Friday, April 21, 2017

Friendship vs. Cars

                It was a brisk day on October 29, 2001, it was about 50ºF outside.  Larry arrived at school early as always.  He had to take his brother Nick to conditioning that took place before school.  He was later today, as he arrived at 6:40AM.  School wouldn’t start until 8:00, but on days Nick had conditioning, he arrived at school at about 6:10AM.  Larry and his friend, whom he takes to school, Tom Johnson, were sitting in the senior lounge.  Larry stole Johnson’s newspaper to see whether St. Ignatius was in the playoffs for football.  St. Ignatius was the school they all attended and had a very good football program.  This year, however, despite having a solid team, Ignatius dropped to 6-4, their worst in many years.  Larry was happy to find out that not only did Ignatius make it but also they were seventh of the eight teams going.  He then looked at the Cleveland Cavalier roster.  Larry was an avid NBA fan despite the Cavs’ lack of success.  He looked over the list signaling out the solid players from the not-so-good players.  He and Johnson spoke about some of the players. 

                At 7:15AM Larry’s friend Orest Zadenko came to school.  Usually he didn’t arrive until ten till eight but today he was early.  He sat at Larry’s table and they talked a little.  They played paper football.  Larry was victorious over Zadenko but didn’t gloat.  Over the weekend, Larry beat Zadenko’s car over a bridge near Larry’s house.  Zadenko was driving his dad’s juiced up Lincoln and Larry drove a banged up ’95 Toyota Camry.  It was a mismatch but somehow Larry won it over the bridge.  Zadenko, in a fit of anger, went 85 in a 35 to let off steam; Larry didn’t bother to chase because he feared for cops.  He gloated because Zadenko took cars and driving fast extremely seriously.  Larry did not but if he won he would gloat just because Zadenko did take it so seriously.  Zadenko claimed he pulled even with him and then lifted his foot in the air to show that it wasn’t on the pedal.  Larry did not see the foot but when he sped up alongside him while Larry was going legal speed, he gunned his car, Zadenko tried to zoom after him, but when the bridge ended Larry had won.  Larry brought this up to him after the game; Zadenko showed his anger and assured him that he could beat him any other time.  Larry was still enjoying his moment so he countered that he could beat his dad’s car but not his Ford Mustang.  Zadenko’s Mustang was also juiced up.  Zadenko liked to gamble; he certainly had the money to so he offered Larry a gamble.  He told him he was so sure he could beat him in a race that he challenged Larry to race where Larry picks any of his family’s cars to drive with the exception of his sister’s Mercury Mystique.  The stipulations of the bet was that if Larry wins, Zadenko would have to give him his Mustang but if Larry wins he had to give him $20.  Larry lowered it to $10 and made the bet. They shook hands and Zadenko asked him to put it back at $20, Larry did questioning how he would get the money since his parents no longer gave him access to a lot of money.  Larry’s parents were well off but he was not.  His parents wouldn’t let him have a job.  Larry rationalized that if he lost then it would be a way to pay back Zadenko for the times he paid for Larry at meals and wouldn’t accept Larry’s money when he attempted to pay him back.  The bet was made, Zadenko asked Larry to choose the road.  He never did because he did not want to race on a main city road for fear of cops but in highways, Zadenko had the advantage because he could weave in and out of traffic better than Larry could, and he was more risky than Larry was in a car.  No matter what road, Zadenko had the clear advantage.  Larry chose Zadenko’s dad’s car because he did not believe it was as fast as Zadenko made it out to be.  They carried on the rest of the day normally.  Zadenko did call Larry up at around 7:00PM because he was bored.  He seemed to forget about the bet.  Larry had not.  He was strategizing to see if he could figure out how to win this race.  Then he realized that in the bet they never stipulated what car Larry had to drive.  He decided he would take his dad’s BMW Beamer.  He had it all figured out. 

