The clock strikes 11:00 PM and not surprisingly, the
“Are you sure? What if something happens?”
“Don’t worry about it, what’s going to happen?”
With equal parts reservation and pure glee, I climb into the Ferrari’s cockpit. You see, Tom owns an exotic car rental service out in LA and having locked the keys in his personal car he opted to take the F355. If I were in his situation, I’d be locking the keys in my daily driver a lot.
I ease the car onto the main drag and we start making our way back to the house. The Ferrari F355 has always been one of my favorite cars and the reality of driving one does not change my mind. Like a sprinter who mistakenly signed up for a walk-a-thon, the car rolls listlessly down the street begging to be unleashed, yet the speed limit and Hemet’s finest keep us tethered to a scant 45 MPH.
Judging by the rapidly approaching headlights in the rearview mirror, someone else in this town doesn’t seem to abide by the same laws. The headlights morph into a mid-90’s Honda Accord as a blur of blue flashes by my left side. Suddenly, the brake lamps light up, the nose of the Accord dives towards the pavement and the guy is in such a hurry to stop that amber sparks fly from the front wheel wells. Not sure what this other driver is doing, I slow the Ferrari down to a crawl. This turns out to be a good move on my part as the other car comes to a stop but not before cutting into my lane. As I stop our car, I wonder aloud what the hell is going on.
“Maybe he just wants to get a look at the car, try pulling around,” Tom offers.
I begin to make my way around to the left of the stopped car. Instead, I’m greeted with reverse lights as the Accord pulls back to the left to block me again. Why did I ever agree to drive this car? Visions of carjackings start to seep into my head. I check the rearview, worried that a third car is going to come up from behind to block us in on two sides. My heart starts to pound from within my chest. I make another attempt to pull to the right of the obstruction and once more, forward progress is impeded.
My mind races, trying to come up with a plan. Before it can formulate anything, the Accord’s drivers’ side door opens and a thuggy character leans out. In his hand is a large plastic cup which, given his actions, I’m convinced contains some sort of booze. He stares straight at us and begins to speak as he starts to get out of the car, “how about letting me drive, now?”
“I don’t know what’s up with this guy, but we’re out of here.” I drop the car into first, crank the wheel hard to the left and floor it. The car wakes up, happy to be of service and next thing I know we’re flying up the street in the other direction. After a mile or so, I let off and coast down to a reasonable speed.
I turn to Tom, “I think you should call 9-1-1.” As the words finish leaving my mouth, I check the rearview mirror and my heart sinks as I see two dots of light staring back at me. The Accord pulls the same maneuver, flying up on the left and slamming on the brakes as he passes. This time, however, he cuts in front of us at speed. I get on the brakes really hard as the right side of the Accord misses our front bumper by about 10 feet and continues on down a side street. Not waiting to see if he’s going to take another run at us, I once again bury the gas and we head up the street in search of some cops that we’d passed earlier in the night.
Splitting time between the road ahead and the rearview mirror, my eyes are getting a serious workout (not to mention my heart, lungs, etc). The old adage about never finding a cop when you need one holds true and over the course of the next two or three miles, we don’t pass a soul. On the plus side, our new enthusiast friend seems to have left us alone, too, so I decide to give up on finding the cops and get onto some backstreets in hopes of making it back to the house in one piece.
As I lie in bed later that night, my heart continues to race as all of the possibilities of what could have taken place swirl around my head. What if that guy had had a gun? What if I’d stuffed the car? What the hell happened to this town? Somewhere amidst all the worry, my dreamcar nightmare falls prey to sleep.