Chapter 31: Seeking a Friend
Recall the mystery guy from the Wednesday night and his black charger that beat Jimmie first? Details coming forth…..
“Tyler, I’ll be back in about an hour or so,” I tell my roommate as I pick up the keys off of the counter and head out.
“Whatever,” he comments with an eye roll as he stays focused on his television show. Typical reaction.
I then head out of the house, unlock the doors and slip into the leather seat that seem to fit me better than anything else could. Glancing back at the text messages, I find the address that he had sent me and grab the GPS. I then type it in, starting the car up and head off.
I hadn’t seen him in months – it had to be five months since we had crossed paths the last time. Wait, no, longer. It was more like two or three years. Crazy how you lose track of time when your life is busy. I hadn’t forgotten about him, just hadn’t worried due to my own dealings and his own dealings. We each had our lives and that was what we focused on.
However, that time seemed to erase last night. I noticed the car immediately when I pulled up to the strip and my eyes were fixed. I still had questions as to why he was there and why he raced ‘The Stig’, but that wasn’t why I was going to see him. I wanted to go see him because I missed him. I wanted to go see a good friend. I wanted to talk some things over. If anybody could sort out what I was doing, it was him. He was the master of everything.
I pull up to the house, taking a curious glance. He had told me that he was staying at a good friend’s in town for a couple of days, perhaps longer if he seemed fit (for whatever reason – I didn’t know). I could tell immediately that it was someone that he had met through his love of cars based on the corvette that I saw down the laneway.
I pull up behind his charger and shut the engine off. Getting out, my eyes immediately skim over the beauty that sits before me. I could only shake my head at the stories that this style of car could tell with him, and the amount of abuse that he put it through.
“No matter how many times she told you it was a curse, you stuck with it,” I comment to myself with a grin as I walk by and up to the door, knocking.
I wondered whether his girlfriend would be there, or maybe even his sister. I wonder how Mia was doing as I loved her little boy. One of the drawbacks of not staying close was not being able to see her or her son.
I’m instantly drawn out of my thoughts as a girl about my age opens up the door. I was immediately surprised by her appearance – how did blue hair ever become popular? I’m sorry, but that is just the worse fashion statement around. How is that possible?
“May I help you?” She asks, catching me off thought. Focus on why you’re there, not her lack of fashion.
“I assume your name is Christina?” I question, remembering the text messages. That was the person that he said that he was staying with. If he was screwing this blue haired freak, so help me I’d throttle his ass majorly. Actually, wait – I’d tie him up and hand him on a silver platter over to Letty. She’d do it for me.
“Listen, whether that is my name or not. You just came up to my door at freaking 11 o’ clock at night lady so you better just come out and state why you’re here.” So much for nice person to stay with thought. She sounded like a royal bitch. Perhaps that’s why she had ugly hair.
“Dom texted me. He said he was staying here and he wanted to see me…” She points to the garage that is just past the house and I shake my head. I should’ve figured that he’d be in the garage. It was where he felt most comfortable. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” I then walk away, not wanting to stare at her any longer and head to the garage.
It was a quiet, short walk – but one that was filled with lots of thought. Was there a reason that he wanted to see me in privacy? What was he working on? What did that Christina girl have to do with him? Why was her hair blue? Why was she so bitchy? Why did this Christina girl matter to me?
I slowly enter the shop and quietly shut the door behind me as a pair of eyes peer up from the 440 engine of the Jensen Interceptor. This wasn’t the type of car that you’d expect him to be working on as he was all for the American straight up muscle cars and his baby.
“I thought you weren’t coming based on how much time has passed,” he comments as he points to the cooler. I then walk over, opening it and smile. He still drank Carona. Why doesn’t that surprise me?
“Gotta drive the legal speed limit at some points in time. Can’t live on the edge always.” He then looks up with a grin as he wipes his hands off.
“That’s right….but meanwhile you live in the city that is known for high speed racecars that are supposedly quicker than anything else.” He was always up for teasing me at times, but that was fine. I accepted it because his friendship made it easy to accept.
“So what’s up with the Interceptor? Why that car?” Might as well start the conversation somewhere.
