Chapter 16: Packing for Daytona
It seemed as though the next couple of weeks passed by rather quickly as they were getting ready to head to Daytona for the Coke Zero 400, which would then followed by the trial that they were all dreading.
Since talking to Regan about things, it’d certainly made things easier for Chase and it made what happened much easier to deal with. No more sleepless nights, no more nightmares, no more scary thoughts – everything was peachy in his life. But that didn’t mean that he was even close to being excited, or feeling fine about the trial to come following Daytona. Telling Regan about what happened was one thing, but having to sit and tell a bunch of people that he didn’t know was another totally. Wasn’t there anyway out of it?
“I’m sorry Mr. Elliott but you’re going to have to walk into that court room and tell them what happened based on the subpoena that they gave you,” the lawyer states as he looks over the piece of paper that Chase had received a couple weeks ago.
“You can call me Chase, and there’s got to be a way out of it,” Chase comments as he looks over at the lawyer. “He’s trying to prove that he was forced to do what he did by Mariella. What does that deal with me?”
“She’s not there to say what happened because of her dying while attacking.” Regan looks over, intrigued by the discussion. He had come over to see how Chase’s packing for Daytona was going. More so, he was intrigued as to what the young man was thinking. He wasn’t expecting the lawyer to be there.
“She died attacking him – the police shot her because she was choking him,” Regan recalls as he thinks back. “Anybody, not just Chase, could state that she did that. The cop that issued the shot. I could even say it because I witnessed it. Why force him to say it?”
“They’re trying to prove how ruthless and heartless she wa-” The lawyer starts as Regan rolls his eyes.
“Again, I could say that based on what happened and the police report could say that. That, along with Dale’s testimony as to what happened, proves that. The end.” The lawyer then takes a deep breath as he sets the piece of paper down.
“Mr. Smith, it wasn’t me who requested that Mr. Elli-”
“You aren’t fighting it, either. If you believe what I’m saying, then why don’t you go down there and fight against him saying something? And if you want a reason – call it psychological. He couldn’t sleep from when that happened in February to the beginning of this month because it was bugging him. Is that enough reason to try and avoid it?” The lawyer slowly shakes his head yes as he pulls out a notepad from his briefcase.
“I’ll make a note to say in the court room that the incident between Mr. Elliott and Ms. Kastona Calantay should be discussed by Mr. Elliott due to psychological reasons, and that if discussion is warranted, it can be handled by a witness.” The lawyer then looks up and over at Chase. “However, you still need to take the stand, by my instruction. He is trying to prove that he was forced by Ms. Kastona Calantay, correct? However, in the behavior that he portrayed with you in leading you away from the team and to the trailer, did he seem as though he was unnerved?” Chase thinks it over, remembering the entire exchange, before shaking his head no.
“He looked as if he knew what he was doing,” Chase comments as the lawyer shakes his head yes.
“That’s why I need you to take to the stand and explain that exchange, in relation to what happened, his behavior and his attitude in your eyes,” the lawyer explains. “That, along with some of the text messages that we were able to retrieve from Ms. Kastona Calantay’s phone, the timing of his hiring with Hendrick Motorsports and how he handled things with Mr. LeTarte will prove that he was acting along with her, not forced by her. Are you okay with telling your part, only in relation to Mr. Roberts, and leaving the rest undiscussed?” Chase takes a deep breath. He knew that he could talk about Randy without a tinge of fear or issue, as that he had grown really comfortable in the time that had passed.
“I can do that.”
“Thank you. now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to pay a visit to the other two and hope they’re prepared for next week. I will see you later. Goodbye Mr. Elli-”
“It’s Chase, and goodbye sir.”
“Bye!” Regan chimes in as the lawyer puts his belongings in his briefcase and heads out. Chase follows, closing the door behind him afterwards as he lets out a sigh. “Glad that he’s gone?” Chase glances down the hall at Regan with a smile.
“You’re amazing – honestly,” Chase comments. “Thank you for sticking up and saying something.”
“That’s what friends are for. Now, are you packed yet?” Chase lets out a laugh and shakes his head no.
