“I don’t understand where you’re going!” Lars had to shout to be heard over the Ferrari’s engine. They had been driving all night, Roger apparently intent on crossing the entire country in a single evening. They had crossed the land bridge between Hamilton and Lecroy late, and continued on through the night. Roger had left L7 to wander the back roads, and Lars was fairly certain that they’d spent most of the night going in circles. He hadn’t been able to sleep, and had no idea how Roger managed to look as refreshed as he did.
It was hard not to hate the man for it, in fact.
“Where are we going?” he asked again. He thought they were somewhere near Fountainhead but it was hard to know for certain; he wasn’t familiar enough with this part of the country.
“Stayin’ off the main roads,” Roger replied. He didn’t bother to raise his voice.
“And I don’t think you even know! Have you ever been to Ile du Soleil?”
“We’re attractin’ too much attention on the road.”
“We’re going to get lost! What if something goes wrong with the car? This isn’t exactly a Chevrolet or a Volkswagen, you know. Where are we going to get it fixed?”
“I can’t understand a damn thing you’re saying, Larry,” Roger said.
“We need to turn around!”
The Ferrari’s engine note dropped an octave as Roger lifted off of the power for a moment. They were coming to a T intersection with a flashing yellow light, and no building for miles in either direction. “Which way’s west?” he asked, clearly speaking rhetorically as he looked at the sky. “We need to find a place where we can get a bit of a sleep.”
“You’re not even listening to me.”
“‘Course I am. Hotels out here take plastic?” The Ferrari snarled through a left turn, then accelerated violently. The horizon was frosted with mountains, the sky cloudless. They chased the road for almost half an hour before coming to a tiny out-of-the-way strip motel. Roger promptly cut the engine and coasted into the parking lot.
“American-style,” Lars said, not bothering to keep the disdain out of his voice. “You should feel right at home.”
“We’ll see. We’re gonna need gas and a battery. And some other supplies. A map.”
“Oh, so you’re ready to admit that you’re lost?”
“I ain’t lost, Larry, I’m staying off of the big roads. If we’re out dodgin’ cops for the next five hundred miles, somebody’s gonna get hurt or killed. You saw those boys–not a one of ’em can drive. I’d just as soon not give ’em a reason to. That’s also why I plan to sleep most of the day away and drive in the evening.”
Lars had to admit that Roger’s line of thought made some sense. “My name isn’t Larry,” he muttered.
“You want to see to the car while I get us a room?”
“See to the car?”
“Just give her a once-over.” Roger pulled a tire gauge out of his shirt pocket and handed it to Lars. “Tire pressures, oil, other fluids. Make sure she’s not leakin’ anything.”
“Oh, I know what condition it’s in. You’ve put a lot of hard road miles on an unrestored treasure. The engine will need to be rebuilt, and I’m sure the body is irreparably damaged by the salt. Congratulations.”
Roger gave him a smile. “That’s the spirit,” he said without sarcasm. “You smoke?”
“Do I what? Oh, cigarettes. No, I don’t.”
“Then I’ll ask for a non-smoking room. Bring my bag in when you come, would you?”
Lars contemplated telling the brash American to do it himself, but the words stuck in his throat and he said nothing. The Ferrari seethed and ticked in mechanical outrage as he carefully raised the hood to look it over, and the smell of burning oil and hot metal assaulted his nose. The V12 didn’t seem to be leaking any fluids, however; it just smelled harshly used.
By the time he’d gotten directions to the nearest store from the hotel clerk and carried Roger’s bag to the room they’d rented, Roger was fast asleep on the bed, boots kicked off, sprawled on top of the covers and making a noise that was halfway to a snore without actually being one. The man and the room smelled of sweat and motor oil. Lars sighed, sat on the empty bed, and considered his options. He hadn’t brought a change of clothes, of course, but that could be rectified if he could persuade Roger to stop at a suitable clothing store. He could have his office send clothes to him, perhaps, but doubted they’d be in one place long enough. Additionally, such a call might result in the police finding them. Lars didn’t care to be fleeing the authorities, but Roger’s point about not creating dangerous car chases was valid.
With a sigh, Lars picked up the phone and called his office anyway, just to let them know that he was okay. They could pass the information on to his daughter at college as well, as Stacia would no doubt be worrying if she’d heard the news. He didn’t tell them where he was, and the bemused-sounding secretary didn’t ask. Lars was curious about the tone in her voice, but didn’t ask.
He hung up the phone and put his head on the pillow. It seemed like only a moment later, Roger was nudging him awake. “Time to roll out, Larry,” he said.
Lars came awake slowly. The sky was still light, with the deeper colors of afternoon. “What time is it?” he asked.
“‘Getting on four o’clock,” Roger said. He looked drawn, and more tired than when he’d gone to sleep.
“Are you okay?”
“Waiting for my meds to kick in,” was the reply. Roger started to rise, then grimaced in pain. He slumped back onto the bed. “Dammit.”
“I think that we should wait until you’re feeling better.”
“I ain’t gonna feel better, Larry. Here,” he said, handing the keys to Lars, “you drive. I’ll get myself up in two shakes.”
Lars looked at Roger, not believing him. The man’s skin had gone gray, and it was clearly all he could do to not moan in pain. “Are…are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure, goddammit. Go out and get that car fired up. The noise’ll do me good.”
Still uncertain, Lars headed out to the car, clutching the keys in his hand. The Ferrari seemed to eye him suspiciously as he approached. Lars looked around; not even the bored motel clerk was looking his way. The area around the motel was deserted anyway; nothing but desert on the other side of the road, and only a long-abandoned gas station near the motel on this side.
He stood by the driver’s door for a moment. A section of the red paint had bubbled, and Lars picked at it a bit revealing the gray metal underneath. He scratched away at the paint with his fingernail until the bare patch was almost a foot across and the edges were vaguely circular but even, and then he opened the door and got in.
He’d fired cars up for auction and concours display before and was familiar with the process. He’d even started a few Ferraris in his time. Nonetheless, the 250 surprised him with how quickly it fired up, as if it had been waiting impatiently for him. The engine note was coarse and probably drastically out of tune, but the mechanical roar was still sufficient to shake the windows in their panes, it seemed.
True to his word, Roger staggered out the door, bag slung over his shoulder, when the Ferrari’s engine called him. He made it to the car and practically fell into the seat, dropping his head heavily against the back of the seat.
“Are you sure you’re ready?” Lars yelled.
Roger merely nodded. He raised an arm slowly, as if a lead weight were strapped to the wrist, and tapped his watch. “Be fine in half an hour,” he replied. “Just go.” When Lars didn’t start driving right away, Roger pointed impatiently at the road, then let his hand drop.
Well, sitting here for the rest of the afternoon with the car running wouldn’t do; eventually, someone would complain about the noise. Lars slowly let the clutch out in first gear and the Ferrari shivered to life, creeping across the parking lot, back into sight of the road. He looked both ways before continuing in the direction they’d been going when they stopped. The car bucked and shivered on the pavement like it was about to fall apart; Lars was prepared for Roger to ask what he’d done to it, and already feeling defensive that this derelict heap’s faults should be blamed on him, but the older man said nothing, continuing to rest with his eyes shut.