“It’s not mine. Letty fell in love with it while under Owen’s command and doesn’t want to get rid of it. I was just giving it a bit of a tune-up.” I should’ve figured that she’d be around as she was there last night. I also knew that Dom and her didn’t separate that much since their time apart, as a result of her accident, being kidnapped with mind wiped and spending time under an evil guy’s command. It was understandable. It was just unbelievable with how he and the guys had pulled through since what happened then.
“It’s not that bad of a car as it has some power. It’s just no-”
“Good old American muscle?” I then grin and shake my head yes. “Oh Candiss, you haven’t changed one bit – which is why I want to talk to you.” Now this is where I knew I should worry.
“Let me guess. This deals with last night?” He shakes his head yes as he crosses his arms. When he started to pull the tough guy stance, you knew that you had to worry.
“You’ve been through hell and back again. You’re lucky that Brian and I saved your ass and got you out of that deal. But no, you went straight back in and what did that get you? Having to run away from New York with your tail between your legs in hope you weren’t traced by anybody. Candiss, when are you going to learn to leave shit alone?”
If anybody knew my past, it was Dom. He knew everything and that was because the first mistake I made in the game, he had helped me fix. He got me on the free side of things and reset my life in New York with ease. That was certainly a sector of life that I wanted to leave behind with assaults and robbery mixed in.
I had planned to leave it behind – but the love of the car drew me back out and boom, I found myself in the mess in New York, as he had stated. I didn’t know how he knew the details, but let’s just say everybody knows him and he can get whatever information he wants when he wants.
Now, here we were in North Carolina. He was right as yet again, I had found myself back on streets and yet again, I was diving myself right into trouble. I was fixed on finding out he identity of one street racer in particular for a bounty. Now, I wasn’t planning on doing anything that I did before – that was left behind. But he was right – I was walking a risky line.
“This is nothing like that,” I start as it wasn’t. This wasn’t the depths of illegal and idiots as before. “Its’ a simple find identity, score money and move. Nothing illegal. Nothing troublesome. Why are you so worr-”
“Everything starts innocent, but turns into deeper messes,” he cuts me off. “You should know that by now. And you ask why I am worried? Guess you forgot the meaning of family! I care about everybody who is close to me as if they were my own family! I care that you are fine and safe and all that lovely shit. I have lost people because of things. I don’t need that anymore. When are you going to learn?” I hated his lecture but he made a good point. However, I wasn’t about to back down. I wanted to find out this guy’s identity one way or another. Blame it on intrigue. Blame it on a possible crush. That was the fact.
“So why were you there last night?” Time to turn the tables on their nose.
“David Rhodes, who is in charge of the bounty, is part of a terrorist ring. Hobbs asked if I’d scout the guy out and see what I could find. I figured racing ‘The Stig’ and beating him would catch Rhodes’ attention and I could start digging.” I remembered what he told me about Hobbs before. He was an FBI agent, bounty hunter type of dude. He seeked out the worst dudes and took them down, dead or alive. The pair had bonded Hobbs originally hinting for Dom, followed by them working together. I guess that relationship was still there. Of course, his reasons now made sense as to why he didn’t care about learning anything to do with ‘The Stig’s identity. “I have my reasons for being there because this is someone that needs to go down for other reasons. You don’t need to be there.”
“Let me help you. I want to know the identity of ‘The Stig’ and you need dirt on Rhodes, who set up the bounty. Together, we can find out more than alone.” It was worth a shot because I wasn’t about to back down.
“That’s not happening, Candiss. I want you to get out of there before you get caught up again in the wrong deal. You don’t know who you are dealing with, or what you’re getting yourself into. Back out before it’s too late.” His threats did nothing on my reasoning for being there. I had my reasons, and I was sticking to them.
“That’s not happening. Rhodes or not, I want to learn who the hell this guy is.”
Chapter 32: The Agent
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Dom certainly had his reasons for trying to trace me off the trail. He was right to warn me about these guys and the behavior that I shouldn’t get myself involved in. However, did I ever listen?
Immediately after our discussion, I hopped in the car and drove down a couple back roads. If I needed to get my head out in the air for a bit, this is what I’d do. However, that wasn’t the plan tonight.
Remember the agent? Remember the guy who handed over the cash? That was the guy that was on my mind tonight. His car was easy to find in a red neck town – a 1990 Honda Hatchback (pictured left). Who knew those cars still existed? It was one of those cheap high school kid cars that you’d get because it was cheap on gas, and had somewhat – okay, now I should rephrase that – no sex appeal. At that time of your life, it was about having wheels while your friends didn’t. So why was this 25 year old still rolling around in his high school car?
I pull up around the street and find the familiar car standing there. It wasn’t your typical high school look as he had stuck some slick orange shiny paint on it. But let’s face it – you can dress the car up but it’s still a plain, old, high school junkie car.
I turn the ignition off, glancing around the area. There was a small house at the end of the short driveway, likely the residence that he had chose. I had to wonder whether David was there with him, but I didn’t have time for that.
“Who’s there?” I hear as I glance up from the back of the car, still wondering why I was even staring at it, as a pair of eyes catch mine. You find the car, you find the man.
“I just want to talk to you,” I offer as I walk around the back of the car so we’re facing each other. I figured that if I took the right approach, he’d be willing to listen.
“You’re that girl from the strip last night. You’re the one that beat the Stig. Got any information?” That I know his identity? That someone is out to kick your leader’s ass? The appeal of a couple more hundred dollar bills in my pocket was certainly winning out other desires.
“That’s correct. Listen, I wanted to talk to you about a bit of a business proposition, if you may.” So I was falling for the guy behind the wheel of that sexy camaro and I was enjoying our enchanted discussions. I was also even more interested in where I had seen his face before. I didn’t want to see him land in the hands of this Rhodes and his crew because I knew what it was like to be stumped. So call me stupid or whatever, but here I was set to put my life on the line for a stranger. I was going to get the guy to earn my trust and agree to let me be in charge of stalking. In the meanwhile, I would be finding out more as to why he wanted to know so badly and other information. Call me double uncover if you will, but this would help my dear weird crush and Dom.
“Oh really?” So I had caught his attention based on that comment. I wondered how much he was getting paid to work with Rhodes. Couldn’t be much based on his car. He then walks closer to me, which could only mean en tice to get to me to know me.
“I didn’t come here to hu-”
“I didn’t say that you did, missy. I just wanted to get a better look at you. So, why should I trust you?” Is that question even necessary? I have information and he has nothing, but yet my trust is being trusted?
“I know more about the Stig than you do. I can beat him heads up on the track. I made a deal with him that I learn something new each week so if I keep beating him, we’ll have enough information to pin his identity.” Why lie? It was something that could work to my benefit here.
“1 point for you. so what did you learn based on your question after you beat him last week?” And here we go. This is where the waters get testy.
“That he is someone whom has crossed paths with me outside of the strip. That could be anyone, though, as I work at the local diner.” Everybody was getting to know that I worked there. It was pretty obvious seeing my baby parked in the parking lot each day.
“2 points for you. What’s in it for me and the boys?” That was the million dollar question.
“You tell Rhodes and them to lay back and let me handle finding out his identity. I will get you that information that you want in due time without any hassle or people bugging. Besides, it’s a cheaper operation than paying a bunch of tipsters.” Each group wanted to keep their cash. Cash was the name of the game as everybody was out to make money. But if you’re paying people out of simple revenge, where’s the business? “You can have it your way and waste me, or you can take the offer. That’s how I see it.”
“I’ll accept the offer on a conditional basis. You are to bring us the information and it shall be useful information. Beyond that, the offer can be dropped at any time that Rhodes disagrees.” That seemed simple to me. I could accept that as that’s normally how these offers went. Now help me fudge some things that the stig could tell me to buy Dom some time.
“I have a condition, though. Why do you want this information so badly?” If you’re going to use me for information, you have to give me a reason. I don’t work for nothing as I need to know your motive so I know what I’m getting into. That’s the number essential of every business deal.
“Rhodes has always been the class cat wherever he’s gone and to be beaten is something that he doesn’t accept.” So I guess he hasn’t had the chance of racing Dom as they are both two of a kind. Someone find me a reason to pair them up! “It doesn’t do well with his reputation or business on the streets.” Well, that’s interesting. You’d think if he had a reputation or business that’d people would know. Bu rather, they think he’s part of terrorist divisions. So does he use his racing to trap people in? “Hence why he needs to take the punk down, especially since the punk wants to keep his face hidden. There’s got to be a reason and he intends to find out.” That’s one thing that we could agree on, honestly. I wanted to know the reason also.
“That’s fair and reasonable reason that I can accept. Just make sure you keep me in the know as to what’s going on so I’m not caught off guard.”
“Of course. It’s good doing business with you….” I knew that I couldn’t use my real name, but wait – everybody knew me from where I worked. This was awkward.
“Candiss. Candiss Vanders.” The pair of us shake my hands.
Alright Stig, I got the bad boys off of your back. Time for you to fess up with some identity. And Dom, let’s just say that you better get investigating because something tells me that Rhodes won’t sit for long.
Chapter 33: Malcolm’s Offer
Deep breathes. Deep breathes. Must remain calm no matter what. Under no circumstances may I show that I am right now deadly scared for my life and the thought that this man could kill me.
I watch the door open and right on time, Rhodes walks in followed by a pair of his buddies. No doubt they were here to start whatever evil plan that they wanted. As I told them, they couldn’t do anything here due to the security cameras, but yet he still promised something. But what? I wondered if I should test that theory – perhaps an empty threat, but thought better of it. The guy has a considerable track record.
“I just wanted to come here to see if you wanted to give me a reason to hold back my plans,” he starts as I cross my arms, walking to the desk. Here goes nothing.
“Perhaps I could help you with your problem in identifying ‘The Stig’,” I offer, remembering the discussion that I had the night before with Ron and Jimmie. Why was I here? Why couldn’t I be at Dover?
“Oh yeah? So you’re going to tell us who he is then?” I shake my head no. That would be a huge problem. Could you see if I told him that it was Jimmie Johnson?
“That’d be way too easy, and as I said, I can’t come out and be the one who said it. What if we make a deal?” Please say yes. Please say yes.
“Why should I make a deal with you? What if I have a deal with someone?” Okay, so that wasn’t expected. I thought I lured the guy into my trap. But who could he have a deal….oh wait, who had a record that was equal to his? Who wasn’t so innocent as she may seem? Great, Jimmie. You’ve been giving clues as to who you are to the person that could quite frankly be working with Rhodes. Of course he’d send a female decoy to his dirty work. “Now why don’t you just save me the trouble and tell me who the stig is?”
“That’s not happening as I made myself clear the last time that you were here. I don’t turn my back on friends.” That was probably the most truthful thing that I said to this guy.
“So you want to make a deal, you say?” Perhaps he wasn’t working with Candiss. Perhaps he was just using that as a way to possibly throw me off my game. Two can play this game, as you will see.
“That’s right. I’ll give you some clues as to who he is and those clues should start to lead you to the identity. If I give you that, then you must agree to stay off my back.” Right as our discussion entailed the night before. Now just hope this guy has some sort of reasoning or piece of sympathy.
“That’s a promise that I can’t make as what if I need to come back to you again?” Now to the rest of the statement that I was to utter in hopes of some safety. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so safe with this crap.
“If things continue to go south and you get further away from figuring it out, I’ll reveal some more clues for you. We can work as partners, to a degree. I give you clues and information a you may need and you leave me safe.” Oh just please agree. Please keep me safe. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to pain. I like my shop. Please don’t screw that up. “Come on….”
“Alright. Fine. Give me some clues.” Here goes nothing.
“He doesn’t just run the streets as he’s also a racecar driver. He may be a professional, or he may not.” Being that we were in North Carolina, that was the most vague clue that you could ever give someone. There were racecar drivers every two feet that you walked down here as this was the capital for all that business. It’s strange that there’s not more people like Jimmie on the streets.
“Anything else?” I’m surprised he didn’t turn that clue on it’s nose in my face.
“He’s originally from California, but now lives in the area.” Once again, that was very vague. Go ahead and name all the drivers that moved from the west coast to here for a shot at their dreams.
“These aren’t helping at all….” So he is catching on. Ah dang.
“The hair color is brown and the eyes are blue.” So there are not many blue eyed, brown haired racecar driers that come from California….is there? Who knows, but it’s vague enough that he should never figure out that it’s Jimmie.
“Is that all?”
“For now. like I said, I may have more to offer in the days and weeks to come.” In the meanwhile, I was hoping that this guy would either disappear, get busted, get shot…or Jimmie would wise up.
