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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Book One - Chapter 6


Chapter 6

A grin split Chester’s face when he saw Rafe sauntering across the grass toward the track fence. The boy looked a little thinner and there were faint smudges of shadow around his eyes.
            “I’ve been looking for me a good driver, Kid. Know where I might find one?”
            A smile flashed across Rafe’s face. “Do I have to fill out an application?”
            “Nope, you’re hired.”

            Over all, it was a good summer. He spent most of the time on the move – on the horse, on the boat, on the track, like he couldn’t slow down. Chester sent him to some of the other bigger tracks with more experienced drivers. And he did well, winning almost all his races.
            “Who is your new, young guy, Chet? He looks like a comer. “
            “Could be, Dink, don’t know exactly what will happen with him yet. He’s in college, Princeton, no less.  Name’s Vincennes. Family are mucky-mucks in my part of the country, mega-rich, live on a big estate on the Eastern Shore. Doubt they’ll want their little prince to take up racing as a full-time career. I think he’s got what it takes if that’s what he decides though. He’s got nerves of steel and an uncanny sense of knowing when to hold’em and when to fold’em, like the very best ones do. So I could have somethin’ or I could have nothin’ but I’ll take what I can get out of him for now.”
            Dink laughed. “Yeah, I would too if I were you. You know, the Gazette did a feature on him. They sent a female reporter, pretty young thing. I was watching from another table when she was interviewing him or maybe I should say, when he was charming her. I think she would have liked to have written a 900 page book about him instead of just a story on the sports page. Took way more pictures than she needed. I saw’em leave together. I figured he probably had her in bed about 15 minutes later. I expect you’ll get a pretty glowing article out of it, Chet.”
            Chester chuckled, “yep, that’s my boy.”

            At the fourth race meet of the summer, six women appeared at the track wearing tight jeans and white tee-shirts that said “I ‘big red heart’ Rafe” on the front and “Rafe Vincennes Fan Club” on the back. They jumped and screamed in support and when he won, they managed to get behind him so that when his picture was taken, they were in the shot too.  By the time, he turned around, they were gone so he shrugged it off and went to meet, Lauren, the Gazette reporter. He’d told her they’d hang out when the races were over.

            The next weekend, Chester pulled him aside as soon as he arrived at the track.
“I did a little reconnoitering, Rafe, and your fan club is back. There are ten of them now. Damndest thing I’ve ever seen. The fact is, Rafe, good as you are and much potential as you have, you’re still just a minor league driver. You’re not well known. None of that usually adds up to having your own fan club. Having them around is good P.R. for you. You need to give’em some encouragement today, Rafe, pay’em some attention to keep them interested.”
“Chet,” Rafe cocked one black eyebrow, “I appreciate every bit of instruction you give me about driving but, you know, you can probably trust me to handle the women on my own.”
Chester burst out laughing. “You’re right, Kid, what was I thinking?”

Standing behind the fence, they watched him coming through the gate toward them with anticipation. The lean brown body, the too long black hair, the dark eyes, and when he got almost to them, the gleaming smile.
“What’s up, Girls?”
One of them took the lead – early 20’s, spiky blonde hair, big brown eyes, a tight compact body with full, firm breasts, now with an “I ‘heart’ Rafe” pulled tight across them.
“I’m Jeri and I’m the president of your fan club.”
“I didn’t even know I had a fan club.”
She smiled, showing perfect white teeth.
“Well, you didn’t until a couple weeks ago but now you do. We’re a little more than just a fan club though. We’d like to tell you about it when you have time.”
“It will have to be when the racing’s over. How about if I meet you here when I’m done and we’ll take it from there.”
“Well, we’re across the highway staying at the Raceway Lodge. Why don’t you come to the restaurant over there? That way it will be more comfortable to talk.”
He nodded. “Okay. I’ll see you then.”
“In the meantime, will you sign our shirts?” She pulled out a black marker.  One by one, they presented their chests to him and he signed a sprawling “Rafe” right above the red heart.

He saw them cheering him on as he pulled up to the start line and shot them a victory sign, which, by the time the race was over, it was.

