Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
- TITLE: You Don't Have to be Stupid...
By Noel Mitaxa
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Would I like to drive? I thought. Is the Pope a Catholic? “You bet I would,” I replied, hopefully sounding more confident than I felt.
We swapped places.
The anticipation of the power surge, just waiting beneath my right foot, was heady stuff for somebody who has reached the unassailable maturity of being almost sixteen years old.
With two weeks off school, I was enjoying a week away from home with a friend I’d met at a youth camp. Afterwards we’d kept in touch with letters and the odd free phone call; which arose because his friend worked nights at a local manual telephone exchange, and he could arrange calls―but only to test the equipment. And if you believed that excuse, you might also question the Pope’s catholicity.
Bob lived a world away–or so it seemed―after I’d survived an overnight, sleepless roller-coaster ride on a train which was so old that it still carried a high-water mark from Noah’s flood.
Unlike my world, Bob’s was flat. So flat that―to borrow a Canadian friend’s description of life on the Prairie― you could watch your dog run away for three days…
Contrasting with mine, his world was also dry; in the two thirds of Australia that luxuriates in less than ten inches of rain every year.
With the school term-break approaching, Bob invited me to stay with him, as his parents would be interstate and they thought we’d be good company for each other. Little did they know…
In those days before alcohol or drugs were so readily available, I enjoyed checking out his small home town. But Bob was getting bored, and he was a man of the world―being a whole four months older than me―and he had an ace up his sleeve.
“I know where we could "borrow" a car,” he smirked. “And we could get away with it because we’re both as big as most adults,” he added, before dropping an inspired piece of wisdom into his plan. “We could wear sunglasses around town so we’d look older anyway!”
Move over, Einstein, you’re taking up valuable space…
All was quiet as we lifted the keys from the empty house and sauntered over to the vehicle, where Bob slouched into the driver’s seat with the coolness that comes with experience. The motor burst into life; he selected reverse; let out the clutch and we were off.
Flying along the country road: fifteen and fancy free; with adultness oozing from every pore. Blissfully ignorant of the risk we were placing ourselves and our parents in; for unlicensed, uninsured drivers are easy meat for legal eagles in case of any accident. For that’s when the difference between lawyers and leeches is revealed: when you die, the leech will drop off!
Clusters of housing got closer together, so we slipped on the shades. Now so grown-up that we began to voice our opinions on how badly others were driving.
We cruised around town, checking out the sights, before it was time to get the car back. Bob selected a back road with less traffic, before stopping to let me take over.
As we moved off, the steering felt like it was attached to the front wheels by strips of elastic, but at least I was no menace to anyone else. And speaking of menace, I suddenly heard Bob’s voice, “There’s a bend up ahead, so you should slow down to about forty!”
Talk about bad planning by the road authority. They surely would have known that it would not be a good idea to place a yellow warning sign right where I was going to glance down in search of the speedo.
But that’s what they did.
Looking up, I could make out trees and shrubbery seeking to invade the front of our missile, so I jabbed at the brakes and wrenched on the steering wheel.
Somehow we made the turn, before bouncing over a level crossing–thankfully without managing to damage any trains.
My adrenalin surge faded to a dry throat and a pounding heart, so I agreed that Bob should resume piloting this aged beast.
That’s when I removed my sunglasses. And everything became much clearer.
For the simple reason that we had stolen the car at night!
So adult. Yeah. Yeah.
Author’s note: This true story shows that you don’t have to be stupid, but I’m sure it helps…
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