Thursday, September 30, 2010

Zane Sterling Episode 2

[In case you missed it, here's episode 1]

Phillips Boise was the fastest wheel in town and he knew it and knew that everyone knew it. He woke up every morning and ate breakfast knowing he was the fastest. It was part of who he was.

So when Zane Sterling came home it upset a fragile balance. Now, everyone wanted to know who was faster, Zane or Phillips. But no one wanted to know, needed to know, more than Phillips. When something that's always been true, when you've built your life around that truth, is suddenly called in to question, you have to know for sure.

No one had ever heard much more than a few words at a time from Phillips Boise. He made ends meet running errands downtown and coaching young peddlers. He picked up a few extra bucks in alley cats on the east side and scratch races on the south side. So no one was sure what to say when he showed up at the east side Liberty Bar Thursday afternoon, walked up to a rag tag of skinny-tire bandits and asked them how he could race Zane Sterling.

"He doesn't race." A short punk with an ironic t-shirt and a complicated ear piercing broke the silence. "What do you mean he doesn't race?" Boise demanded. A man named Gibson walked out of the liberty bar and waved for the punk to sit back down on the curb, which he did. Gibson he was the closest thing the east side bandits had to a leader. "What he means, Boise, is that Zane doesn't race. He never rides out of uniform. The only way you're going to go head to head with Zane Sterling is to ride like a bandit." Phillips swung his leg over his saddle, clipped in, and merged with the lethargic afternoon traffic. Gibson watched as Phillips weaved through the gridlock, admiring how quickly he found his lane and was out of view.

As he approached downtown, Phillips thought about what Gibson had said. Surely there had to be another way to race Zane. He passed under the highway spans and through the slow and honking off ramp. He turned left on red at 5th street and rode toward the police station ahead on the right. He saw Zane's crew arguing in their support truck waiting for their captain to exit the station. He slowed to a stop 20 meters behind their truck, stood straddling his frame, and scratched out a note. The Broom Wagon 4 were still arguing when Phillips rode up to the driver door, held a brief track stand and tossed the twice folded note in to the lap of Zane's director giurisprudenza.

As he rode away he heard Zane's mechanic ask, "Wasn't that Phillips Boise?"