“I’ll be watching you…” He then turns to leave. “Oh, and Malcolm, tell your friend that I’m coming for him.” I don’t think he needs to know that. It seemed obvious based on the discussion.
“I’ll let him know.”
As I watch the door close, I turn again and lean against the counter with a sigh. I still don’t know how that plan worked, and I still don’t know if it’s bullet proof, but at least he’s gone for now.
Chapter 34: The Meeting
So I didn’t mean to mess up the eye color…honestly. Blame that on a nightly writing. But, what’s done is done. Besides, it could give us a new interesting direction to go with.
I didn’t know why he was calling me, but a deal was a deal. I had agreed to work with these guys – for my own reasons, of course.
I just wanted to chase them off of the Stig’s tale as he seemed like a nice guy that shouldn’t be mixed up in whatever business they had. Besides, I had a crush on the guy, even if I didn’t know what he looked like or who he was. He just seemed….intriguing.
On the flip side, like I said, nice guy who didn’t need their business. If I could keep Rhodes and his crew back, I could give Dom enough time that he needed to find something to nab him. Maybe in the process I’d find something myself to nab Rhodes. I just wasn’t about to tell Dom what I was doing as he’d kill me.
I pull up behind that ugly Honda once again Friday night, getting out as I see it’s owner leaning against the side. He seemed to have a grin on his face, which could only worry me. Either I was walking into a trap, or he had found out something today that was going to be worth while.
“So it seems as though our leader made a stop in to see Malcolm,” he starts as I freeze. Malcolm. That’d be a good place to go to if you wanted information as that guy seemed to know it all. They had worked together. But wait…
“I thought we had a deal,” I offer, remembering what I had said the night before. He wasn’t supposed to do anything as I was to handle gaining the necessary information.
“Relax, we didn’t hurt the guy or anything. Actually, Rhodes had gone to see him before you showed up so he wasn’t aware. But anyways, it was a worthy trip. He gave us some clues that are more worthy than what you have given us.” My mind immediately kicked into over drive as I wanted those clues as soon as possible. Let’s face it – some mindless clues combined with the fact that I “knew” the guy and boom, we should have something.
“Well spill then.”
“Do you know any racecar drivers, whether professional or not?” Okay, that was an opened ended question. Of course, I knew drivers. I worked in a bloody diner in the racing capital of the world. However, if this was supposed to help me point towards someone, my mind flipped that Jimmie switch. He was the only person that I truly knew besides Tyler and my fellow diner mates. He was a racecar driver.
“I know a bunch as they cross my path all day working at the diner. There are some NASCAR drivers, and some of North Carolina’s local stars. Tyler’s diner is the hot spot in town so they all come by. That doesn’t narrow anything down.” If it did, why would is say anything? I couldn’t let them know that I had figured it out, even if I had.
“Do you know any racecar drivers that are from California that now live in the area?” Once again, that’s a huge question. Of course, I knew drivers. As I said, all kinds of drivers stepped foot within the restaurant, ranging from the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to those kids who moved out here because they heard they had a better chance being near the teams. Jimmie. Jimmie is from California. I know Jimmie and I know him really well. Why does his name keep coming up?
“You’re narrowing it down, a little. Give me another clue.”
“Hair color is brown.” Jimmie’s hair is brown.
“Final clue- the eye color is blue.” I shake my head. Unless Malcolm had been mistaken, Jimmie’s eyes weren’t blue as they were brown. Oh wait, perhaps he said that to throw off Rhodes. So what if it is Jimmie? Naaah….it can’t be….but he’s the only one that I know close. “Well?”
“You’ve got me down to about 10 people. Let me play another week and I’ll probably have a name.” in other words, Dom, you better hurry your ass up because I don’t think I an hold them back longer than that. Curse Malcolm for giving such obvious clues.
“I’ll let Rhodes know. You may leave.” He then turns on his heels and heads for his house.
I then turn on mine, getting back in the car as I think it over. I kept thinking Jimmie. I couldn’t erase the name off of my mind as I was almost certain that it was him. but it couldn’t be as that wouldn’t be his type of thing. This all had to be a coincidence. There had to be someone else that fit the clues that was the person.
Of course, there was Jeff Gordon. He fit all those clues and visited the diner much. But Jeff Gordon dubbed a street racer? That was even crazier than thinking Jimmie was.