                It had been three weeks since the bet was made, the weekend after the bet was made, Zadenko had to go to Chicago, and the weekend after that Larry had to go to New York.  Zadenko had not forgotten about the bet after all.  They decided that they would race on I-480-71N to Pearl Road.  Pearl Road was the exit that they got off to get to Zadenko’s house.  This race requires about a half-mile on I-480 and approximately seven miles on I-71.  Larry thought for sure that he would lose this bet.  Zadenko came over to Larry’s house in his dad’s car.  Larry lived in Lakewood, Ohio and Zadenko lived in Strongsville, Ohio.  In all it was an estimated 30 minutes.  They hung out at Larry’s for a while before the big race was set.  Zadenko was putting a lot into this, his car was his pride and joy and he had recently juiced it up even more and gotten a paint job.  The amount of money he put into it was obscene but he loved cars.  Larry grabbed his dad’s keys to the BMW.  When Zadenko saw this he immediately protested that he could not use that car.  Larry then said, “You never said what car I had to use, you said yourself that next to the Pantera (565 horsepower race car illegal for street driving that his dad drove very seldom) your dad’s car is the fastest.”

                “You said that your car could beat it not your dad’s”

                “What’s a matter you’re too much of a pussy to race the Beamer”

                This hit home for Zadenko, he thought he was fearless when it came to driving and racing.  He countered, “Alright fine, I’ll kick the Bearmer’s ass too, and then you’ll have nothing to say, besides I can drive better than you, you said it yourself”

                Larry smiled, he knew he had said it, and he knew it was true but he won the argument.  They drove legal speed until they got to the entrance on Clague road to I-480E.  Clague was ten minutes from Larry’s house when driven at legal speed.  The 480 exit was another five.  Zadenko would rev his engine at red lights in attempt to intimidate Larry, but Larry thought it was stupid and wasn’t intimidated.  Zadenko was so confidant that he would win this race that he let Larry enter the ramp first.  Larry hoped for nothing to happen to the car because if he wrecked his dad’s car, his dad would kill him because, like Zadenko, his dad held his BMW in the highest regard.  They pushed on the accelerator and heard the engine rev.  He was worried for he knew that even though the car might be able to perform better than Zadenko’s, he was not accustomed to driving above 100MPH.  He had only done it three times whereas Zadenko boasted in doing it every day.  Larry made sure the windows were up so that the car would be at its most aerodynamic state.  He learned this trick from Zadenko so he knew that he would have his up as well.  He zoomed on to the highway and checked his blind spot as well as his mirrors before merging in.  It was clear.  He then began to try to weave around cars and not slow down.  Zadenko had zoomed right behind him on the entrance ramp and Larry did not get a surprise burst.  Zadenko pulled next to Larry and took a slight lead.  They stayed in the right most two lanes because it would exit to I-71S soon.  They were pretty much neck and neck when the I-480E split to I-71.  The left-hand lane was going to I-71N but the right went to I-71 south, which is what they needed.  Larry was in the right hand lane so he thought he would get an advantage this way.  To his left, however, Zadenko had a half car length of a lead and he wasn’t slowing.  Zadenko pushed the pedal all the way down and began turning in front of Larry.  Larry panicked a little and tapped the breaks allowing Zadenko to improve his lead and lead the way onto I-71S.  Larry recovered fast and changed to the left lane and pulled alongside Zadenko, but he still maintained a half car lead.  They were zooming toward a curve, Larry did not slow for the curve but Zadenko was forced to due to the car he was driving.  Larry now took a slight lead after the curve.  He was happy because he knew that BMW’s can corner better than almost if not any car.  Larry zoomed up and cut in front of Zadenko.  Zadenko knew that his Mustang was on the line and he wanted nothing more than to keep it.  He pulled into the lane Larry had previously had and tried to overtake him.  They sped ahead.  They were in the middle two lanes of a four-lane highway.  They both knew to stay out of the right most lane because it would turn to an exit only lane.  They continued ahead.  Zadenko took a slight lead again.  Larry began wondering for a split second if the results would have been the same if he was driving the Lincoln and Zadenko was driving the beamer.  He did not believe this to be the case.  He knew Zadenko was a better driver at high speeds than he was.  A car going only 70MPH blocked Zadenko.  They were both travelling speeds ranging from 105-130mph.  The speed limit was 60MPH.  They both knew that there were rarely any police on I-480E or I-71S, which was why they picked it.  They had agreed beforehand that the race ended at the light after the exit on Pearl Road.  It was about a fourth of a mile so leaving the highway to the light was spent breaking to a stop because the light was usually red and a full 90º right turn was needed.  Larry thought that Zadenko would try to zoom to the light and make a daring turn to win.  Ironically, Zadenko thought Larry would do the same.  It was extremely Orestgerous to attempt this but when your pride and joy is on the line, desperate measures are taken.  This also occurred to Larry because he didn’t care about the $20 nearly as much as Zadenko cared about the Mustang (which was the reason he made the bet) he didn’t have too much to lose but a lot to gain.  They continued to speed on with Zadenko still holding a slight advantage.  He had swerved around the 70MPH car without slowing at all. While he was doing that Larry had taken a car length lead, but he had to swerve around a car as well.  Larry did so with ease and once he was a considerable distance passed the person driving 70MPH he went right back to his lane.  This gave Zadenko time to catch up.  He slowly gained on Larry from the other lane.  The Rpm’s on both cars were high.  It was an intense race and Larry had definitely given Zadenko a fight.  They accelerated on and passed another exit, they both knew that there was a mile and half left until the exit.  They continued forward and both merged one lane to the right.  Zadenko was determined to win. Despite his having the lead, he feared because he didn’t have the lead by much and was unable to pull away from the BMW.  He knew he had to gain a lead because he needed to be in the right most lane, and if he was he had to be ahead of Larry.  He thought he could just pull the same trick he had when entering I-71 south and cut Larry off knowing that he will hit the brakes.  Suddenly another car going about 75MPH was ahead of him.  He looked in the driver side mirror to check the left lane.  As he did he noticed a car going the same 75MPH next the car he was approaching.  He could not swerve around the car in front of him. He had Larry alongside him to his right, another car alongside him to his left and rapidly approaching a car in front of him.   Zadenko had no choice, he did not want to try to turn into Larry because he did not have the same half-car lead as before and if he did he would undoubtedly damage both cars.  His dad also loved his car and would punish Zadenko if he wrecked it so he slammed the breaks and pulled behind Larry.  Larry anticipated this so he put the pedal to the floor and heard the engine roar and his RPM gage red lined.  He approached 125MPH.  He approached the exit and Zadenko had gone back into the lane he was previously in since he now passed the car in front of him but Larry had a little more than a car length and the exit was dead ahead.  They rapidly approached it as Zadenko tried to get space so that he could cut Larry off without them damaging the cars.  He saw that they were seconds from the exit so he tried to scare Larry, he jerked the wheel to the right only to quickly jerk it back left.  He hoped Larry would panic and hit the brakes but he did not fall for the trick.  He barely noticed what Zadenko had just done.  This gave Larry a half car lead as he still had the pedal to the ground.  The car now cruised to 135MPH.  He hit the exit and took his foot off the accelerator in case Zadenko tried to make a desperate lunge.  Zadenko had considered it but he realized Larry was not slamming his brakes to a stop.  Larry usually did this when travelling at high speeds approaching a light of some sort but he did not make the mistake now.  They both hit the brakes because they assumed the light was red and there was a relatively steep curve before the light.  Zadenko slowed more because his car could not corner like the BMW.  He gave in and pulled behind the beamer and they stopped at the light.  They were going to turn right so they checked if it was clear and turned on red onto Pearl Road.  Larry had won the race. 

