Whispers through the Pines 6000 Words


Artemis J Jones

Whispers through the Pines

Chapter One
Itchy Feet
The gentle man parked his car at the rest stop. He got out to stretch a little and call home. He was on his way back from the funeral for his beloved niece in West Palm Beach. While he was talking he waved to a state trooper, and glanced at the map on the public service bulletin board. He said “honey I will be up to Cocoa in about an hour.” She kept talking as the man walked a little more. Finally he said. “Honey I gots to use the restroom. I love you. I will see you soon.”
“Jenny Marie you get in this house, now! I am talking to the air, Robert do you know where she is at?”
“You know where she is, she always goes to Lisa's house and then they go hide in the woods.”
“I don't like this”
“Cheryl, will you just quiet down some?”
No , no I won't it is time for her to be home. Her and Lisa joined at the hip, sometimes I would swear by it! But I am worried, please go check on them. I will call Lisa's house and talk to her mom.”
“Hi Kathleen, it's Cheryl. Do you know where the girls are?”
“I thought they were at your house. When Lisa left here this morning, she said she was going to spend the whole day at your house. She told Philip and I that ya’ll were going to the beach. I know Lisa had a towel with her. Cheryl did you and Robert go to the beach today?
“No, no we did not ! Where are our girls? I am worried.”
“I don't know, but when Lisa gets home, she will be grounded for a month”
“I am thinking a year right now for Jenny-Marie. Let me talk more with Robert and we will call you if anything comes up.”
“Thanks, we will do the same.”

“Lisa wait up. Do you think our parents are looking for us know? What did you tell your mom anyway?”
“That I was going to the beach with you”
“You're such a good liar.”
“I am! What about you? What did you tell your mom?”
“That we were spending the day together and we would find some adventure to go on”
“You always do that, tell some little white lie. Do you really think she fell for it? Do you even hint that we were going to visit your Uncle in Orlando
“No, I kept it a nice clean white lie”
“Let's go back to the interstate and hitchhike up to Cocoa Beach then take that road that goes west to Orlando”
“Jen, how much more sunlight you think we have?”
“We have a few hours, more than we need to get to Orlando. My Uncle will be shocked when he see's us standing at his door.”
“You didn't call your Uncle? Another white lie.”
“I did call him and I said we wanted to visit him in Orlando. He said 'Well Jenny-Marie we'd love to have you come up this weekend'”
“And that's all?... just a white lie, to me and your Uncle. Why am I your fiend?”
“You know we are two free spirits, nothing but wanderlust in our feet”
“Hey Jen , I think we got a ride, that old car is slowing down for us. Do you think we should take it, the ride that is
“Let's see who's driving first”
An old Buick Electra slows to a stop on the shoulder about 100 feet in front of the girls.
“Why you girls out here on this road- it is dangerous-do you need a ride somewhere?
“Yes Mister, we're going to Orlando. Can you give us a ride?
“Get in, I'm only going up to Cocoa at Route 520. I will drop you off there. Can I call your parents or something for you's? Let's get moving.” The man replied and continued talking to the girls.
“How old are you two anyway, don't look like much more than fourteen. Don't you know it ain't the sixties anymore. Used to be able to hitchhike any where in the U S of A back then, but times are different. If I had the time I take you to Orlando, make sure you got there safe. But I got my life too, I got me a wife, fine woman. I got's to spend time with her.”
The girls giggled in the back seat as they listened to the man driving.
“Well this is your stop. You can go over to the gas station and here is some change for the pay phone. Sure I can't help in some way?”
“My Uncle in Orlando is expecting us, we're okay thanks” Jen replied.
The old Buick Electra drove away. They watched it go east and then they turned west, noticing the sun had started to set. They were only about thirty minutes from Jen's Uncle’s house. Just enough sunlight to get there safe.
“Come on, Lisa we need to get moving.”
“Where are we?”
“We’re on Route 520 and we better start going west to Orlando.” Jen replied.
“Jen you ever think about the future? I am thinking about tomorrow, going to some water park, going down a slide, splashing, and having fun with you.” Lisa said.
“I think about the past, when I was a kid, at Christmas time. My mom and dad always had some surprise for us. My brothers always planned our attack of the presents. My older brother telling everyone what to do, ‘Jen you get the scissors, don’t let little bobby have them.’ We have good families.
Lisa what are you staring at?”
“The tree’s -it is just a never ending line of tall tree’s
“What is?” Jen asked.
“This road, it is all Pine trees, not one palm tree like in our yard. The pines don’t sway with the wind, like palms. They just let the air pass them by and leave the sounds of whispers flowing in the breeze.”
“You’re creeping me out”
“Jen look that old pickup truck is stopping, maybe we got a ride.”
“You girls can jump in the back if you want, I am going towards Orlando. I do need to stop in Naracoosee, but only for a moment. You two should not be out here all alone.” The driver said.
“Lisa stop pulling at me, we need a ride”
“Not him - I am not getting in that truck”
“Thanks mister, we’re okay” replied both girls.

