Category: Sunday Stories

By on June 25, 2017

pfaff-mclaren-mclaren-rally-june-2017-7196

With contributions by Sebastien Bell and Sam McEachern

Mechanics have made their last-minute checks, drivers circulate sur la piste managing tire and brake temperatures, engineers confirm strategies; cars stage on the starting grid, the dissonant cacophony of twenty 1.6-liter V6 hybrid Formula 1 engines spooling reverberates through the grandstands as five red lights illuminate sequentially…

Hosted on Montreal’s Île Notre-Dame since 1978, the Grand Prix Du Canada has always been a special place for the Formula 1 paddock. For decades, drivers have loved the city’s vibrating atmosphere and unbridled passion for the sport, but what they really love is the circuit’s proximity to a devilish downtown core drowning in alcohol and impeccably dressed women.

Why do you think we like it? Read More >

By on December 18, 2016

bluegrassaerial3a

This Sunday Story is a sequel to The Controller

“You’re a dead man, Marquez.”

“Ha, we’ll see about that.”

I had been pursuing Marquez for almost half an hour, but he was a slippery little bastard. Each time I had him in my sights, he slithered away at the last moment, and every time my attempt was unsuccessful it put me a little further behind him. But the last time, that time I was patient.

“Now or never,” I muttered to myself, and I fully committed myself to my move. There was no chance that he hadn’t seen me. I was completely exposed, and if I didn’t get him this time, it was over.

“Three, two, one…one half…one quarter…brake!”

Read More >

By on December 11, 2016

keeneland_race_course

She looked like she had stepped right out of a Southern Living Style Guide, her chocolate hair ever-so-slightly colored with a glint of the Kentucky sky on a perfect August morning. Amidst the vapors of dust, smoke, and rubber that clouded the air of the racetrack, somehow, she effortlessly managed to be pristine in a white, off-the-shoulder blouse. Neither the smells nor the sounds of the mechanical chariots exploding all around her on the course rattled her one bit—she was a lady, and a lady is comfortable everywhere.

And as she strolled in her tall shoes down pit lane like it was the runway of a country club’s spring fashion show, one foot neatly tucked in front of the other, her thighs never leaving the frame of her pencil skirt, surely she could feel the eyes of every crew member and driver upon her. Women like her didn’t often make find their way to NCM Motorsports Park on race days. Yet her face remained kind. Friendly. Open.

It was only by seeing her eyes, hidden behind the darkness of her Tiffany sunglasses, that anybody would have known how frightened Michelle was that afternoon as she walked toward pit stall number 21.

Read More >

By on December 4, 2016

PCOTY-055

“Just you for this whole place, huh?” The weatherbeaten old woman had met Sebastian at the foot of the wooden steps then laboriously climbed behind, breathing heavily, as he’d skipped up to the second and top floor to face the pool and the palm trees.

“Yes,” he replied, the smile starting to crack his face wide open despite every effort on his part to prevent it, “just me. My God, this is it. This is the same one. The same rental unit. You know,” he babbled into the owner’s uncomprehending face as she fumbled for the keys in a front pocket of her faded flower-patterned dress, “I wasn’t sure I’d get the same one. I think I spent four hours on Google Maps trying to line it up. This is the very same place. I hope you haven’t changed anything…”

“Not sure what you mean by all that,” she coughed, “but anyway, here are your keys. You’re booked for the next two nights. You can lock the door behind you when you leave and then drop them in the slot. Do you have any questions? If not… Welcome to Crystal Village.”

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By on November 27, 2016

2016 Chrysler 300C, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

This Sunday Story is a sequel to The Genesis of Something New. If you haven’t read that one, go read it and come back. And since we haven’t done these for a while, let me put this warning up front: this is FICTION. 

“You prick. I saw your profile on Tinder. You’re a pathetic sex addict. We’re done and your wife is getting a copy of every text and picture you’ve ever sent me. HAHA BYE LOSER.”

Well, that was an interesting way to wake up.

Read More >

By on October 5, 2014

prevent.gray.goo

Only about one-tenth of one percent of the attendees at the Spring 2134 Concours d’Reconstruction were there in the meat sense. The rest were immersed in commercial newsfeeds or represented by personal sense-drones. Still, it was no small feat in the arcology era to find a place where you could put a hundred nearly perfect reproductions of Oil Age automobiles, ten thousand spectators, and hundreds of thousands of floating machines. So they held it in the old Cobo Arena, partially for nostalgia but mainly because it was a big empty space that somehow hadn’t been burned to the ground during the food riots or the privilege riots or the nanodisease riots.

