Now Available on Smashwords and A Free Short Story!

I have been moving some of my stories over to Smashwords in order to try to get a little more coverage on them. By moving them off of Amazon exclusively I am able to reach more outlets such as Apple and Barnes and Noble. I can also offer up some of my short stories for permanently free.

Now, anyone who doesn’t have a Kindle can get some of my stories in EPUB format.

Just click this word: SMASHWORDS.

It will take you right to my page on that site.

Enjoy Sandy and The Stranger free of charge on me.

SANDY AND THE STRANGER

A road racing champion meets his match in the form of a stranger who may or may not be the ghost of James Dean himself.
A road racing champion meets his match in the form of a stranger who may or may not be the ghost of James Dean himself.

The drag strip/abandoned road was nearing its last run for the night. Two competitors were left. Sandy in his black Chevy Nova, and Larry in his Ford Mustang. Both cars were powerful machines, filled with horsepower, ready to eat asphalt.

The burnout was first, a momentary tire spin in order to soften those rear tires. Then both men backed up their cars, revved their engines, and waited with hands gripped tight on the steering wheel. Their eyes were focused, straight forward, bodies pumped and full of adrenaline.

A brunette girl with more chest than brains stepped up in front of them, raised a flag, and then waved it.

Hungry engines roared, pistons pumped and popped, exhausts sang their perfect sound, as the cars blasted off from the starting line in the moon-filled night.

Down the road they went, side by side, cars so evenly matched that neither one could pull away from the other.

The finish line loomed, racing towards them at a blinding speed.

Sandy pushed the accelerator of his car all the way to the floor, and just by inches he edged the nose of the Nova in front of the Mustang. He was victorious again, and his record still stood at undefeated.

Sandy brought his car to a stop, as Larry roared off into the distance. He had no desire to stop and give Sandy the customary sportsman-like handshake. He had no desire to be a gentleman on this night. He was embarrassed and defeated, and all the boasting he had done about besting Sandy was going to be hard to swallow when he saw his friends. He wasn’t even sure he could show his face in the local bar any time soon, because of it.

Roars and cheers erupted from the crowd as Sandy pulled his six-inch frame out of the car, beaming from ear to ear. He pushed back his blonde hair, and wiped the sweat out of his blue eyes.

The brunette girl, who had waved the flag and had more chest than brains, leaped into Sandy’s arms and wrapped her legs around his waist. They kissed, deep and passionate, as he was mobbed by his friends and fans.

Sandy, of course, took it all in, soaked it all up, and just felt the energy of praise as his girlfriend leaped off of him. These were just a few of the things he heard as he stood in the middle of the adoring crowd:

“Can’t no one beat you, Sandy.”

“You’re the king, man.”

“Any chump against you is going to eat your dust.”

“You burned him good, man.”

So on and so on it went from there.

Beers and pot flowed freely, a bonfire erupted, and the party was just getting good when he showed up.

“You know, you didn’t ask me,” the stranger replied. His voice was like a blast from the past, ghostly and forgotten.

The party fell silent.

Sandy, and everyone with him, turned to see who had said those words.

Leaning against a 1949 black Mercury was a man who looked just like James Dean. He wore his hair kind of long and wavy. He had on jeans rolled up at the ankles, a black leather coat with a white tee-shirt underneath it, and a pair of black Chuck Taylor sneakers on his feet. He was smoking a cigarette, and staring off into the warm North Carolina night. His eyes were unblinking, frozen, and focused.

“Do you know who you’re talking to?” The brunette woman asked. She wanted so badly to stand up for her man who, at the moment, was currently trying to form words.

“I have an idea,” the stranger replied, as he inhaled on his cigarette, blew out the smoke, and then placed it back on his lips, dangling it ever so.

“You should show some respect then,” the brunette woman replied.

“Are you going to let that little girl speak for you, or are you going to do it yourself? Real men wouldn’t hide behind a skirt,” the stranger replied, eyes still focused forward. He stood there just as calm as could be with the full moon-light casting a ghostly glow across his entire body.

“Do you really think you can beat me?” Sandy beefed up his chest, finally spitting out some words, even though he was scared to death. All the way down to his bones he was shaking, but he was trying not to show it. This stranger really had him spooked, and for the first time in a long time, he thought he might have found a competitor that could end his undefeated streak.

“I can, easily enough. Won’t be a problem.”

“Do you really want to do this? This is your last warning, because I’ve heard a thousand voices saying just what you’re saying. They start out cocky, then just turn into a cock and run on home once I’m done with them. I’ve beaten the best, and I’ll beat you. In fact, you can have my girl if you win,” Sandy replied, trying to stay strong even though he was breaking out in a cold sweat.