Zadenko was almost in tears because he could not believe what just happened.  He knew the plan was to just go to Zadenko’s house to hang out but as of right now, Zadenko didn’t want to see Larry.  He knew he would gloat about his victory and he couldn’t handle that.  The Mustang was bought and paid for so Larry had to make no payments.  Zadenko didn’t want to give up his car.  He didn’t know how to face his parents about this.  The race had taken four minutes and 15 seconds.  They averaged 120MPH. 

Larry could not believe he could drive consistently at that speed.  He could not believe he had won the race and he was in almost as much shock as Zadenko. Prior to the race he was certain he’d lose but decided to try.  He did it and now he was supposed to get a Mustang and not have to share his car with his younger brother when he got his license. He was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to rub it in.  Zadenko took car races very seriously and whenever Larry won, even if on a fluke, he would bother Zadenko about it, but this time, something was on the line.  Not just something but Zadenko’s pride and joy. 

They arrived at Zadenko’s house.  Zadenko arrived first for when he’s angry he speeds.  He had beaten Larry significantly because Larry didn’t want to speed on a main road.  Zadenko knew where the cops would be so he made sure to not go fast in those areas.  All in all he beat Larry by a full minute.  When Larry arrived he was still in his car lying against the wheel, as the loss was stills settling in.  Larry got out of his car; his first impression was that Zadenko was crying.  He went over the car.  He knew better than to gloat now.  Zadenko shoved Larry back and got out of the car.  He said, “You fucking son of a bitch you fucking cheated, I would have beaten you if you were driving your shitty Camry.”