“They’re in the small dining room in the back over there,” the gray-haired waitress told him. “They told me I’d recognize you right away because you’re so pretty,” she said, chuckling.
“Guess I’d feel pretty stupid if I got back there and it wasn’t me.” He grinned.
“Not to worry, Darlin’, I’m sure it’s you.”

They’d saved the head of the table for him.  The ten of them were ranged in front of him. All looked to be from upper teens to early 30’s. There were redheads and blondes and brunettes, short hair and long hair, blue eyes and brown eyes, slender to full-bodied.
Once again, Jeri took charge.
“Here’s the way it happened. Lida over there is from around Benedict and she saw you race a couple years ago. You were her favorite driver then but you disappeared. When you showed back up this year, she made sure to find out what your schedule was going to be and she’s been to every one of your races since. Me and Lida are best friends. She talked me into going because she didn’t want to drive to the farther tracks alone. I’d never even been to any races before but I love them now. We met up with a few others and got to be sort of race track friends. Turned out that every one of us lusted after you.” She grinned and he matched it with one of his own.
“We almost got in a cat fight once arguing over who should get to go to bed with you, although, of course, at that point, none of us knew exactly how we were going to make that happen. Anyway, we figured that was stupid so we got together to make a better plan. We decided we’d start the fan club but with a twist. What we thought of was that at the beginning of each meet, we’d put all our names in a hat. Whoever’s name was drawn would be offered to you that night if you were interested in being with someone. Then that person’s name is left out the next time so everyone gets a fair chance…”
He looked around the table at them. They all felt slightly electrified by the smile that crossed his face.
“Sounds like a plan, Girls, but I usually like to have a little say over who I go to bed with.”
“No, wait,” said Jeri, “before you say no, let me explain the advantages for you. First, we always book rooms close to the track. We double up but we’d always make sure to reserve one single for whoever gets drawn. You don’t probably know most of the women at the tracks from Adam anyway so it’s going to be trial and error for you. This way, you know for sure you’ve got someone waiting on you if you want, close by, in a nice room. If there’s a night you’ve got something else to do, that person’s name just goes to the next race night. Look at us, Rafe, none of us are old or fat or ugly. Every one of us would treat you like a king. How can you turn down a deal like that?”
            “When you explain it like that, it does sound pretty appealing. So, did you already draw for tonight in case I said yes?” he asked curiously.
            “No, we all agreed that Lida should have the first go since, basically, she discovered you.”
            Lida looked to be of mixed race heritage, Caucasian and Oriental. She was tiny, probably not even 5 foot, with lustrous long jet hair, almond eyes and creamy ivory skin. She gave him a shy smile.
            “Are you sure about this, Sweetheart, that it’s really what you want to do?”
            “Oh, yes, I’m positive!”
            “Well, lead the way then.”
            She got up from the table and took his hand, a huge smile on her face. Going out the door, he looked back at the rest of them and winked.
            Lucky, lucky Lida. Maybe next week it would be them.