Chapter Two
Route 520

Allen put those chains that are around the stump in the truck.”
I will Uncle Edward. I thought we were going to pull that stump today”
Those chains are to weak to pull a stump anymore, bad links. We will use them for something else”
What else do I need to put in the van?
Get some Oranges off that tree by the canal, they are always the sweetest. Look here Allen, I want
you to drive”
I'm going to lock the shop”
Uncle Edward tossed Allan the keys to the van he got in and started the engine.
Gas looks a little low, we will need to stop before we get on the Interstate” Said Allan

I watched Lisa stare down the road, looking at the tall pines, and began to wonder what our mothers were thinking right now. A moment ago Lisa was thinking one day into her future and telling me what a wonderful day -- tomorrow would be. She turned around a lot to watch me as I walked just a little behind her. Lisa knew I was mad because we had not accepted the ride in the old pickup truck. The truck was gone, long gone out of sight, and I knew her fears were increasing as the sun set over the tall pines- her future fading away within a mirage far up the road.
What else could I do but keep walking towards the setting sun? With each step, I thought about my past, and my family. Not talking- thinking. This was all my idea, going to visit my Uncle in Orlando, I talked Lisa into it, now we were on a deserted road, thirty miles away from my Uncle’s and we were tired and hungry.
“Jen wait up, here comes a car. It looks like the car that the old man was driving, the one who gave us a ride earlier.” Lisa said
“I don't think it is! That car was light gray, this car is darker” Jen replied.
“How can you tell with the sun going down.” Lisa asked.
“It's slowing down, we have a ride”
The car- full of partying teenagers, just slowed down. The teens inside laughed at the girls, then sped up and drove away. We watched the car go off and seemingly vanish into the never ending line of trees. Neither of us noticed the van that had been following the car, but now stopped a short distance away.
Two men got out. They began to walk towards us. They spoke in soft tones and asked us questions.
“Where do you girls need a ride to?” said the older one.
Their non-threatening words did not match the quick pace in their steps. They were coming after us and I ran out into the road screaming for help. Lisa froze. The men forced us into the open back doors of the van and told us to be quiet, and we would not get hurt. The older man was mostly bald with straggly hair down the sides of his head. His hands were callused and they felt rough on my skin, he continued to touch me and Lisa. The men did not say much and only referred to each other as ‘Cousin’. The younger man had a moustache and longer hair. He held a gun- pointing it at both of us- while placing a finger up to his lips. The older man, stopped fondling us and quickly moved to the driver seat, started the engine, and drove away. The van went about one hundred feet up the road and turned around back towards the interstate highway. The man in the back with a gun put duct tape over our mouth’s. He sat across from us- just staring at us devoid of any expression. Feeling the terror we just stared at other. Lisa began to urinate and the urine soaked right through her new Guess jeans. When the odor from the urine reached the man’s sense of smell, he grinned. We felt the van turn right and speed up as it entered the traffic on the interstate highway. Our eyes watered up. Lisa’s view of the future was full of sadness, and I could see it in her expression and feel it. She saw other people in the future but she could not see herself. She felt my presence, and I felt hers even though it was dark now, and we were unable to really see each other. The van continued south on the interstate for some time, time that the men enjoyed as our terror increased. We felt the van slow and turn to the right again. The van was off the interstate. The road we were on was bumpy and stones were hitting the bottom of the van. We had begun to feel a bond now that transcended verbal language and we began to read each other’s minds. The van stopped.
The older man got out opened the back door of the van, pulled Lisa out. He tore off the duct tape covering her mouth, then dragged her down a path. The younger man did the same with me. It was dark and we could not see each other. I heard Lisa screaming. The men took turns with us. Then one said ‘I’m done’. He left Lisa on the ground crying. I heard chains on the ground, Lisa screaming again and then, a loud flash and a bang. I had never heard a gun go off before. I heard the sounds of the chains then a splash. I knew Lisa’s life was over, but I still felt her presence. Both men grabbed me, and took me down a path. I could hear fish splashing and the croak of a gator in the water nearby. Lisa was still with me. I listened to the men argue for a minute, while tied-up – not being able to run away. My breathing became heavy then a flash.
The two men wrapped Jen in a tarp and loaded her body into the van. They went back to the interstate and drove south towards Indian Springs County. They parked the van at their shop and put Jens body in a large drum. She was there for a week, soaked in some kind of chemical. At the end of the week a man opened the lid on the drum. He called out to another man that was there.
“Detective Summers, we got another one”
Their existence was no longer of the physical world, but both remained aware of each other. A spiritual journey had begun for Jennie Marie and Lisa. Their time on this journey is unknown.

Chapter Three
The Beauty of Green

The older man pulled off the side of the road. He spoke to the young man and the girl that was with him. The young man told the older man that his car overheated. The older man offered to give them a ride to a gas station about four miles up the road and told them to jump in the back of his pick up truck. They did and the older man drove them to the gas station. They thanked him, and went into the store at the gas station to buy some antifreeze and a jug of water. The older man waited outside. The younger man paid, went outside, jumped in the back of the truck and the older man drove them back to their car. The younger man filled the radiator, started the engine. The older man never waited to be thanked, he was gone.

Two women embraced outside the building, it was late afternoon, and the sun was still present in the day. The light shined across their faces, illuminating lines and years of stresses. One commented to the other, “Will this day bring us peace?” The other replied, “Let’s hope so.”


