"There's a place up ahead and I'm goin' just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you're goin', leave the sinkin' ship behind.
Come on the risin' wind, we're goin' up around the bend."

- Credence Clearwater Revival - "Up Around The Bend" -

          The day Flynn’s Goat ran away
Saturday, March 14, 1987


My Saturday morning started out pretty well in that I had gotten in around three AM from a late night and managed to catch six hours of sleep.  I normally didn’t need a lot of sleep and six hours was more than enough for me, call it a luxury even.  Waking up at eleven in the morning is a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who can do this but hasn’t yet tried it.  I took my time getting out of bed, letting blood flow to all the proper areas it was supposed to go to.  I pulled on my jeans, a T-shirt, fresh socks, my old sneakers and called it “dressed.”  There was two hundred and sixty-five dollars in my wallet burning a hole in the leather and with nothing else to spend it on I felt like being good to myself for a change.

Who knew what the day held?  When you were seventeen years old with nothing to do on a Saturday and you have a couple hundred dollars to blow on anything you wanted to then the possibilities were limitless.  That is, unless the phone rang before you could get your ass in gear and get away from it all … which is just what happened to me.

The cordless phone next to my bed rang and I realized again for the untold time just how annoying having a private phone line and such a modern convenience could really be at certain times of my life because only a few people had my number and since it was a private line, every time the phone rang it was always for me.  I sighed.  The second ring was even more annoying and grating than the first.  I bit my lip to keep from cursing.

Flynn, I guessed, probably wanting to do something or other on my personal day.

The third ring was even more demanding.

Flynn had been out from the action since he had blown a head gasket and warped his head on his '70 Goat.  This had put Flynn on the sideline for about a week as he took the time to rebuild both heads with new valvetrain hardware.  Earlier this week, he had mentioned that he might need my help today swinging wrenches but he hadn’t said anything else.  Maybe this was the call that I had been waiting for ... and dreading because even though I loved wrenching on cars I was really looking forward to having the day off to myself.  Being elbows deep in the engine bay of Flynn's Goat all day wasn't as exciting as it may have sounded a week ago.  I reached over and picked up the phone, laying on the bed and staring at my favorite poster stapled to my ceiling above; a beautiful, long haired Kristin Alfonso, wearing nothing but sexy semi-transparent lingerie, smiled back at me.

Girl of my dreams ...

I took in a deep breath and answered the phone on the fourth ring.

“What do you want?” I said nonchalantly.

“Did I wake you up?” Flynn asked.

“No.  I managed to do that without your help.” I replied.

"Did you go out to Purvis last night?"

"Yeah." I said, yawning.

“How much did you make last night?” he asked.

“Enough to keep me happy for a while.” I said digging the wad of crumpled up cash out of my front pocket and starting to sort it by denomination.  It was more than I made in three weeks working at County Market.

"Where were you last night?" I asked.

"Had better things to do." 

I heard the sound of Flynn drinking from his flask, the burble of liquid racing across his lips and down his throat.  I swore then and there that the man must have a leather esophagus.

“Let me guess.  You’ve been swinging wrenches all morning.” I said.

“Most of the morning, yeah.  I couldn’t sleep so I started to put my Goat back together.”

That was news.

“You got the Goat back together?  Is she running?”

“Oh, yeah!  I’ve been working on her since four this morning.  Got the rebuilt heads on, put it all back together and she’s running strong.  She is running stroooong.” Flynn said, playing the last word out for effect.

I sat there on the edge of the bed, as the words sunk into the gray matter that was still responding in my cranium.  

Flynn's Goat.  

Way back in 1978 Flynn had lucked up on the factory original Carousel Red 1969 Pontiac GTO in a farmer’s field.  Under Flynn’s ownership, the Goat had started its life as a rusty, faded paint covered body with a somewhat decent interior, four flat dry rotted tires, a non-running drive train and a herd of grazing cows to keep it company.  Flynn had shelled out five hundred dollars for the Goat and actually had to cut it out from the weeds where it had sat for the last five years of its life.  With the help of his friend, Sam, Flynn had loaded the Goat up on a trailer, towed it back to his house and after six weeks Flynn had it running again on the street and that’s when he started modifying it.

Flynn’s Goat was packing a 400 cubic inch Pontiac Ram Air III V8 motor under the hood running about 10.5:1 compression ratio.  The engine was now built to better than Ram Air IV specs and fed by functional twin hood scoops that brought cold, dense air to the always thirsty, heavily reworked Rochester Quadrajet four barrel carburetor, itself sitting on top of an aftermarket Edelbrock Performer series aluminum intake manifold.  A pair of worked over high-flow D-port heads, a custom camshaft based off of the original Ram Air III "068" grind and a set of Hooker headers with true dual exhausts really allowed the engine to breathe deep and strong all the way to 6000 RPM  and then some.  Throw in a 3.90 geared Saf-T-Track limited slip differential in a heavy duty ten bolt rear end with a Hurst equipped Muncie M-21 close-ratio four speed manual transmission to row through the gears and you had one bad ass street machine that did a pretty fair job of bending space and time as well as Flynn did himself. 

Flynn had let me drive his GTO two or three times before and only once had he let me put my foot into it all the way.  The GTO wasn't a very good street car and thinking of it as a possible daily driver or commuter choice only stressed the fact that someone didn't really know how the GTO was set up.  It idled rough, it didn't like low speed or heavy traffic where driving it was more toil than treat.  Even after the engine had warmed up the Ram Air III V8 acted like a drunken sailor with palsey below 3000 RPM, rough and staggering, but dance on the pedals, row it into a lower gear and nail the long skinny pad to the floor and the GTO went supersonic when the tach needle crossed the 3000 RPM mark and it just pulled ... it just pulled hard like no other engine I'd ever had my foot all the way into and it pulled all the way to 6000 RPM if I could trust the hood mounted tachometer on the Goat, at least that's where I saw Flynn shift the most ... at the six grand mark.

And it growled ... just like the tiger nicknamesake ... the GTO growled wherever it went.  Up and down streets, on the highway, and in parking lots.  Heads turned because a dinosaur was walking the Earth again.  She growled but put your foot into her and she roared with a sound that came right out of the Book of Revelation complete with the gnashing of gears and the wailing of rubber.

Yeah ... Flynn's GTO was pretty damn smurfy.

“So, when do you think you’ll actually get her back out on the street?” I asked.

My only answer was the sound of Flynn’s ass jostling down into what I mentally pictured was the driver’s seat.  I heard keys jangle as they were inserted into the ignition, pedals being worked, first the clutch, then the accelerator.  Once, twice, three times, four.  I heard the Hurst four speed being rowed through the gears, mechanical parts and linkages following through the range of their motion limits, metal on metal, gears and springs, wires and runners rubbing against each other, all assembling for the reawakening.

Music to my ears.

