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The Chase

Forward:

The Chase was my very first Fiero Fiction Story.  It was written in the fall of 1994, as a result of some prompting by the best friend I have ever had - my wife, Nancy.

At the time, Nancy lived in Conway, Arkansas, and was working for  AETN Public Television.  I was a thousand miles away in Mechanicsville, Virginia, working for the Virginia Department of Education and managing the Commonwealth's instructional broadcasting role with all five of Virginia's Public Television Stations.  Many letters were carried across those miles  - some contained stories about my boys, job and life in general.  Nancy loved the stories and encouraged me to write one about my little red car.  I reluctantly responded with
The Chase

This story, like all the others, started with a true-life experience.  But, somewhere along the way it became slightly embellished.  Just how much is what you will have to decide.   In case you are wondering, I will tell you the girl in the story did not really have red hair.
- Randy Agee

received a call from Jessie Taylor this morning - he's the principal at
Ladysmith Elementary in Caroline County.  Jessie shared
that sometime during the summer lightning had managed to find it's
way into his school's master antenna system.  He tried to
contact Howard Dunagan, the field Service Technician at WCCE, to
help him assess the damage and order new parts.  But, Howard is on
vacation and won't be back until the first of the month.  Jessie
was concerned since he would be unable to tape some of the early
Instructional Television programs with the system down.  I told
him I wasn't too busy, and would welcome any excuse to get out of the
office for a few hours.

     I grabbed a field strength meter, a spare Jerrold strip amp
and converter, some tools, and a hank of coaxial cable.  Within
minutes I was seated comfortably into my little red Fiero Formula
and headed out of the parking deck onto the interstate.

Traffic on I-95 going north was, as usual, bumper to bumper.  I
decided to take the back way up to Caroline County and exited at
Atlee to pick up route 301.

     In another era, 301 was the main corridor between Richmond and
Washington, gently rolling across a pastoral countryside with a few
lazy curves and gently sloping hills.  Today, the road is almost
devoid of heavy traffic - attesting to our affinity for super
highways with six lanes of traffic, blasting along at a mind
numbing pace.

     It was cool, a slight breeze blowing out of the west.  The
morning rain had cleaned the air of stinging ozone and left a
slight tinge of lingering freshness.  The sun was peeking out
through a slight covering of clouds.  The highway was virtually
deserted.  My little car, which had recently been breathed on by
one of the best performance engine builders east of the
Mississippi, was loafing along enjoying the scenery.

     I was just north of Hanover Court House when I noticed a fast
approaching car in my rearview mirror.  Within seconds, a midnight
black Porsche 911 appeared on my back bumper.  Rather than trying
to pass, the driver moved to within inches of my exhaust pipes -
and stayed there.

     I slowly pressed down on the accelerator, easily moving the
speedometer to the 90 mark.  The Porsche stayed with me as if our
bumpers were bolted together.  As the road began to curve gently to
the left, I backed off on my speed, cautious of what might lie
ahead as we approached the traffic light that watched over the
intersection of 301 and route 30.

     The Porsche blew by me on my left.  As it did, the driver
looked across her right shoulder at me.  It was a woman, with
bright red hair blowing in the wind.  Almost immediately, the brake
lights for the Porsche began to glow as the driver slowed for the
now red traffic light.

     I stopped immediately behind her, several feet from the angry
gurgling sound of the Porsche's twin exhaust.  When the light
changed, a wisp of white smoke came off the rear tires of the
Porsche as the driver dropped the clutch and jabbed the gas pedal
to the floor.

     I eased out on my clutch, letting the tires get a good hold,
and then dropped the accelerator to the floor.  I let the engine
begin to build and quickly pulled the gear lever back to second,
never lifting my right foot from the gas pedal.  There was a cheery
chirp as the clutch re-engaged and the car lurched forward.  The
turbo had begun to spin up.  I glanced at the boost gauge - it was
rock solid on 12 psi, indicating full power inside the screaming
little engine.  As my eyes moved to the tachometer, the revlimiter
began to shut the engine down - telling me it was well over the
6,800 rpm limit I had programmed in earlier.  I was thankful for
the beefed up lower end, blueprinting and balancing the little
engine had recently received.

     Less than seven seconds had passed since we left the light.
The Porsche was only inches ahead, unable to pull away.  I
methodically found third gear, carefully watching the road ahead
for any signs of approaching traffic.  The surrounding scenery
began to blur out of the sides of my eyes.  The sound of my husky
little V-6 drawing in air by the cubic acre, as the Miller-Woods
turbocharger pumped for all it was worth, was music that can only
be appreciated by those who intimately know every detail of the
machine they are controlling.  The black Porsche was still only
inches away, unable to loose my grasp.  I could sense the total
exasperation in the girl's eyes as she looked in her rearview
mirror.  The little Fiero behind her was ready to pounce like an
angry lion.

     As we crossed the bridge on the North Anna River, a silhouette
of a pick-up truck appeared ahead.  Instinctively, I started to
move to the brake pedal when the Porsche glided gently into the
left lane.  My hesitation lasted less than half a second.  We
blasted by the astonished driver of the pick-up truck, bumper-to-
bumper, at more than twice the posted 55 mph speed limit.

     This lady definitely knew how to drive, and she was determined
to leave me behind.

     I was just as determined she wouldn't.

     On the other side of the bridge the road straightens out
again, with a long downhill glide that provides at least two miles
of visibility.  The road was perfectly clear, with no sign of cars
in either direction.  I knew we would cover those two miles in less
than a minute.

     I pressed the red switch on my console that turns on a small
auxiliary fuel pump - spraying a fine mist of an alcohol/water
mixture into the plenum of the fuel injection housing.  The
combination of full turbo boost and the enriched fuel agreed with
the little engine as it found new vigor in the pursuit.  I easily
glided past the Porsche as we approached speeds several decades
beyond the century mark.

     Almost immediately, the defeated Porsche began to slow down.
A piece of fine German engineering technology now shamed by a
little red General Motors orphan.

     As I gently glided over the next hill at near normal speeds,
the Porsche disappeared from my rearview mirror forever.

     My skin tingled.  I began to think of the consequences of what
could have happened during the past four minutes.  I felt foolish,
but totally exhilarated.  I don't do that often.  It was one of
those situations where we are sometime compelled to go to the edge
- to experience an adventure that is otherwise forbidden.  It was
great!

     Somehow or other, the MATV system problems at Ladysmith
Seemed anticlimactic.  The problem turned out to be nothing more than a
tripped circuit breaker - easily restored to the proper position.


Randy T. Agee
Copyright 1994

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