“Look how many people turned up for this- wow.”
Your silly, how can you make a joke at a time like this? And it is only two dozen people, who I'm sure are getting paid.”
"What color is that?" 
"Some shade of green"
"Do you think they gave him enough? I hope it is. I don't want something bad to happen. I mean I don't care if he is in pain, I just want to make sure he is dead"
"I know"
“It is strange being two spirits. Knowing exactly what –you- are thinking and feeling. If we were alive we’d be joined at the hip.”
“We have always been joined somehow.”
“Look at her, the witness in the second row, third chair. She looks like she is crying. Did we know her? Maybe she knew him. There is always someone who loves a murderer.”
“We did not know her, but the guy in the first row third chair knew your uncle. Remember we saw him at your Uncles funeral. Your Uncle Bob took all this pretty hard.”
“You know, there are a lot of cars outside.”
“Yea people always get curious about this kind of thing. They didn't get to curious about us or any of the rest of the victims. If I could laugh, I would be hysterical over the people doing the candle light vigil for the killer.”
“Remember the trial? He and his cousin were convicted of killing six. I wish we could do something for the other eight that nobody knows about.”
“Someday, someone will find more bones”
“We need to help with that”
“I know, but later. We both need to go back home when this is done. We have to sit with our families, let them know it is okay, help them move on.”
“It's kinda cool that we can just imagine ourselves at home and then be there.”
“Yea our poor relatives outside, have a long ride home from Starke.”
“We had some nice family trips coming up this way of course for nicer places than here. My Dad putting his hand out the window, letting it ride the flow of air, pretending he was a pilot. Now they will all have to get in the car and ride on that highway, silently, thinking about us- it will be a long ride.”
“Remember Ichetucknee
“Yea that was so much fun riding the tubes down the river. Swimming in the spring water, ohh -that was always cold.”
“You got used to it quick. It was the best times for us. We had good families. Why did we do something so stupid?”
“It wasn’t worth it. This has hurt so many people. I know there were others, but look at what it did to our families. This has taken so long, he has been on death row for twenty-eight years.”
“How long is this going to take? Is he still breathing?”
“I think he is, trying to fight it maybe. Should we help?”
“No- and you know the rules”
“Yea you’re right. Just testing you”
“We never said that when we were young: Just testing you!”
“I am getting with the times.”
“How are we going to help the others?”
“Good question. We have to be careful- the rules- are very strict. Only show the truth. Never cause a loss of life- no revenge.”
“I know … those bones in the grove. We can have some kids ride there four-wheelers near the bones.”
Maybe , there are some big Orange tree’s growing over some of them now.”
“What about the ones near his shop? I can’t believe the detectives didn’t find them, they were so close.”
To late for those, his shop is gone. Bulldozer took it down faster than this creep is taking to die.”
“It is strange how society just erases things, all the bad memories, just gone so no one can see it and relive it. Just like us, we are gone. They wrote very little about us.”
“That was because of our age, and our families”
“I know, but what about us. We were just fourteen. We stopped on that day, at that moment- just ceased to exist, to dream, and to ever know the feelings of love.”
“No, we knew love, and we can still see it and feel it”
“You know what I mean- love – with a boy.”
“You were always ahead of me on that. I knew the things you thought about, even when you tried not to tell me, but I knew. Joined together always!”
“You know what I want to do? I want to go sit in school, and find some girls who think they can do stupid stuff like we did, and stop them”
“Stop them. How?”
“Like we could lock the doors of their rooms, keep them safe.”
“You know that if their truth is taking them down a bad road, we cannot stop them”
“Their truth, their truth, I am tired of that. I know of two girls right now, who are on the same path as us, I want to stop them. I am tired of this truth- this unchanging path for the living. And you know this truth is not complete: there are some who do their own will even as wandering souls”
“I know that is true, but we are not ready for that next step, maybe we will be soon.”
“Remember the guy driving the old pickup truck, the one I did not trust. He rides on Rte. 520 everyday looking for the lost and still living. He was our angel and we did not know it.”
“Yea … on that deserted road alone, every day. Nothing about him has changed”
“But he does not interfere. The truth is in the decision of those he offers to help.”

“Look I think his heart stopped”
“Oh it did”
“He’s dead. It’s 6:19 pm”

Chapter Four
“Hi Cheryl, it's Kathleen. Would you like to go shopping this afternoon? Get something for those grand babies of yours!”
“I don't know … I'm not sure, there is so much to do.”
“How about something in violet for the little girl? You remember how much she liked that color, it was so pretty in her hair. I won't take no for an answer. I'm buyin.”
“Okay, how about at two o'clock after I eat lunch”
“See you soon.”

“You enjoyed that!”
“So did you. Your presence was almost glowing when they pushed the green fluid into his arm.”
“I accepted what happened.”
“That's a lie. Tell the truth. You enjoyed watching him die! Your thoughts were swirling with anticipation, about us, about our families, and it all centered on his death. You think we'll all be better for it.”
“Why won't we be better off? Tell me if you’re so smart. Suddenly you understand all of this, murder, revenge, judgment, and healing. You think …you understand, healing: no you don't! I only know what direction I'm being guided towards—it's not my choice, but I feel it—taking me to another place, and I'll go willingly.”
“So you don't accept all of this, and now you want another path, away from me. Well I don't, I won't forgive predators, rapists, and murderers. I want to see them all on the table soaking up the green fluid!”
“We can't continue like this. Yes I felt something at that moment — it was a strange sense of joy— but it hasn’t changed anything, and neither will interfering.”
“I can't forgive what they did.”
“Then you will remain the way you are now.”
“How can you just let it go? I heard that gun fire- the one that killed you- I still feel that bullet, as if it hit me. I constantly see—my last moment of life— that flash at the barrel of the gun.”
“It's not about that anymore.”
“What’s it about, then?”
“It's about letting the living, make their own decisions, until their time has come. We can move on from this, this stasis, from ourselves.”
“What about the ones who make a bad decision?”
“Like we did? There is nothing we can do about that. I'm going to see the kind man who gave us a ride. He's dying, and he’ll become an angel when he passes.”
“So he’ll never be a wandering spirit like us.”
“That's correct. He's calling for me now.”
“He’s calling for you … but not for me?”
“You must come with me.”
“No, I’m going to go see Mr. Fred Waters, who sits in his cell, pretending that all is forgiven.”
“You can’t do that. You must come with me”
“I’m not taking any orders. Goodbye!”


I’ve lost it all. My life, my family, and my best friend. Lisa will become an angel, I’m sure of that. All I want to do is make that man suffer —the true mastermind: Mr Fred Waters, the predator who knew he would rape and kill on that day, and how he would use those chains.


