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Green Light Means Go

by Ashley McGee 6 months ago in racing · updated 5 months ago

A Racy--Kind Of--Dream

The 2021 livery for Red Bull's RB16B Formula1 Car, stock photo.

"Oh. Oh my gawd."

"What?--What is it? Is it the door? The blinds?"

"No no--"

"Freakin' cats--"

"No, I was having this dream. Its...sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up."

"Oh, it's okay. Was it a bad dream?"

"Well, no. Not really."

"What was it about?"

"I--you're not interested."

"Sure I am."

"Are you sure? It was kind of...racy."

"Oooh, do tell."

"Hmmmmph...okay. I guess I've had the Hungarian Grand Prix on the brain."

"Yeah...wait. You meant "racy", as in racing."

"Yeah, sorry for clickbait title. I'm only half awake"

"So you had a Formula1 dream."

"...Yes and no."

"I should probably get comfortable for this. There. Spill."

"You remember that show, ER?"

"Yeah."

"You remember that asshole doctor, Romano?"

"Yeah. They finally dropped a helicopter on 'im."

"First of all, shut up. Second of all, I had a dream Dr. Romano and I built a Formula1 car."

"Here we go..."

"I don't remember meeting him. All I remember is he had a white 350z. We were sitting in the front seats, driving over one of those impossible dream freeway flyovers. The ones that scare me. Think the 290 flyover to South I35, only it was more like eight lanes wide and up in the clouds. We came to a stop behind a bunch of other cars, but we couldn't see what stopped everything. Turns out, way up in front was a race light, and the Top Gear guys were lined up on a drag strip line."

"US or UK?"

"Uh, UK. Duh. Clarkson, Hammond, and May."

From left to right, Richard Hammond, James May, Jeremy Clarkson (Grand Tour days), image not mine.

"Grand Tour?"

"What's the matter with you? Anyway. The clouds were dark and brown, greasy, hanging over the pavement. I thought if it rained, the rain would be brown too. Or maybe we were too high up for rain. The lights were barely visible in the rolling smog. They were holding off from staging...The first pair of orange lights on the tree. They're about twelve inches from the start line...Jeezus do you know nothing about racing?"

"You're not a normal female."

"You knew that when you started dating me. Anyway, Dr. Romano strained to see around the taller machines in front of us. I thought a heaping mound up front looked a lot like a dune buggy ridden by the Elric brothers."

"Only you could fit anime characters into a Formula1-Top Gear crossover dream with the cast of ER."

"Quiet your mouth. And it wasn't the whole cast of ER. Just Dr. Romano. Anyway, I didn't speak much to him. That's fine. If I remember correctly, he was a toxic deusch. It didn't matter. I was in love with him."

"What?"

"I can't explain it real well. I don't remember doing anything that indicated we were a couple. All I knew was that I was in love. If he didn't feel the same way, it hurt but I was somehow fine with it.

So, we're sitting at this position, waiting. They must have been having a row up at the front. I was about to say as much when the orange lights switched on. It's not a stop light. The tree stands on a tall poll between the two lanes, with lights descending based on proximity to the race start. There are ten lights. Once those first lights come on, they're exactly seven inches from the start. They roll up to the start line, and the second set comes on. They stop--if it's not a rolling start.

It wasn't. A wild screeching made it through the soundproofing of the 350z, the sound of tires churning rubber. Clutches were half out with the left foot, with the right foot half on the gas. I flinched, imagining flywheels melting. I was more upset about that than the tires. That's normal. Tires need temperature in them to be sticky. Burning out is the fastest way to do it. I assume. I admit I've never done it before.

We waited. Half a second for the last orange lights.

Half a second. Breathe in.

Green light.

We couldn't see them take off right away. We saw tire smoke and heard more rubber spinning on pavement. But of course, this being a nightmare bridge, they didn't go straight down the strip, but climbed further towards the clouds, ascending so that we could see their tail lights through the smog.

I didn't see who won, and it seemed to not matter. The next thing I knew, which was dream-vague and full of abstraction, was Dr. Romano and I needed to get a car together. It was obviously going to be an F1 construction, and for some reason it was enclosed with two seats, like a Veyron or Zonda. That much power, but shaped like a Formula 1 car, and equipped with a four-point harness. We had to wear the fire suites and helmets.

We had to build it. Together. Me, and the toxic chauvinist from ER that I'm inexplicably in love with.

Screen grab of Paul McCrane as Dr. Romano, a frequent character on ER. I mean...look at that face.

We're leaning into the engine bay. I can see duct tape holding the front fenders and diffuser together. The livery is a nondescript purple and teal wrap with no markings or sponsors.

I know I've seen the engine of an F1 car, at least on paper, but it didn't look anything like that. If I had never seen Svetlana on YouTube wiring up a cosplay armor set with lights, I would not have known what I was looking at by any means. But maybe that is why it looked that way. Nothing works right in dreams. Did you know you can't read in a dream?"

"No, but I guess I've never had to read in a dream."

"You might think you can, but you may only know what something is supposed to say. You're not actually reading. I saw on an episode of Batman: The Animated Series."

