Charisma is an exciting adventure and challenges what you thought you knew about the world
They continued for about ten minutes. Liam kept checking the rear view, watching the dark sedan follow about two hundred yards back.
“So did your step dad pay for Harvard?” Allison asked, breaking the silence since the driver change and first kiss.
“He didn’t have to. I was into racing and I did well. I made it all the way to the Trans-am series,” Liam answered, somewhat preoccupied by the car in the rear view.
“Wow, a race car driver. Do you get any better?” She joked, not seeming to notice the source of his distraction.
“I decided to take the money I made and turn it into a good education. Besides, staying competitive in professional motor sports is very difficult. It really doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s all about having the best equipment and sponsors,” Liam said as the sedan was closing. The road became very rural. “Want a sample?” Liam offered.
“Yes. Show me how good you are!” She laughed with excitement.
Liam pressed the accelerator. He drove the car hard into a curve and trail-braked through the corner. Trail braking abilities separate the amateurs from the professionals. It is the art of braking and accelerating at the same time. The purpose is to shift the cars weight from one or two tires to the others. This allows for more pavement adhesion and ultimately faster cornering speeds.
“Holy! You were accelerating when I would have been slamming the brakes!” Allison gasped, holding on to the door.
“It’s pretty easy in a car like this,” Liam admitted. Matching Liam’s speed, the sedan was still back there. He stepped on it harder.
A tight turn came up. Liam drove in so hard the back end began to kick out at the apex. He stuffed the gas pedal. The car slid out of the corner and powered down the road.
Checking the mirror, Liam couldn’t believe his eyes, the sedan was right on their tail. “I don’t mean to alarm you but is there any reason why someone would be following us?”
Allison spun on her seat to have a look. She saw the sedan right on their bumper. “No,” she said in a quivering voice.
“It’s okay, we’re almost there.”
“Who are they?” Allison demanded.
“I don’t know but I think it’s the same car I saw in the Portland mall parking lot. I thought they were just admiring your beauty,” Liam said. “Can you see who they are?”
After looking for a moment, Allison turned back into her seat. “I can’t tell. The sun’s glare is on the windshield.”
“It’s okay, we’re there,” Liam said, standing on the brakes and cranking the wheel left, then right. The BMW went sideways and Liam hit the gas.
Sliding right and through a pillared gateway, they careened up the round about driveway of his parents’ home. The dark sedan followed them in.
There were cars and people everywhere giving Liam no choice but to slow down. They came to lurching stop near the entry to the home. The dark sedan pulled in right behind them.
Eyes fixed on the rear view mirror. Adrenalin supercharged blood pounded through his veins. Liam needed to make a move. They followed him in. Whoever was in the sedan wasn’t going to stop.
In a split second, he formed a plan. He would run back to the sedan and pin the driver with his own door. Hopefully the commotion would alert others to deal with the passenger.
In a moment of courage, Liam swung open his door and ran for the sedan.
At about half way there, he saw the driver’s door swing open. Liam thought he might get there just on time to nail the driver half way out. He was almost there. He watched two feet hit the ground. The driver was getting out.
“Ha, ha, Liam, I thought that had to be you!” An old tired voice blurted from inside the sedan.
Forward momentum prevented Liam from stopping. In an effort to miss the door, Liam veered right, bowling over a valet attendant who just stepped forward to assist the driver.
With flailing arms, the sound of skidding knees and tearing fabric, the two went down hard.
Jumping back up to his feet, Liam began apologizing profusely as he tried to help the valet. The valet was in rough shape. He was an older man in his early sixties and the impact had knocked the wind out of him.
The collision with the valet left Liam slightly dazed and as his senses returned, he remembered the potential threat and turned back to the sedan. The voice was familiar and Liam needed to be sure. “Great uncle Charles? Is that you?” He asked, letting go of the disheveled valet. Liam stepped over to the sedan and looked inside the driver seat to see a heavyset old man. A wisp of grey hair, done in a classic comb-over fashion, covered his head. His cheeks were full of varicose veins, he wore a white knit cardigan over a black Polo shirt and black polyester pants.
Charles didn’t seem to have noticed the bowling over of the attendant. “Yeah I said to Ethyl here, that’s gotta be Liam up ahead. I caught you, but catching is one thing, passing is another!”
Great Aunt Ethyl came around form the passenger side in a bit of a dither. She hurried over to the back door on the driver side. Once open, she hauled out a walker and placed in front of Uncle Charles. She slammed the back door with her butt and spun around to face Liam. “Tell him he can’t drive like that! He’s eighty-two years old for God’s sake!”
Before Liam could answer, Aunt Ethyl took off, still in a dither, heading for the front door.
“If you had an American car, I bet I couldn’t have even caught you!” Uncle Charles continued, unbothered by Ethyl’s bantering. Grabbing a hold of the walker, he started making his way out from the sedan. “Oh my, who is this little starlet?”
Allison timidly made her way over to the sedan. “Hi”
“Allison, this is my Great Uncle Charles. He used to run the NASCAR circuit back in the day.” Liam explained.
“It wasn’t called NASCAR back then, no, Grand National Racing is what it was called. We drove real cars then,” Charles corrected.
“Very nice to meet you sir,” Allison extended her hand in greeting.
“Sir? Hell no! You call me Charlie there sweetie. Sir is for old codgers and I’m only in my eighties,” he said as he gently held her hand but didn’t let go. “So what TV show is this little beauty from Liam?”
“She’s an accountant Uncle Charles,” Liam said.
“I’ve seen a lot of accountants in my day, and I can tell you, this woman isn’t no accountant.” Charles smiled, reluctantly releasing her.
A voice rang out from behind the group. “It certainly was a pleasure running into you again Mr. Yager. Can I park your car for you?”
Having completely forgotten about the attendant, Liam spun around to see the valet sitting on the edge of the large round fountain, which was the centerpiece for the roundabout. Liam recognized him now. It was Leo Mansfield, a long time servant of the family. Leo sat there with the knee of his grey servant’s tuxedo torn by the fall on the exposed aggregate driveway. A small amount of blood oozed from the surface wound.
“Oh Leo, sorry, are you okay?” Liam said, moving over to the fountain.
“I think I’m alright but I can’t say the same for the pants. Never liked this suit anyway. Just curious though, did you think I was a linebacker or something? I’m a little confused as to what happened there,” Leo asked.
Leaning into Leo, Liam whispered, “Sorry Leo, Charles chased us for the last few miles and I didn’t realize it was him.” Liam dug into jeans and pulled out a couple of twenties. “Here Leo, sorry for everything. Hopefully this will help,” he said, handing Leo the twenties.
“The keys are in it,” Liam yelled, trotting away.