The following morning, the group made their way over to the hospital as promised. They were pleased with the progress by both. Chase and Alyssa were both still in a lot of pain – his stomach, her burns – but the pain killers were taking the edge off. For Alyssa, she was told if she continued to heal accordingly, she’d be released in the next 24 hours. Chase, though, they wanted to monitor longer, which made Alyssa not care of the release due to wanting to be there for him.
Standing in the corner observing the group, Jeff was keeping quiet as he let the parents discuss things with the children. He then glances at his phone, surprised by the text message.
“Come outside,” he reads as he glances around the room confused. He then shrugs his shoulders, figuring he’d listen.
“I’ll be back,” he answers with ease as he leaves the room. Everybody simply thought he needed some space for a call or had to make a bathroom trip.
He makes his way downstairs, following the directions laid out as he walks to the meeting spot.
“You could’ve just flown up instead of driving,” he starts, barely paying attention except knowing the person he wanted was there. “Heck, why didn’t you just come up to the room?”
“Because I brought a surprise,” Steve LeTarte states, finally catching Jeff’s attention as he notices the pink Camaro.
“That’s Alyssa’s Camaro, the dream ’67 car that Chase searched the bloody country for to make her wishes come true. Did you drive it up here?” Steve shakes his head no as Jeff looks at him confused.
“I had it delivered, okay? Special delivery at that.” Jeff felt himself growing more confused.
“May I dare ask why? With the manual transmission, she won’t be able to shift and drive it.” A smile formed on Steve’s face as he walked around, opening the door.
“Paddle gear shift, same way it is in IndyCar with being on the side of the wheel.” Jeff then looks it over, surprised, as he glances at Steve. “Our conversation, the one that we had, got me thinking, along with my short discussion on the phone with her. I figured it’d be easier on them both driving than flying – forces and pains – so here’s a surprise for the trip home. It’s a way to express to her that things are going to be alright.” Jeff had to admit that he was impressed with the handy work as he sat in the car for a moment.
“This is perfect, Steve. It’ll ease her worries, along with those around her as you’ve given her something back that she thought she lost.” Steve shakes his head in agreement as he thinks about something else, leaning back against the car.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way – that’s something that you said you told her. Alex Zanardi has become a legend in Olympics. There’s a guy over in Europe who drives with his feet because both of his arms are paralyzed. Sam Schmidt got to drive again, simply by head movements and voice commands. There are stories everywhere, Jeff. Getting in contact with the right people, and the technology is right at our fing-”
“Do I want to know what you’re thinking?” Steve smiles as he shrugs his shoulders. He thought it’d be a good idea as it’d answer the biggest worry everyone had, and solve Alyssa’s problem.
“I spoke to the same people who put this technology in her car, and asked if it’d be possible. They said if we could combine a small enough steering box ratio to give her the control with one hand, combined with the paddle shifting, why wouldn’t it be possible? While everybody, including herself, has assumed the racing dream is dead, I say otherwise. I say it is possible. We just need to get her to try it, get comfortable with it, and get NASCAR to approve it.” Jeff knew everything was easily possible; he had used the shift paddles himself in a couple racing experiments. He just didn’t know about the last variable.
“Do you think NASCAR would?” Steve shrugs his shoulders as he wasn’t quite sure on that factor, yet.
“I haven’t asked because I don’t want to go through the trouble without it being set. I say we let her get comfortable in this, and then transition to a stock car. Bring them out to a test and see what they say. If they somehow deny it, I say those open wheel rumors for her may have truth behind them.” Jeff knew it was a possibility, but seeing an Earnhardt outside of a stock car in an open-wheel car would feel weird. He knew that they better make NASCAR see things their way, when the time is right.
“So my question is when are you going to tell Alyssa all of this?” Steve had debated how to go about the next critical step, whether immediately or wait.
“Let her get released. Then I’ll bring her down and show her. We won’t say a single word till then. Let this be a surprise, a happy change of pace.” Jeff shook his head in agreement.
“I won’t say a word, promise. Just think, though. She already loved you by how close you guys were, and the fact that you saved her life when she was younger. Now you’re going to be her king.” Steve laughs as they head into the hospital, although he remembered when Alyssa said he was the knight in shining armor back then.
“Chase will always have that number spot in her life, Jeff. I don’t think anyone could ever replace that for her.” Jeff shakes his head in agreement as they walk through the hospital, getting into the elevator. Jeff presses the button, as he leans back against the wall.
“When she and Leo were dating, I could tell that they were great together – but something was missing, the extra magic that makes you know it’s the perfect right match forever. I never said anything because they were young, and it was for them to discover – even though every part of me yelled to say something as I didn’t want to see a mess later on like Brooke and I turned into. I’m actually glad that they realized when they did, and were able to break it off how they did and remain friends. Now she’s got Chase, and he’s got Elladee.” Steve smiles, as he was glad things had worked out for the children. It was also nice to see how close Elladee and Leo were growing.
“She’s still involved in dirt racing heavily, right?” Jeff shakes his head yes as they reach the floor. While it seemed Jeff’s kids, Genieve, and Alyssa had taken after their father’s love of asphalt racing, Elladee was different. She ended up taking a liking to the dirt side – no surprise with her father’s involvements there, too – and had become quite the Sprint Car racer.
“Currently leading the World of Outlaw standings driving for Tony Stewart.”