Disclaimer: Speed Racer and Angel are the property of their respective copyright holders, not me. Chapter 1: Speed’s Demons by Raven Dhancer
We all carry the seeds of our destruction within us. Secrets hidden, desires suppressed. Hopes and dreams you find don't quite work out how you thought they would. Then you call me, or my partner. It says Private Detective on the door, but people who want a private detective go to the swank office buildings downtown with a nice view. When bad trouble shows up and you need it to go away for good, you come find us. Especially if you don't care where the trouble goes. Outside my window, well, lets say it's a nice view if you like looking at crap industrial districts.
I don't know what the Mayor had hoped when he decided to have a Grand Prix race in town. I didn't know, and didn't care. Money, girls, gambling, parties, they all come with the package and they're all good for business. Last Saturday, I had stood on my roof and watched them wrestle hay bales and tires barricades into place and paint signs and arrows on the road. It had been getting noisy, and it was going to get worse. The time trials were tomorrow and Friday, and then raceday. Come this Saturday I planned to sit on the roof with an ice chest of beer and watch the cars pull round the hairpin and floor it down the straight. But then again, plans don't always work out.
I was sitting at my desk at McDonald Greene when the guy walked in. Tall, black haired, young, wearing white pants, blue shirt and a cravat. I wondered if I should tell him the Flying Elvises weren't in town today.
“I’m Speed Racer” the guy said. “Someday I’m going to be the best racer ever. I’m in town for the Tulsa Grand Prix and I need some help and you’re a great detective, as good a dective as I am a racer so maybe we can help each other!“
You do my job, you can see when people are just mouthing the words. This guy was acting all chipper, but he was sliding down a razor blade of anguish into the salty ocean of despair.
“Take a load off,” I gestured to my client chair. It’s covered in top grain vinyl, a little cracked; fits in with the faces that walk through my door. You don’t come lookin’ for a guy like me when life is a flaky crusted cherry pie.
“400 a day plus expenses,” I say; there’s no use leading him on. Despite Greene’s finer impulses, this ain’t no charity outfit. Racer didn’t even blink. Maybe I should have given him the special rate.
“Whatever it takes. I have to find out what happened to Trixie.” Woman troubles, I shoulda known. Half our business is woman troubles. “We were to be married, right here in Tulsa. She has family here. Last time I saw her was after the rehearsal dinner. She kissed me and I haven’t seen her since.”
“You checked with her folks?” I ask, knowing the answer.
“They said she never came home from the dinner. They haven’t seen her since, either. No phone calls or email, either,” his voice breaks like a dime store mirror.
“How cold is the trail?” I’m all business but I push the box of kleenex over to him. Greene buys it by the case, the sap.
“It…it was five years ago,” Racer finally pulls himself together to answer.
“Why wait so long?”
“I was hurt, bitter, betrayed. I just wanted to forget the shame of waiting for my bride that never came. I left Tulsa, I thought never to return. But now there’s a race and I’m back. I couldn’t forget her as I followed the circuit around the world and here, here I see her everywhere I go.”
"That wound up in her, huh?" I asked with a show of sympathy.
“No,” the kid replied, "She has a private helicopter and she shows up at every race." With trembling fingers his gloved hands fumbled pictures out of his wallet. He passed them over to me.
The girl shown in the first few pictures was like a long slow drink of bourbon in the afternoon. the kind of drink that some idiot had stuck sugared melon balls into as some kind of party favors at a pool party. The type of melon with an iridescent party pick through it and a little bow at the top. Damn, I hate those things.
"Sir?" The Jap kid asked, "Sir? Don't you want to look at the rest of them? You're ruining the finish."
I glanced up at the kid, well, maybe not a kid, these Asian types seem to last forever, "Hold your horses, I'm just getting as sense of the girl." He dropped back into abashed silence and I dropped back into perusing the picture.
It showed a slender girl with a bow in her hair and a hopeful look in her eyes. She was flashing a victory sign and standing next to a low-slung white race car of some description. The next few showed her standing next to a helicopter. The next few after that had dates penciled in at the bottom and showed the same helicopter over signs that indicated what even I recognized as race sites all over the world. The girl could not be seen so clearly but the pink of her shirt showed through.
'Wait a minute, pink of her shirt?' I flipped back through the pictures, "Kid, does this chick always wear a pink shirt?"
He stared at me with large shiny brown eyes, like a cow, "You mean Trixie?" He laughed a little uneasily and rubbed the back of his head, "Sure, Trixie always wears pink. That's what she wears."
I got a bit more background out of him, and tossed the photos and info on Lorne's desk after Speed left. Lonely hearts and dumped lovers were his department. Not to mention the pink fixation. I called it a day.
Next morning, I was on my roof, nursing a beer and watching the time trials. I had a great seat, watching the straight leading into the hairpin and the straight coming out toward the Cherokee Expressway. So far a lot of drivers had misjudged the turn and ended up in the hay-bales or the run-off lane. The best so far was a german driver nobody had heard of. Most of the drivers were people nobody had heard of. This was going to be an exhibition race, no championship points, and most of the big teams had sent junior drivers to get them seasoned. From the way they drove they'd been told that they were expendable, the cars weren't.
I watched Speed doing his laps. The kid was a mess; he slowed too early, too late, lost too much speed in the curve. His dad was going to chew his ass off and hand it to him when he got back to the pits. Timing is everything in the race. You floor it down the straight, top out the rev's and hit the brakes at the last moment, drop your speed, turn, and then power out of the turn as you straighten. Some drivers make it look easy. Speed was making it look impossible. Conclusion, he was spooked. Or hung over. Both bad news for a guy going 200 MPH.
My cell rang. It was Lorne.
"Lindsey, enjoying your day off?"
"Hey, Lorne. Lorne? Are you wearing a tie?"
"Ha. I've been doing some checking on racer boy and Barbie doll. You might want to check into this one yourself, babe. Trixie’s helicopter is registered to XSH Aviation, but it's a lease -" The Argentinian blew by and I lost most of it, but after he pulled away down the straight, I heard Lorne say an address. He was right.
"You're right. I'm taking this one." I told him, hung up, and dropped the beer back in the cooler.
That address gave me a lot, but mostly a lot more questions. I figured I needed to head down to the pit row and have a word with Pops. TBC AN:
If you are Speed Racer challenged there’s a link in my profile for basic character info.