To be eligible to show in the event, you needed to be one of the hundred most-Liked constructors, as measured, by common agreement, at midnight on 1 August of the previous year. You also needed to be willing to construct a car from scratch using nanoassemblers and various small-batch production techniques. Only newly constructed automobiles of a year and model not shown in previous events were welcome. It was unheard-of for a constructor to refuse the invite.

Cobo was an hour by train away from civilization, but as one of the chosen one hundred, Zack-55002 was of course present in the meat, standing next to the car he’d built for the concours, a 98.20% correct reiteration of the 1925 Don Harkness Hispano-Suiza. As was his mortal enemy, Alphonse-45009, who had brought a 99.65% correct reiteration of Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2001 Monza-winning FW23. When the winners were announced, Zack found himself standing on the second step of the podium, accepting an aluminum oxynitride trophy that contained a piece of the moon Europa, frozen and suspended within the cup by some rather admirable tech. Alphonse ascended to the place above him and graciously hoisted a slightly larger variant of Zack’s trophy. This made it four wins for Alphonse and two for Zack over the past six years. Nobody even came close to the two of them, but Alphonse was just that little bit better and Zack hated him for it.

Then, before either could speak, Edith-65002 burst from the crowd, ran up to the podium, stripped naked, faced the hovering mass of the drones and the packed throng of the people, and raised her hands for silence.

Read More >

By on August 31, 2014

sec100mpgauto-l

Strictly speaking, there was no reason for Ashley to attend old Frank Jacobsen’s retirement party. She’d been part of the department for all of five months and she’d spent most of the time doing the other engineers’ paperwork. It was true what they told her in school: To be a female engineer, particularly in Detroit, you need to be twice as good as the men. Over and over she found mistakes that were childishly stupid; over and over they patted her on the head, praised her in an email, and gave the next important assignment to some charmless nerd.

Frank had been the exception. More than once he’d called her over to his desk, eschewing the usual Sametime or chat bullshit that the young guys liked to do in place of actual work, and asked her for what he called her “professional opinion.”

“Now, Miss McCormick, I was wondering if you would examine this set of drawings and render your professional opinion.” And when she pointed out a way to re-radius something for materials savings or change the spacing for the comfort of a future mechanic, Frank would make the change and then credit her in the next meeting. He was an okay guy, Frank was. And given the way things were going in this business, when was the next chance she’d have to see someone actually retire?
Read More >

By on July 20, 2014

Photo courtesy of Nick Salvatore

The word “bad,” in and of itself, is so subjective, isn’t it? Certainly one could make the case that there’s “bad” and “good” in all of us, but I think that the modern world chooses to look at it this way: to be “bad” is really just to be selfish. Even though the media would have you believe that the whole world is comprised of childless atheists who live in three-story walk ups in northeastern metropolises, in reality, most of America is filled with deity-believing, family-supporting, hard working men and women. These are “good” people. They take care of each other. They act in the interest of the common welfare. I’m glad they exist.

I’m just not one of them.
Read More >

By on June 15, 2014

Bentley_Speed_Six_body_by_Hooper

Hooper Bentley image by Anton Van Luijk

“For years I was a Fleetwood man. Loyal. Traded in every year, without question. Always Eldorados.” A man in a dark green jacket and a carefully waxed mustache offered James a small crystal bowl filled with a variety of dark brown cartridges. “I’d be delighted, thanks.” He slid one into his e-cigar with a click and began puffing.

Read More >

By on June 1, 2014


After getting lost in the maze of hallways numerous times, I finally found the door I was looking for. I knocked and it swung open sharply. Larry stood there with a devilish grin on his face, the kind he got when he was really proud of something. I could see a still from his work on the enormous screen behind him. A famous actor stood next to a luxury sedan, pointing at it with a smirk. Before I could say anything, Larry grabbed me by my collar and pulled me into his lair.

We sat down amongst the plethora of expensive video editing equipment in the small, dark room. He grabbed the burrito out of my hand and tore into it with ravenous force.

“So what did you bring me here to see? I know it’s gotta be something special. You usually don’t care about commercials.” He gulped down his mouthful of food, then began to explain.