“Good evening Mr. Waters.”
“Who are you? Get out of my cell. Guards! Someone is in my cell.”
“They can’t see or hear me—Mr. Waters.”
Who are you?”
“You know who I am. I look the same, and my voice is the same as it was twenty-eight years ago. You remember me crying, pleading for my life, and begging you to ‘let us go’. I’ve been in your thoughts and nightmares for a long time. The last time you saw me, you ordered your nephew Allen to shoot me.”
“You’re the one they found in the barrel.”
“Good, now we can talk. I’m not going to ask you, why.”
“Then what are you here for … revenge?”
“I watched your nephew die. I enjoyed that moment. The changes in his respiration, taking in those last breathes of sterile air. The malfunctions with the equipment, letting him linger in that state of consciousness, watching him tremble, just before death.”
“You’re here to kill me?”
“A lot of time went by. We, I mean me and the other girl—my friend—that you killed, forgot about you. But she has moved on to be with angels, and I’m here with you.”
“Kill me or get out of my cell.”
“Nothing has changed you. Not time. Not reflection. You give orders. You bear your false witness to god every day, lying to him, telling him you didn’t kill those girls.”
“I didn’t kill them. I only had sex.”
“Liar! You choked some with your bare hands …your callused hands— that disgrace true hard working men. Men who work each day, with their bare hardened skin: bare hands like my father used to work on cars. The hands he washed every day, trying to clean his hands, his heart, and his mind. Staring into that dirty sink, scrubbing, thinking, rinsing, hoping …to be free of my memories. He could never work hard enough to forget me, to just let me be the past. You left the scrapes of your calluses in his soul, it eventually killed him too.”
“You ran away.”
“I did, but you took my life, and with my life, you stole the lives of so many. The ones who were easy prey like me, and the family members who died not knowing how to handle the grief.”
“Get it over with, do what you came here for!”
“I’ve been thinking about that—what I came here for—and how I would do it: to become like you—and enjoy the satiable pleasure of taking another person’s life. Perhaps I’ll use a guard, or maybe another inmate to help fulfill my desires.”
“You’re still a whiney little coward, just like the day you died.”
“No, I’m different now, my presence glistens with thoughts of revenge. Look into your mirror you will see my whole life— the life you took away.”
“I don’t take orders from a kid.”
Stand up and face the mirror Mr.Waters!”
“I see you, unchanged.”
“No, that’s another lie, you took everything from me. I grew up, got married, and had kids.”
“Look for yourself, you were going to die anyway.”
“Your lies won’t save you.”
“I’m forgiven and ready for Heaven,” Mr. Waters yelled, his words echoing through the walls of the prison.

Chapter Five

“Kathleen, it’s Cheryl. She was just here sitting on her bed. Nothing about her changed, still had the same blonde hair, same clothes. She sat on the bed and looked at me, watched me come in the room and stare at her. At first I was shocked, almost collapsed, but then she motioned to me to sit with her.
“What did you do?”
“I sat with her, she was sad about something. I could see it in the images of her eyes. She wanted to cry, but couldn’t.”


“You went to see Mr. Waters, broke the rules, and I know what happened.”
“Look at you Angelic Lisa. Knows what happened, is inside my presence, feels everything, nonsense.”
“I’m aware of what you're going through.”
“Aware? You are not me. You do not understand anguish, hate, revenge. You do not know what it is like to feel all that rage. You do not know what it is like to want to kill.”
“I told you I know what happened. And to tell the truth ...”
“Stop right there … you and your truth. Crap, BS.”
“Jenny, tell me what you felt. Why did you want to do such a horrible thing?”
“I made my presence known to Mr. Waters, we talked in his cell. While we talked rage filled me and it felt good, it was something I'd never felt— it was exciting.”
And ?”
“I saw him hanging from the bars in his cell, the mattress on fire under him , the flames rising up, burning his flesh, taking him to the hell where he belongs. It all felt right to me. We continued to talk.
I asked him first to stand up and look in the mirror so he could see the life he took away from me. He refused. I demanded he face the truth in the mirror, to know the life he destroyed.”
“Jenny stop, you don't need to tell me the rest. I know who you really are. You will never be an angel, but what happened had to happen.”
“You want to know the truth let me finish. He looked in the mirror and he stood there lying to me, telling me I had no life, that I never got married, never became a mom, that it all ended. I got up and pulled the sheet off the bed. Walked over to Mr. Waters, stood behind him, and then I began to wrap the sheet around his neck.”
“Stop, Stop right now, why do you want to re-experience this?”
“As I wrapped the sheet around his neck, I noticed Mr. Waters had a sick grin on his face. It was at that moment that we were both looking into the mirror. That the truth of who we are reflected back, he was always evil. I stood there and looked at myself, and I was young, just fourteen. I never grew up. Mr. Waters— the devil himself —told the truth.”


“Make your presence visible to me, and look at me Lisa. We need to see each other for who we are now at this moment.”

“You are older. This is the life you would have had. I never grew up, but you did. Lisa you were going to live, I took it all from you, this has all been my fault, you died because of my stupid idea to run away.”
“I went with you. Nothing can ever change that. It was my decision. Really it’s all my fault, I’m the one who did not trust the angel who came to save us.”
“You trust him now, you trust that way of existence. But I ‘m not sure.”
“I know.”


“Trust is something that is within me. Jenny, you have always been different, you question everything, you question yourself, your existence, but I don’t. I know about the young mother in Palm Cay.”
“How? You were not an angel then, and you weren’t with me.”
“You saved them because you interfered. And I know the angels don’t like it, but for now they will let you continue.
She married the cop that came to help her, you saved his life too. Such a simple little trick, dropping nails on a road, causing a flat tire. Creating a delay to keep them all from danger—interfering!”