"So reliable. Much science."

"Ass. Anyway, I remember turning to him and saying something. I don't remember what I said, but it had to have been important, and I must have been pleading. I only remember that because I ended it with "Babe."

His head snapped up, and his eyes were narrowed.

"Sir. Sorry. That just slipped out. I didn't mean--"

"No, no it's fine," he stammered, shrugging, "I just didn't think--well the feeling is mutual.""

"Oh, so he liked you back after all."

"Yeah, and I was pretty happy about it, but I didn't blush or smile. Neither did he. We had both been so afraid that when all the truth fell out of us on accident, all we could do was stare at the engine bay, rolling red and green lights, in a body held together with duct tape, running on God only knew what.

No one said a word, but he reached for me and drew me in for a kiss, a real kiss. It was over as fast as it had begun, but it said a lot, a lot more than he had words for, or I for that matter. Neither of us felt better, but I smacked my lips, and turned back to the problem of the car itself.

Even in my dreaming mind, I knew nothing made sense. Not the engine bay, not the design, nothing. A largely empty engine bay full of flashing lights had to put down enough power to move the weight of itself and two people, and somehow win. If you think about it, there's a reason the Veyron and the Zonda are configured the way they are. Those cars are so powerful because they have weight to move as well as horsepower to put down to the tires. With an F1 car, the engine, exhaust, braking, and cooling are all fundamentally the same, but with a chassis and cab built for speeds no production car can safely hit. A rear spoiler and front diffuser keep the thing from achieving lift-off, or worse: spinning the thing into a wall. That's the difference between a drag car and an F1 car. Drag cars come off the road, and it looks hella cool. F1 cars come off the road, and people die. Almost three Gs in acceleration, and up to six in the bends, means your organs are shifting while you're driving.

Maybe I don't understand it as well as I think I do. This might have been my brain filling in the gaps with something else, and why I don't remember driving it in the dream, or racing it. I've never known what that's like. I've never sat in anything faster than a Tesla P90, which admittedly is fast. Electric cars can scare. I've certainly never driven anything with more than 164 horsepower. That was probably why there was a passenger seat, and why I felt so weightless.

We showed up on the grid with the others. Dr. Romano and I glanced at each other. His eyes were soft, but the rest of his face I couldn't see. We wore our helmets in preparation for the race. We were somewhere in the midfield, about where I would consider myself a success. We watched the light trees to either side of the grid, and occasionally glanced at the car in front of us. I was terrified of crashing into the back of someone as we took off, so my grip tightened on the armrest--"

"It had arm rests?"

"Like I said, not a whole lot of sense went into the making of this vehicle. My driver, a strange man in a strange dream, reached for my hand and pried it off the armrest. He squeezed it, then placed it on an oh shit handle, wrapping his fingers around mine.

"Green light means go," the surgeon murmured.

The starting grid, Formula1 2021 Season, courtesy of the DailyMail.co.uk

The checkered flag appeared on the sidelines, high up overhead, barely visible in the smoggy film that still clung to everything more than three feet from me, that blurred the other cars into indistinction, and cast starbursts around the orange lights.

The flag came out, and the orange lights dropped. Half a second. Breathe in.

The flag dropped. Green light.

I don't remember the race. After that was nothing but dream-vague images of making my way through the house in the dark, and meeting him in a very trashed kitchen.

"I want to sleep with you."

"Why don't you go get the bed ready," he replied softly, "I'll be there in a second."

I tried not to look like I was rushing.

He never came up. Or at least I don't know if he did. I woke up."

"Ooooh no. That sucks."

"Yeah, and I didn't appreciate that. Dream Me was gonna score."

"That's the real tragedy here."

"I'm sorry. I hope that doesn't offend you."

"Yeah, I'm offended by you almost sleeping with a dead character on a twenty year old TV show in a Formula1 crossover fanfic dream."

"Haha...don't laugh. It felt so dead serious."

"He didn't come up because he didn't make it. He died in the show."

"I guess so."

"And you don't know if you won the race, or how that turned out?"

"No."

"Well, not knowing how something is going to end is the risk you run with with falling in love. You both get in a car held together with duct tape, running on God knows what, and you put the hammer down and drive towards the finish line."

"You think so?"

"Or, you watch too much TV before bed and you're really into Formula1."

"Ass."

"Anything else?"

"Yeah, David Bowie was there and Lewis Hamilton filled his car up with plastic playpen balls."

"Wow. He is rude!"

"Somehow that was the weirdest part."

"Well, dreams are just your brain trying to make sense of something, and I know you never got over Bowie. But you better fret less about that dream and more about how Vettel's going to do tomorrow in Hungary."

"He'll take the podium. I know he will. Goodnight."

"Goodnight..........I cannot wait to tell everyone on Facebook you had a crush on Dr. Romano."

"Quiet your mouth."

racing

Ashley McGee

Austin, TX | I write GrimDark, Fantasy, Horror, Western, and nonfiction | Tips and likes appreciated! Team Seb Vettel!

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