For Judah Monroe, the whole point of summer was to have good weather for the county fair.
There was only one event at the fair that the Monroe family didn’t get to attend—the Saturday night Demolition Derby! Every Saturday evening during Fair, Judah would lie awake in his bed on the far side of town listening to the announcer at the Demolition Derby—the P.A. system at the fair ground was more than adequate for such a small town. The Derby lasted until midnight, and Judah never slept until it was over. He longed to be there in the middle of the cheering crowd watching the body shop owner and the banker, and sometimes even the priest, smashing the heck out of their cars, but his mother’s job at the onion factory paid only enough for the bills.
In the summer of 2006 Judah was finally old enough that his mother let him get his own job mowing lawns. When his first paycheck came, Judah bought his mom some things she needed in the kitchen, but the second paycheck he reverently saved for The Derby.
“Standing room only” tickets were cheaper than tickets that reserved you a seat in the stands. Since Judah’s sisters, Sophia and Valencia, were too small to be interested in The Derby, Judah bought only two tickets and invited his mother to come with him.
Finally Saturday night came! It was a beautiful August night . Sophia and Valencia were
going to stay with the neighbor lady.
“Why do people enjoy such a base form of entertainment?” the elderly neighbor asked as Monroe’s were dropping off Judah’s sisters.
“Maybe because we would all love to drive that way sometimes.” Judah’s mom
laughed. Without waiting for further debate, Judah tugged his mom’s arm and they hurried off down the street.
The sun was glowing red in the smoldering sky as Judah and his mother walked the mile across town to the fair grounds.
Judah got a lump of excitement in his throat as the cars lined up in front of the arena revving their engines in preparation. Eagerly, he chose his favorite and second favorite cars making an informal bet with his mother that his choices would win.
Judah soon learned that you can’t choose your favorite car when they are sitting in the line up—you need to see them in action to find the most aggressive driver and then yell your head off to spur them on to triumph!
At the beginning of each heat, the contestants drove into the area while the crowd cheered. The demolition cars formed a circle around the edge of the arena with their rear ends all facing the center. A clown jogged out and placed a watermelon in the middle of the arena and yelled into the microphone, “Last car moving wins the heat, no deliberate
Hits in the drivers door. No deliberate hits after flags have been broken off. The first contestant to smash the melon wins $100 cash, even if you don’t win the heat! READY, GET SET!” His voice was almost drowned by the scream of 30 engines straining, “GO!”
Thirty cars threw dirt as they careened backwards, all of them heading for the same hapless watermelon! Judah had no idea how the judges could tell who had actually hit the melon but sticky red pulp exploded everywhere as several cars came together with a resounding crash!
One car drove up over the back of another, drawing some oohs and aahs, but the real fun was when number 20 actually managed to burst into flames! The driver’s compartment was engulfed in fire and he came shooting through the windshield as spry as a cricket on a hot skillet. Mrs. Monroe squealed and hid her eyes but the driver was not even singed!
One poor fellow was bogged down through the entire semi final match. He could do nothing but rock back and forth straining his poor engine and no one would even give him a shove to get him out! He was so frustrated that when the gun sounded the end of the match, he climbed on top of his car and started jumping up and down and beating his car with his helmet! The crowd loved this bonus entertainment.
By the end of the match, the arena looked like Walmart parking lot on Christmas Eve. Judah had yelled himself hoarse and it was nearly midnight! What a great way to spend a Summer night!
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