“I always pack at the last minute. Haven’t you learned that yet?” Regan shakes his head in disbelief as he heads down the hall.
“When are you going to learn to be prepared?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.
“Outfits are simple. I’m in my firesuit most of the time anyway. I just need a couple pairs of jeans, my NAPA dress shirts for the sponsor functions, and some t-shirts for when it’s just me. Oh, and my sweater.” Regan then follows Chase to the bedsroom, leaning against the door when they get there.
“So you’re going to wear one pair of underwear all weekend, and one pair of socks? Yuck!” Chase then grabs a pair and chucks it at Regan, who ducks. “Dude, that’s just wrong. Those are nasty. I don’t want to touch something that’s touched your skinny little ass.”
“Least you know that my ass has behaved.” Regan just shakes his head.
“I can see what a nice influence living on Dale’s property has been for you. Where’s the innocent little boy that I used to know?” Chase smiles as he looks up from his suitcase.
“Still innocent.” Regan smiles as he knew that was a true fact. He then walks in the room and sits on the edge of the bed, curiosity sitting in. all of the young boys in the garage always seemed to have someone on their arm. Chase, not quite.
“So when are you going to get a girl?” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he rummages through some shirts, looking for a couple.
“When the right one crosses paths with me, whenever that may be. Is it wrong to wait for the right one?” Regan shakes his head no as he lies back on the bed.
“Perhaps Erin would be a good start.” Chase instantly looks up and shakes his head no.
“No…no…no. Myself and Erin are just best friends, nothing else. Are we clear?” Regan shakes his head yes, slowly.
“Don’t get all offended. I meant that in good taste, however I understand the friend zone boundary.” Chase then throws a couple shirts in the bag. “Don’t forget some good pants, dress shirts and such for court.” Chase heads to the closet, going through the variety to choose from.
“Why do we have to do this?”
“Blame the justice system. Innocent till proven guilty.” Chase knew that, but still didn’t want to face the music that was to come, no matter how comforting they were trying to make it.
“I just wish that I could build a time machine and fast forward past it.”
Chapter 17: Returning to Daytona
In the eyes of the group, they had returned back to a place that had a package of mixed emotions attached. It was also a place where none of them could wipe the events from February from their minds.
However, they had returned with a positive mindset. None of them were set to let it bug them or the goals at hand in winning the races ahead of them. It was a role of simple concentration and not letting the events plague their minds.
While that was their plan, it wasn’t in the plans of others.
Their fellow drivers hadn’t made any comments, obviously understanding the seriousness of what happened and the pain that it had caused. While there were some who didn’t have the best relationships with each other, it was mutual agreement to not bring it up.
No, it had been the duty of the media members that chose to bring up the discussion, in their stories leading into the weekend. They questioned how the events would play into the thoughts of Dale and Chase. They questioned whether there’d be flashbacks, and whether the drivers would truly have what it took to get through the weekend. Both ignored the stories, not giving it care. They knew to expect it, but also knew to avoid it.
Though, avoiding it could only be done for so long, as the discussions immediately became apparent at the first press conference of the weekend. It was the weekly scheduled media conference that Dale was used to doing each weekend. Spend about 15 to 20 minutes with the media answering their questions. However, this one turned different. It wasn’t a normal racing media member that brought up the question – it was one that was solely there due to the royalty reasons.
With Marie being the Queen and Dale being the King of Pitronia, royal news had their part in following their actions. This weekend and the upcoming trial were receiving more attention than other things – simply due to what happened and how Marie’s sister Mariella had died in the process.
“Sir, how are the events that happened in February affecting you this weekend?” The reporter asked, bringing shock to the room as others hadn’t intended on bringing it up. To most, there was a time and place for that – during the trial period, of course. Dale took a deep breath as he focused on the reporter.
“It is not affecting me as I’m not thinking about it,” Dale answered. “I’m focused on the race this weekend and winning. Nothing else. I’ll worry about that next week.”
“Anymore questions?” The moderator asked as he looks around the room.
Things finished up shortly thereafter with Dale thanking them for their time before leaving.
