The Ferarri raged screaming up the long straightaway approaching the hairpin turn. We looked down from our vantage point as he braked, lost control and then followed his million dollar red baby as it became airborne. Three dirt poor hippie kids, whose parents combined lifetime income didn’t amount to the down payment on the red stallion now adhering to the Laws of Physics; Gravity, Motion and Kinetic Energy all directing the action, watched with morbid delight. The driver emerged from the car shaken but not quite stirred; it was an hour before the passenger was on his way to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Reno.
It was almost time for school to start again. The feeling of dread you get when you know Labor Day is looming and you will have to endure another year of public education had me all bound up. Rather than savoring the last few drops of summer I was preoccupied with this dread seasoned with a certain sadness knowing that with Labor Day’s passing came the end of the Tourists. The Tourists represented all that existed in the world outside, beyond my reach, I often imagined what it would be like to escape the Comstock Lode in one of those out of state cars. New York. Pennsylvania. Alaska. Iowa.
By the time I accepted the fact that Elston’s mom wasn’t coming to get me as arranged I was really worried. After all, I was at the Public Pool and would now be forced to walk home through the heart of enemy territory. If I took off toward 6 mile and doubled back I would probably make it without incident but this would put me home well after dark. If I wanted to risk the gauntlet and make it cleanly to C Street, not only would I be safe, but I stood a chance of running into someone who would give me a ride as I walked home. After doing some risk analysis and considering the variables, I headed to C Street.
I heard the dirt bikes fire up when I reached the center dead mans land; the open space between the Pool and the Virginia Truckee Train Depot on D Street. Like in the dream, I turned and began to freeze up, my knees buckled a bit as I began to run. Adrenalin entered the equation and I ran for the Depot. Not only was it cover, but Pierce Powell owned it and I knew I would be safe there. Pierce was one of the few cool people who lived in Storey County (I never really figured out how he was able to pull it off until I learned later it was a family connection… his mom owned the Depot and was considered a local so he got a pass). Hauling ass as fast as my little spindelies would manage, I realized I would be intercepted just short of cover.
They caught up to me riding orange and yellow stallions. I recognized Goober from a distance (he was always fucking with me), but couldn’t make out his companion until they were almost on me. I knew I was doomed when I realized it was goober’s cousin Bobby Jr.. Bobby’s dad was the Sheriff and although personally messing with us (Elston, Theo and the rest of the kids not from Virginia City; the fuckin hippies) was beneath him; he was the ringleader and his henchmen were willing lapdogs when it came to messing with us. He operated with that type of cruel impunity that is born from the power you have when you know you will be unaccountable for your wickedness. Kinda like Himmler only different.
It didn’t take much to send me to the ground on their first pass as I was hauling ass in a bee line for the abandoned train depot, scared. The second pass I was able to avoid the ground but still took a solid boot to the ribs as the Bobby Jr. passed by. Before they could get to me again, I made it to the Depot and lept up to onto the elevated wooden walkway. Sadly I didn’t quite clear them, in fact I hit my shin full force and saw stars as I tumbled onto the planks of this splintery sanctuary. Realizing that it would take a little more work than it was worth to continue their fun, they pointed the tails of the bikes at me. Holding the front brake and opening the throttle, they let a twin stream of gravel shower me and then rode off laughing while I lay there assessing the damage.
It was an hour after dark that I left the safety of the Virginia and Truckee Depot; I kept myself company plotting a satisfying revenge on the walk home.
It happened one day that a Ferarri owner discovered the alternate 4.5 mile truck route they paved after the hundredth Winnebago smoked it’s transmission in the death grip of Griners Bend, the steepest road I had ever seen. Soon he would start a tradition with his pals that continues today; every year they get the county to close the road for the weekend and do time trials up the hill.
By the time night fell it was all over town. Bobby Jr. was the passenger in the Ferarri and was clinging to life in Reno. Virginia City was awash in sympathy for the Sheriff and his son who would spend quite some time in the hospital. I found it difficult to be anything but a hardass. After all, this was the ringleader of my torment and karma had caught up to him in spades. Served him right. Fucking Prick.
When I saw Bobby the first time I could tell he almost recognized me. I looked him over and on the surface it seemed like there were no lasting effects of the wreck on his body but closer inspection revealed the guy who took obcene pleasure in tormenting me now had the eyes of a ten year old. He looked at me with vacant eyes and flashed a boyish smile. At that moment, when my revenge had been set to unleash all the hatred festering for years inside me, I found myself unable to feel anything but compassion.
Refreshingly, it felt good.