A Girdle ‘Round the Earth in Forty Minutes
by Jeff Baker
“Hey, Skip! You pushing?”
“No, I’m making coffee,” came the voice from behind the car. “We’re out.”
“Wha?” Truman Mackelhany said between grunts as he pushed the ancient car while holding on to the wheel.
“Yeah, I’m pushing!” Skip said through grunts behind the car. “Oh, wait! Hey! Here it goes!”
With a rumbling sound, the rebuilt 1914 Maxus Racer shuddered as it pulled onto the road after having its rear end in a ditch. Skip Fowler ran behind it and hopped in the open seat beside Truman.
“Did your Great-Grandfather have to do this a lot?” Skip asked.
“Probably!” Tru said grinning as he steered the old car down the dirt road. “You still got the map?”
“Hope so!” Skip said.
The two of them had rebuilt the old Racer, open seats, cylinder body but powerful engine and an actual storage space when they heard about the offer: ten thousand dollars to race from Chicago, through Missouri to Albuquerque along older roads on a nearly 100 year-old map in hundred-year-old cars. They had actually been pretty well-prepared for the trip, they’d rigged a top for when it rained so their “cockpit” wouldn’t get flooded. All they needed to do was get goggles. And maybe their heads examined. But Tru had wanted to do it; it was in his blood. His Great-Grandfather Marcellus Truman (“No relation to the President,”) had entered the legendary Peking-to-Paris road race in 1907 but had shown up to start the race in Paris by mistake. They had clothes, cellphones and debit cards. They’d jury rigged a charger under the steering column. The cellphones were also their car radio. They were making about 40 miles a day.
“How much have we spent on this trip so far?”
“About half of what we’d get if we win the race,” Tru said.
“We turn left up ahead, and we can make it to a motel, just outside Tulsa,” Skip said.
“Yeah?” Tru said.
It started to pour. The two of them tried to pull the top up. It ripped. They looked at each other.
On the plane back to Chicago, Skip ordered a beer.
“Your Great-Grandfather would have wanted it this way,” Skip said.
“Yeah,” Tru said as they clinked bottles.