“They’ll always be someone that brings it up,” Laura comments as they head out of the media center.
“It didn’t matter so we don’t need to discuss,” Dale tells her with a glance her way.
“If you want, I can ask for it not to be discussed for the rest of the weekend.” Dale shakes his head, knowing that wouldn’t be a problem. In his mind, it wasn’t something of thought.
“It’s fine Laura – honestly.” Dale then stops and thinks it over as he glances around, before returning his eyes to Laura. “Actually, do me a favor. Make sure that they don’t ask Chase anything.” Laura shakes her head, understandingly.
“That’s not a problem. I’m going to go work on making sure the transcript is posted and such. You have practice in an hour.” She then heads off, leaving Dale for the rest of the walk alone.
He then continues the walk, leaving his thoughts to his own. He knew that he made the right decision in telling Laura that. Everything had hit Chase the hardest and given the time it took him to come out and tell Regan everything, he didn’t want to even begin to open the door to what happened. He knew that it’d have to open – come trial time – but he was willing to keep it shut as long as he could.
It was also true that indeed – everything had changed. It felt different being in the role of a King as he was in charge of a country. Sure, Marie handled everything for the most part in doing the paperwork and duties. However, there were times that he felt the weight when she’d ask for his opinion. How do you make decisions that affect a whole country of people and their lives? What if you make one wrong choice?
Though beyond that, it seemed that the events of the off-season and February were, for the most part, behind him. There were certainly some frightening moments along the way, but they had subsided and allowed everything to come back to focus. He couldn’t complain with the love that he and Marie had, how much Alyssa was growing each day and how well racing was going.
The positive thoughts flipped to the other side of the garage as well as Chase was in a good mood. Just done the first Xfinity Series practice, he had a fast car and felt that he had a good chance at winning. It seemed as though the perfect weekend was coming together.
“So, do you want to come hang out with us or not?” Darrell asked, snapping Chase out of his thoughts as he glanced towards the fellow driver. “I think it’d be a great idea for you on Sunday.” Chase leans against the car, thinking it over. He had the race later that night and planned on watching the Cup race on Saturday night. For Sunday, there were no plans in mind, but they were staying in Florida, given what was to come.
“I don’t know…” Chase lets out as he looks between the pair.
“Listen, we both know that you need to let loose for awhile and have some fun,” Ryan starts as he leans against the car beside Chase. “Let’s face it – you’re under a lot of stress and worry about the trial and what happened. You’ve had a killer year to date with the flashbacks.” Chase then glances between them.
“It was obvious to us that you weren’t sleeping that well for a couple of months there,” Darrell comments. “We’re your friends – we see everything.”
“You need to do something fun for yourself. You got to let loose. Just come spend a day with us and Kyle (Larson).” Chase thinks it over, knowing that the pair were probably right as it would probably be good to get away for awhile. “Please?”
“What do you have in mind?” Chase questions, curiously, as the pair glance towards each other.
“A trip to Disney to tackle the big scary roller coasters and find out who the biggest chicken is, or a possible trip to just hang out at the beach,” Ryan offers.
“It’s your decision,” Darrell informs him. Darrell had gotten Ryan and Kyle together and discussed the need to do a get away with their good friend as they could tell that he needed it. They all agreed, knowing that it’d be the best thing that they could do given the situation, also agreeing that they’d leave it up to Chase as to where they would go.
“We could even go go-karting.”
“Aren’t you scared of getting your ass kicked?” Chase challenges as Ryan laughs.
“You don’t scare me Elliott,” Ryan answers as he crosses his arms.
“So do you accept my challenge?”
“Go-karting it is – that’s if Bubba is ready to be put in the tire barrier.” Darrell laughs as a smirk forms on his face.
“Oh Ryan, you seem to forget that it was you who ate rubber the last time courtesy of me,” Darrell challenges in response as Chase just smiles.
His friends were right. It’d be good to get away for a day and have some fun.
Chapter 18: Royalty….
“How much paperwork do you have to shift through each day?” Jason asks as he sits in the motorcoach on the couch before the Sprint Cup race that night playing a video game with Dale.