My heart went to fast idle in anticipation of what my ears drew as a picture in my mind’s eye.  There came a cacophony of sound the likes of which could not be imagined short of reading the Book of Revelation.  The 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8 under the hood of the Goat spun over and rotated; a coarse, wet metallic sound of moving parts that was unforgettable, like an earthquake in a salvage yard, a grinding and meshing of high performance parts awakening from a long slumber.  The starter spun the rotating assembly, one complete revolution, two complete revolutions, three complete revolutions.  The engine spun as the starter worked feverishly to rotate the engine’s internal parts.  I imagined the ignition system firing its pulses to the spark plugs, connected along the chrome valve covers by yellow Accel ignition wires held in place by black plastic wire looms. 

Four complete revolutions. 

Five complete revolutions.

Flynn was kicking the devil as hard as he could but she didn’t want to wake up from her long nap of many days.  Fuel and air flowed into the cylinders.  The pistons rose to compress the feral mixture until it couldn’t be compressed anymore.  

And then God said let there be light and the light was good ... and loud.

Fire leapt from the electrode tip of the spark plug and danced among the volatile mixture of fuel and air in the cylinder.  The miracle of internal combustion was spawned in all of that primordial soup and mechanical life became manifest.  The resulting explosion in the cylinder drove the forged piston down, accelerating it on its way to the bottom end where it would do a quick turn around before heading back up to the top for yet more punishment.  

Hell in metal.

The 400 growled to life, sputtered, and started to die.

Flynn pumped the accelerator like it was on fire then his foot went to the floor in an effort to save the dying engine.  The 400 sputtered, gasping at a few hundred RPMs; loped, dangerously low in the revs, then started getting stronger … slowly the sound of the engine grew stronger.  The revs and the sound of the exhaust grew in intensity, slowly but surely, then faster, and faster, burbling ever louder until I was listening to a mechanical imitation of what amounted to nothing less in aural intensity than what I imagined a T-Rex would sound like if it was getting gang raped.

“Oh baby!  Ah!  Hahahahahahahaha!  Yeah!  Hell yeah!!” Flynn shouted, his loud voice almost drowned out by the roar of the 400.

I held the cordless phone out at arms length and I could still hear Flynn shouting.  I could still hear the Goat, its engine racing and its exhaust speaking volumes of defiance and hatred for the world of economy and lackluster performance, and anger at having been awoken from such a long slumber.  I cautiously put the phone back to my ear as the 400 settled down into a steady if somewhat wild lope.  I could imagine the grin on his face as he sat there in the garage, portable phone tucked back into the crook of his neck, hands on the wheel, sitting there on the high performance throne that was the Goat’s driver’s seat.

“Do you need a cigarette after all of that?” I asked.

I heard Flynn exhale into the phone on the other side.

“Already got one, thank you so very much."

A pause as I could almost see Flynn taking a long drag and exhaling ... a victory toke full of flavor and self-satisfaction.

"We’ll ....  What do you think?” Flynn asked.

“Cold natured bitch, isn’t she?” I said.

“So's your mother.” Flynn answered.  “Want to take her out for a spin?”

“Who?  My mother?” I asked, smiling.

“No, dick whistle.  Do you want to take the Goat out and blow the soot out of her?”

It was like an invitation to go to the moon on a rocketship. 

For free.

Flynn didn’t need to ask me twice.

“Let me defunk, re-rag and I’ll be over in an hour.”

“Works for me, I’ve got to do that as well.  Make it an hour and a half.” Flynn said, laughing.

Flynn was in a good mood.

That was rare.

The Goat. 

I hung the phone up and went about the business of life, taking my time in the shower letting the hot water wash away the tired muscles from the night before.  Fifteen minutes later found some fresh jeans, a T-shirt and me throwing some deodorant on as a countermeasure to what life may shove my way.  I looked at my boots, didn't feel like wearing the kind of shirt that boots went with and pulled my sneakers on instead.  I said goodbye to my parents as I headed for the door.  There was a certain spring in my step because I was going to get to ride in the Goat!  Flynn and I were going to blow the soot out of it which meant that we were going to go somewhere and raise some kind of hell.

Hell yes!

The day was warm and clear, the sun was almost straight overhead so I decided to just leave the glass T-tops on the '79 TA and run the air conditioning.  I slid into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition.  The 403 under the hood spun over and caught on the third rotation, loping to idle as she came awake.  I let her idle for a few minutes as I checked the Rally gages.  Everything seemed fine, and I listened to my car for any signs of changes.  I had flogged her pretty hard last night on the line but in all the years that I had owned her, she had never let me down. 

The air started to blow ice cold and I pushed the cassette hanging out of the Kenwood stereo all the way in and hit the rewind button.  The Kenwood had an automatic music search feature that was double nice.  Five seconds later, the soothing sounds of Black Sabbath’s “Southern Cross” on their Mob Rules album began to hammer at me through the speakers.  Good enough.  I pulled on my fingerless leather driving gloves, checked the mirrors, then turned in the driver’s seat to look over my right shoulder and back out of the driveway.

The afternoon was still full of promise and options.  

I never thought that it might very well be my last afternoon on Earth.

I parked the Trans-Am in Flynn’s driveway, right behind his white ‘69 LeMans convertible.  The garage door was open and I could see the faded Carousel Red colored ‘69 Goat parked there, dual black snouted ram air scoops, factory hood tach, flat black rear pedestal wing.  Even without her lipstick and rouge, The Goat was still one hell of a fine lady, swift of gait and sure footed.  I turned the Trans-Am off, grabbed a mail order catalog off of the dash and walked toward the open garage, looking for Flynn.  It was then that I noticed him sitting in the passenger seat of the Goat, staring straight ahead with a serene look on his face.  I walked towards the Goat and Flynn raised his flask, taking a hit from it then lowering it again. 

I threw the mail order catalog at him and he caught it.

"What's this?" he asked.

"Your Ames Performance Engineering GTO catalog." I said.


"It's got your name on it." I said.

Flynn flipped the catalog over to look at the address.

"Sure as hell does.  How did you get it?"

I shrugged my shoulders.

"It wound up in my mailbox ... probably the same way you got my APE Firebird catalog that time."

"The post office is so retarded." Flynn muttered.  "I've been waiting on this for a while now."

I leaned on the driver’s side door of the GTO.

“Hey!  Careful!  Don’t scratch the paint.”  Flynn said, flipping through the pages of the catalog.

“Yeah, right.  Krylon in a rattle can would be an improvement.” I replied, opening the door and settling into the driver’s seat.  

“If you want, we’ll stop by Walmart and I’ll buy you ten cans.  That should be enough to do the whole car." I added.

“Hey!  Screw your clever idea.”