“Tell me about the last moment with Mr. Waters. The moment when the two of you stared into that mirror together and you both saw yourselves, you had the sheet around his neck, you began to tighten it and then you slowly tied a knot.”
“I pulled on the knot, tightening it, his breathing became erratic, he was struggling for air. I could feel his physical body reacting wanting to keep itself alive, but his mind was in a different place, he lost all the signs of humanity.”
“You pulled on the sheet and lead him over to the cell bars”
“No that is what I was feeling, but not what did. I looked into the mirror, to see myself again, hoping it was a lie, but it wasn’t. I had not changed. When I was alive, life meant so much to me, everything about it was precious. The person in the mirror was not a murderer. I am not a killer, and there would be no joy in killing, only eternal pain.”
“You didn’t kill Mr. Waters?”
“No, he is still alive. I left the cell, still seeing visions of him burning. You were only aware of my hate, and it was within me, but it was not in control of who I was. He tried to trick me and get me to be like him. He began saying horrible things about you, he confessed to me about the other victims, it was just an act of desperation to pull me back in. But I didn’t weaken. I will interfere, but not that way.”


Copyright © 2015 Artemis J Jones

Don't Play in the Street 5000 Words

Don't Play in the Street

Don't play in the Street

Artemis J Jones

There will always be something bigger in front of you. Unknown

We worked together back then, it was 1988. I was an Audi technician, thirty two years old. Dave he worked on Porsche’s, and nothing else. Dave was sociable enough, sometimes quiet, but not reclusive. He was twenty eight, had a sense of humor, very dry, with light sarcasm, but he was someone anyone could talk to. Dave was well read, and that was unusual for an auto technician.
My name is Jeff, and I like to get inside people’s heads, find out what makes them tick! Dave was the perfect subject for me, and I made sure we became friends. Today seems like a good day as any to break the ice with the newest tech in our shop, so I asked Dave to go to lunch.
“If you’re going to the sub shop where that nice blonde works I'm in.”
“Sure that would be great.” I agreed
As we sat down to lunch, with Dave still eyeing the blonde behind the counter, I asked him why Porsche? I meant that for him there seemed to be something beyond the style and reputation of the brand. He shrugged a little, not yet focusing on my question, designed to start a conversation, but then he replied, almost as an afterthought.
“Well, style is an element in my interest. I don’t like Italian sports cars for many reasons, with their sharp straight lines like on Lamborghini’s, and poorly designed triangular suspension systems. Ferrari’s they always break down. Porsche’s are curvy.”
He glanced again at the blonde saying, “like her” then added,Porsches win a lot of races.”
“Is speed an element too?” I asked.
“Not that much. Speed is just a tool. Primarily speed is used to go around an obstacle. I do enjoy speed like everyone else. But it’s really just a tool for a driver. Speed is like the wrench in your toolbox that changes size, adjusts. The driver uses speed to go around and then escape from the obstacle.”
“What obstacles? You may have a lead foot, but you aren’t a race car driver. What makes you pursue speed? Are you asking to stand at death’s door, and foolish enough to think you cannot enter?”
I let him ponder my last three questions while we quietly ate our food.
This allowed me time to conjure up my next questions for Dave in silence, while he looked at the blonde behind the counter. Dave’s comment that he enjoyed speed like everyone else showed a strain in his mentality. His use of the words, obstacle and escape increased my interest. What was his meaning? While we ate, I was latched onto those thoughts. It seemed to me that he meant an obstacle was anything in front of him, and his context on escape, from what?. Was Dave running from something or towards something unknown? I sensed his deep buried emotions. Fear is what drives people to escape. But Dave is not admitting that, his fear of the unknown, fear of death … thinking he can confront it, without consequences, is irrational. Death not being a choice: its permanence stuck in the psyche of most men.
Before our lunch was over I asked Dave one more question.
“Isn't speed going to put more obstacles in front of you?”
“Yes definitely, but at some point you get by all your obstacles then you have a moment of pure speed and you relax.”
His use of the word you only meant him, but he used it globally as though everyone would think the way he thinks. I don’t relax with speed as Dave so mildly stated, and I don’t think he relaxes either.
I drove back to the shop and on the way I made sure we continued the conversation. So what is the obstacle that is stopping you from talking to the blonde? He answered right away, as though he had been thinking about it.
“The counter, it is the obstacle. I would have no problem sitting with her at a private table and talking to her. The counter is long and high with the spit shields in the way.”
He was quiet for several minutes. Then he talked briefly about obstacles saying.
“I learned a long time ago, to face every obstacle, to challenge everything without flinching. I might stop going there for lunch.”
“You mean that?”
No answer.
The Porsche 911, 50 Years 

