Print Story Burning hyrdrocarbons on the edge of dawn.
By technician (Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 11:51:28 AM EST) (all tags)
Too many years before all of that behavior became bad for us and the rest of the world.

Shiftless? Shifty maybe. All denim and attitude, though I wasn't as big a jerk as my brother. He'd been through the Marines and back out with a permanently broken foot and a bad case of "I ain't running ever again" so had started to gain some weight. This made him bigger than he should have been, and with the mullet and the size of him, people just stayed out of his path. He was never good at growing facial hair, though, and one picture I have from that time is him with a white trash upper lip, arms crossed in front of him, trying to look tough. My brother posed a lot. He had looks. He was constantly trying to impress someone.

Me, not so much. Most of my posing was internal dialog. The few times I changed my costume or my method, it was carefully planned. In my mid-teens, I was hyper aware of my appearance, my speech, and my actions. One of the odd things with finding people from high school and college on facebook is finding out what they thought of you, really. In most cases, people thought I had a sort of superior attitude, and that I insisted on decorum. I wouldn't let things get into the gutter. That led more than a few of my peers to assume I was gay, even after I'd been dating Amy for a Very Long Time (in teen years).

The two of us, though, my brother and I? I would go up to northern California where he was living with my dad and stepmother + stepsisters. My yearly visit with my dad ranged from a month to three months. We'd do weekend stuff, hit the beaches or Occidental for Italian food. I loved the little towns along the coast, the non-touristy places like Tomales and Dogtown (Marin, not to be confused with the ghost town in Mono county). My dad and stepmother would eventually move to Dillon Beach (and I'd join them there six or so years away from this story) after living in Sebastopol, but when my brother was living with them they were in Stockton and Santa Rosa. The time spent in Santa Rosa is what I remember best, since my brother and I spent a hell of a lot of time together.

My brother and I had always been close. Yeah, we'd fought and whatnot, but with both parents working / living elsewhere, he essentially raised me. I find it odd that my co-worker won't leave his 13 year old son home alone for any length of brother and I were, at various points, left to fend for ourselves regularly. We raised each other, and in the process we became just about as close as you can be. When he went to the Marines, I was left somewhat alone, but not nearly as alone as he was. He came back home for a bit from the Marines, then moved to California in the car my mom had driven since I was a kid, one we'd bought from some neighbors for $500: a 1972 Ford Pinto with a Cosworth motor and a four speed manual. And no A/C.

The Pinto barely made the ~1100 mile drive. By the time he got to Stockton the clutch was gone, and he had to call my dad to pick him up. Had the car towed home, sold it for scrap. Took the bus to work (at a local Foster's Freeze) for months, and eventually bought a 1976 280Z. The one with the 2.8 liter motor and Bosch fuel injection, 240z-style bumper, and flared fenders. It apparently only had 135 or so horsepower (SAE net) but holy cow could it go. Black with a black interior, modified rear end with larger rear wheels, and the motor had a few tricks. When I first saw the car, it was in pretty rough shape. I arrived in California that year with my grandparents in their RV (another story will come out of that). The day after we got there, I spent about twelve hours with my grandfather fixing it up. Using a multi-tester we spent about four hours just checking wiring problems with the headlights, turn signals, and brake lights. From there, he and I sorted out the fuel, water, and oil plumbing, installed conduit and zip tied everything up, then started sorting out a mis-fire. Found more bad wiring, decided to replace two wiring looms, and then changed filters (oil, air, and fuel) and oil, flushed the radiator, changed the plugs and plug wires, and replaced the battery. We'd also patched exhaust leaks and figured out that someone along the way had modded the motor and intake.

Thing purred like a large cat after that. My brother spent his second paycheck on the first payment of a short-term high-interest credit line for new Yokohamas, and off we went.

That car was remarkable. Not as bad-ass as the cars my friends had at home, it was nonetheless amazingly quick. He'd step on the gas and the motor would make this odd air-ripping noise, the car would squat down and just leap.

We'd cruise. That was the thing, probably still is. We'd cruise up and down Pacific Ave in Stockton, and in Santa Rosa we'd cruise all over the damn city. We'd find races, we'd find girls, we'd find cigarettes and booze. My brother never drank while driving, but I would drink. I'd smoke my Marlboro Light 100s, I'd leave my sunglasses on, windows down, Guns and Roses or NWA or older rock and once I even got my brother to play Janes Addiction though he swore he hated it. My brother never liked the prog or punk I swore by, and he was driving, so he chose the music. We'd wired a cheap amp into the system and added one of my dad's gigantic home speakers, just sitting there in the hatchback pounding the rear window. Me staring out passive-aggressive (or sometimes aggressive-aggressive) at the throngs of too-cool teens and has-been old guys in hopped up Novas.

It was always late, late, late night drives. My brother would get off of work at midnight or one, and we'd cruise until three, four in the morning. After the first hour or so, the streets would get quiet and there'd be no traffic, and we'd take random roads, trying to get lost, driving through suburbia. Annoying the neighbors.

You know those large streetlight-style sodium lights that people put on the side of their house or by their driveway? The ones that light half the block? Every time we drove by one I'd lean out the window and yell NICE LIGHT at the top of my lungs. This would sometimes get us noticed by authority-types, and we spent time outrunning foes both real and imagined. The soundtrack would change, and the night would get deep and hazy as the combination of late hour and stimulants eventually gave way to a euphoric half-consciousness that would carry us home.

The car ran rich. Whenever we stopped after a high speed or long distance run, the interior would fill with the smell of baking gasoline dumped unburned into the exhaust. It would purr on the way home, burbling as we drove slowly to sunrise and sleep.

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Burning hyrdrocarbons on the edge of dawn. | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
1976 280Z by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 12:21:43 PM EST
I knew a guy in high school that had a late 70's 280Z. High school age boys had no business driving a car like that.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

1980s 300ZX Turbos by Phil the Canuck (4.00 / 2) #4 Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 06:59:58 AM EST
I was in my early twenties and had no business driving them.  Thus the reason I had two...

[ Parent ]
My band director in HS liked the Z cars by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 04:37:54 PM EST
I think he went from a 260 to a 280 when I was there. He also liked Playboy models.

Paper or flesh? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 01:38:11 AM EST
These details are crucial to the story, man.

Hey, I saw d&d module "U2 Danger at Dunwater" for $70. Does that sound reasonable to you?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Flesh by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #6 Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:17:46 AM EST
though she may have been a few years past her paper premiere.

No idea on the D&D stuff, what does ebay say?

[ Parent ]
High school age boys had no business driving a car by Phage (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:35:31 AM EST
I bought a GPz900R on the basis that it was the subject of an expose on 60 minutes as a 'Death Machine'.

Burning hyrdrocarbons on the edge of dawn. | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback