Chapter Ten - Awesome Cars
I opened my eyes to someone shaking me awake, “Glenn, get up! Let’s get out running so we can beat the heat!”
I opened my eyes to see Keith grab the blanket and sheets and pull them off the bed. He just stood there laughing as he saw my morning wood tenting my boxers.
“It’s nice to see you are a normal guy! Come on, get up and let’s get moving! Where are your running clothes?” he asked, turning towards my dresser.
“They are in the second drawer from the top,” I said as I stood up and stretched, stifling a yawn.
Keith threw my t-shirt, running shorts and jock at me, “Here they are hurry up.” He stood there waiting, expecting me to get dressed. I guess my face must have betrayed me because he started to laugh. “Why, aren’t we shy this morning? Okay, I’ll step out and let you get dressed, BUT don’t drag your feet,” he said, as he exited my room closing the door behind him. I quickly changed into my running gear and stepped out into the hallway, where Keith was waiting for me.
Keith gave me an appraising look and said, “Good, let’s get going.”
We headed down the stairs and out the front door. Keith set the pace starting out slow and gradually picking up speed as we warmed up. We ran down past the garage and turned onto the dirt road that led towards the barn where we were last night. It was a beautiful morning. The fresh air felt good to me but I quickly broke out into a sweat. I could feel the humidity in the air. It felt like a wet blanket against my skin. I was keeping up with Keith pretty easily. Then he kicked it into high gear and just took off.
Laughing, he yelled back over his shoulder, “Let’s see if you can catch me!”
I poured on the speed and tried to catch him. As we approached the barn, Keith slowed down and let me catch up.
“Boy, you need some work to get you in shape,” he said, laughing at me, again.
“Hey, you didn’t give me any warning! I can out run you any day!” I said, matching his stride.
“Okay, let’s just see if that’s true, cuz! We’ll turn around at the barn and race back to the house. Got it?” Keith asked.
“Sure, just make sure it’s a fair race….no head start!”
“Alright, here’s the barn. Turn around. On your mark, set, go!”
We took off running hard like greyhounds at the race track. We stayed even up to the midway point. I could feel my legs start to burn as I poured on an extra spurt of energy to kick start my sprint to the end. I pulled ahead of Keith just as we neared the house and just barely won the race. I slowly came to stop and then kept walking around to keep my legs from cramping up on me.
Keith came up to me still breathing hard and slapped me on the back. “Not bad, cousin, I guess I will have to make sure you lose tomorrow morning so you don’t get a big head!”
“You think so! Well, I don’t intend to let you win, ever! You are such an old man anyway….it’s a wonder you can even jog let alone run!”
“What!! You insolent young pup! You’d better respect your elders even if I’m only a year older than you!” Keith exclaimed giving me a punch to the shoulder.
We continued to talk trash about each other as we walked into the house and climbed the stairs to our rooms. I opened my bedroom door and grabbed my cell phone. I flipped it open to see if I had any messages. My shoulders sagged with disappointment upon seeing nothing, not a single one. Why hadn’t Ian answered my text messages. The last one I received was sent from the airport as they were getting on the plane for London. I sent another text message, “Where are you? Why aren’t you answering me?” I was starting to get a little angry at Ian. Why was he treating me this way? He had always seemed to be honest and open to me. It made me worried that something had happened to him. I left the cell on my dresser and pulled out some clean clothes and headed into the bathroom to take a quick shower. The hot water coursed down my body causing my muscles to relax. After a few minutes, I started to feel better. I shook myself mentally and decided I couldn’t let Ian ruin my vacation with my Grandparents. I finished cleaning up, got dressed and went downstairs to the dining room where a breakfast buffet was waiting for me.
Both Grandpa and Grandma were already seated at the table and Keith was helping himself to the buffet.
“Grab a plate and serve yourself,” Grandma said. “Make sure you get enough to eat. There’s plenty of food for everyone.”
Keith’s plate was stacked high with everything he could possible get on it. “Don’t worry, Grandma. I won’t let the food go to waste!” He sat down next to Grandpa and dug in with obvious pleasure.
“Grandpa, how long have you been into racing?” I asked.
“Its been a long time, Glenn, ever since I was in high school. I guess you saw some of my race cars in the garage yesterday!” Grandpa said, grinning. “I bet your next question is 'When can you drive one?' right?”
I looked a little surprised and answered, “Yeah, that is exactly what I was going to ask you. I love cars. Could we at least go out for spin in one of them?”
Grandpa looked across the table at Grandma, “Well, honey, what do think about driving the Porsches up to North Carolina today?”
Grandma eyes sparkled as a huge smile lit up her face. “You know I love driving my little car. Yes, I think that would be wonderful idea. However, I think we should let the boys do the driving. You take Keith in your car and I will take Glenn with me. Of course, boys, there will be no speeding! Do I make myself clear?” She looked each of us in the eyes.
We both responded with at the same time, “Yes Ma’am!”
I looked across at Keith. We were both wearing big grins and were practically bouncing off of our chairs with excitement.