The brunette looked at him. “What are you saying?”

Sandy smiled at her. His confidence was now returning. “Trust me baby, this guy ain’t nothing. He’s crap like all the others.”

“Yeah, but,” she replied, biting her lip, not wanting to be anywhere near this stranger who was just too cool for school.

“Don’t need your girl, don’t want her,” the stranger replied with nothing but ice in his voice. He didn’t blink or flinch, just continued to stare straight ahead smoking his cigarette like he wasn’t of this Earth.

“You’re on big boy! You get in your car; I’ll get in mine! We’ll see who’s talking at the end!” Sandy replied. No one had ever gotten this far under his skin, and he was going to make sure this stranger paid for it.

“Can you?” The brunette asked, as the stranger tossed out his cigarette, and then without saying a word climbed into his Mercury.

“Do you doubt me?” Sandy asked, as he slid behind the wheel of his car, adjusting his jeans and tee-shirt while he sat there.

“No,” she replied, even though she was sure he was going to get beat. She was just thankful she wasn’t part of the bet anymore. She was also sure Sandy was history once all of this was done. She wasn’t a trophy, and she was tired of guys like this. Too many of them had broken her heart and abused her along the way. It was time for her to make a change.

“Just take your place,” Sandy replied, pushing her forward, and closing the car door.

She grabbed the flag, and did as requested, fighting back tears.

Engines roared to life.

No burn out this time.

Both cars idled, and waited.

Sandy slipped on his helmet (on either side of this black open-face helmet was a solid white skull with black portals for the eyes, nose, and mouth), and snapped on his seat belt. He looked over at the car beside him. The stranger lit up another cigarette, face in a spotlight of silky moonlight. He wore no helmet, used no seat belt, eyes forward, unblinking.

Sandy turned back to the front of his car, just in time to see his girl wave the flag.

Both cars blasted off from the line; and, just like the last race before, it was almost even all the way down to the end.

Sandy thought he had the edge, started to feel great about his chance of winning, started to feel hope, feel the cockiness that he always felt when he won. He could hear the crowds chanting his name, feel their praise and adoration. He smiled, feeling good; and then at the last moment just near the finish line, the stranger burst forward with speed Sandy had never seen. The car rocketed past him like it had some kind of supernatural boost, and beat Sandy, not by inches, by at least four maybe five feet.

A second after he was beat, Sandy watched, as the stranger and the car evaporated before his very eyes. He slammed on his brakes, and slid his car to a sideways stop in a cloud of heavy tire smoke that burned his nostrils. He was unsure of what he had just seen, didn’t know how to process it at the moment.

He took off his helmet and unsnapped his seat belt, then quickly climbed out of the car. He ran up the road to the bridge, stopped, and looked all around him. There was nothing to be seen of the stranger. The only thing that was left of him was just a few tendrils of ectoplasmic fog, which was being quickly consumed by his tire smoke.

The roar of the crowd caught Sandy’s ears, as they raced towards him. They reached him and began to congratulate him like they always did. They didn’t see the finish. They didn’t see what really had happened. They just assumed, like they always did, and Sandy was more than happy to lie. He turned on his old cocky charm, and soaked it all up.

“Thanks, guys,” Sandy replied. “Now, why don’t you go on back to the bonfire? I’ll join you there in a minute.”

The crowd made their way back to the party, which would go on all night, and not end until sometime in the morning. This road hadn’t been a road for a long time now, and there were no homes around to bother them. So, they could just party until their hearts were content.

Sandy took a moment to reflect on what had just happened while his girl lingered a moment.

“You coming, baby?” The brunette asked when she saw him standing there looking down the road. She had decided to stick around because she had decided he wasn’t that bad of a guy. He had just lost his cool. It happens to the best of them.

“Go on, I’ll be there in a minute. Sorry about before. Just kind of lost it for a minute or two.”

“It’s okay. You did great,” she replied, kissing him, and then returned to the party.

When she was gone, Sandy saw something in the distance, something that hadn’t been there before. This something was reflecting the light of the moon. Sandy walked over and picked it up. It was a silver cigarette lighter, the one the stranger had been using to light his cigarettes. Sandy looked up the darkened road, and did he see something there, someone leaning against a Mercury watching him, or were his eyes just deceiving him? He wasn’t sure, as he picked up the lighter, climbed into his car, and drove on back to the party.

Many stories have been told about that night, adding more and more to the legend of Sandy and The Stranger; but none of them are the truth. There’s only one man who knows the true tale to the legend, but he’s not talking. He’s still living in the moment and beating everyone on that old abandoned road.

THE END

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The stories below are now available on Smashwords.

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