            “How old are you, Lida?”
“Twenty.”
“Are you a virgin?”
            “Yes, is it so easy tell?”
            “Well, yes, it is pretty obvious.”
            “Are you disappointed, that I’m not more experienced and you’ll probably have to show me what to do?”
            “No, Sweetheart, I don’t mind.”
            He did everything slowly and gently because she was so tiny and so shy. Her hands were like little butterflies dancing delicately across his body. Her lips were like a hummingbird, darting and skimming and kissing. He took lots of time to get her ready until she was comfortable and eager.
            “I’m going to come into you now. It might hurt a little since it’s your first time but it won’t last long.”
            She was small there too and he felt her wince when he entered her but he kept up his patient easy strokes until he sensed that she was relaxing, getting into it. (She was far from his first virgin, after all).
            “Put your legs around me, Sweetheart,” he whispered in her ear, “lift your hips to come and meet me.”
            He moved a little faster, a little harder until he heard her breathing quicken, could tell she was on the brink of orgasm. He waited until he heard her soft sighs of satisfaction, before he let himself go.
            “Oh, Rafe,” she murmured against his chest. “I’m so glad I waited for you. All my friends have been doing it a long time but I told them I wanted my first experience to be really special.”
            They took a shower together and he made her come again, kissing her and tickling her lightly with a fluffy washcloth on her breasts and butt and between her legs.
            They ordered a pizza and talked while they ate.
            She was from the next town west of Benedict, Linnville, she was taking a nursing course at the State College. He told her he thought she’d make a wonderful nurse because she seemed so caring and kind. She said going to the races was her favorite extracurricular activity. She watched him faithfully the first year he raced and was so glad when he came
 back.
            He recognized the signs and really hoped she didn’t tell him she loved him even though he knew she thought she did.  Although it was fun to show a girl how good sex could be for the first time, he thought he probably would rather have started with someone like Jeri who wouldn’t be as emotionally sensitive as this one, someone with whom he wouldn’t have to be so careful.
            “You know,” she told him later, “we’re not allowed to tell you we love you. It’s in our by-laws.”
            “You have by-laws?” he said, somewhat taken aback, “and one of them is that you can’t tell me you love me?”
            “Yes, because we don’t want this to be uncomfortable for you. We decided it wouldn’t be fair and besides that, if it got to be a hassle for you, you might quit doing it.”
            He chuckled. “Well, it seems like you girls thought of everything.”
            That night, she slept nestled against him, like a little cuddly animal. Rafe had never slept with a stuffed teddy bear but he thought this was what it would have felt like if he had.
            In the morning, he taught her about oral sex, both him for her and her for him, and then he kissed her and left. She couldn’t wait to get dressed and meet the girls in the coffee shop to tell them how wonderful it had been.

            “So that’s the story of the fan club, Chet.”
            Chester was flabbergasted. “That is un-fucking-believable! Jesus, Kid, I don’t even know what to say. Puttin’ their names in a hat to see who gets to fuck you? By-fuckin-laws? I went out and took a look and there’s a dozen of’em today. Rafe, if you don’t take up full-time driving, you’re a pure damn fool.”

            It was Jeri that night whose name got drawn.
            “Thank God!” she said. “We bring along extra shirts and as others hear about the club and join in, the odds of getting drawn keep getting higher.”
            He was right about her. She didn’t require kid gloves treatment like Lida.

            Laney was spending her summer feeling schizophrenic. On the one hand, there was her life as Cal’s steady girlfriend. They went boating and to the movies and to parties with their friends.  She had strong feelings for Cal. He was a sweetheart, a perfect boyfriend.  Although they were part of the “popular set” at school, all the other kids liked them, even those who weren’t so popular.  Neither was thought of as a snob because they were nice to everyone. Teachers said they were ideal students, an All-American couple. They both got excellent grades as well as being involved in extracurricular activities. Cal played football and was in the Drama Club. Laney was on the Cheer Squad and on the student editorial board of the Benedict High School Scribe.
            You couldn’t call Laney anything but beautiful now.  She was 5’7 and weighed 118 pounds with high, full breasts, slender hips and long tan legs. Her pale blonde hair was a curtain that hung down almost to her waist. Her generous smile and the warmth in her sea blue eyes drew people in, like they knew she was someone who could be trusted.  Cal was handsome too with his muscular football player’s body, close-cut brown hair and sincere brown eyes. Both of them had lots of friends.
            That was what she thought of her “normal” life and there was only one cloud in that blue sky and it was, of course, that no matter how much she liked Cal, no matter how hard she tried, she felt nothing for him sexually. She hated that for his sake almost more than hers. It didn’t seem fair to him to have a girlfriend who couldn’t respond to him, although she didn’t let him know that, naturally.
            Then there was her other life, the Rafe part, the not so normal part. He never came home on race nights but he was there most week nights and when he opened his door and said, “come on over here, Honey,” her heart just immediately started to pound and shivers started shooting from her groin up into her stomach. He could come up behind her in the kitchen and put his warm hand under her shirt so it lay on her middle back, something as simple as that, and she’d just go weak from desire. She wondered how the effect of two kisses, Cal’s and Rafe’s, could be so different. When you closed your eyes, a pair of lips felt pretty much the same but when it was Rafe’s mouth on hers, she was transported by joy.
            She asked Rafe once if he was jealous of her having sex with Cal. He’d just smiled and said, “who do you love, Lane?”
            “I love you, Rafe, “she told him.
            “That’s why I’m not jealous, Sweetie.”

