[A booth at a Denny's, Genghis, Hovercraft and MKA are drinking coffee, black, prior to start of Visalia criterium].
MKA: Look, you put in the miles, you pay your entry, there's the drive, the hotels, the fig newtons. Yesterday you were off. Today you want, what, redemption. You want to get back on the Board. You and Genghis. Genghis flats, kicks out three weeks ago in the Valley, has nothing next to his name 'cept that close back in January ferchrist. Bad luck, it runs in streaks. I see the needs.
Hover: What are you saying?
MKA: I'm saying the both of you have personal reasons, and I don't deny them. Lord knows with the kind of cash on the line, the attention -- the glory -- you want to wake up next day tops on the leader board, who doesn't? Say, yeah, I uncorked a flyer, closed, the chasefuks hanging their heads, muttering, I just smiled and counted my cash, it was sweet.
Genghis: You're saying that I can't close. That I'm a dreamer.
MKA. No. I mean Yes. See, there's what a guy does on his own and what a guy does for his team. You say, We won, but I DNF'd, it doesnt sound right. You think, I got 5th, and don't mention team -- sounds better. On account your wife, girl friend, guy at the office whatever doesn't know it's a team sport. So you think twice about sacrafice. What's in it for me? -- and I understand that. But this is bigger.
Hover: Agro, you blew the last lead...
MKA: No. Wait. Back up a second. Barrio Logan -- yes, the Labor train was running hot, Hover, but my hinge was cold. I got up to go but my patella, the ligament, said sit down. Could happen to anyone. But that's over. The knee band. I can get hot. Look at the sheets. Yesterday, out in Rocky Flats, cat 2 dreamers, who made the break? Who hung on up the climbs? Who held his pen out 67 miles, patiently, until they signed on the line? It was me Hover. "Blew the last one.." You think that was luck? You give me a lead and I'll close that c-sucker.
Hover: My job is to marshal the premium lead outs..
MKA: Your job is to be an A-wipe, my job is to close--
Hover: -- Now wait a sec, you might want to listen for a change. My job is to allocate the resources to maximize return. That's policy, comes from downtown. You can get hot, yes, but what if you don't? What if we got to drive back, looking away, somber, whispering to our wives, blaming this and that, bitching about the wheelsuks, the contaminators -- because you shot too early, or bailed in the corner, or got swallowed? See? Then it's my job on the line. Then I got to explain to Darling Wife why the three days out, the overhead, the supplements, the care package was -- was worth it...
MKA: Hey, I've got my own problems. Could use a leg up, personal, you understand. Last night Oliver bought it. The wife, hysterical --
Genghis: --Oliver Boliver Butts? THe purr-purr-ski? I loved that cat. Gosh darn. All soft, mellow then REAR! [Gestures like a cat pouncing].
MKA: Yeah. With the wet nose, liked to burrow in my -- Kid loved him. Used to drag a string around, Oliver chasing... One second he's living the life, licking himself in the sun, next second BAM! some edgy broad behind the wheel, having a bad day. Now my wife's got to decide do we freeze him and wait for me to bury or clean him up good now, say good bye and cremate... kriste I dont know, sounds like she wants an open casket. But I'm up here can't even...
Hover: Hey, he was a good cat, and I dont like cats, give me hives. And youre hurting and I feel bad but this is business. Genghis is running hot with the fresh legs and meat cleaver chop-chop. Now I gotta wonder whether you're going to skitz out when the bullets start flying, over this Oliver thing.
MKA: THat's bullshit. If anything, I'm going to throw down FOR Oliver, in his memory, take away the pain, when I get home, here, honey [rubbing imaginary money together], look what Gengis and Hover helped me, helped LABOR, win today...
Genghis: Did some calcs. If I maintain 36 mph on the final kilo, through the last 6 turns, it would be physically impossible to overcome. Speed tolerances as a function of road width and angles. If the road is windy enough, even a race car don't come around a dump truck at speed.
MKA: That's theory. And I don't doubt you. But here's an idea -- why not pool your bitterness with mine, share the up front costs, close it and split the pay out, even points? I'll spring for the gas, the phones, your soy milk. I dont want pity. I dont want charity. You get me a seat, deal me some chips, I'll run the table, like I was taught. Like Hipp Star taught me. ...Give me a lead out don't come out of a teenager's pecker, you go long, strong and large, and we-- together -- as a team -- we take this thing. For Oliver, I'm saying.
Waitress: Are you boys here for the saltines and tobasco or you going to order, ferchrist. Like I got all day.
MKA: Ok, now listen, we want three donuts -- chocolate -- and three coffees to go, with the lids. No straw.
Hover: I'm an "A wipe" he says.
MKA: Yes. That was harsh and I apologize. A man under pressure will say things. A man backed up against the wall -- but that's history. We're working it out here, us. And I'll tell you something -- last night at the Marble Slab they were laughing at us: "yeah, Labor gives good lead outs - to the FLower Maidens - hah -hah, three in a row, stick a fork in 'em, Labor's dead" and so on. Listen, we're men here, there's a bond here I'm talking about, a blood bond. Like brothers. Let's do something. C'mon, I'm buying, this is on Labor. Plus the tip...
Hover: In that case I want a short stack, make that buttermilk, with three pads of butter, not that fake stuff either, with a Texas Belt Buster and a side of potatoes, grilled, not fried. Orange juice, not out of a machine, but with the aluminum lid you got to peel...And my frend over here with the large head will take a half pound turkey breast smothered in stewed tomatoes with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, microwaved 4 minutes, served in tupperware, not that foam stuff...