“Lots,” Marie answers with a sigh as she reads the latest piece that has landed in the stack.
“I told you – hire a secretary or a clerk or whatever they call it,” Dale suggests as he glances over at her, only to receive a stare.
“That won’t be necessary as I can handle this, Dale. We’ve been over thi-”
“You’re working your ass off too hard and it’ll take it’s tol-”
“I know how to balance things, so you don’t need to give me instructions.” She then reads over the piece of paper, signing the bottom before putting it in the stack. “Besides, this is a good balance. I deal with this paperwork while Sharon and Joshua run day-to-day things. I can’t complain and no matter what you both want to say about too much work, I can handle it.” Dale lets out a sigh as the discussion had been had between the pair on multiple occasions since March.
The amount of papers that she seemed to be shifting through just seemed to never end. The variety varied between court judgments that required her ruling due to appeal, to laws that were being appealed and possibly needed to be changing. She had made some significance changes, addressing the unfair laws that her father had put in place to make the country better for her people. For the most part, everything had gone over well.
The paperwork was the only complaint that was shared so far, though. As stated before, they could balance everything without any issues being had. She was able to take a week each month to go spend there – as appointed in the original agreement – and it didn’t seem to bug Dale, either. He was able to handle things at his end with racing and Alyssa in that period without issue, only sharing small thoughts of missing her. However, not seeing her for a week is something that he could deal with given the interesting situation they were dealt.
“So you’re King…” Jason starts, interrupting Dale’s thoughts as he looks over at him. “Do you get to, like, make any decisions?” Dale shakes his head yes.
“I could very well also go through the papers as well and sign off on stuff, but she won’t allow me,” Dale answers as Jason looks between them, surprised.
“He has his race team to run and racing to focus on,” Marie explains. “Besides, I enjoy handling business.”
“I don’t argue with her because why bother? If there’s anything that she’s second-guessing herself or not sure on, she runs it by me for approval. There’s also some things that require both of our approval.”
“But under any circumstance, I could throw him off the throne.” Dale then smiles as he gets up and walks up behind her, wrapping both arms around her neck.
“But you wouldn’t do that, now would you?” She then glances up at him with a smirk on her face.
“Don’t test me, Earnhardt. There’s some da-” He then cuts her words off with a kiss before rubbing her shoulders.
“You know that’s not true. You love me. You can’t go by a day without thinking about me.” Marie smiles as she leans back against him.
“Okay, you caught me. Happy?” She then flips through the paperwork to a binder that she hid at the bottom, pulling it out to the top and flipping it open. “So I’ve been doing some thinking. We talked about getting married and the wedding. We need to focus on dates.” Dale immediately flips her calendar to December and January.
“You have from mid December to mid January to do it – but not too close to Christmas, since during the race season is too hectic.” She shakes her head, understanding, having already sorted that out in her mind. It was why she had circled a date in question on the calendar.
“We talked about waiting till December 2016/January 2017 du-”
“We’re still going to do that, right?” Marie looks up at him before returning her eyes back to the calendar.
“I think we could still do it this year, actually. It gives us five to six months to put everything in order, which is enough time in my mind.” Dale knew that it would be enough time – if she said so – however, wondered whether it was the right decision.
They had been through a lot in the past year so far to date, with the trial still ahead of them the following week. Did they want a wedding truthfully at the end of the year? Or did they want to leave more time, due to trying to work their way through what happened?
While Dale had kept an attitude to everybody that he was over and done with what happened, it was a bit of a lie. There were nights that he’d still call up Rick or Steve to talk to them about various feelings. Some of it was pitty little things that he realized after were ridiculous to even have – while other pieces were true fears. He had at least gotten back used to flying, and thankfully convinced Alyssa that planes were okay as well. Though trust in strangers was something that they were building as if someone were to work up and spook him from behind, you wouldn’t always get the prettiest response possible.