“That wasn’t the bet and you agreed before we began to race the beamer, don’t be a sore loser and I didn’t cheat.”

“Sore loser? Sore loser?” as his voice increased when he repeated it, “I just lost thousands of dollars in investments and my car, and your telling me I’m being a fucking sore loser, you know how much I fucking love that car.”

“If it meant so fucking much you never should have put in on the line you arrogant fuck.”

Larry was getting mad now because he thought Zadenko would back out of the bet.  He knew this was going to hurt Zadenko but he didn’t anticipate the full affect of it because he thought for sure that Zadenko would win.  Zadenko countered, “Fuck you”

“No fuck you, you made a bet now honor it, you’re the fucking dumb ass that made the fucking bet.” 

Zadenko took his Mustang key off his key chain and threw it at Larry and said, “Take it and get the fuck off my property.”

Larry felt bad now, he picked up the key and started, “Zadenko,”

He was cut off by, “Shut up and get the fuck out of here, I don’t want to fucking see you.”

“Zadenko, I can’t take two cars at once.”

“I’ll fucking take my car for a last ride back to your house but how about this.  My Mustang vs. your beamer for the Mustang.”


“Come on, I gave you the chance to win it at least give me a fucking rematch.”

“I told you before that you were the stupid one to challenge me by putting your car on the line.  This was your idea not mine.”

“You know if I wasn’t trapped by those two cars I would have beaten you now give me a fucking rematch.”

“I know I won by luck, but it’s still a win, I won fair and square, I’m taking the fucking car.”

“Then race me for pride, no money, no material possessions just to see if that was luck or not.”

Larry calmed; he felt that he owed him this race.  He was not about to let him win but the second that thought hit he knew he wouldn’t have to because Zadenko could drive better than he could and he had won because of luck.  He accepted the challenge.   Zadenko calmed slightly and they remained legal speed until I-71N they would now reverse the order of the highways and go from Pearl Rd. to Clague Rd. Using I-71N to I-480W.  They were off again.  Both reached over 100 quickly.  Zadenko’s mustang was very light.  This was no accident for he had paid thousands of dollars to replace steel with aluminum and fiberglass. He even put in a new exhaust system; he did everything to make his car go faster.  Now it was gone in one stupid race.  This race was very similar to the last one, Both men averaging 120MPH.  Larry started on the highway first, and Zadenko pulled even with him.  They sped off, both men maneuvered in and out of cars rather easily.  There were very few cars on the road.  They continued forward with Zadenko only having a quarter car length on Larry as they exited I-71N and headed to I-480W.  Larry tried gunning it but Zadenko matched it.  As they neared the airport they both knew a steep curve would meet them, Zadenko slowed his car for this because the Mustang cannot corner.  This gave Larry the lead because he did not have to slow as much as Zadenko did.  Larry improved a half car on Zadenko.  They continued forward.  Zadenko got up and they were neck and neck for about 15 seconds.  Zadenko in the left most lane and Larry in the second to left.  A car was in Larry’s lane so he moved one spot to the right and continued forward.  Larry moved one more spot to the right and Zadenko realized that Larry was getting closer to the exit when it was time to get off.  Zadenko was not going to follow for he knew that there were disadvantages going in the slower lanes.  The simple disadvantage is cars drive slower.  Larry was behind three-fourths car length due to maneuvering between lanes.  Larry and Zadenko drove past the Grayton road exit, which added two lanes to the highway, with tremendous speed.  Clague was the next exit.  The race was nearing an end.  Suddenly, Zadenko cut across three lanes to be alongside Larry.   Despite this, he still maintained a slight lead.  Larry pressed the accelerator to the ground and took a slight advantage.  Clague was a half-mile away and they were going 125mph.  Larry was faced with a car in front of him.  He tapped the breaks and when Zadenko had a car length on him he changed lanes.  Had he not of done that he would have hit the car in front of him.  Zadenko pulled in front of the car that blocked Larry.  Larry tried to overtake Zadenko but could only manage to be a half-length behind him.  The exit hit, they both got off but since they wanted to turn right and Zadenko had the right hand lane, Zadenko barely won the race.  Larry pulled behind him as a signal that he had lost.  Zadenko took slight joy in this victory but he knew that this was the last time the mustang would be his.