Perhaps taking Jimmie up on his offer to go to a race wasn’t a bad idea.
Chapter 35: Dover
“Are you sure that you’ll be able to concentrate enough this weekend?” Ron comments as they head out to pit road together. Jimmie then looks over at Ron with a glance. “Just saying!”
“I can keep what’s going on there separate from today,” Jimmie assures him. “I’m totally focused on today’s race and giving us a win so we can move into the next round of the Chase with some momentum. Besides, the Monster likes me.” Ron could only hope those words were true as they reached the car on pit road.
“I hope that’s the case because I don’t need Chad riding my ass.” Jimmie rolls his eyes as he looks down a bit at their furious leader.
“Has he bugged you lately?” Ron glances over at Chad before returning his eyes to Jimmie.
“Since he bugged me about things two weeks ago, he hasn’t said a word. No bit of curiosity or something being up at his end. According to him, everything is peachy in our lives. You’re just the single guy that is focused on racing and spends a little time with some friends.” Jimmie shakes his head as he was glad to have Chad off of their back.
With the quiet meetings that the pair would have about what was going on and catching tails of their conversation, Chad had grown curious at times that something was up. He hated to have a distracted driver so he was persistent in finding out the answer.
So far, Ron had been good at keeping things a secret. However, with how things were developing lately, he wondered how much longer that would be possible.
“So Malcolm said that he told Rhodes the clues that I shared and he seemed satisfied,” Jimmie comments, catching Ron’s attention. Ron hadn’t thought about discussing things in this setting.
“Well that’s good for both you and Malcolm, I suppose,” Ron shares, still unsure as to where they were going to go next with this. “I mean, at least he’s leaving Malcolm be and not pushing things any further.” Jimmie shakes his head as that was the key to the plan. As to the rest – what he’d do and Candiss, Jimmie was still lost on what to do there.
“Now there’s what to do this week and moving forward, plus what to do about Candiss.” Ron then looks at Jimmie surprised as he was pretty certain that he had decided Jimmie’s future for him. There was no more trusting the instincts of their driver.
“I thought we made that pretty clear already. You have yourself too deep now and if you keep running the streets, you’re only going to go deeper. You need to back out of it now. You need to not go this week and either sell the car, or at least change the color so nobody can find you. As far as Candiss, did you not see the rap sheet that Malcolm pulled on her? I thought it was decided that she was done with because of that. This girl is bad news, someone that you should stay as far as possible from. What part of that do you not understand? Hell, I’m surprised that Tyler trusted her.” The last part was throwing Jimmie off as well as he didn’t know what to think of that. Tyler was one of the most clean cut people that he knew. Why would he trust someone with a sheet like Candiss’?
“That’s what I don’t get. Why does Tyler trust her?” Ron shrugs his shoulders as he couldn’t believe that hey were even discussing the possibility of Jimmie and Candiss being together.
“Maybe he doesn’t know.” Jimmie shook his head as he knew that Tyler ran a background check on each of his employees.
“Or maybe there’s a reason for what she did, a reason that we can all forgive and forget about. Did you ever think of that?” Ron lets out a sigh as he shakes his head.
“You can do what you want bud, but just remember that we had this discussion and warned you. Also, look around. Look at how many look up to you. Look at how many fans you are a role model to. Look at the people that work under you. Look at the opportunity that you have here in NASCAR that millions dream of. Do you want to give that up for street racing and a girl? I thought you were smarter, Jimmie.” Ron then walks away as Jimmie lets out a sigh, leaning against the car.
No matter how he thought about it, everything was so messed up right now in every which direction possible. There was no clear answer, reason or response that he could give to Ron’s points. He also couldn’t figure out a clear answer – in his mind, at least – to what to do now.
He could simply pull out without regret. That would be the easiest thing to do. However, would that be successful? What if they tracked him down? What if they did something to Marshall? There were changes that he was scared of being taken.
He also didn’t wan to change the pain on the car as he loved the color – chosen specifically by him and custom painted. He didn’t know if he could go through with changing the color. He also couldn’t imagine selling the car as the car had been his since he was 18. It was his baby, and you didn’t part with your baby.
Then there was Candiss. The biggest mystery that lied in his mind. What was he supposed to do about her?