On the flip side, Marie was still balancing her emotions. There was a lot on plate to balance, especially with so many family pieces. She was trying to get the relationship back together with her mother after the distrust that happened. She wanted to trust her mom and have the relationship that they had, but it was so hard with the events that transpired. There’d also be days where she’d be sad that her sister and father were gone, but yet others that she’d be so angry. There were days that she’d be asking herself why she was stuck in such a crazy family, and why things happened. It was why she liked to busy herself in the paperwork, as it was a good distraction from those thoughts for her.
“Should I leave?” Jason asks, seeing the looks between the couple in discussing possible wedding plans.
“No ‘eave – you play!” Alyssa tells him as she continues playing Mario Kart with him.
“Alyssa has final vote,” Dale states with his tongue sticking out before returning his eyes back to Marie. “Are you sure it’s enough time?” She shakes her head yes.
“We can determine within the next two to three weeks how big we want the wedding and who we want there,” she starts. “Then make sure the invites are sent out. Once they are, we can work on loca-”
“I got that covered.” Marie smiled as she knew exactly what her fiancé was thinking – the church that was part of his Western Town. They thought of doing a homey felt wedding with their vows said in that church and the reception held in the Saloon – obviously refitted for reception material. They would do the wedding with their closest friends and family – number to be determined. Then a week later, head to Pitronia and announce the marriage officially to ‘their people’ as that was part of the marriage process in being King and Queen.
“So we just need to determine the final guest list and send out the invites. Once that’s done, it’s all about getting a minister, DJ, catering, determining color theme, followed by dress shopping. The dress shopping is the worst part of it for a bride, but I can promise you that I will handle that quickly. I’m not one of those picky brides.” It sounded as though she had things under control and Dale was set to agree to her plan, however there was one thought that stood in the way and partially also why they had adjusted the date.
“What about you? You’re going to be about five to six months pregnant.” Jason then looks over as his jaw drops in shock.
“You’re pregnant?” He asks, still shocked as Dale eyes look over at Jason before turning back to Marie.
“I’m sorr-” Dale starts.
“It’s fine – Jason can know,” Marie assures him as she looks over at Jason. “About a month pregnant, due in February. We found out about a week ago. Now can you keep it a secret, like Alyssa promised, for a couple months?” Jason shakes his head in agreement, understanding.
Marie hadn’t been feeling like herself and it had Dale worried to bits that she was running herself down with too much work. Truth was, when she made a trip to the doctor to see what was up, she found out she was pregnant.
It was a shock to the pair due to everything else going on their lives, but honestly wasn’t much of a surprise considering how much they loved each other, and spending time together. Both of them were happy for the news, having discussed plans already of expanding their family to two or more children one day.
It was just a small worry between them in making sure they kept things in check, with everything else that had been going on in their lives. Dale had also made her promise to cut back on the amount of work she was doing to make sure that she took care of herself. She promised him that she’d do that, having finally agreed to talk to Sharon about hiring a clerk.
“I be big sister soon!” Alyssa cheers in excitement with a big smile on her face.
“Alyssa, remember…” Dale says as she looks over at her daddy.
“I know daddy – secret. I no tell anyone.” She then looks back towards the game as Jason jut smiles at the pair.
“Congratulations,” he says.
“Thanks,” Marie comments before turning her eyes back to Dale. “I know I’ll be pregnant. However, I can assure you that I can get married while I’m pregnant. I can walk down that aisle in a wedding dress pregnant. I can enjoy the reception. I can even make sure to indulge in the beautiful food.”
“Well that you must do since you’re eating for two,” Dale tells her before kissing her lips again.
“The decision is yours whether what year we marry.”
“Fine – we’ll marry at the end of this year, between Christmas and New Years. Besides, I can’t wait to call you my wife anyway.”
“I thought he was going to win,” Chase comments as they head out to the go-kart track. “I thought he was far enough ahead.”
“But you thought wrong as that run that Kyle got off four was huge!” Darrell says as the pair talk about the Coke Zero 400. Dale had been leading late in the race, but with a run to the checkered flag, Kyle Busch scored the win by inches.
“Matt was sure locked on to his bumper,” Ryan comments. “It was good.”
