Throttle (Kindle Single)
jerked a thumb toward the dump trucks. “Bitch of a lot better than doing five an hour through that shit for twenty miles. No thank you. I’d rather ride easy and maybe pick up sixty grand along the way. That’s my think on it.”
“Did it hurt?” Lemmy asked Roy. “Having a thought? I hear it hurts the first time. Like when a chick gets her cherry popped.”
“Fuck you, Lemmy,” Roy said.
“When I want your think,” Vince said, “I’ll be sure to ask for it, Roy. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.”
Race spoke, his voice calm, reasonable. “We get to Show Low, you don’t have to stick around. Neither of you. No one’s going to hold it against you if you just want to ride on.”
So there it was.
Vince looked from face to face. The young men met his gaze. The older ones, the ones who had been riding with him for decades, did not.
“I’m glad to hear no one will hold it against me,” Vince said. “I was worried.”
A memory struck him then: riding with his son in a car at night, in the GTO, back in the days he was trying to go straight, be a family man for Mary. The details of the journey were lost now; he couldn’t recall where they were coming from or where they had been going. What he remembered was looking into the rearview mirror at his ten-year-old’s dusty, sullen face. They had stopped at a hamburger stand, but the kid didn’t want dinner, said he wasn’t hungry. The kid would only settle for a Popsicle, then bitched when Vince came back with lime instead of grape. He wouldn’t eat it, let the Popsicle melt on the leather. Finally, when they were twenty miles away from the hamburger stand, Race announced that his belly was growling.
Vince had looked into the rearview mirror and said, “You know, just because I’m your father doesn’t mean I got to like you.” And the boy had stared back, his chin dimpling, struggling not to cry, but unwilling to look away. Returning Vince’s look with bright, hating eyes. Why had Vince said that? The notion crossed his mind that if he had known some other way to talk to Race, there would’ve been no Fallujah and no dishonorable discharge for ditching his squad, taking off in a Humvee while mortars fell; there would’ve been no Dean Clarke and no meth lab and the boy would not feel the need to be out front all the time, blasting along at seventy on his hot-shit jackpuppy when the rest of them were doing sixty. It was him the kid was trying to leave behind. He had been trying all his life.
Vince squinted back the way they had come . . . and there was that goddamn truck again. Vince could see it through the trembling waves of heat on the road, so it seemed half-mirage, with its towering stacks and silver grille: LAUGHLIN . Or SLAUGHTERIN , if you were feeling Freudian. Vince frowned, distracted for a moment, wondering again how they had been able to catch up and pass a guy who’d had almost an hour lead on them.
When Doc spoke, his voice was almost shy with apology. “Might be the thing to do, boss. Sure would beat twenty miles of dirt bath.”
“Well. I wouldn’t want any of you to get dirty,” Vince said.
And he pushed away from the side of the road, throttled up, and turned left onto 6, leading them away toward Show Low.
Behind him, in the distance, he could hear the truck changing gears, the roar of the engine climbing in volume and force, whining faintly as it thundered across the plain.
The country was red and yellow stone, and they saw no one on the narrow, two-lane road. There was no breakdown lane. They crested a rise, then began to descend into a canyon’s slot, following the road as it wound steadily down. To the left was a battered guardrail, and to the right was an almost sheer face of rock.
For a while Vince rode out front beside Lemmy, but then Lemmy fell back and it was Race partnered beside him, the father and the son riding side by side, the wind rippling Race’s movie-star black hair back from his brow. The sun, now on the western side of the sky, burned in the lenses of the kid’s shades.
Vince watched him from the corners of his eyes for a moment. Race was sinewy and lean, and even the way he sat on his bike seemed an act of aggression, the way he slung it around the curves, tilting to a forty-five-degree angle over the blacktop. Vince envied him his natural athletic grace, and yet at the same time, somehow Race managed to make riding a motorcycle look like work. Whereas Vince himself had taken to it
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