Some of the stunts we pulled should have cut our lives short, and for the life of me, I don’t know why we’re both still alive and kicking. I seem to remember both of our fathers having made similar comments on more than one occasion.
During the summer before our senior year of high school, Kenny and I pitched in and bought a 1960 Ford Falcon station wagon. It was anything but a hot rod, but it had a sound body and interior, and needed only minimum engine work to bring it up to snuff. This was more Kenny’s area of expertise than mine, so I just paid my share and followed his lead, helping out where I could.
By the time we finished with that Falcon, it had a 327 cubic inch Chevy engine, a Ford 2 speed automatic transmission, a reasonable paint job, straight pipes, and nearly opaque windows all around. It would barely exceed 70 mph on the straight away, and might need a mile to achieve that. But with that engine, and tuned headers and straight pipes, it sounded as though it was breaking a land speed record! We had an awful lot of fun in and with that car.
I shudder to think how he ever discovered the ability, but one night, Kenny told me to buckle up…he wanted to show me something. I got that familiar itch on the back of my neck.
“What are you going to show me that I need to be strapped in?” I asked.
“Better hurry! We’re almost ready,” he answered.
“Ready for what?” I asked, as I hurriedly searched for the other end of my seldom used seat belt.
You’ll see in a minute. Are you buckled in yet?” he answered.
“Yeah, but I’d rather hear about it first,” I said, as he reached 70 mp.
“Now, check this out,” he said, as he flicked the wheel to the right and released it. The car lunged to the shoulder, but before reaching it, the spin of the steering wheel reversed itself, and the car swerved back to the left, a little harder. Then it swerved sharply back to the right, and again to the left, worsening at each reversal, until we were alternately broad-sliding first left, then right. After about four switches in direction, the car finally reached a point of no return, and went into a complete spin, still doing 50 mph or so down the highway.
I looked over at Kenny, and saw that he was sitting back, arms crossed, with a shit-eating grin on his face.
Since my neck was itching a lot now, I said, “Yeah, that’s pretty neat. You wanna take the wheel again?”
He reached down and began changing radio stations.”Kenny,” I urged, not sure that he’d brought all his marbles that night.
“Far out, huh? Now watch THIS!” he beamed, as he put both hands on the wheel.
My neck was really driving me nuts, now. He began counting out loud like a musician winding up for a song, and suddenly, with one finger, spun the wheel, immediately straightening us out.
At first I thought we had crossed the median, and were traveling in the wrong direction. Then I realized that the headlights in front of us were traveling in the same direction we were, but getting no closer! The silly sonuvabitch was backing up at 45-50 mph, looking over his shoulder.
“Far out, huh?” he repeated, nearly drowned out by the screaming engine.
Normally, I hated to rain on his parade, but I felt obligated to tell him something. “Kenny, one of those cars behind us – I mean in front of – I mean behind us, is a cop!”
As Kenny swiveled his head sharply to the front, he lost control of his backing, and the Falcon did two more revolutions before he got it back under control again. By that time, the CHP that had been behind us, then in front of us, was now VERY much behind us…about as close as our rear license plate, and he had EVERYTHING on! Kenny started easing over to the right shoulder, his grin now just a memory.
“Far out, huh?” I said, with a smart-assed grin.