RACE AGAINST TIME
“Steve! I’m leaving,” she shouts above the din preceded by a loud honk, “Sure you’re not coming? Father Phillip was asking about you.”
“Next time,” I reply after turning the volume of the radio down a notch momentarily. Bryan Adam’s Summer of 69’s playing on the station.
“Ok. But you keep saying that. I’m holding you to it next time,” she adds sportingly.
I hear as she backs the car out of the driveway and into the street. Off to Sunday mass at the church. Truth be told he found it difficult to sit all quiet and still while the hour long sermon was on. He felt fidgety all over, couldn’t concentrate on or understand even a bit of what the priest rambled on and on about. His relationship with God was neither hate nor love. He just didn’t know what to think of it all.
I look at the clock .It’s 9.Ok I’ve got three hours tops before she’s back. Chop -chop, no time for dilly dally. I’ve been up since the crack of dawn- cleaning, servicing and polishing Her. I work faster running against time. Final buffing complete, I stop to admire her. My racing car –‘Devil’s Mistress’, the press had nicknamed her alright. She gleamed and glistened with pride from bonnet to trunk.
I look out the garage window. Yeah it’s gonna be a warm and sunny day .Not at all conducive to what I plan to wear. Full sleeved red and white jumpsuit ‘Dream Catchers’ winged printed at the back and front, laced high rise sneakers and helmet -my full racing gear .I head back in, hurriedly shower and dress. I stand in front of the mirror helmet in hand, shoulders back, chest out, feet astride, in a winner’s stance and take it all in. Not bad, for a 45 year old man. Except for the long greying hairs on my head and chin I look as dashing as I did so many years back when I stood garlanded and medalled on the podium.
Of course I had told Barbara then that I’m growing out my hair to better suit my new profession of gym instructor. But really I didn’t want people to recognize me, even though the possibility was scarce in this remote part of America.
My mind flashbacks. Zooms in to the stadium stage. Taking the chequered flag. The euphoria of winning the world championship tournament. The happiest time in my life. Achieving fame and fortune in double time. I can almost hear the national anthem playing as the flag is raised for the winner’s country. And then the loud roar of applause from the screaming fans…
Which quickly changed to loud booing and name calling the next day .He recalled the newspaper headlines ‘Steve faces lifetime ban from professional car racing’, ‘Tournament title taken back’ ,‘Banned substance found in medical tests’, ‘Using performance enhancing drugs’…He remembered putting up a brave face at the press conference and afterwards crying in the bathroom stall.
“It’s just a health booster, a little kick to the system,” his coach had advised and later beat a hasty retreat. He should have known better to check upon and research into his claim but he hadn’t. Things went downhill pretty fast after that. One day fed up with everything, he quit the rat race, sold everything that remained after all the court battles, packed his bags and booked a Wellness camp holiday in Texas to reboot his system. That’s where he met Barbara. And she’s why he had such a speedy recovery.
She knew that he’d been a sportsman but had never asked for the details. She’s a teacher at the local school. She has no interest in sports, racing or the media and yet she had raced into his heart. Maybe that’s what attracted him the most, that she was far removed from his past. He loved her for her simplicity and zest for fully living in the present moment only. Her calmness had rubbed off on him.
Yes, he’d left that part of his life far behind. But once in a while, when abstinence from speed and thrill became too much to bear, when no one was at home, he would dress up in his sports gear and take his ‘Mistress’ out for a spin on the racing tracks, breathe in the asphalt from the black and white tarmacs, relish the adrenaline rush in his veins as the world whizzed past at breakneck speed and for a few hours relive his glory days. This was his only guilty pleasure. A brief pit stop on his life’s course. A surge now and then in a smooth flowing stream.
Some thoughts to ponder:
“Speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary… that’s what gets you.”
― Jeremy Clarkson
“Because memory is time folding back on itself. To remember is to disengage from the present. In order to reach any kind of success in automobile racing, a driver must never remember.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain
Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.
If you can still hear your fears, shift a gear.
Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.
“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” Mario Andretti
“To achieve anything, you must be willing to dabble on the boundary of disaster.” Sir Sterling Moss
It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece…but to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out and defiantly shouting “Wow, What a ride! ”
Do not look back, you’re not going that way…
What’s behind you doesn’t matter. – Enzo Ferrari