I opened the driver's side door and sat down in the driver's seat.  The interior of the Goat was different from the Trans Am but it was easily recognizable as pure Pontiac, even though only ten model years separated the two cars in build and production.  Ten years was a long time for the automotive industry, a lot had changed between 1969 and 1979, a whole hell of a lot.  My eyes scanned across the dash, going from left to right over the curved, simulated wood grain finish and the gages in their pods.  Three knobs on the left side of the dash, near the curve, controlled the headlights, windshield wipers / washer, and the illumination intensity of the dash gages.  A patch near the lights had been rubbed black, where the simulated wood grain finish had been rubbed off through years of using the switch there.

I sat there in the driver’s seat, staring out across the steering wheel, over the dash, at the twin ram air scoops and the hood tach, the black ’79 Trans-Am in the driveway, and the street beyond.  My gloved hand slid over the steering column, over the steering wheel and around the rim.  I turned to run my hand over the door panels, along the headliner and finally slid my right hand around the worn aluminum T-handle of the Hurst four speed.

It fit perfectly. 

I squeezed. 


There was no radio in the Goat, only a gaping socket where one should have been, the nature of which was offset slightly by a nearly perfect bezel.  I almost expected to see cobwebs in the recesses of the interior.  It wouldn’t matter; the motor was its own orchestra, conducting its symphony through the exhaust, a performance not to be missed.  Flynn rode around in his '69 Lemans convertible most of the time but he brought The Goat out every now and then, especially if we were going to a meet up or a street match.  The Goat was all business, serious business, she was Flynn's betting machine, his cash winner and she was about to be brought back to the street.

I took it all in, every smell, touch, sight, I let my senses dance on the lines and sensory stimulation of something that had been brand new when I was born.  Memories of my childhood came rushing back.  The Goat wasn’t a car, per se.  It was a time machine.  It was a time machine even when it wasn’t moving.  I slowly returned to the here and now, looking over at Flynn who now leaned over into the driver's side.  He took a long drag from his flask.  I smelled whiskey; Jack Daniels was his trusted brand of choice.

“Yeah.  She does that for me too sometimes when I sit here, in her, in the garage, sometimes late at night.  I just get kind of …”

He paused.

“I just get kind of pulled away, you know, pulled apart from here, from now, to way back then.” Flynn said, trailing off into silence, gesturing with his hands, the flask still in his left hand, careful not to shake it so much that any of the liquid gold inside might spill and be wasted.

“I had just been born when she rolled off the factory line.” I said. 

“Hell.  I was twenty.  Didn't have the first clue about how the world worked, just some dumb ass kid thinking I knew everything.” Flynn said.

Silence stretched out for an eternity.

Flynn took another drink, then thought better and took a longer drink and waved with his left hand for me to get a move on.

“What?  You want me to drive her?” I asked, incredulously.

Flynn turned to me and nodded.

“Well, I’ve been drinking all damn morning and I’m still drinking now so I can’t very well get behind the wheel, now can I?”

“You could.” I said.  “I don’t think it would be any different from how you normally drive.”

Flynn flipped me off, holding out the keys to the Goat with his middle finger.

"You're serious?" I asked, making sure before I lifted the key ring from around his erect middle finger.

Flynn didn't answer, he just walked around to the passenger side, opened the door and got in and that was all the answer that I really needed.   I reached my gloved hand forward, put the key in the ignition and turned it one notch forward.  I heard the electrical system start up as all of the gages in the dash pod threw their needles at the zero start points.  I depressed the clutch pedal to the floor, it felt strong.  I pumped it a few times, testing, and tried the brake pedal in a similar manner.  

Both felt good.  

Solid, like they had something backing them on the other end. 

I adjusted the driver’s seat as far back as it would go to accommodate my five foot twelve frame.  My left foot went back to the clutch pedal and depressed it fully as my right hand rowed the Hurst shifter out of gear into neutral, nonchalantly moving it around in its neutral position, getting a feel for it.  I dry rowed the shifter through each gear, remembering the shift gate before letting the heavy shifter drop back to neutral.  I pumped the accelerator a few times to prime the carb with fuel before I turned the key all the way to the start position.

I might as well have stepped on the devil’s own pointed tail.

The engine in front of me sputtered and roared to life, shaking the whole car and settling into an awkward lope.  I watched the gages come alive as their needles danced.  I watched the track of the seconds hand on the clock.  Ten seconds.  Fifteen seconds.  I worked my foot on the accelerator, gently revving the motor, getting a feel for the accelerator.  There was a little play in the accelerator, and what I thought was a slight sticking problem.  The accelerator didn’t want to move at first, but then with a little pressure, it popped and started moving kind of ... sticky.  This feeling didn’t go away so easing into the accelerator took a little bit of effort followed by the immediate backing off of any applied pressure lest you suddenly get too much pedal.  I let off the accelerator and watched the needle on the hood mounted tachometer fall back down to fifteen hundred RPM.  I raced the engine once.  Twenty five hundred RPM, back to fifteen hundred at fast idle.  I raced the engine again, the garage was filled with the sound of the 400 roaring and the exhaust snarling.  Three thousand RPM, and the needle on the hood tach fell down to around eight hundred RPM, slow idle.  The temperature gauge broke its stop and started moving from cold towards hot, all indications that Flynn had let her idle well before I had showed up.

The Goat was awake and either the fuel gage was broken or she was really thirsty and would need a good, long drink soon.

I worked the Hurst, shifting into first gear.  I eased out of the clutch, slowly, slowly, getting a feel.  The clutch engaged, the Goat jumped forward, chirped her wheels and stalled as the engine died.  Flynn and I rocked in our seats and the car came to a stop.  

"Maybe I better drive after all." Flynn muttered.

"You drive like a girl." I replied.

"At least I can get my Goat out of the garage without stalling it ..." Flynn muttered.

I sighed and gripped the shifter with a wary caution.

“Clutch is a little on the short side.” he stated.

I cranked the Goat again, revved the 400 cubic inch motor and purposely worked the clutch hard leaving two short strips of fresh peeled rubber in Flynn’s garage.  Burning rubber was easy on the slick concrete.

“Hey!  Damn!  Easy on the rubber!” Flynn shouted, almost spilling his flask of whiskey as the Goat surged in a torque wave, getting all slidey then leaping ahead.

“You’re right!  The clutch is a little on the short side.” I said with a smile, letting the Goat gently ease its nose fully out into the sunlight.

"Asshole." Flynn muttered, smiling.

I parked the Goat next to the Trans-Am in the drive way, hit the emergency brake, and left her idling as I got out and closed Flynn’s garage door, locking it.  Flynn had too many smurfy toys in there not to be overly cautious even in this reserved neighborhood.  I walked back to the Goat, marveling at her fine lines, and the rumble of her exhaust, how the exhaust tips vibrated.  The driver’s seat felt a lot different from that of the Pontiac, and I tried to find a comfortable position.  I reached around the seat with my hand, searching.


