“You drive into the city.” We had had a long night at the Liar’s Bar in Montauk.
“You sure you want me to drive.” I was in no better shape than him.
“It’s an $80,000 car. Don’t smash it up.” Richie Boy had newly-born twins waiting at home. He needed the sleep more than I did and he crashed out before we hit Exit 62 on the LIE.
I called Deb Parker. She lived in the North Country. White trash territory. Normally the ex-bar owner answered the phone in several seconds. She took her time on this occasion. Finally I heard her voice over the sound of a buzz saw.<
“Where are you?”
“At the Columbia County Demo Derby.”
“Demo Derby?” ABC’s Wide World of Sports featured Demo Derbies on Saturday. Drag Racing too. “I haven’t been to a demo Derby since 1969.”
“That’s 40 years ago.”
“A long time.”
“Yep.” Deb came from Westchester County, but liked country. She was friends with Merle Haggard.
“Any Jap cars in the derby?”
“Just pieces of shit.”
“My last time I went to the Demo Derby was in Norwood Arena.” The race track was outside Boston. Drag racing, dirt track, and demo derbies. A boy’s dreamland. “I was there with my schoolmates. Six of us in Dave Quann’s Cougar. Another boy from my hometown, Joe Tully, was also at the arena. He had driven his family’s station wagon. So had we. His was a Chevy with a 327 engine. Ours was a Ford. Neither were built for racing. We drank beers for the first couple of heats, then noticed Joe wasn’t around. None of us thought much about it, until the next heat was announced and Joe drove out in his family station wagon. His friends and mine gave him a standing O. The checkered flag was waved to the competitors and Dave’s car circled the arena. He was broadsided by two car on his fort time through the figure 8. We died laughing. Everyone had to fit in Dave Quann’s Cougar. Joe was sent to military school after that. Went to Viet-Nam in 1971. Came back and married the prettiest girl in town. He still tells the story about the demo derby. We all laugh too.”
“Men will be boys.” Deb had seen it all. She knew what men were. Her son’s name was Earl.
“And proud of it too.” My son’s name is Fenway.
Like the park.
I hung up the phone and stepped on the gas.
The LIE was not Norwood Arena and Richie Boy’s car was not a wreck, but all I could hear were the words.
Gentlemen, start your motors.
I didn’t have to be told twice.