Death is a Drag — Chapter 3
By the time Jodie and Fawn got to the drag strip, the parking lot was almost full. The first lot didn’t have any spaces, but Fawn managed to find a space in the second lot that was close to the middle. It was still going to be a bit of a walk to the strip but at least they didn’t end up in the third lot which was furthest away.
As Jodie got out of the car, she could smell all sorts of deliciousness wafting towards them from the strip. She could smell candied apples and cotton candy and hot dogs. It was the kind of smell that shouldn’t be so amazing but made your mouth water, anyway.
As they got closer to the strip, the noise got louder. The parking lots were up the hill from all the action. They came through a break in the trees that led to one of the sets of stairs that would take them down the hill. Jodie had to stop and take a breath. It was hard to believe that Faron had built all this himself.
There was a drag strip about an eighth of a mile long. There was a big wall alongside it so that no one could wander into the strip. On the other side of the wall was concession booths and then viewing stands and then more concession booths. Before they got to the first concession stands though, they passed the office where they stopped and got their tickets.
Faron was inside talking to Jake McCumber. Jake looked anxious. As they approached, Jodie heard Faron say, “Don’t worry about it Jake. It’s all taken care of…”
Then he saw Jodie and Fawn.
“Hey, you made it.”
“Of course, I did,” Jodie said. “The drag race is all anyone has been talking about today.”
“And it looks like everyone is here. You girls better grab a seat before you end up having to stand!”
Fawn nodded. “We’re just going to grab some drinks first.”
“Ok, see you later.”
He turned his attention back to Jake and guided him toward the back of the office.
“I wonder what Jake is all worked up about?” Fawn said.
“Who knows? Maybe him and Manya had an argument? They looked fine this afternoon at lunch though.”
Fawn and Jodie headed to one of the concession booths to get some drinks. Jodie got some cotton candy while Fawn chose a candy apple.
With her mouth full of candy apple, Fawn said, “Oh ya, I gotta tell you what Mom told me earlier today.”
Jodie and Fawn’s mom, Maude, was a real character. She lived in this tiny house that you’d almost miss if you blinked. It was on a corner of a quiet street and it was painted in different shades of green so that it blended in with the bushes and the trees in the yard. Even the tiles on the roof were green. It had a tiny kitchen and a tiny bedroom in the back and a little sitting area. There was a tiny sitting porch off the back where she liked to sit with her Siamese cat, Jinxy, watching people going by and pretending that she was invisible.
Maude was a good woman, but she was a little bit eccentric. She told everyone that she was part gypsy and from the way she dressed you’d almost believe it. She spent most of her savings after she retired on building the tiny house. The fact that she’d built a tiny house was less of a shock than the fact that three months before she turned 65, she left Fawn and Jodie’s dad to build the house. They didn’t get divorced. She just moved out. In fact, she didn’t even go very far. The house was on the same lot as the house that Jodie and Fawn had grown up in. And their dad, Theodore, still lived there.
Maude and Theodore still ate meals together and sometimes they watched television together and they even went out for a meal together occasionally. As Maude said, they were still best friends. They just couldn’t live together anymore.
“What is Mom up to now?”
“What? But her and Dad are still married.”
Fawn shrugged. “She says Dad’s fine with it as long as she’s not sleeping with him. And she says it’s not about sex.”
“Wow. So, who is it?”
“You’re not going to believe this…”
Jodie rolled her eyes. “Who?”
“What? You’ve got to be kidding me? I mean, I know they go way back but he’s almost 10 years younger than her.”
“Well, Dad’s five years younger. You know she’s always liked them young.”
“Yes, I remember her stories. But Branson has always been a bit of a playboy. What is up with that? Do you think he’s after her…well, she doesn’t have any money. Surely he knows that.”
“He does. Mom says they are just dating. He takes her out for country drives like Dad doesn’t want to do anymore — you know how he grumbles about the cost of gas — and she goes over to his place and cooks him a meal. And they talk. And drink wine. And cuddle.”
“Well, for Pete’s sake. I don’t even know what to say.”
“I didn’t either. But I think we’d better keep an eye on her. I mean, I know she’s a grown up, but I’m not sure that I want her running off to California with him on his motorcycle either, you know.”
“No. Definitely not. I’ll see if I can get some more info out of her when we go for coffee next.”
“These are some pretty good seats. I’m surprised no one was sitting here,” Fawn said.
They’d found a seat near the middle so that they could see clearly over the wall and pretty much from one end of the track to the other. As they waited for the races to start, they watched the people going to their seats. Most people were there already, but there were still a fair amount rushing to try to find a place to sit.
Except Cal-Lee Summers. He was talking on his phone, a finger in one ear to try to block out the noise. He was rushing towards the gate and he had a big smile on his face. Jodie’s eyes followed him until he reached the base of the first set of stairs heading up to the parking lots. He shoved his phone in his pocket and took the stairs two at a time. She wondered where he was heading in such a rush. And he was going to miss the races.
A few more people that Jodie knew passed them by. Jacob Riley, the cook from the diner, went by and saw her and waved up at them. Justus rushed by in the opposite direction, almost knocking Jacob down in the process. He had a big frown on his face. He was on his phone, too. Was he still annoyed at Cal-Lee from earlier in the day? Jodie hoped they worked out whatever the problem was because she didn’t like to see people not getting along. He turned at the office and then disappeared behind it.
Jodie’s attention was pulled away as she heard the announcer say, “If everyone could take their seats, the race will begin in 5 minutes! 5 minutes everyone!”
Two cars pulled onto the track. Jodie didn’t know what kind of cars they were, but they looked pretty fancy. They revved their engines, showing off. One of the drivers pulled himself up through the window and waved at everyone. People cheered him on as he slipped back through the window into his car.
And then the race was on. The five races went by in a flash. The sixth and last race was the two cars with the fastest times. The winner of the last race got a cheque for $1000.
“Let’s sit and watch people leave for a bit,” Fawn suggested. “It’s going to be crazy getting out of here.”
“Fine by me,” Jodie said, “I hate fighting the crowds.”
Fawn and Jodie watched people leaving and chatted to pass the time. They talked a bit more about their mom but didn’t come to any kind of conclusion about what they were going to do.
Finally, the crowd thinned out, and they got up to leave.
As they passed by the office, they saw several police officers entering the back door. They were likely stopping to congratulate Faron on such an awesome event. He said earlier that it wasn’t unusual for the cops to show up for the event.
Branson was looking around nervously as he headed up the stairs to the first parking lot. He was moving much faster than his usual casual stroll. His boots thumped on the wooden steps as he bound up them like someone was chasing him.
They went up the stairs to the second parking lot.
Through the trees, they could see that there were two police cars in the third lot. Jodie wondered what was going on.
Fawn saw them too. “Likely just some drunks got in a fight,” she said. “Faron tries to keep the booze out but someone always smuggles it in and causes a scene.”
They were looking at the flashing lights, so they didn’t see Jake and Manya in his old pickup truck. In fact, the truck was moving so fast, they almost got run over.
“What is going on tonight? Everyone seems to be in a weird mood.”
“Who knows,” Fawn said. “All I know is that my head better hit the pillow soon or I’m going to pass out.”
“Yes, we’d better get going. I have to get up early tomorrow.”
By the time Fawn dropped Jodie off at the Inn, the only thing she was concerned about was getting some sleep. The diner opened early and who knows who might show up to check in to the motel in the middle of the night.
To be continued…
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