by Rebecca Adams
note: this piece is fictional
Ever heard of the phrase, “Friday night fever”? Good, ‘cause it doesn’t apply here. No, our setting takes places on a Thursday, an unusual day most would think to have a party. But then again, we aren’t dealing with normal individuals. We’re dealing with the criminals that make up the underbelly of inter-city racing; the mavericks, the godfathers, the novices, the fanatics and the tech geeks, who make cars their lives. Why then is Thursday perfect? For this simple fact alone: Thursday is the day directly before the weekend, when police-attention heightens and rowdy events crack the interceptors, demanding a larger task force of city policemen. Thursday is the unsuspecting weekday ideal enough to throwing down one of the most risky and dangerous ventures LA has to offer.
It’s typical for the young to rebel. But is it typical to rebel in the form of gasoline, fluorescent lights and exhaust pipes? LA’s youth thrive on the underground illegal car parts network. Racing, customizing, showing, it’s a subculture. A subculture you’re only invited to. You’ve got to have balls, you’ve got to have guts and you’ve got to have the horse power to back yourself up. The posers are easily weeded out. But if you do last, you become a part of something much larger: a secret society of living fast, of embodying the ultimate form of rebellion and of representing your ethnicity, family and car with true honor.
A monthly car meet would bring a variety of hopefuls to the stage, all lobbying for permanent “cred” on the racing tour. The one thing that always remained the same though, was where this rowdy event took place; in the shabby shopping center, home to the famous Paco’s Amazing Mexican Oasis restaurant. Simi Valley was neutral territory, a place where the gangs could mix without crossing borders or risking offense to resident crews. Paco’s was the place to be. Everyone enjoys Mexican food, at least in Southern California. And that’s probably why owner of Paco’s, Micky Giovanni, a pudgy Italian man, loved having the convention held in his parking lot. The food was good and the price was more or less decent. Micky used to be a mobster himself, back when he was young. He understood, and that’s why he would never leak it to the police that these monthly meetings were essentially taking place on his “front lawn.”
The time was 8; the meeting would unofficially start at 9. But as was customary at car meets, every person has to make a flashy entrance and exit. To be fashionably late would be the perfect excuse to show off one’s newest customizations. Pride runs deep; from the gas lines to the grill, from the supercharger attached to the engine, down to the artist handling the paint job; only the best could be used. The devil is in the details, and as far as those involved in the race were concerned, they were playing with nothing short of the devil.
Aiden and Ryan sat on lawn chairs next to their green 1970 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. Watching the parking lot slowly fill up, they reclined as they chugged their beers and soaked in the scene.
“Where the hell is Quinn?” Aiden asked Ryan.
“Probably at Crazy Wong’s, trying to pick up chicks. You know that boy has no shame at all.”
Crazy Wong’s, another hot spot, was the gaming center. A trivial but addictive pastime, Wong’s was almost as busy as Paco’s. The pitch-black hole in the wall would literally be bursting at the seams with people playing or watching everything from DDR to Gran Turismo. The tech geeks accounted for most of the crowd. Often stuck between reality and cyberspace, they easily get caught on the logistical elements of gaming, but they are the true geniuses when it comes to the technical workings and maximum rpm output of cars.
“And you know, I didn’t really appreciate that, you need to work on that attitude sweetheart.” Stumbling out of Wong’s, Quinn had a fresh slap mark on his right cheek. A brash individual, Quinn was quite the urban Romeo.
“Q, will you stop harassing the ladies?! I think they’ve made it clear that they don’t appreciate your game. Check the gas gages,” Aiden yelled.
Aiden Scott, one of the founders of the racing guild, was the leader of the rogue whites. He was what they called a “godfather,” a member since the beginning and one of the few individuals that demanded immediate respect. Living out of a dinky trailer, there wasn’t much he valued besides his car and his family. He lived off the spoils of his racing and the small amount of money he made on the side from his parts company. It wasn’t much of a life, and that was a part of the problem. The guarantee of a monthly paycheck didn’t always follow through. The lack of free-flowing money proved to be a continual struggle. It wouldn’t matter as much if Aiden didn’t have anyone to look after, but point in fact, Aiden did. Aiden loved his grandmother, the one woman that never left him, and he vowed that he would always take care of her. Marietta Scott was a strong woman, raising Aiden was, after all, no easy task. But Marietta suffered from a variety of ailments, one of which included lupus. He needed to win this race; he needed to pay for her recent round of medications. And that was all that mattered.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re no Rico Suave either…” Quinn said as he stood hovering over the hood.
“Goddamn racers. Freeloaders. Littering my sidewalk, giving my place, my family a bad name. Dishonor!” A tiny Chinese man was aggressively brushing the entrance of his Chinese restaurant while grumbling under his breath and seething at the lot of racers that had gathered so far that evening.
“Good Evening Mr. Chang. Fine night, huh?” Quinn delightfully asked.
“Don’t you think for ooooooone minute that I won’t rat you guys out one day!” In a thick accent and in quite a storm, Mr. Chang picked up his broom and raged back inside.
“He’s going to snap one day and it’s going to be entirely your fault Quinn.”
“Unless you want the racing association beating down your ass because an angry little Chinese man gave up our racing spot then, please, continue flapping your big mouth,” Aiden confidently laughed.
Quinn grinned as he looked up from the hood. Aiden threw his beer cap at Quinn and settled back in his plastic lawn chair.
The dimly lit parking lot gave a shudder and the rusty pole-lights flickered as the stillness of the night came to halt. Ryan yawned and Aiden stretched in his seat.
“Well boys, it sounds like the party has finally arrived.”
The distant sound of rumbling engines grew louder as the dark outlines of the noisemakers pulled into view.