The race was still way off—two days and three long nights to be exact. Plenty of time to kill. They swept into town in a dirty maroon Buick, complaining idly to one another about the emission control system that rendered the engine sluggish as a turtle, but still keeping their eyes peeled for speed traps, and wondering if the local X-rated double feature would be worth it: Indian Raid and Indian Made. Seneca Lake gleamed off to their left, long and cold in the evening light, and Jody said he would like to try a spot of fishing but he had this bloody stuffed nose and he had eaten up all his antibiotics already and it wasn't worth the bloody risk. "It's hard enough to race when you're healthy," he said, yawning. Everybody laughed.
They parked on Franklin Street, the main drag of New York's Watkins Glen, and ambled up the cracked sidewalk past the blank shopwindows. Jody walked with his customary gunfighter's slouch, his spine bent like a slightly flattened S. Now and then he shadowboxed, grunting and mumbling to himself. A pair of teeny-boppers skittered past with their eyes averted. Once they were safely by, the girls giggled madly and broke into a delicate, wobbly-kneed sprint. Jody watched them go with a flat, appraising look in his dull green eyes. "My fianc�e's coming out from South Africa in a couple of weeks," he said. "She keeps me in line." Everybody laughed.
They went into a sandwich shop, a clean well-lighted place that offered subs and wedges and hot Italian sausage. Also a pool table, a pinball machine and an electronic racing game. Jody had tried the racing game the night before but crashed on the first lap. He walked past it now without a sideward glance and asked the fat girl behind the counter: "Where's the action?"
"Right here." she said, with a fat girl's chortle. She wiped the counter self-consciously and averted her eyes.
"Some action," Jody said.
"It'll be better over the weekend when the race crowd gets in," the girl said.
"Racing?" said Jody. looking astounded. "Is there going to be racing?"
"The L & M Championship," the girl said proudly.
"What is that?" Jody asked. "Drags, stock cars, what?"
"It's road racing," the girl explained. "You know, kind of sophisticated."