Chapter 4

Copyright© 2010 by Michael Wolfam

Liv threaded her way through the rustic town square of Eagles Landing. Soon the small town, high in the Colorado Rockies, disappeared from sight as she raced along her favorite winding mountain road. "Sorry Johnny," Liv pushed the skip button on the small mp3 player, "but sometimes a girl needs some bass." The distinct voice of Johnny Cash faded, replaced by the thunderous intro to Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

As if possessed by the thumping subwoofer, she pushed harder on the gas pedal. The grin on her face grew as the turbocharged car skimmed the curvy blacktop. She zoomed past a stand of naked white aspens as if the devil was in hot pursuit. Fallen leaves captured in the vortex created by the car chased after her like a yellow tornado. The roar of the throaty exhaust was barely audible over the riffing baseline and her lively singing. The late October air blasted through the open windows and sunroof, tousling her hair and blowing a few wayward strands over her lips sticking them gently to her vanilla flavored Chapstick. She brushed them away and the scenery became a blur as she gleefully shifted gears. Streams and aspens gave way to rocky cliffs and lichens as she snaked her way above tree line.

Liv's body relaxed as she flung the Porsche through a particularly tight turn. The car stuck to the road like superglue, dutifully responding to her every command. The wind rustling through her hair and the feedback from the road through the steering wheel massaged away all thoughts of the rough morning.

A steep grade loomed ahead. She wanted all the speed the German engineered car could muster. Liv downshifted the short-throw five speed into third gear, revved the engine and dropped the clutch. The tachometer rose, and hot exhaust spooled the turbocharger, forcing pressurized air into the engine. The little car surged forward, tires chirping.

"Good boy Murph, that's it," she encouraged. The grin on her face widened in proportion to the difficulty the tires had gripping the cool, dry blacktop. "Got tired of sitting in the garage with your hood up, huh? I told you it would be more fun if you would just start working!" Her green eyes widened with excitement as she rocketed towards the summit, music blaring. "Oh yeah, Bullitt time! Steve McQueen and that Mustang got nothing on us!" Liv knew that if she hit the top fast enough, she and the car would become airborne for one shining moment of freedom; freedom from everything. None of the constraints on her life mattered in that perfect instant and she never grew tired of it.

The old Porsche wasn't especially powerful by modern standards, but she loved its perfect weight balance, which allowed the car to hug turns at speeds far above the legal limit. The grin on her face turned devilish as Liv brushed another wayward strand of dark hair from her face and prepared to hit the top of the hill, speedometer pegged at 88 mph. Just in case time travel was possible. Liv bit down on her lower lip, mashed the gas pedal to the floor and the Porsche erupted over the pinnacle, tires grabbing nothing but thin, mountain air. Liv could no longer contain herself and a squeal of delight escaped her from her lips. The car's 50/50 weight balance kept the Porsche level to the road and she was lined up for a perfect landing.

The sense of freedom washed over her body and time slowed. She felt a oneness between machine and body as the two melded together. Liv imagined it was the same way Buddhist Monks feel a oneness with the earth during meditation. She gripped the steering wheel tightly with both hands. Her stomach twisted in excitement. The only other time she felt this way was during the intense moments of freefall that occurred before she opened her parachute on one of her all too rare skydiving excursions. Her momentary defiance of gravity couldn't last forever and she prepared to reenter reality.

Abruptly, at the height of the jump, thick white clouds of steam poured out of the hood, obscuring her vision, filling the air with the distinct smell of scalding antifreeze. The cloud of steam was so thick that Liv could taste it on the back of her tongue. "Shit." Liv braced herself for impact as the laws of physics pulled the car toward an uncertain landing. Her Grannie often joked that Liv drove this particular road so many times that she could do it blindfolded. Liv desperately hoped it was true.

The car came to a skidding halt, tires smoking. It had been a close call; the Porsche sat on a dirt patch inches from the ledge, overlooking the deep canyon. "Shit shit shit, no! Bad Murph, bad bad bad!" Liv pounded the steering wheel in frustration. Hands shaking from adrenalin, Liv reached down, popped the hood and stepped out of the car.

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