“Just as good as you being edged at the line by me?” Chase questions, in referencing to his win on Friday night in the Xfinity Series race. He had edged Ryan Blaney at the line to score the win.
“I don’t even want to talk about that.”
“Awww is Ryan is still upset that he got beat?”
“Do we need to buy you a teddy bear?” Darrell adds, as Ryan flips them both off.
“I thought he still slept with a teddy bear,” Kyle Larson finally chimes in as Ryan gives him a look.
“Nah – it was you that slept with it, per your girlfriend,” Ryan offers as Darrell and Chase laugh, remembering the April Fools prank photo that she sent out with Kyle cuddling a teddy bear.
“Are you ever going to forget that?” The group all shake their head no as they laugh.
“I’ll handle this.” Ryan then walks ahead of the group to the desk, paying the amount required for an afternoon at the go-kart track. The group stands back, waiting patiently, as he returns a couple minuets later. “We’re good to go. There’s nobody else here so looks like we’ve got the place to ourselves for now.”
They then start to head inside when Chase’s phone rings, catching all of their attention.
“Mommy checking on her baby?” Ryan teases as Chase pulls his phone out.
“Uh oh, Chase is in trouble,” Darrell adds as Chase just flips the bird at them both as he looks at the caller ID.
“It’s Dale,” Chase tells them before answering. “Hello?”
“Hey Chase,” Dale starts. “Listen, where are you?” Chase then feels a bit of confusion. Why would Dale be looking for him?
“I’m at the go-kart track with Darrell, Ryan, Dylan and Kyle. Why?” Dale lets out a sigh. He hated to be the barrier of news while Chase was trying to have some fun in the midst of everything. It was news that he already hated enough himself.
“I’ve got something that you should know – not that you should be worried, or anything. Remember how Randy wasn’t supposed to be able to get bail and all that? Well, that was appealed and he got it changed to a million dollars for bail. He also paid said bail so he is out on bail right now, due to be in court tomorrow obviously with us.” Chase slowly takes it in as he stands there with a blank expression on his face of disbelief.
“Are you serious? He is right now loose?” Dale’s thoughts echoed that of Chase when he received the phone call from the lawyer.
“That is correct. Now, he can’t come within 100 feet of any of us. If he does, immediately call police and he’s arrested for breaking terms of bail. Beyond that, he’s free to do whatever he wants.” Chase felt comfortable with that thought as if anything, he could make sure to catch the guy in the act of something. “I don’t want you to worry or anything. I just told you because I was told and felt that you should know. Have fun with the boys and try to stay out of trouble. Call me if you need me. Bye.”
“Bye….” Chase then slowly lowers the phone, hitting hang-up as he continues to stand there in disbelief, letting the thought run through his mind.
How was it fair that Randy could walk the streets after what happened? How was it fair that he could do anything after he helped Mariela with her sick plan?
Chase then shakes his head, knowing that he didn’t want to think about it any longer, as he glances up to be met by four faces staring at him.
“Is everything okay?” Darrell questions as he is the first to step forward, walking up to Chase. He had heard Chase’s end of the conversation and knew the likelihood of what Dale told him. He also knew the effect that everything had on Chase in the weeks that had followed after what happened, based on the lack of hanging out together. “Randy is out on bail, right?” Chase slowly shakes his head yes as he keeps his eyes on Darrell.
“He wasn’t supposed to get bail, but that got appealed and was accepted and he paid the money required,” Chase answers as Darrell shakes his head in disbelief.
“Listen, we don’t have to go go-karting. We could go back to the hotel. As I told you earlier this weekend – we’re going to do whatever you want today. We just want to have a fun day with our friend. We miss hanging out with you.” A small smile forms on Chase’s face. He wasn’t about to let the phone call change his plans for the day. If Randy really did want to see him, then let him come find him. Let him try what he wanted as it would take a simple phone call. Chase knew he also had a bunch of friends with him that had his back, if something should happen.
“I thought you were supposed to be prepared to get your ass kicked today.” Darrell smiles as he knew what the answer meant. He then wraps an arm around Chase and brings him over to the group as they head over to the go-karts.
