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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Putting the Kart Before Love by Michael Bracken

I slammed on the brakes and spun my steering wheel hard to the left. I couldn't stop in time and my go-kart slammed into the back of a go-kart that had just crashed into the rubber tires lining the hairpin curve at the end of the track's back straightaway.

"I'm sorry!" I shouted at the other driver.

He appeared to be about my age, maybe a little older, with broad shoulders and black hair cut short. We were the only adults on the track. He shouted back, "Are you OK?"

"Surprised is all," I told him.

Prior to racing, we had been sternly instructed not to get out of our karts if they stalled or if we were in a wreck. While we waited for one of the amusement park's employees to untangle our karts and get us going again little kids zoomed around us.

"You know I'm going to need to see your driver's license and proof of insurance," the other driver shouted.

I laughed. My day was turning out much better than expected. Despite being in my first vehicle accident ever, I was actually having fun.

"I'm not kidding, ma'am," he said. He pulled a worn brown leather wallet from his back pocket and flipped it open to reveal a badge. He held it up with his ringless left hand.

"I'm sorry, officer, I--"

His laughter interrupted me. "You should see the look on your face."

I could imagine my look of surprise and I laughed with him. "You have a name?"

"Tom," he shouted over the roar of the other karts. "How about you?"

"Aunt Sara!" a young boy's voice yelled before I could respond.

I turned to wave at my nephew Steven as he zoomed past.

One of the track employees, a teenager who probably didn't have a driver's license, arrived before either of us could say anything else. He untangled our karts and sent me on my way.

"That's hit-and-run!" Tom called after me as I sped away.

I made a full lap around the track before Tom was untangled from the tires and his go-kart restarted. I passed him with a wave.

A few minutes later I was waiting at the pit stop with my nephew when Tom finally brought his kart to a halt and climbed out. A young boy my nephew's age pulled in behind Tom. It was obvious they were together.

"Hey, Aunt Sara!" Tom said when he saw me leaning against the rail. "You have your insurance card handy?"

"I'm afraid I left it at home, Officer Tom." I batted my eyelashes. I'd avoided three traffic tickets by batting my eyelashes and I was certain I could avoid trouble this time, too. "Can you let it slide this one time? Please?"

The two boys with us were having none of it. Steven grabbed my hand. "Come on, Aunt Sara. You promised."

After I introduced Steven and Tom introduced his son Danny, my nephew tugged on my hand again.

Although I was reluctant to walk away, I told Tom, "We're off to the bumper boats. I promised."

"We're headed that way ourselves," Tom said. He looked at his son. "Aren't we?"

That was all the prompting the two boys needed. They ran ahead, allowing Tom and me to talk as we walked.

Tom confirmed what I had already suspected--he was a divorced dad enjoying a weekend with his son. I told him that my older sister had just had her second child and that I was helping her out by keeping Steven for the weekend.

By the time we reached the bumper boats, Tom's son and my nephew were already in line.

"Are you coming?" they wanted to know.

"You two go on without us," Tom told them. "We'll wait here."

"Thank you," I said after we had settled onto a bench to watch the boys. "I wasn't looking forward to getting wet."

"Neither was I," Tom replied.

We spent the rest of the day as a foursome, joining the boys on some rides and letting them ride others without us. We had hot dogs, fries, and cold sodas for dinner. By the time the amusement park closed for the day, the boys were exhausted.

Tom and his son walked Steven and me to my car. I unlocked the door and was about to slide into the driver's seat when Tom stopped me.

"I've really enjoyed our time together today," he said.

I smiled. "So have I."

"And I would hate to have to put out a warrant for your arrest?"

"My arrest?" I said, surprised. "Whatever for?"

"Leaving the scene of an accident."

"How about if I give you my number so you know how to contact me, Officer Tom?"

"I think that would be a wonderful idea."

About the Author: Michael Bracken is the author of 11 books, including the young adult romance Just in Time for Love. His short romantic fiction has appeared in New Love Stories, True Love, True Romance, and many other publications.


Carol Burnside said...

Good job, Michael! I enjoyed it.

Pat Cochran said...

Thanks for the story! It's very
good, Michael!

Pat Cochran

Linnette R Mullin said...