Sunday, December 14, 2008

The boy racers

The boy racers

Bob couldn’t wait; he was counting the days when he turned fifteen. Mum and Dad promised him his wheels. It was twenty more days, and Dad had already signed a cheque made out to Turners’ car auctions for four thousand dollars.

“It’s not very much but you won’t be getting a rust bucket,” said dad.

“But all my friends have better cars, Dad,” protested Bob.

“Sorry, mate, that the best I could do. In my days, I had to work to buy my own car,” replied Dad.

“That’s right; you count your lucky stars that we are giving you a car. Four thousand dollars could get you quite a good Japanese Import,” added Mum.

The day came, with the cheque in his hand; Bob went with Max and Sam together with his parents, Dave and Hayley to Turner’s Car auction at Penrose to auction for a car, not any car, but his car. Dad registered himself as a buyer as Bob didn’t have his license. After test driving a few cars, Dad recommended a Nissan Sunny. Bob was more interested in a sporty car but beggars can’t be choosers, he settled with the Nissan Sunny.

“If you work weekends, you could top up your savings when you sell your Nissan and buy a better car,” suggested Dad.

Bob passed his written driving test and got his restricted driver’s license. Bob had been secretly driving his mum’s car for two years and was never caught by his Dad or the traffic cops. In fact, he was so car savvy that his mum preferred that he was her chauffer when she had to drive him.

When Bob came home with his restricted driver’s license, Mum gave him his car keys.

“Make you don’t take any passengers unless they have a driver’s license,” warned Mum.

“I will, Mum. Don’t wait for me; I am taking my mates for a celebration. I promised to shout them when I got my driver’s license,” said an impatient Bob.

Bob revved his engine and skidded up the driveway and almost knocked down a young boy riding his bike on the footpath.

“Jesus, watch where you ride your bike, you could get yourself killed,” shouted Bob.

Bob raced eighty kilometers in a fifty kilometer residential road. He had the windows winded down and his CD player blasting loudly, he imagined himself driving a red hot Ferrari and his long blonde hair blowing in the cold winter wind. He screeched down to Avondale to Max’s house.

Bob had bribed Max’s eighteen year old brother Pete to buy seven six-pack bottles of DB beer for him.

“That’s an exorbitant price you are charging, you rip-off merchant, Pete!” argued Bob.

“Do you want the beer or not, try getting someone else to buy you the beer then,” retorted Max.

Max jumped in the passenger seat and Bob zoomed the Nissan west to Henderson to pick up Sam.

“Hang on, I have a text on my cell phone, its from Amanda. She and the girls are waiting impatiently for us at Henderson Shopping Centre,” said Bob.

“Gee, you look like having trouble texting with one hand and driving with the other, are you ok?” asked Max.

“Of course, people do this all the time,” replied Bob.

Bob sped the fifteen kilometers to pick up their girl friends, Amanda, Julie and Sarah.

Amanda slipped in the front passenger car seat and started taking photos of Bob with her cell phone, touching him so that he would look picture perfect. After that, she started canoodling him.

“Hey! Cut that out, we are in the back seat looking at you?” Said Sam.

Amanda deliberately gave Bob a long kiss and ruffled his hair.

“Stop distracting Bob, will you? We are getting nervous.” Replied Sam.

“If you don’t like it, you can get out, this is my car.” Said Bob.

Amanda turned around and gave Sam her middle finger. An argument followed, but was so forgotten.

They began opening the bottles of beer as Bob drove to the park at Hillsborough. They parked the car and listened to their Heavy Metal music and drank their beer. With their empties, they smashed them against the volcanic boulders leaving thousands of glass smithereens shimmering in the moonlight.

Too much beer and too little self control led to puking inside the car by some of the teenagers all too young to drink legally.

“Jesus! Mind my new car!” lambasted Bob.

“Shucks!!!! It is just an old Jap Import; you think you own a Merc convertible.” Sarah joked cheekily.

“Don’t like it, just get out!” shouted Bob.

“Ya! What’s the big deal, it’s just an old bomb.” Julie added insensitively.

“Why do you shut up and enjoy the ride, we are lucky to have a car to ride in.” Max cursed the girls in support of his best friend, Bob.

Bob drove to the Otahuhu industrial area of South Auckland. In the past, they could only salivate as other boy racers raced their wheels down the deserted roads in the wee hours of the morning. Not tonight, they got wheels and it was to be Bob’s inaugural race. It was the first race of the night. The organisers chose Steve, a seasoned twenty year old racer with a far superior and newer car, a BMW 325 to pit against Bob.

Both cars were packed with their supporters, none of them had their seat belts buckled up. Bob and Steve revved their engines and burned rubber. At the first stretch, they were even-steven. With testosterone pumping, and the alcohol impairing their judgement, they drove faster and faster in a zig-zaggedly fashion.

It was then, where the men were separated from the boys. Bob lost control of his car and sent it somersaulting a couple of times and landed “bellies up.” Max his best friend and front passenger was flung out of the windscreen like a human catapult and landed head first in the middle of the road. There were chaos, and cries and the car burst into flame.

Some of the dastardly spectators and racers slipped away quietly before the police came. Others rushed to help the victims in the burning inferno and by a stroke of luck, they managed to get the four passengers seated at the back of the car out before the car get off like a bomb with such a loud bang that workers working on the graveyard shift could hear them five hundred meters away. It was ironic that their lives were saved because they were not wearing their seat belts.

Fifteen years ago, Bob’s mum Hayley cried and swore at his dad when she delivered him in the National Women’s hospital. Fifteen years later, she cried and swore at his dad for giving him the car. Her precious boy was retrieved from the burnt out wreck and was lying in the morgue waiting for them to identify.

Numbed and unable to speak, and unable to touch his charred remains, Hayley bit her finger nails until her fingers bled. Then like her worst nightmare come true, she had to come face to face with Max’s furious parents.

“You bloody middle class parents, why do you give a killing machine to your son?” railed Max’s mum Jill indignantly.

“If you bloody want Bob to kill himself, why did you let him drag Max along?” Joshua’s ireful words still stung in her ears.

The next day, there was media concentration on these wayward youths. There was a call for the restricted license to be revamped. A fifteen year old kid was not competent enough to handle the steering wheel. The horrendous accident was reported, and the police were asked to be more vigilant about boy racers in industrial areas. Some in the conservative quarters even asked for a curfew of youngsters. The radio talkback DJs were busy and callers asked the law makers to have moral courage and integrity so that the lives of these two boys would not have died in vain.

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