“Everything okay?” Ryan asks and Chase shakes his head yes.
“He’s ready to kick my ass – for some reason he believes that he can do that,” Darrell offers as a smile forms on Ryan’s face.
“I’m going to kick your ass, too. It’s not hard to do that.”
“I don’t want you going easy on me because you feel bad for me or anything,” Chase offers as he looks between them.
“Sympathy? What’s that?” Ryan questions as he looks over the go-karts. “They say that they’re all supposed to be equal, but a go-kart with the number 22 should be the quickest.”
“For that you’re wrong as number 6 is always a winner,” Darrell offers, sitting in a go-kart.
“Then why didn’t you win on Friday?” Chase asks as he finds the number 9, sitting in it.
“They don’t have a number 42?” Kyle questions as he looks them over.
“These places never have the coolest number around,” Dylan adds.
“Oh just shut up and choose one!” Ryan yells, getting surprised glances from the others.
“Someone is looking for some stress relief…” Darrell offers as Ryan rolls his eyes.
“Try having a sister that doesn’t let you date.”
“Did she chase away Brittany, or whoever that was?” Chase questions with a glance back at Ryan as Dylan and Kyle finally settle on a pair of karts. “Dude, she wasn’t even right for you. She was a total track bunny. You need better taste in woman.”
“When are you going to get a girlfriend?” Ryan asks as Chase shrugs his shoulders.
“I thought he was dating your sister?” Dylan questions, in reference to Erin.
“We’re just good friends – that’s all,” Chase comments before putting his helmet on.
“20 laps – first across the line wins,” Darrell announces. “No other rules. Contact is acceptable – as long as you don’t flat out drill the other guy. Beyond that, good luck on trying to catch me boys.”
“It’ll be easier than you think.”
Once the boys hit the track with the go-karts, it was a full raged war was on with contact from one end to the other. There were a couple spin-outs along with the way, highlighted by Ryan getting point-blankly dumped into the tire barrier by Kyle at about the halfway mark. Needless to say, the boys were following the promise of taking no prisoners.
In the end, though, Ryan found his way back to the front despite being dumped in the tires by Kyle as he made his way back by Kyle – a little retaliation spin, might we add – before passing Chase on the final corner to steal the win.
“You know, it’s not nice to steal the win from the poor sweet kid,” Darrell offered once they had all gotten their helmets off.
“He said not to have any sympathy for him so there ya go,” Ryan rebuttals with a smile on his face.
“I call that highway robbery!” Chase argues. “You had to have taken a short cut somewhere after being dumped by Larson.”
“Speaking of which, what was up with the retaliation?” Kyle questions as Ryan shrugs his shoulders.
“I thought Darrell said there was to be no hard contact and buddy, that initial hit was hard,” Ryan offers.
“And yet somehow made you faster,” Chase comments as Dylan shakes his head in agreement.
“It’s like I knocked off the limiter,” Kyle suggests, catching the attention of everyone.
“These karts have limiters on them?” Kyle shrugs his shoulders as he looks over his go-kart.
“Some places do limiters to make sure that people don’t go faster than their ability.”
“That’d be a good tool for you, Dylan,” Darrell offers with a pat on Dylan’s shoulder.
“I didn’t see you anywhere near the front now did I?” Dylan challenges as Darrell shrugs his shoulders.
“But who has won more races this year? This guy!”
“And who’s leading the points? This guy!” Chase states with a huge smile on his face.
“If only I had a full-time ride to kick both of your asses,” Ryan shares as they head out, done for the day.
They had discussed the possibility of dong another round, but with their stomachs feeling hungry, the group decided it was best to head out for dinner. Making their way to a local fast food place, they all got their burgers and fries before finding a place to sit and eat.
As they sat eating, Darrell kept his eyes locked on Chase with a mix of thoughts on his mind. With everything that had happened, they hadn’t been spending as much time together as they would’ve hoped. Instead, Chase was dealing with whatever was going on and spending time with Regan. On the flip side, that left Darrell having to deal with Ryan and Dylan’s stupidity alone as Kyle was only helpful here and there, thanks to being a father.
