A Quarter Mile (Part Three)

“Pull harder!” Jez pushed her leg down, gripping the handles on her bike.

“I can’t! My legs are about to give out.” Wyatt leaned forward, standing while he peddled.

“Put your legs to use: peddle!” Jez titled her head from side to side as she peddled down street.

“We’re trying!” I looked back at Jez, then focused on the road. “A go-cart isn’t supposed to be this heavy.”

“Well it’s not supposed to be pulled by bikes either. But your ideas are always great.” Jez rolled her eyes and stood up on the peddles.

“I thought it would be a good idea too.” Lucas focused on the street, peddling at a steady pace, breathing in and out.

“I don’t know why we always listen to you Stephan.”

“Just keep peddling, Jez, we’re almost there.” The Beamer mechanic shop stood on the corner of Cornerstone and Walnut street. Mr. Beamer sat in front of the store, holding a coke bottle. Why wasn’t he working?

“Everybody, slow down. The turn is coming.” The gang halted their bikes and stood on their feet. Lucas reached out his foot to stop the rolling cart.

“How are we going to cross the street?” Wyatt scanned the group.

“Any ideas guys?”

“We wait until the cars are gone,” Lucas mentioned.

“We won’t be able to hall the cart across the street before more vehicles come.” Johnny folded his arms and stared at the street.

“Let’s leave our bikes here and push the cart across the street.” Jez looked at Stephan.

“Jez has a good idea. Everyone, untie your bike from the cart.” I untied the rope from my bike, then walked to the cart to untie the ropes from the frame. “Let’s put our bikes to the side of the sidewalk so they’re not in other people’s way.”

We put our bikes to the side and gathered around the cart. “Johnny you can operate the steering wheel.” Jez pointed to the steering wheel and placed her hands on the frame.

“One, two, three, push!”

Johnny turned the steering wheel and the go-cart rolled onto the street. “Faster. Cars are coming.”

We pushed the go-cart up to ten miles per hour. I watched the street, biting my lip as the vehicles came closer. I looked up and yelled, “Don’t hit the curb. Turn the wheel.” Johnny turned the wheel; the tire missed the curb by half an inch. The people on my side jumped over the curb and onto the parking lot. We slowed to a steady walk and pushed the cart through the open garage door.

“Hoof!” We sighed and dropped our arms.

“I’ll go find my dad.” Jez left the group and walked out the door.

Two minutes later, Jez’s dad walked under the garage door frame, arms folded across his chest. “You want me to make this cart faster?”

“Yes.” We all nodded.

“Well,” Mr. Beamer bobbled his head and walked around to the front of the cart. “I think we can work something out. I can’t do it for free.” Mr. Beamer jerked his head up at us.

“Oh no sir,” I said, “We don’t expect you too.”

“Okay good.” Mr. Beamer bobbled his head. “I’ll work on your cart, if you sweep the front of the shop. A lot of ladies come to pick up their cars, we don’t need anyone slipping because of rocks.”

“Of course not.” I scanned the gangs faces and nodded. “We’ll do it. How about tomorrow after school? The race is in two weeks so we have to get going with it. We don’t have a lot of time to waste.”

“No, no you don’t want to waste your time and then be unprepared.” Mr. Beamer bobbled his head. “If you sweep my front parking lot tomorrow, I’ll have the cart done in three days.”

“Three days!” I swallowed my saliva and shook my head. “I guess that will have to work. Deal.” I reached out my arm and shook Mr. Beamer’s hand.

The gang’s smiles nearly reached their ears. In three days, our cart would be the fastest go-cart in town. We would for sure win the race.
I checked to see if I had everything, then I strapped my backpack on my back. The go-cart was loaded, with the help of my mom; we had fifteen minutes until we needed to be at the track. The gang and I decided to be there early so we could get a couple of passes in. I didn’t want anyone seeing the go-cart’s speed before the race, so we agreed to be there before anyone else would be there.

“Dad are you ready? We have to leave soon.” I stood behind Dad, watching him put files in his briefcase.

“Oh, about that son,” Dad scratched his top lip and turned around, “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

“Why not? Where else do you have to go? It’s Saturday?”

“Just because it’s Saturday doesn’t mean the work stops. I’m sorry son, but I just don’t have time.” Dad walked pass me into the kitchen.

“Can’t you make time?”

“No, I can’t. But your mom is going to be there.”

“I know, she closed the nursery so she could come.”

“And that’s very nice of her.” Dad grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and picked up his briefcase from the table. “I’ll see you when I get home.”

If Mom could close a store, why couldn’t Dad stop working for one day? They should have scheduled the race for a Sunday, then dad would come. But it wasn’t on a Sunday, it was today. And I had a race win.
“Three guys are already here. I guess everyone had the same idea we did.” Jez unloaded the cooler and set it down beside the pickup.

“Looks like it. Oh well, we’ll continue with our plan. The rest of the boys are going to be here soon.” Mom helped us unload the cart, then she set up the lawn chairs. I pushed the cart out of the way and picked up Jez’s helmet off the seat.

“Where’s your dad?” Jez asked.

“He couldn’t make it today.” I handed Jez the helmet. “Here, climb in, we have to do some practice runs.”

Jez nodded and climbed into the go-cart. “Hey, Stephan, don’t worry, we’re going to win this thing.” Jez smiled, and slid on her helmet.

“I know.” I nodded, walking toward the motor. I pulled the string and backed up as the engine started. “We’re going to win.”

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