I was confused by his words. Maybe he only faces the fears he can control.
We were on our way back to the shop. Dave’s blank expression created a silent barrier, I waited for him to speak. He began talking with lower dark tones in his voice: deepening his languid words without raising his voice to a normal level. His thoughts were resurrecting the past, and it was personal. I turned down the radio to hear him speak.
“I always face every challenge, and I always get around my obstacles in life.
When I was a child, probably ten or eleven I rode out in front of a car. The driver, an old woman, got out of the car and began yelling at me.
“Watch wear you’re going.” The hag screamed.
The yelling continued, from the old women. But I don’t really know what else she said. I just sat there on my bike looking at the car. It was huge and only inches away.
The next week, I was riding on the same street, far from my house, when I had an impulse to challenge the cars. It was me against the big mighty machines, driven by young mothers who were always smoking their long cigarettes and popping pills as they drove on the roads - and the fathers, the older ones - who always stopped at the bar before they went home for the night. It was me against them, I played chicken with the big mighty machines.”
He paused for a moment ….
“So I start riding down the street. I go straight at her— the young pretty mother, driving and smoking her cigarette—and I don’t move out of the way.
She slams on the brakes, tires squeal, as the car stops. She gets out of the car, there is a burn mark on her dress.” ‘Are you alright?’ She asks.
“She is shaking a little. I am still. I stare at her and then the car, she walks in front of me and kneels down and begins to talk to me.
‘Are you alright, I could have killed you. You can’t ride your bike in the street, you’ll get hit by a car.’ She is still shaking. I stare at her golden blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes … those distant glazed eyes.”
“I am fine,” I say.
“She stands, and begins to admonish me about my behavior. ‘Look both ways before crossing.’
I tell her, my Mom says ‘people shouldn't smoke.’”
“She’s right, it’s a bad habit. She replies while crushing her cigarette butt in the street.”
“And you shouldn't litter either.” I add, while she gets in her car and drives away.
I start to ride home, as I get farther from the car, the surge that I felt as I challenged the car fades in my body. I enjoyed what I had done, facing that car, scaring the young mother to death.
Later that week, it is time to do it again. This time I pick the older man, the one who has kids in high school. I have seen him at Kelly’s Pub near the supermarket. This time the other kids from the neighborhood are watching. They see me and line up on the sidewalk ready to witness the spectacle.
They all began to shout, ‘gonna play chicken,’ ‘jump over the car, Evil Knievel.’”
“Inside they are all afraid- afraid they might witness death and afraid for themselves- knowing that they could never face anything so boldly.
The older man is driving a Ford station wagon with wood panels on the sides. I ride straight at him. His eyes are looking up, for a cigar case attached to the visor. I am closer. He lights his cigar. I look right at him. My intensity builds, while he drives the big machine towards me. He does not see me even though he is looking right at me, his expression never changes. With more speed from my pedals, I aim for a spot between two parked cars. He still does not see me. I lean to the right, and his car touches the tip of my handle bars. I hold on with all my strength and crash into a parked car. He never saw me, and he never heard the scrape of metal from my handlebars. He just kept on driving.
The huge monstrous station wagon, goes to the end of the street, and turns in the driveway. The older man sits in the car. He waits several minutes before he goes into the house. I see him combing his hair. He splashes cologne on his face, then opens the door of the car and he gets out. Waiting another minute, he slowly walks in the house. His tiny little fears, pushed away, by his lack of sobriety.
I rode home listening to Mothers Little Helper and Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones on my Sony Walkman.
That last episode with the older man, ended my playing chicken with cars on my bike. All the kids that watched me told their parents and phone calls started going around the neighborhood. Soon the phone was ringing at my house. My mother asked me, ‘if I had been up to North Quaker Street?’”
“No, just the end of our street.” I replied.
She looked at me, told me to go to my room, and yelled,
“Your father will be home soon.”
I looked at Dave in silence for a moment.
“Why did you tell me that story, and I hope it is all fiction, because if it isn’t, you were one crazy boy. Why did you do something so insane?”
Dave laughs and says.
“You know you liked it, hearing that crazy stuff … I’ve never told anyone about that, and I’m not sure why I told you. Maybe it’s because you like to ask a lot of questions. Why do you think I did that?”
“Cause you’re nuts!” I injected.
“NOT!” Shot back Dave.
“What really bothered me was watching how grown up’s faced their problems. Popping pills, smoking, all while driving, using that privacy of the moment, to mask their psyche from things to come – or for some stopping at the bar before they went home. They always tried to cover it up, before they walked in the house. What were they afraid of?”
“I saw those things too. Can’t recall reacting the way you did.”
“I had to challenge what was in front of me—my way. Their behaviors all seemed like big obstacles that I had to violate in some way.”
“The people with their isolation, I needed to scare them.  Or do something that would make them change.”
“The young mother, it’s strange but I know now that I was attracted to her, but also appalled by her at the same time. The ways of all the young mothers were the same. They stayed home being consumed by all the ills in their lives, and espousing lessons to their family that they never followed.  She was being consumed and she never even knew it, her life was chewing her up, and some day she’d be an old hag, yelling at everybody, totally dissatisfied or if she was lucky—dead. But I was fascinated by her, and I wanted to scare her and save her at the same time.”
“Save her from what?”
“Dave, you created a dangerous situation, that could have caused her severe emotional distress. And you would've been fine staying away from the cars.”
“No I wouldn't. Not then and not now”
“You really are crazy. I’m serious. My old man was a drunk but he left home one day and we never saw him again.”
“For you the problem went away. I had to challenge something that was bigger than me, it was right in front of me, and I couldn't explain it.”
“Hypocrisy? Is that what you were challenging?”
“Maybe, all I knew was…I never wanted to be like them. And I knew the young mother still had some humanity—that’s why she stopped—unlike the old man driving the station wagon.”
“How did the other kids in the neighborhood react?”
“Some thought I was trying to kill myself. Others—like you—thought I was loony. But I never had problems with bullies after that day, they ran their mouths from a distance, but never started any fights with me.”
“So what did you do?”
“Nothing for a month, I was grounded. But later I started to ride again.
When I was eleven, I felt like a big shot, when I rode in the street. A big shot as long as my mother didn’t catch me.”
We arrived back at the shop and saw Franz, our boss, waiting, looking at his watch.
“I wonder what he wants.” Dave asked.
Franz motioned to Dave to follow him to the closed garage behind the main building. Dave walked with him. I knew what was in the garage, but Dave did not.
Franz opened the door, as Dave stood there observing, and then Franz pulled the cover off of the car that was protected from sunlight, dust, and prying eyes.
It was a 1973 Porsche 911, at first ubiquitous to Dave, in the low light. Once uncovered, it captured his imagination like no other car could ever do.
Franz closed the garage door, and turned on the lights. Dave walked around the car and inspected every inch of the metal, he commented favorably on the factory flared rear wheel wells and the rest of the cars body work.
“The paint is exceptional” Dave said with a wide grin on his face.
Franz smiled. Dave asked him about the engine.
Ya Ya” replied Franz in his heavy German accent as he walked to the rear of the slate metallic car and lifted the engine cover.
Dave looked at the engine closely and commented,
“No turbo.”
Franz nodded. Dave looked at the carburetors, commenting.
“They are big.”
He looked curiously at the fifty-six millimeter Weber carburetors on a 3.3 liter engine.
Franz nodded again, while Dave’s inspection continued, then Franz held up two camshafts.
“I want you to install these when you have time.” Franz said.
Dave looked at the numbers stamped into the ends and asked Franz.
“Where did you get these?”
Franz smiled saying
“I still have friends at the factory.”
“You know we have no specs to set them properly.”
“That is something you can figure out.” Franz replied.
Dave helped Franz cover the car, Franz turned out the lights, and they walked out of the garage.
