‘Sunday Stills prompt: Light my Fire. I don’t take photos worth a cent, but I was inspired to place this story written four years ago.
The Kiss of Caiaphas
I lay here sipping hot tea through a straw after an ‘incident’ while racing, and ponder what is it; what is the rush I get from racing cars. It began back when fixing up ‘bogeys’ to race in the street, using a plank of wood, some old pram wheels, found at the dump, the ‘Silver Cross’ model being the best, a wooden orange box taken from the back of Mr. Puddifoot’s grocery store, a few nails, a hammer, and hopefully, the day of the race, a fearless spirit. I always had this desire to light up my hair.
After coming out of surgery the surgeon told my wife I’d been lucky. Clearly he knew very little about my life, for he might have said, your husband continues to be lucky.
You might remember the Silver Cross being an elegant piece of machinery, two large rear wheels, smaller ones in front, and that was how they would fit on the new bogey. I always had an unnatural talent for taking apart anything mechanical, and then assembling it in a different format; this time those wheels are attached to a half inch thick axle rod, and assembled onto a foot-wide, four-foot long plank of wood. The finishing touch was to paint flames on the side of the cockpit, ‘go faster flames’ we called them.
I recall thinking, half way down Haste Hill, this could end badly. Even so, there was something, some feeling. There were no brakes on my bogey, it was a racing bogey. Billy Harrison was looking at the back of my head; whatever happened at the bottom the hill was going to happen, but Billy would be second to finish. That was for sure.
That feeling never left me, never dimmed, never will.
In scorching steel, cocooned inside a roll cage, I live to experience the limits of hot rubber adhesion while in my mind I make unsought decisions on chance, and with lips of clay, I pass the green flag, turning into corners where ghosts applaud, telling me I’m not dead; that the thirst in my throat, the force against my body, the suffocating heat within the hideous heart of factory built precision, is an endurance examination, while the kiss of Caiaphas hangs in my slipstream. There’s no time to think about love; I think about rain, four-second wheel changes in a stone valley called pit lane; I think about the crystals of information, fuel, tire heat, angle of airfoil, and thousandth of seconds…not love, not compassion.
And so it is that the woman who owns my heart stands next to my bedside, and what she says is profound.
“I know you, and have loved you since you first appeared in my life. You can’t know how much you’ve guided my love, inspired my spirit, and calmed my soul — you are my safe place. So please, I beg you. It’s time to promise me. Enough.”
And I looked at her a long time before I answered.