            “Dad?”
            “Yes, Rafe.”
            “You do remember that Lane will be sixteen next week, don’t you?”
            “Oh, hell, that’s right. I need to talk to her about a car, I guess.”
            “Yeah, I thought I’d better say something. She probably wouldn’t have nerve enough to tell you herself even if you forgot. I think she’s pretty intimidated by you.”
            “But I don’t intimidate you, Rafe?”
             “Yeah, Dad, you intimidate me too, but I guess I’m more driven when I want something.”
            Renny sighed. “Well, here’s what’s probably going to happen, Son. She’s going to ask you to ask me if you can take her looking for cars but the answer is no. She’ll go with me or not at all. So you tell her that when she comes begging you to be her front man. Got it, Rafe?”
            “Got it.”
           
“Rafe?”
            “Yeah?”
“Do you think Dad would let you take me to look for a car?”
            “No, he already told me he won’t. Lane, I know being with Dad stresses you out but if you want a car, you’re just going to have to stiffen your backbone and go with him. He won’t eat you, Honey.”
            “He just makes me so nervous.”
            “Here’s what you need to do, Lane. Know basically what you want before you go. He doesn’t have a lot of patience with dithering. Don’t tell him you don’t know or you don’t care.”
            “What kind of car do you think I should get?”
            “I don’t know, Lane. Have you seen anything you like?”
            “Dawn has a Malibu. Hers is used but I like it. It’s not big but it’s not small. I think it’s pretty.”
            “You definitely want a car and not an SUV or a truck?”
            “Yes, I want a car.”
            “Well, then tell him all that. Tell him you’re thinking of a Malibu. He might take you to look at some other models too to make sure that’s what you like best. If it is, stick to it.”

            He called her into the study. It was a place she could only remember being in maybe three times in her whole life. All the kids had always known this room was off-limits to them when Renny wasn’t there unless they asked permission to do something specific, like get one of the guns out of the gun safe. The long wall across from the doorway was broken by a bank of windows surrounded by bookcases. The windows looked out over a flowered green lawn dotted with trees, stables farther off in the distance. At one end of the room was the ornate walnut fireplace with the family portrait above (sans Rafe and Lane), fronted by a cinnamon colored leather sofa and two burgundy club chairs. At the other end, was Renny’s impressive mahogany desk. The room also contained, in addition to the gun safe, curio cabinets filled with Vincennes memorabilia  - a pair of dueling pistols that had belonged to Jean-Paul, Renny’s great great grandfather, military medals awarded to past Vincennes soldiers, mementos from family travels far and wide. Hanging on the walls were pictures and framed certificates and other documents, like a letter sent home from the Civil War after Manassas by Alain Vincennes. It was a masculine room characterized by fine wood paneling and colored in brown and burgundy and forest green.
            “Come on in, Lane, and have a seat there.”
            She took one of the two chairs in front of the desk. She reminded herself that all her brothers and sisters had to go through this same routine before they got their cars and so far as she knew, they all emerged whole. Renny was even able to talk Dad into his Corvette and she didn’t want anything so expensive as that!
            Her father smiled. “Relax, Lane. I’m not an ogre. You don’t have to be afraid of me.”
            “I never thought of you being an ogre, Dad, more like God.”
            He chuckled. “Well, if I’m God, then I’m in my “Lord giveth” mode today. Tell me what you’re thinking in the way of a vehicle.”
            Remembering Rafe’s advice, she tried to sound decisive. “Well, I don’t know a lot about cars but I’m leaning toward a Malibu. My friend, Dawn, has one and I like it. I don’t want a tiny car but I don’t want a huge one either and the Malibu is in the middle.  I don’t care about it being super-fast. I want something that is comfortable to drive. I just want a basic, nice car, you know?”
            “Well, I have to say that you’re more easily satisfied than your brother. Why don’t we go around and take a look at some other cars that are similar to the Malibu to see if you find anything you like better. If not, then a Malibu is certainly doable.”
            Realizing that, of course, it was his own damn fault his youngest daughter was so in awe of him since he’d made so little effort to pay her any attention, he made that effort now, extending himself to win her over.  Someone had once said about Renny that he could “charm the shine off a new pair of shoes” and Lane was certainly easier than that.

