that same frown. He said to himself, "Well… I tried, dad."
James was already out of his car, leaning against it with his arms folded. A cigarette dangled out of his mouth as he waited on Steven.
Nodding, Steven got out of his car with keys in hand. He stretched, closed the door, and walked towards the Spyder like a proud man to the gallows. He jumped his keys in his hand, trying to put on a brave smile.
James just gave him a cocked eyebrow. "A man about to lose his ride shouldn't be smiling."
Steven stopped smiling. He spun his keys on his finger by the ring and presented them to James. "It was a good race."
James looked at the keys with a slight smile and a nod of his head, letting out a small laugh. "Yeah. Yeah, it was." He then looked away from the defeated mechanic.
"What?" Steven asked, "You don't want my Franken-Buick anymore?"
James chuckled, looking back at Steven with a long drag off his cigarette. "Nah, man. Keep it. Nobody's given me a good race like that in a long time. I can just look at that thing and tell a lot-o-love went into that… monstrosity."
Steven looked back at his Regal. He smiled. "Yeah, it did."
James shrugged and let out a long exhale of smoke. It looked like fog escaping his mouth. "So keep it."
"Yeah, but I can't go without givin' you sometin'."
"You gave me a good race, that's more than I can say for most."
"Come on, let me give you sometin'. Ya won the race."
Chuckling a bit, James gave Steven a twice-over glance. "Man, if you really gotta."
"I do. Ya won. Ya needin' sometin'."
Steven thought about what he could give James as he walked back to his car, opening the driver side door. He looked around the front seat and saw nothing. Maybe he had something in the trunk? Nothing the slick rebel would find cool enough. That was when he saw it. The jewel case with the recordable CD in it: The Hendrix Experience. Jimmy Dean plus Jimi Hendrix, that equals immeasurable amounts of coolness.
He grabbed it and walked back over to the Spyder. He handed it over to James, saying, "Here. Best guitarist that ever lived."
J.D took the CD and looked it over. "I think somebody put your record through the dryer."
Steven laughed. "No, no. it's a CD. A compact disc."
"It is that," James said, still looking the thing over; "How am I suppose to play the thing?"
Steven looked at the Spyder and saw the tape deck. "Oh yeah. Forgot."
Laughing, the young legendary rebel just tossed the CD into the passenger side, saying, "I'll figure it out." He then extended his hand, saying, "Thanks…" asking silently for a name.
"Steven," Steven said, shaking his hand.
"Steven. Thanks for the ride."
"Same here, James, same here."
"J.D." James corrected. Breaking the grip he turned with a tug on his jacket, and jumped back in his car.
Once again, Steven gave the convertible a wide berth. He began walking back to his car when he heard the Spyder roar out with the ignition kicking-over, Purple Haze blaring from the radio. Steven grinned so wide his cheeks hurt, and his heart fluttered seeing Little Bastard rock-out to the sweet rhythms of Hendrix. The last thing he saw was James give him a two-fingered farewell wave. Steven waved goodbye himself, much like Sang-Po in the first billboard he had seen.
As the classic Porsche disappeared into the night, the young mechanic got into his car, and massaged the steering wheel with that same wide grin. He turned the keys in the column and heard his engine turn on, roaring to life with more vibrant strength than ever before. If he had heard his engine start nearly an hour previously this night, it would have sounded much like it had every other time - but this time - this time it sounded like a proud lion waking up, ready for a new day dawning. Never in his life had Steven felt so comfortable behind the dash, ready for whatever else was down the road.
Looking out the windshield, Steven could see the sun starting to rise. The darkness giving way to a deep, naval-blue sky, silhouettes of the Colorado mountains around his car punched into the atmosphere like jagged, black spearheads. Wishing he had bought two Raptors, he kicked his Regal into 1st gear and began to slowly roll back onto the road, not stopping until he reached Limon.
When he got there he relaxed in a nice cabin-like hotel called The Roger Doger Suites. Mostly a wooden decorated lodge that looked fully dressed for mountain hunters. Deer heads on the wall, banisters made of cheaply cut pine and oak, pictures of snow-topped peaks with towering forests of tall pines, and in classic fashion, bearskin rugs.
For the rest of his trip, Steven kept thinking about Sang-Po's Petroleum. Not just J.D (although he was at the forefront) but also the dragon truck driver, the biker gang of wolves, the evil black Dodge, and of course, the drag race he had with James Dean. Even when he bought the Barracuda, the events kept playing through his head, making him laugh, wondering how the Spyder would fair against his new Barracuda, especially when he got it finished. He paid a driver and rented a truck to transport the fair Barracuda home to Texas. Steven got his car and the Barracuda back safely. Not once did he see one of the billboards for Sang-Po's. He even drove back the same way, and against the wishes of the trucker, took the same hazardous Cavernous Ditch Road - nothing. Not even a Comic-Sans sign.
First thing Steven did when he got home; besides making sure the 'Cuda was parked in his large, ten car garage along with his Royal, was sit down in his favorite chair in the den, prop up his feet, crank his system with some Doors, (Riders On The Storm seemed very appropriate.) and relax.
Sitting there, safe at home, Steven looked up at his lever-action, Model 1889 shotgun. He smiled. He would find Sang-Pos again, someday. Next time he would be prepared. He would drive up in the improved '73 hemi 'Cuda and buy another Raptor with his shotgun on his back. He imagined Sang would have something to say, but he would show him his permit to carry it, and the old, fuel-attending Chinaman probably wouldn't care. Next time he'd greet the dragon trucker with a smile and swap some stories, hoping he would stay awhile. Next time he would banter and argue with the wolves about who was better at being cool. Arnold or James? (Really, that wasn't a question with Steven.) Maybe he'd even see if he couldn't get a shot in on that dusty black Dodge. James would be back, too, and Steven would be ready. He'd beat the Little Bastard and then… Steven didn't know what then. Honestly, where does one go in life once you've beaten James Dean in a drag race?
Thinking about all this, Steven closed his eyes and murmured to himself, "All the interesting people you meet," as Jim Morrison's pipes ushered the end of the song.
(A/N: And now, dear reader, that you have reached the end of this story, I can finally tell you what I have been dying to tell you since chapter 1. Even though more is planned, these first seven chapters are dedicated to my father-in-law. A good man who has an unmatched loved for vehicles, music, and movies. A lot of Steven's characteristics matches his, except Steven is a lot younger. My father-in-law is actually more of a father to me than my own father ever was. This is just my own, personal way of thanking him for all the wisdom he has shared, and continues to share with me. I hope that you, as well, enjoyed the story, and, as always and forever, reviews are more than welcome!)