I watched both of them and I could see something was going on. Both of them were thinking about that car, but for different reasons.
On a cool fall morning, several weeks later Franz and Dave rolled the car out of the secretive garage, and moved it into the Porsche service bay. I knew the engine ran, but Franz preferred to push the car there, like he pushed race cars back in the old days only running a car when needed, never giving the competition a chance to hear the sound of your engine.
Dave worked on the car for a week, and finally closed the garage door late Friday afternoon. Before he went home I asked him if he had any plans for the weekend.
“No not really, I might stop by the sub shop on the way home, the lunch crowd will be gone.”
“Good luck with that. I’m going to work this weekend. My wife and I are starting a painting business, part time right now, but I hope we make it grow. I do not want to work on cars my whole life.” “I get that. Later! I got to go.” Dave said, shrugging his shoulders.
As I drove home I thought about what was going on in the minds of Dave and Franz. All week they were different, much quieter, and focused to a point of obsession. Franz had some grand days in his past, setting up race cars for TV stars. He traveled the United States and even to Mexico for race events. Dave had worked for a race car driver, as a tech, but not on a race team. I knew when it came to driving, in my opinion, Dave was crazy. I also knew that Franz never let anybody else touch that car. He used to work on it in secret, in the garage, but he never even let his family near that car.
Monday morning, Dave got to the shop at 7 a.m. He had already run the engine on Franz’s slate metallic 911, and he was working on balancing the carburetors when I showed up at 8 a.m. Franz was out getting parts for some cars I was going to work on. Dave remained focused on the 911.
That car, is the kind of car that stares at you through its glass crystal headlight lenses. It had the grin of a wise ass teenager in the shape of its air dam. Sexy—yes—especially if you focused on the sinuous curves that flowed from the front to the rear of the car, nothing linear about that car. It always shimmered in the sun-light and looked foreboding in the shade. To me it was a beast and I had no interest in touching it.
Franz came back from his parts run, walked over to Dave first and they both looked at the sky. Franz then walked over to me.
“So are you going to drive it today?” I asked.
“Nein, nein,” Franz shook his head sideways as he walked away from me and went back over to Dave. They worked on the car some more, Dave walked around it and torqued all the wheel lugs as Franz watched. Then to my astonishment, Dave got in the car and drove off. He came back quickly, Franz talked with him and he buckled into the shoulder harnesses and belts. Franz waved towards the expressway in front of the shop and Dave aimed the 911 at the on ramp. He let it roll slowly over some lose gravel, then waited for traffic to clear and in an instant all you could see was a blur of slate metallic hues and the sounds of that flat- six, horizontally-opposed engine creating a deafening howl at six-thousand rpm. In a few seconds he entered the expressway, probably over one hundred-twenty mph. Down through the underpass, with traffic in front of him, we watched as he came up the slight hill and immediately began negotiating his position on the expressway. Soon he drove out of sight—as my mind streamed in a deluge of negatives, crashing burning wreckage, innocents dead on the road, sirens police ambulances, fire trucks roaring, intense flames heat, I was a spectator, the kid on the sidewalk watching the freak show on the street, scarred of death, but looking for it, wanting to see it and not see it, yelling taunts to cover my fear, to sound brave—I look at Franz. Quiet listening, waiting, heart racing again, racing again in Mexico at the track, winning loosing, breaking down, time trails, tuning, secrets, engines roaring—go back to reality. I heard the howling beast returning. My gaze on the expressway distracted as I looked at Franz, he points, there it is—the beast—we watch intently. Franz smiles.
At that moment I figured Franz out. He was living a moment vicariously through Dave. He saw Dave as the only person who could take his car to its maximum performance level. Dave unlike him now-young, crazy and never appears to be afraid of anything. So why Dave was doing this, I would need to ask, if he came back in one piece.
When Dave zoomed by in the west- bound lane, on his way back to the shop, we only saw him for one second. He passed other cars at close to one-hundred-fifty miles per hour. I felt scared, fearful for the dangers that the other cars were in, not knowing what else was on the road behind them – and suddenly in front of them, danger come and gone in the blink of an eye. I had just witnessed my own fear in life, the stream of negatives made me face my own fear of dangers unknown in this world. Dave blistered the pavement at three times the speed of other traffic. Should I scold him, or act like nothing just happened, as though there was no danger to anyone.
When Dave returned, he immediately drove the beast to the rear garage. Knowing that he had to have aroused the attention of law enforcement, he got out quickly and locked the fence to the rear garage area. He looked at Franz, who was still smiling, and Dave said, it’s all good!
Then he asked me, if I wanted to go to lunch. I suggested the sub shop, but he said, “No, I want to go somewhere else.” I agreed.
On the way to our lunch destination, I asked Dave about the ride. I reminded him, that no one else has ever touched that car. He glanced at me with a questioning look and said
“ Really?”
But he kept his mouth shut about his driving.
“I’ll say one thing about you Dave. Most guys would be bragging about how they handled that car, but you sure are quiet about it.”
While Dave remained silent, I started my part of the conversation by telling him about my weekend.
“My wife and I painted a house, got paid and cleared six-hundred dollars. We really enjoyed it … I think we are going to try to make it on our own very soon. I’ll need to give Franz my two weeks’ notice, maybe sometime this month. We already have two more jobs lined up.”
Dave just listened as he motioned toward the Circle S Burger Joint .
We walked in and sat down. Something was immediately different and obvious as the Waitress approached our table. She smiled directly at Dave. They already knew each other. After she walked away, I commented.
“So … no more blondes huh? Man, you are fast. Did you give up on the obstacles or did you just change your mind?”
The waitress, who had a name tag with Tina on it, came back for our order. Dave called her ‘Shelly,’ and she took his order first then mine, smiled at Dave and left for the kitchen.
“Wow, first name basis already!”
“I went over to the sub shop, when it wasn’t busy, and I asked her out. She said no, so I left the sub shop and came here. Shelly and I had time to talk, it was slow, she sat down and we chatted. I asked her out Sunday night and we saw a movie.”
I knew our time working together was going to end soon. Of course I would invite him to our house after we stopped working together, but there was no guarantee our friendship would continue.
I felt pressed for time, to understand this person who as child played chicken with cars in the street. Who as an adult drove cars with such intensity and focus and had no reasoning behind his: as I saw it, life threatening behavior. Whatever it was, I wondered if Dave would ever be able to go fast enough to out run it.
On the way back to the shop, I started my inquisition. Slowly, methodically, but ultimately to no
avail. Dave talked about the 911, but only about the technical aspects, not the reasons for his short but very intense ride. I asked him about the girl in the sub shop.
“Why did you just give up and move on, not accepting the challenge of pursuit?”
He quickly said, ‘I went around the obstacle, the counter, we talked a little, but she was not interested.’ and he saw no point in creating a challenge. ‘I’m not going to pursue a woman who doesn't want to go out with me.’
“Why not?” I asked
“Why?” He shot right back.
“You created life threatening challenges when you were a kid and you’re still doing it as an adult. The blonde was not life threatening!”
“The conversation I had with her felt like a game—a game I did not want to play.”
I ended the conversation with some chatter and a few questions.
“Dave what are you avoiding? Why are you so intense? Especially around the beast, and then, at other times, so relaxed around people. There are times you seem laid back. What is driving the intense moments?”
He only offered, a brief statement. ‘When I am driving, there is no impatience, no hurry for me to get somewhere quickly. But I feel a need to challenge every car in some way, and a need to break free from traffic, to be on my own. The cars in front of me are the challenges in life, the cars behind me are the dangers in life. I want to get around the challenges and prevail. Then I need to stay ahead of the dangers that could sneak up on me.’ We got back to the shop and did not say much the rest of the day. Something was eating at this guy, but I wouldn’t discover what it was. I’m not a shrink, and I guess I needed to stop playing like one.

