Four on the Floor And A Tankful of 93


Delapino and Mulcahy were terrorizing Lee County. Holding up liquor stores and gas stations, they were idolized by certain segments of Consolidated District Eight’s High School until they killed a clerk in coldblood a couple of weeks into their spree. The sheriff’s department knew who they were. Delapino just got paroled from Joliet on 3/12/64 and Mulcahy was one of his loser hangers-on. But they couldn’t catch them; not in their slant-six Chryslers. The duo used a friggin’ Mustang as their getaway car. Probably stole it right off of a dealer’s lot, too.

But there was one battle in the war on crime that the deputies were winning. They kept the racing on the abandoned airstrip in the Meadows near the DeSoto River to a minimum by busting the kids at keggers down there. But it wasn’t only kids racing down there. It was Friday night all over the world April 12th. A guy, must’ve been 39 or 40, came out of the prairie in a brand new Chevelle SS and hopped out the window. He had a face like Sal Maglie’s; three day’s worth of stubble like sagebrush in the high desert. He had a voice to match; 30-grit sandpaper on wood. “Race for pink slips?” he growled.

He had one taker in Jeff Markakis. “Best two out of three,” the fifth-year senior said. Markakis had a ’32 Ford Roadster powered by a big-ass Cadillac engine. 600 pounds of V-8 fury, its 429 cubic inches gave off 340 horsepower. It could do a quarter-mile in about 14.4 seconds and theoretically, Jeff should’ve been able to blow the old man’s doors off. That is, if you assume that the driver is essentially ballast. But his opponent had been driving tanks when Markakis was still in his crib.

They slowly rolled their cars to the starting line. While they waited for the green flag to drop, Markakis and the stranger burned out; heating their tires. But the Chevelle had racing slicks while Markakis had street tires. The Chevy driver also sprayed water from a bleach bottle onto his tires. Jeff used Clorox like the dumb kid that he was. A quarter of a mile later, he lost by a nose. Race One was over.

There were no Race Two or Race Three. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department arrived in full force as if there was nothing else going on that night. Like no drunks were getting into fights at a roadhouse that nite or, worse, with their wives at home. Markakis hauled balls out of there and most of the other kids escaped, but the man in the Chevy stepped out of his ride, put his hands in the air and surrendered peacefully. Two jarheads cuffed him and muscled him into the back of their Chrysler.

Hayes and James were the two biggest sadists on the force. Hayes was a skull cracker from Pekin; home of the Chinks. Who knew about James? He didn’t score well on his entrance exam, but Sheriff Watson was impressed with his physical gifts and hired him anyways. They brought their quarry into an interrogation room. James took out a pouch of Red Man and put a maw of leaves into his right cheek. He passed the tobacco to Hayes and Hayes did likewise. There was a silence in the room for about five minutes punctuated only occasionally by one of the deputies letting a brown stream into a brass spittoon. Finally James spoke. “What’s your name?”

No response from the prisoner. In the white-hot light he looked more like a sixty year-old man. But his eyes revealed a much younger man.

“Listen. We picked you up. You have no driver’s license, no money, no means of support. We can get you on trespassing and reckless endangerment. The car you were driving is registered to a Joe Batts. Is that you?”

“Thou sayest.” Was the terse reply.

Hayes: “Who are you.”

“Adlai Stevenson.”

That earned the prisoner a crack on the jaw. But he was still defiant. “Ralph Nader?” he cracked.

At this point, Special Deputy Hansborough walked into the room. “This is pointless. Take him to the delousing station, clean him up, and throw him into the tank until Monday morning.

“You’ll do no such thing!” the prisoner bellowed. “I want to speak to Sheriff Watson tonite.”

“Shut the fuck up, dirtbag. Take him away boys.”

“It seems to me like you’re more interested in harassing people having fun than you are in catching Delapino and Mulcahy. You hicks don’t have the balls, do you?”

This earned a crack above the right eye from Hansborough’s asp. “I suppose that my remark was uncalled for. I really shouldn’t question the size of your genitalia, but those hoods drive a Mustang. Your cars can’t keep up with them. I have the car for the job, plus I could use this.” He pulled out a wanted poster for the robbers offering a $10,000 reward.

“Fuck you, dirtbag. Why should we trust you?”

“I can outdrive any man around here. I’ll tell you what. My Chevelle? Where is it?”

“Towed to Bobby Joes impound lot.”

“Take it out. Who’s your best driver? I’ll let him drive it and I’ll outrun him in one of your underpowered Chryslers.”

“Bullshit! What if you just steal the cruiser?”

“One of you rides along. I have a feeling that if I try to pull anything funny, you’ll keep me in line.”

“You lose, we lock you up.”

“Fine.”

The sky was clear over the prairie that nite, but the moon was new so it was coaldark out there. A young buck named Stephens was driving the Chevelle. The stranger was behind the wheel of one of the department’s Chrysler’s as Hayes rode shotgun. They agreed on a six-mile course on the outskirts of Nehi. The roads around there ran in a checkerboard pattern with the squares one square mile big. They’d race one mile north on an asphalt road, turn west for a mile on a dirt road, run two miles south on a gravel road, east on asphalt for a mile, then north another mile to where they started. Stephens got the early jump. But the police cruiser stayed right on him. They turned left and created roostertails of dust. The stranger kept up. “I’ve seen worse in North Africa,” he muttered to Hayes. Another left turn found them on a two-mile stretch of gravel. Her is where the stranger made his move. He was tucked in right behind his Chevelle. The cruiser was taking air off of the muscle car’s trunk. They were both on the left side of the road. The stranger moved the cruiser toward the right edge of the road. This caused Stephens to lose control momentarily and the cop car overtook him.

Now it was just a matter of the stranger blocking the Chevelle and he’d win the race. Stephens had a little bad luck when they made the final turn left. He wasn’t used to the Chevelle and wound up making a looping turn, fishtailing and losing precious time. The stranger was almost home free when he felt the Chrysler start to lose power. “Out of gas, asshole!” Hayes exclaimed. The bully cop turned around expecting Stephens to overtake them. The stranger just shrugged. “He’s been running on fumes, too.” Both cars rolled to the start/finish line with the stranger maintaining a slim lead. Sheriff Watson met with him in the morning and agreed to let him assist in catching the robbers. “One more thing.” The stranger said. “The kid with the ’32 Ford, can we get him deputized? He’s got balls as big as church bells.” He could smell $10,000 and it smelled good.

This is part one of a story I wrote a few years back after watching Deathproof. I was going for a “Spaghetti Western with muscle cars” concept. I never finished it and maybe I never will (you can finish it in your mind, if you’d like.) but I think that it is too good to keep to myself and not share it with the world. I hope you enjoyed it.

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