“Who’s motorcycle is that?” (pronounced with a French accent)
“S’not a motorcycle baby, it’s a chopper.” (with an obvious American accent)
“Who’s chopper is that?” (again, same French accent where that is almost heard as zat)
“It’s Zed’s.” (American)
“Who’s Zed?” (two words, basic sounds, not much accent in that one)
“Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead.”
That was a great scene from Pulp Fiction. If you haven’t seen the movie, or if you didn’t and still do not like the movie, then chances are that a friendship between us would be strenuous. At best. If you love the movie you can understand why I’m saying that. (It’s a “Let me see your movie collection, and I’ll tell you who you are” type of a thing.)
I am Canadian. We pronounce it zed. It’s the letter zed. To this day, when I need to spell something Leo refuses to know what the heck I am talking about when I say something like zed-oh-oh. Other than that my love life is almost right out of a fairy tale. Now is that a tail or a tale? On top of being Canadian, I’m also French. Very French. To quote my great friend “sometimes so French it hurts”.
Because of my origins people often don’t like me. There’s always been a war in my country, not a bang-bang and car bomb kind of war. But a war of hatred. Once they get to know me, their dislike may change to shock, surprise and the occasional admiration. It happens. It’s a heck of a lot easier hating a nation than a person… But the history between the French and the Brits is as old as cups of tea and baguettes. Meaning, as long as the French were French, and the Brits were Brits there was hatred. I think. Don’t quote me on that one. It’s too hot to dive into a huge research, plus my Mexican wifi (pronounced weefee) is iffy at best, google is sluggish on its best day. All I know is I’m a frog according to many. Sometimes it goes as far and deep as a toad. I’ll tolerate frog, but I am not a toad.
Whoa. That’s so not the point to this post. I wanted to talk about zed.
Years ago when we were racing there was a division in our racing community. Kind of like, well, between the French and the Brits. Dammit. I SO didn’t want to go there! Anyways, our world of racing was divided into two organizations. The World of Outlaws (Sprint cars baby, I’m talking sprint cars! 410 cubic inches of a beastly 900 HP machine seated in a chrome-molly frame weighing in at 1,200 pounds. Didn’t see that one coming – didja?)
Oops. Sidetracked. Again. Happens all the time. I’m getting old.
So the World of Outlaws was divided and out of it came an organization called the National Sprint Tour. The NST. We had the best of the best in sprint car drivers. And we had a leader with charisma, with heart, a leader we loved. His name was Fred. It conveniently rhymes with zed.
We raced at tracks we’d never seen. Visited cities so cool. I discovered the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, posed in front of Mt. Rushmore and sang poorly at a karaoke in Chico, CA. We competed one against another on the track, but stayed at the same hotels, and helped each other out on the reds when crashes happened. And did they happen!
One day as we were planning the 2nd year with this organization we loved, Fred went back home. He owned a race track in Northern Washington. An official called in sick at the last minute. Fred stepped in to lay down the chalk for the start line. One of the cars was late for the line-up. This can mean being DQ’d (that’s tech term for disqualified, not being treated to Dairy Queen). He rushed to avoid being called late to start. It was dark. He never saw Fred as he was dropping a line of flour (oddly enough I accidently wrote flower) across the track. He hit Fred. It was bad.
Bad became sad.
Leo and I were somewhere in the Mid-West. Most likely Iowa. Our teammate was dating Carrie. We were in the same hotel, our rooms next to each other. Carrie was an official with our organization. But Carrie wore many hats, among the hats she wore was being Fred’s daughter.
The calls trickled in. Every call bore worse news than the previous one. It took a little over an hour to learn the saddest part of the news. Fred didn’t make it.
Leo and I were in absolute shock. All we could utter was “Fred’s dead.”
I think we uttered those two short rhyming words for months. Heck. Sometimes we still look at each other and out of the blues repeat to each other “Fred’s dead”. With him, Fred took the dream of a new organization.
Nothing was ever the same again. Carrie lost a big part of herself when she lost her father. And, like I said, we lost our dream. The World of Outlaws still races. New teams join every year. There is not a driver out there who doesn’t want to race for the Outlaws. But the magic is gone.
The joy of racing could be called Zed. And Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead.
This is a Studio 30+ Writing Prompt. The invitation was simple: write with a specific voice in mind for the narrator. I chose my usual movie star narrator – Morgan Freeman. As you read this, I hope his voice came alive for you as it did for me. Next time I should write with Fred’s voice. I’d love to make him come alive…