“She doesn’t have any.” Flynn said.

“She doesn’t have any what?” I asked, looking back up at him.

“Seat belts.  You know, the things that you're looking for."

I sighed.

The Goat didn't have any seat belts.

"Why not?"

Flynn shrugged his shoulders.

"I took them out when I put in new carpet last week.  Just haven’t put them back in yet.  Lazy, I guess.  I never use them anyway.”

I tapped the steering wheel with both hands in mock amazement.

"I use them!" I said.

Flynn shrugged his shoulders.

“Great.  You hand me the keys to a rolling rocketship and there’s no way to strap yourself in?”

Flynn looked over at me, drunken smile on his face, shaking his head slowly.

“I never wear my seat belt.  Seat belt is only for people who want to grow old.” He said.

“You're old.  I want to grow old.” I said, holding the wheel. 

“That’s because you’re a sissy.  Growing old is a curse.  Don't wish for it.  Trust me.”

A seatbelt was my one thing which I didn't ever go anywhere in a car or truck without wearing.

“Damn, Shields.  Try to live a little dangerously from time to time.  It’s not like you’re going to live forever anyway and what have you got to look forward to but social security, watching re-runs of old game shows all day long and pissing in your adult diapers?  That and eating cat food right out of the can.”  Flynn said, laughing.

I shrugged and threw the Goat into gear, worked the clutch, and headed out into the street in front of Flynn’s house.  The steering felt tight, with just a little hint of play.   

“And you're sure you want me to drive?”

“Yeah.”  Flynn said.  “I trust you.  Right now I just want to go for a ride.”

“And drink.” I said.

Flynn nodded enthusiastically, raising his flask in a salute.

“And drink!” Flynn said, taking another hit from his flask.  

“You just drive.  I’m going to listen for noises I don’t like and try to feel anything out that might  be wrong.  You drive, I’ll see if she’s got any problems.  Fine tune it, so to speak, with my ear and my rear.”

“Acoustic posterior tuning?” I asked.

“That sounds like as good a term as any.  APT.  I like it.  Hold on ... let me lock up.”

Flynn hopped out and closed the garage door, making sure everything was locked up before he climbed back in.  I slid my hands into my half-finger driving gloves, fixing the velcro straps and gripping the shifter and steering wheel.

"I may have to get me a pair of those." Flynn said, pointing at my gloves.

"I don't drive anything without wearing them."

"So I noticed."

I reached down under the dash and pulled the knob labeled "RAM AIR" and the hood scoops opened, allowing cold, fresh air to be drawn in by the carburetor.  I pulled the Hurst hard into second giving her some gas and enjoying the pure seat of the pants feel that so much torque could produce.  The sound of the engine was a mesmerizing droning roar, especially as the RPMs began to climb, while the exhaust was something that the Earth hadn’t heard for millions of years.  Three blocks later, I had the feel of the clutch and was rowing gears in a manner that caused Flynn to keep his comments mostly to himself.  The fuel gauge was looking pretty grim and I could only imagine that the 400 was one of the few things in life that could out drink Flynn.  

I pulled the Goat into the Exxon station on Hardy Street, near Forrest General hospital.  Flynn got out and pulled the hood pins, raising the hood to inspect the engine while I fed ten dollars worth of premium into the tank of the Goat, running my hand over the flat black pedestal style factory wing mounted to the rear trunk lid.  I finished filling up the Goat and paid the station attendant in cash, getting a bottle of Pepsi as an afterthought, drawing the bottle from a half barrel of iced down drinks near the register, and using the change from the gas to pay for it.  I pushed open the door to the parking lot.  Flynn was still there bent over the fender, working under the hood.  He looked up at the sound of the door opening.

“Hey, get me a pack of Winstons, will you?  Regulars.” He said, looking up just long enough to bark the order before getting back to business.

I went back inside and got his cigarettes, thought better of it and bought him a second pack as well.  I headed back out to the Goat as Flynn pulled down a paper towel from the dispenser near the pump and started wiping his hands.  He threw the towel away then closed the hood on the Goat, reinserting the hood pins that held the hood in place.  We both climbed into the Goat and shut our doors at the same time, a double rough metal rattling clap that echoed in the interior as I handed Flynn his packs of smokes.

"Two?  You must like me." Flynn said.

"Naw.  I just know how you smoke and I didn't want to hear you whine about not having your cancer sticks ..."

Flynn laughed, shook his head and then acted like a kid having a birthday party.  He unwrapped the pack of cigarettes, tapping them against his palm to settle the tobacco.  I fired up the Goat and worked the gear shift again as Flynn fired up his own method of internal combustion, taking in a deep breath and blowing the smoke out his nostrils and the open window.  I took a long swig of the Pepsi and screwed the cap back on.  There was no center console, so I stuck the bottle between the door and the lower seat cushion, which seemed to hold it pretty well for want of a cup holder.

The Goat didn't like being in heavy traffic, it drove a lot different than the ’79 Trans-Am, more power, but it didn’t feel as sure footed in the corners.  The 400 was also a real bitch below 3000 rpm, rough running which meant that driving it in traffic was a chore.  It rattled a lot, it creaked when it turned ...  The 400 kept an even temperature with no spikes, even in heavy traffic, which surprised me I guess more than it should have.  Flynn had built this engine to run hard time after time ...  I silently wished for seat belts, even if it was just lap belts, because I didn’t like sliding around in a seat or having to brace myself on quick stops.  The brakes felt good, strong, but I was used to being restrained and I felt totally naked without a seat belt.  Flynn seemed to be right at home without one and now that I thought about it, I had never seen him wear one except when he rode with me.  I didn’t know if that was out of respect because I wore mine or because my driving really scared him.

I figured he wore it out of respect.

We always joked about our driving skills and rode each other pretty hard but it was all in fun.  After all, if Flynn didn’t think much of my driving skills I truly doubted that he would be letting me drive his Goat, the pride and joy of his collection and his single most favorite piece of Detroit steel.

Thirty minutes of cruising and some spirited, half throttle driving put us both in a mellow mood.  The roar of the 400 was intoxicating and twice we had pulled up next to another car, once it was a new Tuned Port Injected Corvette, another time it was an ’84 Mustang GT.  The lope of the 400 and her voice through the exhausts was enough to intimidate the two other drivers into backing down at the light.  The Mustang driver had torqued up and let off his clutch, chirping the rear tires and jumping forward in a half hearted attempt at a challenge.  When I revved the 400 in response and clutch jumped the rear hides into instant smoke the Mustang driver had smiled and laughingly shook his head.  I even offered him fifty dollars to run and Flynn said he'd back that bet if I didn't have enough to cover it but the Ford driver wasn't going to let himself be suckered in.  Too bad ... Flynn and I could have used the money and it would have been girl money at that.

