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Short Story

I’ll Drive

Whenever my students write, I try to write as well.  Last year my sophomores worked on creating their own short stories.  To give them an example I sat down and wrote a couple as well.  This is the first of the bunch.

Their assignment was simple.  Select a photograph from the stack I provided.  Use that as a launch point for a story.  The photo could figure prominently and be a central scene or simply a decoration in the room for one of the scenes.  In this example I added a couple additional photos, but the one the students had access to I used for a pivotal scene.

I’ll Drive

Start of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix

 “Aren’t you afraid of getting hurt?” the brunette asked in her lilting French accent.  Jens couldn’t recall her name.  Another race, another bird, he thought.

“Why?” he asked as waved over the waiter.  “Cheque.”  The waiter nodded.

“The crashes, of course,” she tugged on his arm.

He gave a wry smile, “No, the minute you think about crashing you’re finished.  A has-been.”

“Mon dieu,” she laughed, “so virile.”  The waiter returned.  Jens quickly signed the check and grabbed his companion’s hand.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Jens’ car hitting the wall

After the crash in Monte Carlo, Jens Myhre couldn’t remember anything from the race.  Not the pre-race festivities, the speech by the Prince of Monaco, beautiful deep racing blue of his Lotus 18 machine, the whine of the four cylinder Coventry Cyclone motor, the screech of the tires as he struck the Dunlop Tires banner in turn three.  No, Jens had to watch it on the television in his hospital room two days later when he regained consciousness.  It looked like the Lotus exploded when it struck the outer barrier.

“Stirling Moss undercut you,” Rene Gitteau explained, “the wheels touched and round you went.  That’s open wheel racing.  Nothing for it.”  Rene’s pudgy face was all lines and furrows with concern.  It sickened Jens.  Racing was no place for weakness.

Though his ribs pained him mightily and his voice only a croaking whisper, Jens forced out, “I’ll be back.”

The Belgian Grand Prix was out.  Too soon the doctors said.  They’d wanted Jens to miss the entire season.

“Like hell.  I have to get back in the car.”

“You can’t even walk yet,” his doctor reminded him.

“Rene, what do I have to sign to get out of here?”

“You’ve got two fractured ribs, a cracked wrist, a severe laceration of the upper thigh on your left leg.  There are even indications of concussion, and-”

“If they have to carry me to the car, then fine!”

“If you drive-”

“I’ll drive!”

Brit Cliff Allison smashed up his Lotus on his first practice lap at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.  The first lap is meant to be a warm-up lap.  For both the man and the machine.  Allison’s machine, on cold tires, slid off the track into a field and overturned.  He broke both knees and fractured his pelvis.

Allison never raced again.

“Ok, Jens,” said Rene, “here we are again, my friend.”  Rene leaned over the bonnet of Jens’ Lotus.  It felt good to be behind the wheel again, thought Jens.  He revved the engine.  “Now to practice with some other cars on the track, yes?  You go easy my friend.  This is the back-up car.  No other for you.”

“Rene.”

And their off!

“Yes?”

“Get out of the way.”  Jens revved the engine again and let the clutch drop.  The rear tires spun with a terrible screech and smoke boiled from them. Rene lurched backward nearly falling backside in his haste.

With a smile Jens feathered the clutch and throttle until the tires found purchase on the asphalt and launched him down the track.

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About Rob Sterner

English teacher, Film buff, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Photographer, Runner, Taoist, Thinker, List maker...

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