Genghis (humming to self): " .. when the blood begins to flow, shoots up the droppers neck, and I'm closing in on death..."
MKA : What's that crap you're mumbling? Sounds like doper music. Labor don't do drugs. Hover, you got any ginkos? Christ, the tylenols are burning a hole in my stomach. And tums? So it's settled. We do this thing for Labor, because it's right.. I don't do this, but I'm going to guarantee the vee, you throw me the premium leads, you know I can get hot, two years running...
[Fast forward to criterium, 6 turns, fast, sunny, 65 man field down from usual 100 thanks to smart guy promoter who cuts prize money from one K down to one C and change, the dink, DeVry business school grad, kind of guy holds a birthday party for his wife, everybody drives in for the weekend and he has the pluck to charge a buck a soda, the low-class no-account cheapskate... ten minutes to go, all the horsies getting frothy, Tomo, Dr. Brick S-house, Butch "Mama" Cass, Willy Winkle (with the flack jacket and full face guard), Might Joe and assorted NorCal world beaters.]
MKA (to himself, after finding himself fading back with 25 minutes to go): "Did I "guarantee" a vee? Kriste, got to open my big mouth. Feel flat. Maybe there'll be a break, take the pressure off..."
Hover (5 laps to go, moves to the front, as per chalkboard diagram]: "Here we go. Little brother doing the dirty work. ANother race, another Board minus my name. Agro guaranteed it and i'm holding him to it. He doesnt close this he can forget about me EVER reserving the corner suite at the Patel Inn."
Hoverhawk gradually - carefully -- patiently -- builds up the speed, like he's got eyes in the back of his head, or like a hawk, with the eyes on the side of the head, same thing. The pack respects the point, no attempt made to overtake. Genghis falls in behind Hover, who hits ramp speed on the entire penultimate lap, Rubber GLover (Zombies) glued to Genghis, MKA stuck to Glover.
We hit the bell lap, Genghis out of the saddle knifes past the Hawk, Glover confused, not used to this kind of wind up this early, stutters, MKA sweeps in on Genghis and the dam has busted; Genghis hitting warp speed, diving, leaning, surging.
Genghis (humming to himself): "...Jeanie sez when she was just 5 years old there was nothing happenin' at all. Every time she puts on the radio there was nothing going down at all. Then one fine morning she turns on a New York station, she cant believe what she hears at all. She started shaking to that fine fine music you know her life was saved by rock and roll... oooh- despite all the amputations, you know you could just go out and dance to the rock and roll station..."
We approach the final turn at top speed. It's about time for MKA to execute on the plan to squirt by Genghis on the inside gutter but MKA can't remember whether the code word was "Inside" or "Labor". Genghis senses my hesitation and scoots right as if to say, your turn, so MKA throttles down on a collision course with the Big Grey Curb on the outside of the final turn. These are your mean streets, where the rubber hits the road, where theory is useless and promises turn to dust.
MKA [need to apologize to Darling Wife for trashing her music, I sort of like these Pepper Boys, anyways, glad I snuck this from her car. Hums to himself: "..Destruction leads to a very rough road/But it also breeds creation/And earthquakes are to a girl's guitar/Just another good vibration/And tidal waves couldn't save the world/From Californication...First born unicorn/Hard core soft porn/Dream of Californication..."
GET THE CHALK!
- Max Kash Agro, Labor Three-Pete
- Tomo Kemosabe, FLower Maidens
- Clutch, Dead Batteries
- Rubber Glover, Zombies
- Allen Brick S-house, MD, Flower Maidens (with a happy howdy to sidekick and must-keeper Honey Suckle Clover)
- Mighty Joe Davis, Zombinoids
- Genghis "Spready" Hahn, Labor Power Premium Leads
Notes: Labor set up a similar train in the cat 2 dreamer crit with 4 to go. Hover takes the front like the Alpha musher on a seasoned Iditarod team, Genghis falls in, then Butch, then a fesity, nasty, nappy little sprinter from Jane's called O'Naughty, then Agro. High speed. Money time. Two to go. We rip through turns one and two when suddenly AGRO is looking for a soft spot in the grass to call home. Pure carnage. TUrns out Hoverhawk rolled a rubber causing your basic Labor quintuple stack. I know, I know -- there's no excuse for rolling tires, especially for masters. But two things: 1. Hover actually hired a pro to glue on his tire per industry standard (NOT EDGE CYCLES! Hank is pure stud) and 2. Hover paid the ultimate price as he has shrunk from a mere "skinny ass" to a punky "No ass." A good chunk of what cheek he had is now scattered in a trash dump somewhere in Vizee affixed to a series of gauze scrubs, brushes and other instruments of torture. Added bonus to the vengeful: Hover cramped up during the cleaning and I thought his head just might come off from the force of the primal scream.
Dont Forget to Hug Your Wuggy-Duggies Dept. Two things: First, check your tires regularly. For want of an extra ounce of Glue, the House of Labor fell. Second, you might want to also check your car tires. On the trip home, MKA got to thinking what would happen if I blew out my Michelins down the grapevine at about 90 per in the fast lane? Went through a mental checklist. Avoid the center emergency lane at all costs -- not even a buddhist monk could find tranquility in that death trap. So as karma would have it yes indeedy MKA blows his right rear but good. So good in fact that good drivers of LA actually yielded so I could cross 5 lanes to get to the roadside. Of course self interest was also a factor as within seconds I was rim-riding, which produced a brilliant rooster tail of firy sparks, and I'm sure my neighbors had written me off as another Firestone casualty. To quote my hero Roy Batty: "Not...Yet...."