They drove the rest of the way to Larry’s house.  Larry tried congratulating Zadenko on his win but Zadenko shrugged his hand off.  He was still infuriated with Larry for winning the first race.  Larry decided not to take Zadenko home in his newly acquired mustang.  He took him home in the Toyota Camry.  They drove in silence as Zadenko ignored every attempt of a conversation Larry tried.  Larry began feeling sorry for Zadenko and wishing that Zadenko had won the race.    He arrived at Zadenko’s house and as Zadenko got out he threw the mustang key at Larry and slammed the door.  Larry took it and attached it to his key chain. 

He left Zadenko’s driveway and headed home.  He placed his faceplate for his CD player on so he could listen to Greek music.  When he got home, he was happy that he no longer would have to share his car with his brother.  Larry and Zadenko did not talk over the weekend.  Larry tried calling him but he never picked up.  Monday had rolled around and Larry had driven a lot in the mustang, Larry had thought that in three days Zadenko would be over losing the car and they could still be friends.  Larry wouldn’t see Zadenko until sixth period physics class.  Zadenko sat behind him.  When he walked in Larry said, “Hey Zadenko.”

Zadenko did not say anything but kept walking forward until he was right next to Larry and whispered, “Fuck you, don’t talk to me.”

“Dude, calm down it’s just a car, don’t be pissed because you’re the one that made the bet.”

“I put a lot of money and sweat into that car; too much for it to just be lost in an instant.”

“Then you never should have bet it.”

“Had you raced me in your Camry and not the BMW I would have beaten you.”


“Oh I would have and you know it.”

“Zadenko, I don’t think this bet should fuck up our friendship.”

“Can’t always get what you want.”

Larry gave up now; he did not want to try to reason with Zadenko.  He thought he just needed more time to cool off.  He told his girlfriend Clarissa about it; she was very much opposed to the fact they raced.  She had known Zadenko since early childhood.  Larry was under a lot of stress for he didn’t know what to do.  Thursday came and Zadenko still refused to talk to Larry at all despite Larry’s efforts.  Larry was fed up so in physics class he took the Mustang key off his key chain and said, “You know what I don’t give a fuck about this car.  I would rather have a friend and share a Toyota Camry with my brother then have my own Mustang and have a good friend pissed off at me.  If you’re letting this stupid bet kill our friendship indefinitely then you’re pathetic.  If it was a Corvette I may not be doing this, but it’s not it’s a Ford Mustang.  So take your fucking car back, you paid for it, you earned it, and you deserve to keep it.  Have fun and put thousands of dollars more into it.  I’m sick of this shit, and material things never meant much to me, I don’t know maybe it’s because my family, like yours, is well off so money wasn’t a problem so I didn’t have to value it as much.  I don’t know but to me that thing I drive is just a piece of fiberglass, aluminum and steel on wheels.  That’s it, it means nothing more to me.  It’s your pride and joy.  It’s enough to lose a friend over so take it back.  I don’t want it anymore; it costs too fucking much.  It cost a friend.”

Zadenko was speechless but said out of ritual, “No you won fair and square, keep the car.”

“No, I’d rather be friends but you won’t let that happen plus I want a Corvette and a Mustang is made by the rival company.”

“Just don’t worry about it, you won the car.” He said just to be difficult although he wanted the car badly. 

“Like I said, it costs too much, but let me tell you something else I won, I won the license to do whatever I want with the car.  It’s mine. I can strip it and sell its parts for a shit load of money.   I could use it to go deer hunting.  I can even use that license to give it away to somebody and I think I’m going to use that aspect of the license and give it away to you because I won that freedom in the race.”

Zadenko said, “Well if you put it like that….”

Larry then threw the key at him.  Zadenko took it and put it in his pocket.  Then Larry asked for a ride home because he drove the Mustang to school.  Zadenko laughed and agreed to take him home.  Zadenko had his car back and Larry was back to sharing the Toyota Camry with his brother.  Kids in the class told Larry he should have kept the car because they didn’t like hearing Zadenko brag about the latest improvement he had made to it.  To Larry, however, material things do not outweigh good friendships. 

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