“We need to do this more often,” Darrell offers, having missed their hang out times together.
“What happened to getting together at least once a week?” Dylan wonders as Ryan glances over at Kyle.
“Talk to the father of the group,” Ryan suggests as Kyle shrugs his shoulders.
“Fatherhood is awesome,” Kyle comments. “You’ll understand once you have kids.”
“You’re growing up way too fast man,” Darrell shares before looking over the rest of the group. “Okay, for the rest of us, we need to get back to doing this once a week. I don’t care what is going on in your lives, we need to do this.” Darrell’s eyes then lock back to Chase. “Besides, it’s good to get away from the everyday hassles and have some fun.”
“Okay, so what all happened in February?” Dylan blurts out, earning a mix of surprised and angry glances from the others at the table.
“Dylan!” Kyle spits out first as Chase focuses his eyes on his food.
“I’d rather not talk about it, okay?” Chase offers and Dylan simply shakes his head understanding.
“I thought that you’d be okay talking about it,” Dylan tries to offer an apology as Kyle debates smacking him underneath the table. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
“Way to ruin the day of fun and distraction!” Kyle finally lets out as he smacks Dylan across the back of the head. The behavior catches Chase’s attention as Darrell lets out a sigh.
“We’ve been doing our own get togethers here and there,” Darrell starts as he glances between the Ganassi duo, before looking back at Chase. “We didn’t want to bug you with everything that you had going on. If you want honesty, I talked to Regan a bit and he said that things were a little tough so I was willing to give you your space, and told the others to do so as well. However, that can only go on for so long. I got together with Ryan first and suggested that we do a fun day together, get back to how things were. He agreed, and we got a hold of dumb and dumber. It seemed even more apparent that we should do it this weekend as we know that tomorrow is start of the stress 101. After our own discussions, we came to you.”
“Even with those two acting like complete knobs, we hope that the day accomplished what we wanted – a day of fun with friends, without having to worry about a thing,” Ryan adds.
“I’m sorry I have a dumb teammate who has to ruin everything with his big mouth,” Kyle offers.
“And I’m sorry that I have the worst curiosity possible,” Dylan adds. The group then goes silent waiting for Chase’s response as he looks between them.
“You guys are the best friends that anybody could ask for,” he starts. “When I’m ready to say what happened, Dylan, I’ll gladly tell you. I’m just not ready yet. However, it’s understandable to be curious considering you’re a close friend. And Kyle, don’t shoot him as despite being a dumbass sometimes, Dylan is a pretty cool guy.”
“The first time those words have been spoken,” Ryan states, earning a look from Dylan as Darrell laughs.
“Thanks for the fun day and no, you haven’t ruined it. It was perfectly what I needed after the past couple of months and yes, especially before tomorrow. Like you’ve already said, we have to get back to doing this. We need to do this for our own sane purposes.”
“We should go mini-golfing next week.”
“Are you sure you’re ready to face the clown windmill again?” Darrell questions as Chase laughs, remembering the last time they went mini-golfing. Ryan fought the clown windmill, shooting approximately 30 times before getting the ball in the hole.
“I am ready to master that wind mill this time,” Ryan states with a smile on his face.
“Who wants to bet it takes him 40 shots this time?”
“I’m aiming for 50!” Chase offers as Dylan shakes his head.
“Nah – I’ll give him 10 this time,” Dylan suggests as they look over at Kyle. “Are you available?”
“Someone has to make sure that you boys stay out of trouble,” Kyle offers, casuing the whole group to laugh.
“Right, because it was you who went swimming in the pond after their precious rainbow golf ball despite all the signs that said no swimming.”
“That rainbow golf ball was special, okay? It’s a special collectable.”
“Only Larson would go golfing with a Jeff Gordon rainbow golfball,” Chase teases as they all share a laugh.
I can say that I enjoyed writing this comic relief section of the story. With the trial pending and Randy being loose, I figured we all needed a break. However, that can only last for so long. We have business to get to.