Glen usually stopped by to have lunch with Harold when he was in town for the Chicago Auto Show in early February. He was usually able to wrangle an interesting press car, too–one of the perks of his job was his access to new cars to review and write about, a fact that the rest of the Road Associates were cheerfully jealous about.
This year Glen had managed to find the new Ford Taurus SHO. The silver high-performance sedan was dusted with salt, but still caught Harold’s eye as it pulled up to the curb in front of Harold’s house. Glen was surprised to see that Harold wasn’t alone; Dick Sheehan was also on the porch, waving.
“Dick, you live in California,” Glen said as handshakes were exchanged. “Doesn’t that mean you’re supposed to stay away from the Midwest during the winter?”
“What can I say? Work’s got me on the road a lot. That the new SHO?”
“How do you like it?”
“More power, not as fast, less personality,” Glen said. “They shouldn’t have killed the manual transmission.”
“I hear that Yamaha engine is a nice V8 though,” Harold added as they went inside. The living room was cozy, in a suburban, wood-and-glass way. Only a small cabinet of racing trophies indicated Harold’s favorite pastime though; his wife had been firm about relegating the car stuff to the garage and basement. “So what’s new and exciting at the auto show?” Harold led Glen and Dick through into the kitchen, where they made themselves at home.
“I’ll find out tomorrow,” Glen said.
“Marianne’s working overtime this week, so it’s beer and sandwiches this afternoon, I’m afraid.”
“Fine by me,” Dick said. “Glen, are you headed out to New York for the auto show there?”
“I brought some parts for you to take to Tully. Squareback door trim, and some other old Volkswagen chrome that he didn’t want to ship. Will they fit in your car?”
“No problem,” Glen said, accepting a can of 7-Up from Harold. Sandwich fixings were being put in front of them. “How did you get them on the plane?”
Dick grinned. “I smiled nicely. They were too big to fit in the overhead compartment, but the flight attendant was accommodating.”
“I do believe you could sweet-talk anyone into anything,” Harold said.
“When properly motivated, perhaps,” was Dick’s response. He cracked open a beer and started making a sandwich. “So. Postmortem on this year’s nominees?”
“At this rate, we’re going to have to organize a washouts’ club,” Harold said somewhat sarcastically.
Dick looked surprised. “Bob Caret didn’t work out?”
Glen and Harold shared a look. “Red mist city,” Glen said finally. “We met down in Monroe–Tully, Harold, Charlie and Ron were there–and planned to caravan up to Port Huron. Caret shows up in his ‘winter car,’ a ’67 Corvette that’s about two mufflers short of being a Pro-Street car. Very cool. He then proceeds to race up 75 to Detroit. Nothing elegant about it. In and out of traffic, passing on the right, the whole works.”
“Not at all graceful,” Harold agreed. “I’m sure he’s a good racer, but nobody else was racing and he didn’t seem to understand that.”
Dick nodded in understanding.
“The burnout in the restaurant parking lot didn’t help, either,” Glen added. “Caret’s a good guy, but not exactly a Roadie.”
“So, since Neil Stephanos washed out, too–I can’t believe he called Porsche a ‘Nazi car’ when Jim and I were actually driving them–that leaves us with one new member for 1997?” Dick said.
“It would appear so,” Harold said. He had constructed a sizeable sandwich, and mashed it down so it would fit in his mouth. “Our numbers shall hold steady at sixteen, for the moment. On a more serious note, have you heard about Roger?” Glen and Dick both shook their heads. “I’m glad you’re here, so I can tell you in person.” Harold sighed. “His cancer’s back.”
“Aw, shit,” Dick said.
“That about sums it up.”
“What’s he going to do?”
“When I talked to him on the phone, he said he wasn’t doing chemo this time. Going to let it run its course.”
Harold shrugged. “They’re saying nine to eighteen months. ‘Course, you know Roger. The first thing he did was remind me that they told his father that too, and the old guy hung on for another ten years.”
“You don’t think that’ll be the case, though,” Glen said.
“No, I don’t. So…let’s just make this a good summer.”
“Hasn’t Carrie tried to talk to him?”
“Of course she has, but you know how he gets. He’s made up his mind, Dick.”
“Then we’ll make it a good summer,” Dick said. “To Roger.” He raised his beer, and Harold and Glen toasted with him. “I’ll pull some strings and get us into Pebble,” he said, referring to the Pebble Beach concours car show.
“Sounds good. Should we tell the others?”
“I’ve already talked to Charlie,” Harold said. “Roger didn’t want to make a fuss about it. Tully and Jim know.”
“What about the toy run?” Before Christmas, Roger and Harold organized charity toy deliveries with their classic cars; it was one of the few Road Associates events that routinely drew all of the members out of the woodwork. It was also something Glen looked forward to for much of the year, though he hadn’t made much noise about this fact.
“Still a go,” was the reply.
“Good. Let me know if you or Roger want any help organizing it.”