The Goat was in an entirely different league than the Ford; it wouldn’t have even been fair for the GT.  When the light turned green, no challenge was offered, and the Goat continued to prowl the streets where she had no apparent equal or at least nothing close to appear to challenger her.

Dance on the pedals.

Row through the gears.

See that needle on the hood tach arc over from left to right.

No stereo ... just the growl of the engine, the thunder of the exhaust and the whistle of the wind.

“Hey!” Flynn shouted, turning to face me in his seat like he had just gotten a telegraph from God.

“What?” I shouted, staring straight ahead.

“Where is that road?” Flynn asked.

“What road?” I asked.  

"That road."

“I know of a lot of roads….”

That road.  You know …”  Flynn replied.

What road?” I asked again, really not knowing where Flynn was going with his question.

Flynn tapped his head hard, fast and sighed, sitting back in his seat with his head staring at the ceiling.

"Gah!" he said in frustration.

“What damn road are you talking about?” I asked, getting a little frustrated myself.

“You know, that road, that goddamn road where you took me one time to show me what your Trans-Am would do.  That long straight road that goes forever and has that really bad curve in the middle.  You know, the one you slid through with the TA at 70mph like it was nothing.”


That road.

Bonhomie road.

Just outside the city limits.

I used that road to test new sports cars that I managed to drive at the dealerships as it was good for turning car salesmen a whiter shade of pale in short order.  It was about two miles of fresh blacktop that turned into a gentle ninety degree sweeping curve to the right at the end, dumping out onto Springfield Road beyond.  I loved to throw the Pontiac at speed through that curve, using every ounce of performance engineering that had gone into the WS-6 suspension on the heavy Pontiac to leave tire tracks and pinched up seat material on the exit of the curve.  I had almost made Flynn wet himself the first time I took the Pontiac through that curve at over seventy miles an hour, sliding her sideways, cutting the wheel, and using the torque of the 403 to counter steer out of the slide, nailing the pedal to the floor and laying down rubber on the straight away again.  Flynn never said anything bad about my car after that, and he seriously thought about how he could start to get his own LeMans and his GTO set up for better handling.

The Cameo Ivory colored LeMans was able to out power the Trans-Am with its stock Pontiac four barrel 350 cubic inch V8 and three speed automatic transmission, but it wasn’t an easy contest and the few times that we had raced each other it was neck and neck because what distance Flynn gained in the straight-aways, he lost in the curves where I stayed right on his ass with the nose of the ’79 Trans-Am.  It gave him fits that a smogger like my ’79 could out handle his non-smogger.  He had the power on the straights, I had the handling in the curves.  Sometimes I could get the holeshot on Flynn, especially the time he was running his badly slipping transmission and Flynn had to pay hell to close the distance.  The Pontiac 350 V8 in the LeMans, matched with the Saf-T-Track, the three speed automatic and his deep gears was good for boiling the hides down to ribbons if he wanted to.  My Trans-Am stayed squirrely through first gear, slip sliding away and burning the hides until the THM350 would upshift to second hard enough to chirp the tires again … and then I’d be gone.  After I dropped the B&M torque converter and the 3.42 gears into the Trans-Am, it became a lot more of a challenge for him to get much distance on me, much to his chagrin.

Bonhommie road.

It was just one of many roads I had found that saw almost no traffic, it was a brain fart in some civil engineer’s mind, or possibly there had been a subdivision or commercial park planned for that area, one that fell through leaving the access road already built and paved.  For whatever reason Bonhommie road existed, it was there to be used, and we used the hell out of it for grudge matches and scaring poor innocent car salesmen to death when we did new test drives.

Bonhommie road was an off-branch of Tatum road, itself a five lane tributary that ran from Highway 49 to the start of Broadway Drive.  There was nothing out here but asphalt and the chance to misbehave.  Sometimes late at night, I would haul some sucker out here and we’d line our cars up for a run from one end of Tatum to the other, turn around in a power slide and head back.  The first one to make the full run got the cash.  I had taken many much dollars on this road, and lost a couple of handfuls as well.  Fun and lessons learned.  The far end of Tatum was covered in black tire marks, thick black skid marks and half circle shaped rubber burns from turning and gassing to throw out the rear end and slide around faster than normal, followed by thick skid marks from low speed rolling burnouts as power trains fought for traction during pedal to the metal acceleration.  A little down the road from the end, headed back, were several patches of skid marks, the evidence of spirited, under full power upshifts from first gear to second, all from a variety of performance machines, mine included.  

Tatum wasn’t The Line, but it was a lot closer and easier to use.

“Why do you want to go there?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“To let her stretch her legs a little.” Flynn said.  “You’ve just been playing with her for an hour, teasing her.  Now let’s go put your foot into her and see how long her legs will stretch.”

"She's got some deep gears ... you sure you want to wind them out on the top end?" I asked.

"She'll do more on high than you think." he said.

I shrugged my shoulders.

Sounded good to me.

I angled through traffic, down Broadway drive until I brought the Goat up the cloverleaf ramp and onto Highway 49 South.  Bonhommie Road was right outside of town and ten minutes later found us sitting idling at the beginning of that long stretch of blacktop.  I stared straight ahead down Bonhommie road.  At the end, over two miles away of flat two lane straight, was the start of the right hand bender.  Trees lined each side, while on Tatum road the trees were removed from the shoulder by a good fifty feet, giving a margin of safety in the event of a run-off.  Not so with Bonhommie.  Bonhommie was a narrow black trail between two lines of thick brown topped in lush green.

No margin for error because thick southern pine trees moved aside for no one. 


A lot of people had found that out the hardway over the years.

I breathed out heavily, adjusted my driving gloves, and gripped the wheel and the Hurst shifter, ready to row and go.  Flynn took a long drink and stared down at the road ahead of us, nodding.

“Yeah.  This is the road.” He said excitedly, looking around.  "This is the road!"

Flynn turned in his seat and looked around the Goat in all directions and I did as well, checking for any other traffic.  Nothing.  We were totally alone, in the middle of nowhere, and we had a built-up 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8 under the hood ready to strut her stuff.  The dual hood scoops were already open for performance, ready to duct cold air to the waiting Rochester Quadrajet four barrel carburetor.  Flynn put his flask back down and leaned his arm out along the open window of the passenger side, I saw him tense up slightly as he braced himself for the acceleration he knew was about to come.  Flynn’s second Winston was half way finished, caught between his lips, smoke slowly wisping away from the tip.

“Let her run.” Flynn said motioning one fingered with the hand that held the flask.

"You're sure?" I asked, gloved hand on the shifter.

"Yeah.  Put your foot into her.  She likes it when you do that."

I don’t even think that I acknowledged him.  