            “He took me out to lunch at Jepson’s and then we spent most of the afternoon going to dealerships looking at cars. In the end, I still liked the Malibu the best. (The mint green Malibu now sat in its spot in the garage next to the ‘Vette).  He was really nice, Rafe. He explained all about different options to me and talked about when all the older kids were little and how him and Mom met and fell in love. He told me he was proud of me. You were right about him knowing more. I thought he barely knew I existed but he knew all about my grades and the Cheer Squad and writing for the Scribe and even about Cal.”
            “I told you he wasn’t as bad as you thought….as long as you never cross him. Just be careful what you say about us, Lane. He can interrogate you without you even realizing it’s happening and he can solve a puzzle from the smallest clues.”
            “We didn’t even talk about you, Rafe. He just asked how I was getting along without you and I said fine.” She made a face.
           
            The fan club was beginning to get attention (there were 24 members now). In one of the towns where Rafe raced, the newspaper featured them in an article (naturally, they didn’t tell everything about the club in that interview) with a big picture of Rafe surrounded by all the girls in their “we ‘heart’ Rafe” teeshirts. The Benedict Sentinal picked it up. “Local Driver Rates his own Fan Club”. It went on to say that “Rafe Vincennes hasn’t quite hit the big time yet in motorsports though he seems to be well on his way, but he does have something that is usually reserved for only the best-known drivers, his own fan club. Vincennes, who graduated from Benedict High year before last and is currently attending Princeton University…..blah, blah, blah.”

            At the annual Benedict Consolidated School District conference, Linda Dee had bought a newspaper to read at breakfast. When she saw the picture, she hit the ceiling. She passed it around to the others, saying, “if you want to see something disgusting, look at this, this travesty!” She moaned, “am I going to spend the rest of my life having my nose rubbed in Rafe Vincennes?”
            A sadder but wiser Melanie Britt looked at the picture and remembered. She was fully prepared to become Mrs. Stark in June but still, even now if Rafe happened to drop by, she wasn’t sure she’d have the strength of will to resist.
            Jeb Kroner felt a stirring of envy. Rafe Vincennes seemed to lead a charmed life, surely it was a life every man dreamed of but so few were ever able to bring to reality. He wondered how many women had been part of Rafe’s harem by now.
            Rhonda Fisher worked at keeping the fond smile from her face, for Linda Dee’s sake. There was something perverse inside her that admired Rafe’s outlaw qualities.
            “Someone told me years ago that Rafe Vincennes would leave school and we’d all just forget him but I don’t think we’ll ever be allowed to do that, do you?” Miss Dee asked them.
            One by one, they shook their heads no, they didn’t think so either.

            The racing season was over for Rafe. It was almost time to return to Princeton. Chester watched him say good-bye to the Fan Club (now 22 members strong). One by one, they all gave him a hug and a big kiss, all promising to return when he did next summer.
After Rafe went back to school, the women got together for a final good-bye until next year. During the course of it, they ingested quite a lot of adult beverages. They thought it was a kick to get in the pool with their teeshirts on, then have a photo taken of all of them with the “I ‘heart” Rafe” clinging revealingly to their bra-less breasts . They made enlarged copies for themselves and sent one to Rafe at school via e-mail. Just for fun, they sent another to Chester who posted it on the bulletin board in his office where it became the source of much interest to drivers, staff and vendors alike. Rafe moved his copy in his “save” folder but didn’t give it much thought after that.  












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