Thursday, August 25, 2011
Washington DC Beltway
I had left my old truck at a New Hampshire rest stop with the keys in the ignition. Rogers had placed a GPS chip in it somewhere.
How else could they have found me so fast so often?
It was a good truck.
Hell, it was a great truck. But I need being tracked like I need a pecker sprouting from my forehead.
I had stopped in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, scanned Craigslist on a library computer and found a suitable replacement vehicle. The owner was surprised I wanted to pay in cash – not so surprised, however, that he'd turn away the offer. He was happy.
I was ecstatic and amazed these dollars are still worth anything!
I had almost $15,000 left after the purchase.
The vehicle I bought was a 1970 El Camino SS clone in black with white racing stripes down its center. It had the 454 L6 engine and a Hurst-shifted 4-speed transmission. As a vintage car it did not need registration – that was important.
You could eat off the block it was so clean.
The prior owner was a master machinist who did work for the Navy yards. If The El Camino was any indication, at least one contractor to the government deserved his pay.
I retraced my drive from New England south along the I-95 corridor – always easier in the middle of the night. My satellite radio, which I'd transferred to my new rig, spewed news of the debt ceiling fiasco.
Hell, Putin, of the new USSR, is calling the USA a leech on the world. Damn thing is, he’s probably right.
After a few hours of Financial Armageddon I felt like driving into an abutment. So I switched over to my Ipod.
That I could even use it made me feel proud. I suck at all things tech.
I hit the top of the DC Beltway at about 2:47 a.m. I had the Ipod cranked. Deep Purple was thumping "Smoke on the Water." I’m an idiot about music and will replay the same song for hours; I’d been listening to "Smoke on the Water" since Delaware. It helped me stay awake.
My air guitar and faux dashboard keyboard kept my heart rate up too.
I was driving past the bridge before the Mormon Temple and chuckled at the graffiti “Free Toto!” It drove the LDS folk nuts, but what the hell! DC needed comic relief with the clowns that populated this swamp.
I was tired and wanted to get home – so I punched it. When you punch an L6 you’d better have a strong neck. I swear I heard the beast grab rubber in third. I looked at the speedometer.
Holy crap -- 137 mph!
David, the prior owner, had installed a radar and laser-confounding device; it scattered police radar signals and made the El Camino near impossible to detect.
I may have underpaid.
Before I knew it, I hit the Legion Bridge and flew into Virginia. Tysons Corner went by like a flash. I decided to go out 66 instead of the toll road.
At these speeds I’ll get home faster.
I think I saw a cop as I flew off the I-66 on-ramp. He saw only a black blur.
The engine thrummed as I hit the 50-West turn off and leapt up the ramp beside Fair Oaks. I blew up Route 50 like a leaf in a storm. I don’t think I stopped at any lights. In minutes I was turning into the trailer park. I turned the stereo down so as to not wake the neighborhood.
I pulled in front of the Airstream and sat and listened to the engine and watched the gages. These cars used to overheat, but David’s modifications had enhanced the cooling system so well that the needle never strayed from the middle of the gage. I left it running.
You never know.
I went inside the trailer, packed my sea-bag, and grabbed a few toiletries. I checked my 1911 pistol and added four full mags to my kit. Then I scooped the photos of us and placed them inside a shoebox. I gave the trailer a quick glance, then left.
I’ll not likely see it again.
It had been home for years. I stood and stared at it for an extra second, then went to the still-purring El Camino.
Home no more.
I had to be in Suffolk by 10 a.m., so I threw the sea-bag in the truck bed, the rest in the other bucket seat and backed out. The beefy engine spun the tires as I lit out of there.
Why am I doing this?
I hit the intersection with Route 50 sideways, wheels smoking.
“Head, shoulders, knees and toes.” That’s what Deb said Moira kept repeating.
Because it needed doing.
If I had not been standing at the Portland Head Light, then read the manifest: “Shoulders Hill to Toes, Portugal” I would have thought it just a children’s rhyme. But clearly it meant … something.
But damn, it's thin.
Walters was doing something.
But doing what? And why do I care?
The FBI had their headline and didn't care beyond that -- now it was an overseas thing going away from our shores.
I down-shifted as I turned onto the parkway. I was heading to Woodbridge. I could get back to 95-South there.
Why do I care?
I care because he took my daughter. I care because he took my money, my business, my life.
I went through the gears as I accelerated up the ramp.
He takes from me no more. This ends.
I barreled down the parkway in a blur. I popped the clutch and heard the wheels screech in fourth.
I will do the taking from now on.
I turned the volume to the max.
The speakers near burst.
Smoke on the water … Fire in the sky!
Posted by Jake at 4:31 PM