One second we were sitting there, idling loudly, loping, motionless, and the next all hell was breaking loose around us.  I had mastered the clutch and shifter enough that I could row the gears with some ferocity.  The clutch pedal started to let out as I gave the accelerator a lot more of my foot than I'd done so far.  The accelerator seemed ... stubborn ... the farther down I pressed it but I just applied more pressure to it and the Goat roared away from a dead stop amid the screaming of tires, the Pontiac unable to get a grip against the gobs of torque the modified 400 was producing.   I tried to match the rise of the clutch pedal with twice the speed of the fall of the accelerator pedal, somewhere in their opposite but approaching journeys, they passed in mid swing and the Goat squatted down, pinning Flynn and I into the back of our seats.

“God!” I shouted out loud, laughing.

“I told you!” Flynn shouted.

The rear tires screamed all the way through first gear, just screamed as the needle swung wildly from left to right there on the hood tach.  The rear end started to slide and I worked the accelerator, letting off the gas until the rear tires got traction, then planting the still somewhat stubborn accelerator again to the floor for all it was worth.  The screaming rear hides caught, jerking us forward.  My hand stood ready on the shifter as the engine screamed up through the revs.  I watched the hood mounted tachometer as the needle swung across the face of the gauge.

Two thousand.

Three thousand.

And like that the engine started to pull harder and harder.

Four thousand.

Five thousand.

Six thousand.

The motor started to peter out, you could feel it peak and then start to fall away from pulling.  Clutch in, row the gear back hard, clutch pedal out fast.  The rear end barked loudly, shaking the whole car and leaving a good patch of dark rubber in our passage.  Flynn was screaming like a cowboy on a cattle drive, offering encouragement to me and to his car.  The trees on either side were flying by in a green and brown blur.    My eyes darted from the road ahead to the tach on the hood.

Three thousand RPM.

Four thousand RPM.

Five thousand RPM.

Six thousand RPM.

Clutch in, row the Hurst shifter forward from second gear  into third gear, let the clutch out hard, chirp the rear hides.  

The 400 under the hood was roaring, air was being sucked in by the two open hood scoops, being drawn down into the Rochester Quadrajet four barrel carburetor lurking there underneath, mixing the air and fuel and providing the engine with what it needed to plant us so far back into the seat cushion.  I shifted to fourth gear with an easy row and a lighter step on the clutch.  Final gear and I had the accelerator matted to the floor as far as I could push it and then some and that was probably when everything all started to go to hell.  The 400 was taking long strides now, breathing deep and full as she carried us ever faster.  I glanced down at the speedometer.  It was reading just over a hundred miles an hour and the needle was slowly heading towards a hundred and ten as the engine screamed towards its redline.  I glanced up to see the ninety degree right hand bender about a mile ahead.  

That was probably enough of letting the old girl stretch her legs and I felt that I'd blown the soot out of her.  Flynn had gotten what he had asked for and I'd gotten a taste of what Flynn probably took for granted on so many nights when he and the GTO went out racing.  I let off the accelerator pedal and ... the accelerator pedal didn’t come off the floor.

“What ... the ... hell ...” I said flatly.

The accelerator was stuck flat to the floor.

That wasn't good ... which was in itself a huge understatement of the situation.

A look of mild surprise crossed my face as I stomped the accelerator pedal again.  It didn’t raise from the floor.  I stomped it again, as hard as I could.  It didn’t move one bit, like it had been glued to the carpet.  Yeah, that wasn't good.  That wasn't good in a very bad way.  The 400 was screaming under the hood, the speedometer was climbing past a hundred and ten and we were running out of road in a hurry.  A dense line of thick Southern pines was waiting to embrace us straight ahead.

“You might want to start slowing down ..." Flynn said flatly.

"Yeah?  Think so?"

"Just a thought is all ...” Flynn said, nonchalantly, still braced and enjoying the ride.

Flynn was oblivious.

I gritted my teeth and stomped the accelerator pedal three more times.  


It refused to cooperate.  

I tried to dig the toe of my shoe in under the pedal and pry it up but that didn’t work either. 

“Son of a bitch ...” I said loudly, staring from the speedometer and hood mounted tachometer to the curve and the tree line ahead.

I guess that’s when Flynn first realized that something might have been wrong.  One big clue was me stomping the accelerator pedal and the look on my face.  He stared from me, back to the road, and then at me again.

“Hey?  What the ….?!” He asked out loud, trailing off.

Realization dawned on him that something really damn serious wrong was going on and he might just have been the last person to be informed about it.

"Fuck's wrong!?" he shouted.

I don’t think he was very happy about being left out of the loop but I was just a little busy at that instant in time to have a full blown press conference on the rapidly developing situation.   

"Fuck's wrong!?" Flynn shouted again, louder this time, concern finally starting to cross his expression.

Up ahead, the road started to turn to the right in a curve that held a yellow warning sign indicating it was rated for forty miles an hour or almost three times less than we were currently doing. 

“Damn pedal is stuck!” I said, stomping the pedal and trying to dig it out of the floor with my boot.

"Which one?" he shouted.

Which one? I thought to myself ... Brilliant!  The brake pedal is stuck, you dumbass hippy!  That's why we're going faster and faster!

"Guess!" I shouted because while I thought of something sarcastic I didn't have the time to say anything sarcastic.

Flynn then leaned over slightly, looking down at the floor on the driver's side like he would really be able to do anything about what was happening, like he was about to use some telekinesis to miracle the pedal up off the floor with his mind.

“What!?  You're fucking kidding!?” Flynn shouted, looking from the curve ahead to me and back again.

"No I'm not fucking kidding!" I reassured him in a not so nice way.

“Christ!!" Flynn shouted.

"Do you want me to kill it?!" I shouted.

Flynn looked up at the approaching curve.

"Kill it!  Kill it!  Kill it!” he shouted, waving his hand for emphasis.

I had to make a split second decision there.  If I turned the engine off and she didn’t die I would have to throw her into neutral and let the Goat grenade her heart out.  Goodbye 400.  I acted on instinct then, pushed the clutch to the floor as the 400 screamed even louder.  I pulled the Hurst back into neutral then turned the key in the ignition carefully back one notch.

The 400 sputtered and died.  

Just like that.

The silence was deafening with only the sound of the road under our tires and the slipstream of a hundred plus mile an hour wind howling at us through the open windows.  The curve was less than a quarter mile ahead of us, by my guess. I still had steering, the column wasn't locked but the steering was suddenly more taxing without the factory power assist.  I knew that without engine power I had two, maybe three pushes of the brake pedal before the power reserve was gone and when that was gone the brakes would feel like I was trying to push them through a foot of modeling clay jammed up under the pedal.

Front disc brakes and rear drum brakes grabbed and I stood on them hard.

The Goat dipped her nose.


The front brakes locked up.

Tires screamed.

I think Flynn did, too.