I pulled into the 7-11 to get a drink, while on my way home from a job. As I got out of my truck, I looked at the Volkswagen GTI that pulled in next to me. I had not worked on a car for twenty years, but I knew the sounds of a performance car. The driver got out and looked vaguely familiar. He turned toward my truck noticing the paint scheme, and he looked right at me.
“Dave is that you? I ask. He looks again, and says ‘Jeff’ with a questioning look. We start talking and catching up. I invite him over to finally meet my wife, and my kids.
‘Okay,’ replies Dave and he follows me as we start to drive towards my house.
We stop at a traffic light. Dave is behind me and there is a nice corvette to my left and a mustang to my right. The drivers of those cars pulled slightly ahead of me and began talking. They are going to race. A terrible thought occurred to me. Dave must know what is about to happen. He will want to join them in the street race. The light turns green.
Tires squealed on both sides and, from behind my truck. Dave shot around me and went right after the Corvette, only a short distance behind his mark. Suddenly, his brake lights came on, he slowed and turned around and drove back to my truck that I parked on the side of the road.
Dave approached my truck, and I shook my head in disbelief, ready to chastise my old friend for reckless behavior. He stopped at my door and I put my window down. Before I can speak, he began to talk.
“ Three years ago I was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. Immediately, I felt as though I was set adrift in the air without so much as a parachute. I faced the most overwhelming challenge of my life, and was not prepared for it. The first doctor I talked to did not give me much hope … ‘if you’re lucky maybe two years, but probably less time, maybe only six months.’ From that moment, I pushed back at the cancer with everything I had. I used every resource—I grabbed every book about nutrition off the shelves, and read every article about naturopathic therapy—determined to blend it all together with whatever the Doctors wanted to do. There were times when I was losing, but I kept up the pressure. It made me crazy, but I still kept looking for a way around it—to push forward against it, while it snuck up behind me—for any ammunition that I could grasp. When the doctors said ‘You should consider palliative care now,’ I changed doctors. In fact I changed doctors six times looking for the right ammo to kill that crap. I knew that if needed I would eat or inject myself with anything that I thought would kill it. I was operated on four times and went through three tours of duty with chemo. Two times—I almost died.”
Silent for a moment, while I looked at Dave, and thought about our lunches together twenty years ago: trying to understand the intense moments that I witnessed in Dave. His stories of youth: creating and facing overwhelming obstacles—that he could never fully understand. His time as a young Porsche Tech: throwing himself into a situation of danger, on purpose. Dave had always had fears, but I always knew that whatever it was—he would stare it down into defeat. The sun was setting and the deep orange rays, crossed his face, I could see some sense of relief in his expression. Dave was finally letting his intense rivalry with fear go. In just the few minutes that it took for the sun to set, I witnessed a different man in front of me—the man from the past was gone.
“Well it is a blessing, for that struggle to be behind you now. Go, get in your car and follow me to my house. You are going to love my kids, and my wife, she is a sweetie!”

The End.

Copyright © 2014 Artemis J Jones

First draft. 07/01/2014
Second draft 07/08/2014
Second draft revision 08/10/2014
Some line editing 08/19/2014
Revisions interior monologue added to Jeff’s character 09/06/2014 (Not posted on blog)
Saved blog post before 09/08/2014
Posted latest version on my main blog 09/08/2014
12/03/2014 revisions
Post Story development 04/05/2015 – added more dialog between Dave and young Mother.
Added more dialog about the young mother with character Jeff.
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