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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #43

By Mark W. Meier

Part 43

Act IV

Windowed The Soul

Chapter Fourteen


Windowed the block

When an engine part fails and punches a hole in the engine block.


You were surprised at how much time it took to get your racer loaded and ready to transport. Mr. Grin’s Denali stood idling, sucking down gallons of diesel while the crew edged your #88 into the trailer. More time was spent securing the load so it didn’t shift. Meanwhile, the sun vanished behind the Atlanta skyline.

Finally your team pulled away from the pit. Mr. Grin drove, you rode shotgun, and the beagle sat in back, tapping away on his phone.

Interstate traffic was sparse and getting lighter as twilight deepened to darkness. Then a pair of headlights behind you flashed high beams twice and moved into the left lane.

The beagle’s phone buzzed to signal a text message. “Sir? Boynton is behind us.”

You gritted your teeth, wondering how he’d gotten your assistant’s cell number. “Ignore him.”

A car shot past, then its brake lights flared as it slid to a stop, straddling the center line sideways to block both lanes.

“That fool’s gonna get killed.” Mr. Grin grunted.

“We might as well face him now if he’s so adamant about this.” You felt, more than saw, Mr. Grin press the brakes. Light from the dashboard showed his grin fading away. “All I want to do is get home, and this idiot wants to talk all night.”

“Nothing good comes of stopping in the middle of an interstate.” Wilson pulled to the shoulder of the road and came to a stop.

Boynton’s driver stood, hands on hips, in the middle of the highway. He yelled something unintelligible.

Sick of being useless, you decided to take more concrete action than you had in years. You pushed open the door. “I’ll take care of this.” Your feet hit the gravel on the highway’s shoulder.

The beagle stepped out and put his hand on the weapon under his suit. “Let me, sir. He might want to do more than talk.” That’s the dedication that kept you from firing him out of hand.

Scowling, you remained by the truck and watched as Boynton’s driver and the beagle chatted. I prepared for your last moments on Earth.

One truck after another stopped on the highway, but the one towing Boynton’s #13 edged around them and parked on the shoulder opposite your #88.

Boynton emerged from the back seat of the car which caused you to stop. “Mis-ter Gram-bic. Let’s end this.”

The beagle drew his .45 and pointed it at the judge. Boynton stood, arms crossed, sneering at your assistant.

Mr. Grin moved over to the Denali’s passenger seat and climbed out onto the gravel. After closing the door he cautiously peered through the cab at the justice.

“What exactly do you propose, Boynton?” You took a step back toward the Denali. You could duck behind the engine block in a few moments. No firearm the judge might have could punch through all that metal.

“A race, you moron.” He scoffed at the beagle. “What did you think? A shootout? With your loyal dog ready to gun me down?”

Howe scowled. He didn’t like being compared to a canine. Too bad.

You were tempted. The need to actually accomplish something welled up in you, but a straight up competition would be ludicrous. “You’re far more experienced. No race would be fair.”

Boynton nodded in agreement. “Quite true. I’ll spot you a car length or two.”

“Three.” You pointed down the road. “The next mile marker is about a quarter mile away. I’ll start from where your driver stands, you behind your trailer.”

“No deal, Grambic.” Boynton grinned broader than Mr. Grin. “Two car lengths is plenty for a quarter-mile. If you can’t win with that, you’ll never beat me. Not that you ever could.”

Mr. Grin turned into Mr. Frown. “Don’t do it, sir. We don’t have time to check your car before the cops get here.”

“Done. Harley, get the car out.”

Mr. Frown certainly looked ready to argue, but the beagle shot him a nasty look.

The back doors of Boynton’s trailer opened and the ramps extended. Your car was only seconds behind his in reaching the roadway. The two of you climbed in, neither wearing fire safety suits.

Engines turned over and the beagle stood beside Boynton’s driver on the center line. Your car was positioned in the left lane, the judge’s #13 went into the right lane a few yards behind.

Tires spun, smoke drifted into the night, and the rubber warmed to where they could more easily grip pavement. Finally the judge nodded his readiness. You stuck your hand out the window and raised a thumb.

The beagle’s weapon pointed skyward.

At last, the final moments of my project were at hand.

POW!

The detonation of a .45 pistol round is louder than most people realized. Before the sound could echo from the nearest solid objects, both cars flew into motion. Within seconds, despite your head start, Boynton’s #13 had closed the gap and pulled even with you.

You glanced to your right at the same instant Boynton looked at you.

He smiled.

Then he cranked the wheel to slam into your car at more than a hundred miles per hour.

Front tires suddenly locked in place. Both vehicles cartwheeled, exploded, and crossed the finish line.

Irony: Your #88 did so before Boynton’s #13.

The flaming wreckage came to a halt before anyone reacted. Then, all at once, people surged forward. Racing crew took the lead, readying fire extinguishers.

I sneered. Two tanks of nitromethane had just exploded. Even with a fire suit it was unlikely anyone could have survived. By that time I’d already vacated “Boynton’s” car, just in time to see Ben Kiel pull up in his rented BMW. He climbed out and gaped at the conflagration.

The beagle stood slack-jawed. His mentor was dead.

Just off the shoulder of the highway I saw a Brother – watching and waiting.

I was supposed to be alone on this one. Why was Chamos here?

The beagle dove for Mr. Grin’s Denali and yanked out his briefcase. Inside was the will Howe had wanted signed. He scrawled “Michael Grambic” on the last page and added the date.

The beagle had crossed a line, and that’s when Chamos moved, clawing his way into the man.

Suddenly I realized how much of a pawn I’d been. The target had been Howe all along, and my toying with Grambic had been a setup for someone else’s larger project.


If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.


Next week begins Act V: Victory


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