I let off the brakes to unlock them and pumped them down hard again.  Our speed began to bleed off noticeably and then the curve was on us.  I started to cut the steering wheel as I glanced down at the speedometer.  The needle fell past seventy miles an hour going into the curve but unlike my Trans Am, the suspension of the Goat was rather basic, even primative ... real Fred Flintstone era technology.  I let off the brakes and the screaming continued so the screaming was definitely coming from the seat beside me.  I started to cut the wheel to the right, powering through the curve with all the grace that the Goat could give me.  I looked up as the nose of the Goat entered the curve.  

My first thought was "Oh God I have seriously fucked up!"

My second thought was "We are both going to die!"

My third thought was "Screw it.  I'm going to drive this GTO all the way into Hell."

The world went strangely calm then.

“Hold on!” I shouted ... or maybe I shouted something else, not sure.  It could have been "Hold on!" but it sounded more like "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!" but then I think that was Flynn making that sound.

At this speed if I couldn't make the curve we'd end up either French kissing a pine tree or wrapping ourselves around one and since the suspension of the 1960's era muscle cars paled in comparison to the suspension technology of the two decades that followed chances were good that this wasn't going to be pretty.  Flynn, still screaming, went rigid in his seat, staring straight ahead at the line of trees that were waiting for us.  Flynn braced himself, pushing himself back and up in his seat, both feet on the floor, locked straight, his hand gripping the roof of the Goat while his other hand pressed firmly on the dash.  

I cut the wheel hard, working the brakes just hard enough to keep them from locking up and steering into the curve, cutting the wheel into the curve.  

The rear end came loose and started to slide around to the left behind me.  

I grabbed the steering wheel and turned the GTO into the slide.  

The Goat overcorrected then the Goat started to slide to the right.  I cut the steering wheel hard to the right, again, turning into the slide.  

The Goat overcorrected and started to slide its rear to the left again.  

I cut the steering wheel hard to the left and then steadied the Goat out, getting her nose pointed straight towards the exit to the curve before putting my foot back into the brake pedal.


30 miles per hour.

20 miles per hour.

10 miles per hour.

... and the Pontiac, Flynn and I came to a rocking stop in the middle of the road halfway out the curve on the other side.

I sat there for a few seconds.

Both hands on the steering wheel.

Foot on the brake pedal.

Heart racing.

It was quiet.

It was so quiet.

Well, except for Flynn who was still screaming ... just one long drawn out scream and then he realized that we were not going to die and he just kind of stopped screaming and shut up.

And then it was really, really quiet.

Flynn was quiet, staring straight ahead, in a four limb muscle lock, solidly braced, his mouth still wide open and his breathing coming fast and shallow.  The funny thing was, his still lit Winston was stuck to his lower lip, hanging there teetering with his shaking.  I guess it had pasted itself there on his dry lip when he had started to scream, that he hadn’t been able to blow it away in his panic.  Flynn’s dangling cigarette finally obeyed the laws of gravity and fell down into his lap.  Four whole seconds passed before he realized this, hurriedly looked down and frantically started slapping at it to extinguish it.  

I closed my eyes and leaned my head back into the GTO's driver's seat, my heart skipped a few beats and my chest hurt.  My hands gripped the steering wheel as tight as I could, drawing in a deep breath.  My chest heaved and fell.  My ribs hurt and I thought my heart would burst from my chest, blood roared in my ears and then it all faded away.  A spasm ran from my spine to my rib cage, vibrating my chest and causing me some trouble at breathing.

Get calm, I thought to myself.  

Get it together.

I took a deep breath as I counted to four, held it for the count of four then breathed it out for the count of four.

Everything got better quick.

I repeated that exercise and everything was okay.

Tire smoke enveloped the car and flowed through the interior, tantalizing us with its bitter perfume-like attraction.  I don’t know how long I sat there with my head leaned back and my eyes closed, but I remember opening my eyes just in time to see Flynn open the passenger door and step out.  He looked from me to the front of the Goat then he staggered off to the front of the Goat, using the fender as a brace to keep himself from falling.  I watched as he turned then started walking back towards the curve, back the way that we had come, staring from time to time at the massive pine trees on each side of the road, or down at the road where all the tire marks were now very visible.

There’s skill, there’s luck, and then there’s divine intervention.  

I felt that I had just witnessed a little bit of all three.  

I was just glad that I was wearing my lucky driving gloves. 

I let go of the steering wheel and opened the door to the Goat, stepping out.  The smell of gas and burnt rubber was so strong it almost brought a tear to my eye.  Dark skid marks starting just behind each tire and leading back all the way back from before the start of the curve, through the curve and out the other side.  I looked at Bonhommie road, at the curve, and glanced from the parked Goat to the curve.

What a ride!

I walked over to where Flynn stood in the apex of the curve.  He must have heard my shoes on the asphalt, because he turned and looked at me, not saying anything at all.  He looked past me at the Goat on down the road, then he took a long pull from the flask in his hand.  The smell of burnt rubber and overheated brakes wafted in on us, enveloped us, then faded away on the soft breeze.  Flynn stared back at the beginning of Bonhommie road, at where we had started out.

“That was fun.” I said finally.

"Fuck no it wasn't." Flynn said flatly.

I stood there, bouncing slightly on the heels of my feet.

“Hey!  Want to do it again?”

Flynn glared at me, a mixture of fear and ... anger.

“Fuck no!  Hell the fuck no, I do not want to do that again!  Ever the fuck again!"

"Are you sure?" I goaded him.

"What the hell happened?” he asked, glaring at me, ignoring my goading.

I looked back at the dark marks on the pavement and shrugged my shoulders.

“Near as I can tell your accelerator stuck.” I said.  “About a mile from the start of the curve.  I had the speedometer buried so I don't know how fast we were going.  I tried everything, finally killed the engine, bled what speed I could and dead steered us through.”

Flynn turned to me with an incredulous look on his face.  The way Flynn was looking at me I thought he was wanting to pass blame and I decided to cut him off on that idea real quick.

"Hey!" I said.  "You asked me to drive and that's what I did.  You asked me to stretch her legs and that's what I did.  How was I to know the damn skinny pedal would stick?"

Flynn continued to stare from the skid marks behind the GTO to me and back again at the skid marks then he walked back to the front of the GTO and just stared at it as it sat there in the middle of the road.  He rubbed his chin, rubbed his neck then scratched his chin again.  I walked up and we stood there together in front of the Goat for several minutes.  Just the sound of the engine pinging and nature all around us.  Suddenly, Flynn got this look on his face, like he had figured something out.  He pulled the hood pins and raised the hood with a mild shriek of tired old hinges.  I came back to lean on the left front fender as Flynn dug around under the air cleaner.  He dug around under the air cleaner ... working his fingers down around the linkage and between the carburetor and the Edelbrock Performer aluminum intake manifold.

"Son of a bitch ..." he muttered.

"What?" I asked.

