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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #41

By Mark W. Meier

Part 41

Act IV

Windowed The Soul

Chapter Thirteen

Put him on the trailer

Send the loser home.

Your driver with your #88 racer was slotted into the spectator lane, while Boynton’s #13 was pit side. Both drivers spun their wheels to warm up the rubber. The track was reglued, and crews made last minute adjustments.

Boynton looked over at you standing in the pit, and again you were creeped out. The superior smile and dead look in his eyes brought a sheen of sweat to your forehead.

The beagle sidled up beside where you watched the preparations. “Your lawyer’s here, if you want to look over his draft of your new will.”

“Not now, Victor.” There was a race to run.

Too bad you were too cowardly to drive it yourself. Of course, it was probably your smartest decision in years. Sometimes chickenhearted choices actually were the wisest course of action. My job would have been much easier with you on the track, though. This dance with you was nearly over, and I was getting anxious for the endgame.

The body rose on Boynton’s car, cutting off your view of the judge. A crewman tweaked the brake calipers, another tuned the fuel mixture, and tire pressure was checked again. All optimum.

Similar changes happened on your car, and when everyone was satisfied, your driver edged up to the starting line. The pre-stage light illuminated on the Christmas Tree, and the driver inched forward until the stage light glowed.

Boynton went through the same process.

When both cars were ready the amber lights flared down the pole. Just before the green light came on both drivers slammed on the accelerator. As long as the green was on when the starting beam was crossed there was no disqualification.

Boynton’s RT read 0.003. Your driver hit 0.254. But reaction time, though useful in training, didn’t really mean anything, according to Wilson. The elapsed time, or ET, determined the winner.

The reading at sixty feet was impressive for Boynton. Two seconds even. Your car was more than a half-second behind. The gap opened wider and wider, so at the Big End your driver lost by an eternity.

Boynton’s run wasn’t a record breaker, but certainly very good with a time of 12.870. Your driver’s time wasn’t bad, but 14.266 wasn’t enough for your racer to advance.

Mr. Grin would be putting #88 on the trailer. I smiled.

When the two cars came back to the pits Boynton was told he’d be doing hot laps – heading right back to the track for another race.

Mr. Grin squinted in suspicion when the pit crew removed the old chute pack and installed another one. “He’s not even getting out to stretch his legs. How can a guy take that kind of abuse without a break? He looks nearly sixty.”

“He’s not exactly a wilting flower, Harley.” You gave a barking laugh. “Is it really that bad? I mean, it’s only a few seconds long.”

Mr. Grin explained that acceleration at the starting line can climb above four “Gs”, or four times the force of gravity. Though that’s a lateral acceleration instead of the vertical forces of fighter pilots in a banking turn, only a few seconds pass before the racers get eight “Gs” or more while decelerating. It’s hard on a body, and the speeds involved demand the same total concentration as combat pilots.

“Imagine getting punched in the gut, sir.” Your crew chief faked slugging you. “Then, when you’re struggling to get your breath back, someone else double-punches you in the kidneys.”

You nodded, finally getting a hint of what it was like. But you noticed Boynton still stared at you from his car. “Why does he keep watching me like that?”

The beagle glanced over Mr. Grin’s shoulder as your personal attorney crossed into pit row. “I hadn’t noticed. What difference does it make?”

You followed his gaze. “Tell me again why Ben is here?”

“He brought over a draft of your new will.” The beagle waved Mr. Grin away. “He’s expecting you to sign it.”

You sighed, wondering why your assistant seemed nervous. “Have him bring it here.” Your #88 was getting a post-race check to make sure nothing had been damaged, so you sat on a nearby bench. When Kiel brought over the papers you flipped through.

On the raceway, Boynton’s #13 again moved into the pit side lane. Another car, #122, went into the spectator side lane. The crews performed the same pre-race rituals, taking perhaps twenty minutes.

The engines roared, and the noise rapidly faded. The crowd went wild when the RT display of 0.000 blinked on for Boynton. His sixty-foot time improved to 1.998, and his ET for the whole race registered 12.280.

By the time Boynton returned to the pit, waving his race ticket out the window, you’d already finished skimming your new will.

“Ben, I don’t like it.” Your displeasure was acute, but you managed to keep from snapping in anger. “My cousin is nearly frozen out.” Your glare at the beagle could have melted glass.

“Mr. Grambic,” your assistant explained, “she’ll get a million dollars payout, with a hundred thousand annually for life.”

You gave the beagle a significant stare. “And who gets the bulk of my estate?” As if you hadn’t just read it.

Howe had the grace to blush.

“Mr. Howe does, sir.” Kiel didn’t look too happy with the draft that awaited your signature. “I wrote it as instructed, Mr. Grambic. If you’d like some changes, I could accommodate them.”

Judge Boynton chose that moment to jump from his car like a man of twenty. He waved the slip of paper with his times listed. “Goose eggs, Gram-bic. I hit an RT of zee-row.”

You glowered. “You put entirely too much emphasis on winning, you know that?”

“Winning is what it’s about.” Boynton looked out at the track. “Too bad #122 oiled the track.”

Noxious fumes from the track drifted into your pit and distracted you. “What?” Your eyes watered and throat burned.

“Blew a gasket. Sprayed fluids all over the far lane. It’ll take an hour to clean up for the next race, unless they simply go with bracket racing.” He paused, but before you could ask Boynton gave the answer: “Cars running without a competitor in the other lane. Takes longer, but it beats sitting around waiting.”

You brushed Boynton off. “Ben, let’s go somewhere quiet – without exhaust fumes – and look this over.”

The beagle took a few steps to follow, but you gave him a sharp look. Tail between his legs, Howe threw himself onto the bench you’d just vacated.

Let the sulking begin.

Boynton disappeared into his own pit.

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