“It’s brilliant. This is, like, the nuclear option of car ads. You know that a lot of luxury cars aren’t made in developed countries anymore?”
Read More >

By on May 11, 2014

800px-Catalina_Island,_La_Romana,_Dominican_Republic._A_typical_bungalow_nearby_cost_line,_shaded_with_palm_trees_(1)

Image courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov: http://tinyurl.com/k8atv8o

“Cool photo. Is that your grandpa or something?” Mark pointed to the sun-bleached black and white photo that hung on the wall of the garage. A smiling, grease-stained man in mechanic’s overalls stood proudly in front of a 1950s dirt-track racer. Sitting at his feet was a trophy.

Read More >

By on April 27, 2014

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(This story is not, strictly speaking, a sequel to Angle Of Slip or The Little Death, but the cast of characters is the same, as is the explicit description of deplorable deeds, done dirt cheap — JB)

“Sir, I’m showing that you, ah, reserved a Kia.”

“I most certainly did not reserve a God-damned Kia.” Two sentences into his Houston race weekend, and Sebastian was already succumbing to the sort of anger that this trip was specifically designed to alleviate. Perhaps it was that moronic phrase, “I’m showing…” that was winding him up. Sebastian wasn’t exactly certain when it had entered the vernacular, but it always meant the same thing: some slack-jawed yokel was simultaneously breathing with his or her mouth open and transferring responsibility for what he or she was about to tell you to the impersonal glow of an antiquated CRT. “You should be showing a Chrysler 300,” he snarled, “or similar.”

“No, I’m afraid I’m showing a Kia.” At this point, he had two options. The first option was to start putting his foot into every and all available ass before him — but, again, the whole idea of doing a racing weekend, his very first at that, was to shed some of the stress that he’d been experiencing. The second option was, therefore, the correct one. Sebastian fixed the smile on his face that he used for dealing with the most obstreperous clients and most despicable proles.

“Well then, my good man, show me the Kia!!”
Read More >

By on April 6, 2014

fiero

DETROIT, MI — A spokesperson for Generic Motors confirmed today that the company will be recalling approximately 2.34 million vehicles built between 2008 and 2013 for a defect in which activating the seat heaters can cause a certain chemical reaction in the driver and passenger seats, leading to sudden changes in the foam seat padding and spring structure that can lead to a loss of control.

0. Engineering Division, Generic Motors — “Tell me how this happens again?”
“It’s complicated. Sort of. When you hit the seat heater button twice in a row within a second or so, the controller shorts out and causes the heating element to leak one of the chemicals into the foam. It makes the foam heat to about 500 degrees Celsius, at which point it escapes the seat through, ah, the circular aperture in the spring plate.”

“Which means…”

“Which, ah, means that there’s what you can think of as a hot jet of, well, a plasma kind of foam, almost, that exits in a columnar fashion from the top of the lower seat bolster near where it joins the hinge.”
Read More >

By on March 30, 2014

junkyard

By the time Nick picked up 40 West in Nashville, with hours left to go and the setting sun still bright in his eyes, he was reasonably sure that he was going to lie to this woman, that he wouldn’t bother to continue on to Texas with her, that he’d make a clean break, that he would end it. He would end it in Memphis, let it go, sacrifice this woman on the altar of his precious emotional distance. She was expecting him to go to her father’s funeral with her; for some reason she was afraid to go alone, demanded that he support her in this. Insisted that he assist her in turning their casual relationship into the sort of thing in which you attend funerals with the other person, hold them while they vibrate tears out of their shuddering bodies, shake a manly hand with the sweating uncles, purchase and wear a Super 150s suit valued at somewhere north of four thousand dollars and purchase it in black because that’s what you wear to a funeral and nowhere else at all.

By the time he was clear of the city limits and past Jackson, by the time the sun was gone, he was certain.
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By on March 9, 2014

minivans

“Saturday morning, Studly!” Jimmy slurped aggressively from his third cup of coffee. Over his shoulder, past the tall plate glass of the recently remodeled dealership, the sun was just starting to rise. He punched me playfully on the shoulder. “Another chance to make yourself rich and famous.”

Jimmy was one of the more tenured salespeople on my lot. His ever-growing paunch, concealed by the poly blend polo we all had to wear, sagged grotesquely over his belt, severely testing the strength of the waistband of his worn cotton khakis. He had been athletic at some point (or at least the pictures on the wall of his cubicle suggested he had), but now his six-foot three inch frame showed the wear of three years of seventy hour workweeks. Undoubtedly, Jimmy had consumed enough coffee and food from the roach coach to kill normal men.

I had not.
Read More >

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