"Son of a bitch!  I am not believing this ..." Flynn shouted ... his voice echoing off the nearby pines.

Flynn pulled a scrap of shop towel out from under the air cleaner ... the scrap couldn't have been much bigger than a tissue.  Flynn worked the linkage for the Rochester Quadrajet, back and forth, the linkage squeaking like a mouse as its levers and springs moved to the full range of their motion limits.   Everything seemed to work okay now.

“Anything?” I asked him.

“This is what was wedged up under there." Flynn said, holding the scrap of shop towel up for me to see.

"That!?" I asked.

"Got wadded up in the linkage and that's why it stuck all the way open.” He said.

"So ... we almost died for ... that?  A piece of shop towel barely big enough to wipe my ass with?" I said, pointing at the scrap of cloth that Flynn was holding up.

Flynn didn't say anything, he just looked at the scrap of shop towel, shook his head then wadded up the scrap of shop towel and threw it away from him.

"We almost died ... you're telling me that we almost died ... for a fucking nickle's worth of scrap cloth?!"

Flynn didn't say anything.  

Fuming, I leaned on the fender of the GTO and stared off at the tree line ... the tree line we almost wrapped ourselves around.  Flynn continued working under the hood, fiddling with the carburetor linkage, working the linkages, pushing the butterflies open and letting them snap closed.  I watched him do this several times, his right ear bent towards the carburetor all the while looking like he was trying to tune a piano.  I watched him, trying to figure out what he was getting out of snapping the linkage open and closed.

"So ... you think she's good to go?" I asked, my back still to him and the engine.

Flynn snapped the linkage one last time then stood up, using the piece of cloth that almost killed us to wipe grease from his fingers and palm.

"Don't see why not but only one way to be sure."

"All right!" I said, pretending abject excitement.  "We get to try that curve again!"

"No, we fucking do not!   Now get on back in, fire her up and let's see if she behaves."

I thought about that, about what we had just gone through and tossed the keys in the air, catching them in my gloved hand.

“You're just a big pussy.” I said, naming Flynn in a soft muttered voice.

Flynn casually shot me the bird.

I climbed into the Goat and shut the driver's side door, working the clutch and shifter before turning the key in the ignition ... stopping just short of firing her back up.  Once bitten, twice shy.  Whatever Flynn had done under the hood the accelerator pedal was back where it should be ... or near enough.  I put my foot on the accelerator pedal with not a small amount of concern.  I tapped it lightly and it returned to its original position.  I then depressed the accelerator halfway twice, three times, pumping the Rochester Quadrajet before I cranked the 400.  I half expected the accelerator to drop to the floor or stick halfway down but the long skinny pedal always came right back up.  The sad thing was that we had almost died over a five cent piece of cloth that Flynn had accidentally left behind when he was changing out the intake manifold and Rochester Quadrajet carburetor, a piece of cloth that had slowly worked its way up into the linkage and jammed it wide open.

Shaking my head I turned the key all the way forward in the ignition.  

The Goat roared to life and I gave her some gas.   I eased the accelertor down and up, patting the accelerator and listening to the 400 growl up and down, up and down and lope wildly when I let off the accelerator completely.

"What do you think?" Flynn asked, squatting down beside the driver's side door.

Damn!  I almost jumped out of my skin.  I hadn't heard Flynn get that close because I'd been preoccupied with the scary gas pedal and thinking about how many other ways Flynn's old Goat might try to kill me today.  

"Yeah." I said as I caught my breath and nodded.

"Yeah?" Flynn asked.

"Yeah." I said, like that one word conveyed so much meaning between two guys who loved fast cars.

"Good.  I think she'll be okay now." Flynn said flatly as he got up,  walked to the front of the GTO, shut the hood and reinserted the safety pins to secure it. 

I soft revved the 400 a few times, torque-rocking the Goat from left to right, as I waited for Flynn to walk around the right side of the GTO and get in on the passenger side.   I carefully worked the shifter, putting her in reverse, looking over my shoulder and backing the Goat up in the curve.  I cut the wheel, turned her around then slowly headed back the way that we had come.   The original misgivings I had for the throttle linkage seemed to be gone now because it felt smooth like new.

I started out slow, shifted from first to second with a gentle row, eased back into the gas then suddenly dropped it back down into first, sidestepped the clutch and stepped into the Goat again, hard.   Flynn, totally unprepared for what I did, was slung around in his seat and I was planted back in our seats as the front end reared up and the rear end squatted down.  The 400 under the hood roared and Flynn went stiff as a board, his legs locking out forward and his arm grabbing the side of the door.  He didn't say anything but the way his mouth was moving maybe I just couldn't hear what he was saying over the roar of the 400 and the scream of the rear tires.

Part of me wanted to scream out "damn accelerator's stuck again!" just to see Flynn crap his pants but I kept my mouth shut as I danced on the pedals and rowed through the gears.  The rear end slid sideways as the ten bolt limited slip differential fought for traction.  The needle on the hood tach swung rapidly from left to right, going towards the red.  

5500 RPM.

Into the redline but still pulling ...

I danced on the pedals and rowed through the gears.  The 400 under the hood paused then screamed again as I pushed the Hurst shifter from second up and over into third and then I let off the gas and ... the pedal didn't stick.  The speedometer needle hovered near 80 miles an hour in third gear and ... she seemed fine, all the gages read in their normal ranges and the noise coming from the engine and exhaust didn’t seem to be any different than before.  Flynn had built this 400 to take some punishment and what little sweat I had pulled out of the motor before she ran away wasn't anything compared to him hammering the Goat time after time after time at some of our street meets.

"I thought you were going to take it easy ..." Flynn said.

I shrugged my shoulders.

"Too much fun putting my foot into her."

"Yeah, well, warn me next time before you go and get spirited with her, will ya?  I almost got thrown out the window here when you slung her around like that."

"Why are you worried?  I have it on good authority that hippies bounce when they hit the pavement!"

"And who told you that?" Flynn asked.

"A cop friend of mine." I said as I smiled.

Flynn looked at me, shook his head then grabbed his flask and took a long hit.  After that we drove back in silence ... the kind of silence that only a built up 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8 with headers and true duals can offer two people lost in their own thoughts.

"Pulls pretty hard, doesn't she?" Flynn asked, finally breaking our long silence.

I nodded, gloved left hand on the wheel and gloved right hand on the Hurst shifter.

"It may go like a rocket but damn, man!  When it comes to hanging corners your Goat handles like a pregnant yak on roller skates." I  said.

Flynn smiled.

"Don't do much corner hanging.  Ain't my thing." Flynn said as he took his flask and had another long drink.

I nodded ... yeah, that much was evident.  We got something to eat at McDonald's on Broadway Drive then spent the next hour just cruising around Hattiesburg in the GTO, wasting time and wasting gas and do you know what?  

The Goat didn't act up again ... at least not for the rest of that day.