Chapter the Fourth - In which our affable putz displays still more foolishness.
And so it came to pass that we found ourselves proceeding down Bear Notch Road at little more than walking pace. My friend in the 2002tii lugged it down the left side of the road, incapacitated by hysteria and me on the right hand portion, rendered rubber legged by adrenaline. Since we were on a short straight we loafed our way along for a bit, my buddy occasionally weakly raised a hand and gave a half hearted wave before he collapsed into another fit of laughter.
For some reason I did not see it as all that funny, but then I was looking at the situation from a different vantage than he. I like to think that if our positions were reversed, I would have been a more gallant, kindly soul and would have simply nodded and signaled with a thumbs up that the events were handled quite tidily. In reality, of course, I would have been slumped over the steering wheel, apoplectic with laughter, straining to even see the road through the tears. Just like he was.
I decided that waiting it out was in our best interest so I pulled over to the side. The '02 pulled over in front me and we both sat there for a few moments in quiet contemplation of what had just happened. Rather, I was in quiet contemplation; he was still howling and pounding the steering wheel. Finally, composure regained, he signaled to resume and I tucked in behind him.
We were coming off the pass and down into the lowlands. There's a two mile long straight through a swamp before the road turns twisty again. As we approached the straight, my friend slowed and waved me up beside him. When I looked over at him, he started counting down from five on his fingers and bobbed his head towards the road in front of us. I nodded, held up my index finger and made a motion with my hand as if rolling up a window. He nodded back at me.
I closed the window and the sunroof, tightened my seatbelt, downshifted and gave him the thumbs up. He grinned, and restarted the countdown. We were both travelling at about 20 mph. I was in first gear and the tach was at 4k. Perfect for a rolling launch. He dropped the last finger and we both pressed the throttle to the floorboards.
I was surprised. He kept up better than I expected. I didn't blow him off, rather I just pulled away. Those Tii's are still damn fine cars. Gotta look at getting me one of those someday. It sounded very sweet too, nice and fruity. I was brushing up at the 7800 rpm redline (thanks Jim C.) on every shift. As the speed rose, I started pulling away faster, the effects of nearly twenty years of windtunnel development. That and a healthy S14 in front of me. I pulled over into the right hand lane and just let it loose.
At 125mph the silver stumps of the shattered trees in the swamp were merely blurs. I could barely distinguish the brush from the trees from the moose from the water. The wind noise was really building, but Ethyl, bless her stout heart, was still pulling hard. She wanted more and I was happy to oblige. I glanced at the '02 in the mirror and he was falling well behind but still soldiering on. Enjoying himself as much as I was, I'm sure.
But I had the sensation that something was wrong. Something was really horribly wrong. The car was running fine, I had plenty of clear road ahead, but the alarms were jangling loudly somewhere in my head. All systems checked normal. The klaxons were still blazing. What the hell was wrong?
Did I just say moose?
I looked over and there were moose littered throughout the swamp. For you folk out there that have not encountered a moose before, I need to educate you on moose dynamics. Picture a 1,200 pound bag of meat balance precariously atop four foot tall pipecleaners. Now, imagine this meatbag ungracefully running at improbable speeds in directions that seem to make no sense whatsoever. That's a moose, except a moose is dumber than that bag of meat. If frightened by a car, a moose will often times dart out of the safety of the woods and seek the most open trail that it can find. That open trail is usually the one your car is passing over. If you are lucky, the moose will turn tail on you. Then, when you hit it, it will merely crush the front end of your car as you sweep the rear legs out from under it and wind up with its tail end through your windsheild. If you are not lucky, you will catch it broadside. Since the body of a moose is so high off the ground, more often than not, the legs will simply get taken out by your bumper. The actual body, all 1,200 pounds of it, will land squarely on your windshield. The optimal place to be when this happens is several states away.
So there I was, happily tootling along at 125+ through a swamp rife with these big, dumb, fast moving cows on stilts. I had the strange sensation of being halfway through a fifty-yard dash before being informed that it was taking place in a minefield. I did a quick glance behind me, hit the emergency flashers and nailed the brakes.
And I was suddenly hanging from my seatbelt as the ABS brought me down to sane speeds much faster than I thought it ever could but still not nearly fast enough for my liking. I watched the rear view as the 2002 came hurtling up from behind, nose towards the ground and tail up in the air. I nailed the throttle to give him a little more braking room and he came up alongside me with a very perplexed look on his face. I pointed toward the swamp and all the moose.
He turned back with a look of complete understanding on his now white face. He knew. If one of those beasts had gotten in our way there would have been so much hamburger on the highway they wouldn't have been able to tell where moose ended and BMW began. I graciously let him take the lead yet again.
There wasn't much left of Bear Notch Road. A couple miles taken at an easy, extremely alert cruise with the 2002 well ahead of me. We saw no more moose after the swamp, but that doesn't mean that they weren't out there. As we approached the Kancamangus highway, he put his left blinker on to head towards Conway. I flicked my right on, meaning to continue on toward Lincoln. I pulled up next to him. He turned towards me and gave me that big grin, which I flashed back at him. He raised his eyebrows, took his right thumb and wiped away an imaginary tear from under his left eye. I dropped my eyes and shook my head. I straightened back up, looked him in the eye and gave my newfound friend a two-finger salute. He smiled and returned my salute. Without further ceremony, he snicked it into first, hit the gas and headed east.
I know what you're thinking, "These two idiots never even spoke?! After all that, they never said a stinking word to each other? That doesn't happen in the real world! He's making this up!" Well, you're right. It doesn't happen in the real world. In the real world you don't get to share a brief adventure and make a permanent link with a person. You rarely get the chance to gain a thorough respect for someone and their ability and thereby form a bond that goes deeper than the simple events that occurred. These things just don't happen in any so-called real world that exists today.
But this wasn't any real world. This was the world of men and machines and, more importantly, BMWs. I met a kindred spirit, shared some time doing what we both loved, nodded our mutual appreciation and parted ways. It seemed like it was all that was necessary. Anything further would have been superfluous.
So, if you are out there, little white 2002tii owner, the first beer is on me. Or, even better, look for me on the same date as last year. 10AM sharp. You know where to find me.