“Glenn, you are a miracle worker!” Keith said. “I never thought Grandpa and Grandma would ever let us drive one their precious babies!”
Grandpa placed a hand on Keith’s shoulder, “Just remember young man that what you said is true. That car is just like a baby to me. So, as you’re driving, make sure you pay proper attention to what you’re doing!” Grandpa’s look sobered us a little bit, but didn’t dampen our excitement.
“Boys, finish up your breakfast and pack an overnight bag since we will be staying overnight with Keith’s mom and dad tonight. Oh, I've arranged with the plant manager for us to take a tour of the BMW manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. They also have a great museum there, the Zentrum Museum. It’s on our way, but we need to get started so we aren’t too late getting to Selma.”
Keith exclaimed, “Grandpa you’re so awesome! I’ve wanted to see that operation for some time now. How did you manage to arrange it?”
“I know the plant manager from my college days. I called him yesterday and he agreed to take us on a tour of his facility.”
Keith and I hurriedly finished eating and ran back up the stairs to pack a few things for the trip. We met back downstairs in record time both grinning from ear to ear.
“Glenn, you are going to just love driving Grandma’s car. It’s such a sweet ride!”
“I can’t wait to tell Ian,” I said
“Who’s Ian,” asked Keith.
“My best friend in the whole world. He’s from Norway. We met last year at school. When I left to come here, he went back to Europe with his parents.”
“I’m sure he’ll be excited for you. I can’t wait to tell my roommate, Rick. He’s as much into cars as I am. He’s also studying mechanical engineering.” Keith said.
Grandma and Grandpa came into the foyer, each carrying a small overnight bag. “Okay boys, let’s go,” said Grandpa.
We followed them out to the garage. Both of them went over to their respective Porsches, one white and one black, and unlocked them. They turned and beckoned to us to come over. They handed us the keys and they went around and climbed into the passenger’s side.
Grandma asked, “You’ve driven a manual transmission before haven’t you?”
“Yeah, Dad doesn’t believe in automatic transmissions,” I said.
“Good, so we should be ready to go,” Grandma said.
I adjusted the mirrors and the seat. I quickly acquainted myself with the instrumentation and turned the key in the ignition. The engine roared to life. I could feel the power of the engine. The engine just purred. I backed the car out of the garage and turned down the driveway. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw Keith do the same in the white Porsche with Grandpa sitting next to him.
Grandma said, “Take a right at the end of the driveway and follow the road to the freeway.”
Needless to say, I was floating on cloud nine the entire trip. Grandma and I talked about the family and my dreams for school. She shared memories of my mom as a child and how wonderful it was to have me visiting with them. We arrived at the BMW plant in what seemed no time at all. I pulled the little black Porsche into the visitors' parking area and turned off the engine. It had been a ride to remember. Keith pulled the white Porsche along side us a few minutes later. We all got out and started walking towards the Zentrum Museum.
Keith’s excitement caused him to practically bounce as he walked over to me and we knocked fists, “Was that exciting or what?” asked Keith, smiling broadly.
“Yeah, it was great! But the best part of the whole trip was getting to know Grandma better,” I said, with a smile, looking over at my Grandma. She returned the smile and gave me a quick little hug.
As we approached the museum doors, a big bull of man came out to greet us. He had pure white hair and stood about 193 cm. (6’4”). He grabbed Grandpa’s hand and shook it vigorously.
“Chris, it’s so good to see you. How long has it been since we last spoke?” he asked, smiling at his friend.
“Well, Ben, it was last Christmas when you came down for our party. Let me introduce my two grandsons to you. This is Keith and this is Glenn. They are staying with us for a little while before going back to school. Keith is studying mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech and Glenn has yet to decide which school he going to attend. Boys, this is my friend, Ben Sorenson,” Grandpa said.
Ben reached out and shook hands with both of us. He looked at Keith and said, “So you’re studying at Georgia Tech?”
“Yes, sir,” Keith said, puffing out his chest with pride.
“Good, Georgia Tech has a good program there. Have you thought of working an internship with us?”
“No, I haven’t, but I think it would great!” Keith said, enthusiastically.
“Well, send me your resume and I’ll see what I can do about that,” Ben said.
We followed Ben into the museum where the tour started. We passed the next tour group and headed directly into the plant.
“You are getting a special tour today,” Ben said. “Those folks are taking the normal tour. Nothing but the best for you, Chris!”
Ben took around the plant showing us the usual tour but sometimes taking detours to other areas of the plant, showing us everything. Ben’s enthusiasm was contagious. As he explained how they made their cars, his face seemed to glow and he used his hands to help him express his thoughts. He made the whole process seem like magic. Keith and I were sad when it was time to go. We really enjoyed listening to Ben.
As Ben walked us out to our waiting Porsches, he reached over and squeezed Keith’s shoulder, “Make sure you get me that resume young man. I’m sure I can arrange for you to spend some time working with us here at the plant.”
We climbed back into the glorious little cars and sped back onto the freeway to finish the drive to Keith’s parents’ house.