Chapter One, Page Seven

"Who says you missed?"

Jiro finally managed to talk after Sanders executed his second crossing of the median. "I'm... I'm sorry I missed." He was very concerned he'd spoiled the game.

Sanders's smile was unshaken. "Who says you missed?" He glanced away from the road briefly, his grin knocking Jiro back in his seat just a little.

Jiro didn't ask.

Kessel scratched his head in bemusement as he watched Sanders' car tear off into the distance ahead of him, no mean feat considering that Kessel's Buick had been doing better than sixty when he had passed the waiting Ford. That was certainly an odd reaction to becoming 'it.' "Now why do you figure he went and did that?" he asked Steve. Steve, rummaging through the tape collection in search of something listenable, muttered, "You don't figure with Sanders. He does things. He knows what he's doing... I think."

Kessel just grunted and shrugged. He'd been the one who introduced Steve to Sanders when the three of them had been freshmen, but it seemed that Steve had a much higher tolerance for Sanders' strangeness. For the past couple of years, Markus had simply ignored him when possible, and attempted to rattle him when the opportunity had presented itself. Sanders, however, was decidedly the better at rattling people.

As an old Beatles tape began to roll, Steve happened to glance over the median. "Whoa! I think that answers your question," he exclaimed, watching the bizarre caravan tear by in the eastbound lane.

Kessel looked to his left just in time to see the yellow ball arc towards Yurika's feline vehicle - and miss. "Holy shit!"


"You didn't see that? Some total random car just got tagged!"

Steve groaned. "Well, there goes the game."

"Not if I can do something about it," Kessel grinned. Up ahead was a gap in the guardrail fence on the median, probably the one Sanders had used earlier (or at least possibly so, one could never be sure in his case). Briefly noting the sign reading 'EMERGENCY AND AUTHORIZED USE ONLY', he muttered, "Well, I'd say this qualifies somehow," and whipped the wheel around, throwing the car into a deadly-looking but actually well-contolled skid which brought it neatly into line to cross the median.

"Wahooo!" Steve cried, hanging onto the door with one hand.

"Just out of curiosity," Kessel remarked as he got back up to speed in the eastbound lane, "are there ever any cops on this stretch of highway?"

"Oh jeez. Don't mention it, don't even think about it any more, and maybe if the gods smile and we're blessed with unbelieveable quantities of good fortune, they won't show up. You have any idea how we'd ever explain this to all our parents?"

Kessel didn't reply. The both of them fell silent for a space of several minutes. Once again Steve became lost in the thrill of passing one slow battery-powered vehicle after another, though not at anything near their initial maniacal pace. Eventually he pointed out a blue station wagon with simulated wood-grain panel sides in the lane ahead. "That looks like it, Steve. Let's hope they've at least got some sense of humor."

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