I slid the Glock into my hand as I entered the hangar. I saw Shaft and DeWayne on their knees, hands zip tied behind their backs. Seems that DeWayne was snoring in the luggage bin when the bad guys showed up. Shaft’s left eye was swollen shut, his lips were split, and there were various other lumps and bruises visible.
As I scanned the room, I counted one guy off to the side of Shaft, another guy in the opposite corner from me, and a slimeball in a suit standing with his back to Shaft and DeWayne, facing me.
“The gun won’t be necessary Hanner.” The slimeball said.
“That’s okay Jack, I’ll hold onto it until those two guys are free. This is between us now.” I answered as I kept walking towards the hostages.
“The name is Frank, and I’m calling the shots here, Hanner. I’ll…” I never let him finish as I pulled the pistol up and began shooting over his head. He and the other goon closest to Shaft ran for the back door of the hangar. The guy in the corner actually started shooting at me with his gat.
I managed to spin around and get off a couple of rounds before I felt a blinding pain in my chest. What the hell, these guys couldn’t hit their ass with both hands, and now, one of them hits me, of all people.
I dropped the Glock as paralysis overcame my right hand. The third guy was now running for the door. Shaft and DeWayne had scrambled behind a stack of wooden pallets when the shooting started.
As I heard a car starting out back, I threw my knife towards DeWayne so he and Shaft could free their hands. Suddenly I was feeling woozy and I noticed that a warm, sticky liquid was saturating the back of my shirt. I started running out the front door towards my car anyway.
Once outside I noticed a new Ford Mustang heading away from the hangar, towards the runway, wide open. As I was wondering if I could even drive, a white Mercedes slid to a stop beside me.
The passenger window slid down to reveal Victoria Lane on that side, and driving was none other than Dale Jr!
Dale leaned over and shouted, “You need a ride man?”
I pulled open the back door and dove in. I almost passed out as shards of bone were catching themselves in my shirt. I managed to wince, “Catch that Mustang.”
Jr was looking back in the rearview mirror, and with that crooked grin he said, “Now I bet you’re glad to see me, aincha Hanner?”
Victoria looked back at me, smiled that killer smile, and asked, “Are you going to be okay Mike? I told Dale that was your truck, or car, what is that thing anyway?” What’s going on here, Mike?”
“Those are the bad guys in that Mustang up there that Jr is gaining on. The ones that are shooting and kidnapping people.” I explained, then asked. “Can you catch them Dale?”
He now looked back without the smile. “Hell yeah, son. I do this for a living.”
The Mustang was screaming down the runway, yet Dale was quickly reeling them in with Miss Lane’s Mercedes. I was trying to hold myself upright in the backseat when Pennae jumped up against the chain link fence along the runway and popped off a couple of shots with her nine mm at the Mustang.
Dale shouted. “Dayumm! What the hell was that?”
I answered. “She’s with me. She must have seen what was happening through the binoculars.”
Dale smiled again. “I heard you know how to pick ‘em, Hanner.”
Victoria smiled at that.
We were now on the back bumper of the Mustang. I couldn’t believe how calm Victoria was at 110 MPH. I fished out a pistol and dropped it on the front seat for them.
The catch fence at the end of the runway was rapidly approaching as Jr bumped their back bumper, hard. Then he swung out in a classic slingshot maneuver. Yet, instead of passing the other car, he calmly eased the steering wheel to the right and hooked the Mustang in the right rear tire.
The Ford’s tires were screeching and boiling smoke as they were spinning towards the catch fence area. The Mustang stopped with a hard jolt as it caught itself in the fence. Dale Jr braked the Mercedes to a wheel hopping stop before we could join them.
I was still trying to open the back door as Dale jumped out with the pistol and trained it on the wrecked car. The three thugs were trying to extricate themselves from the wreckage as Jr was yelling at them to keep their hands up.
Pennae was now at the scene crying, as she didn’t see her father anywhere. I assured her that he was okay. I could hear police sirens as Five-O had shown up for the fake coke bust.
Eventually the cops made it down to our end of the runway and Dale Jr handed over the bad guys. We all piled in the Mercedes and rode back to hangar 11. Once there, Pennae started screaming. The police had Shaft and DeWayne stretched out on the asphalt. While the cops kept yelling that they had positive information that there was coke there and they wanted it.
Dale Jr stepped out, and the cops quickly helped the guys up as he explained that they were with him. Everybody loves this guy.
Victoria was holding my hand, telling me to hold on, an ambulance was on the way. I remember asking her about Jr, and she told me that they had been seeing each other in secret for a few weeks. About then, I guess I blacked out.
I had just awakened in a hospital room the next day when I heard those rapid, clicking high heels coming down the hallway. I tried to smile but the pain in the upper right side of my body was unbearable.
Chloe walked in. “Mike, I’m so glad you’re okay. Please stop it with this crazy job of yours.”
“I’m alright, just a shattered collar bone and shoulder blade. I caught the bad guys, exposed NASCAR, and it looks like Victoria is with the one she wants. Not bad for a day’s work.”
“Maybe you need to read this.” She slammed down today’s edition of the ‘Charlotte Observer’. There on the top of the front page was the banner headline, ‘Dale Jr Nabs Coke Dealers’. The story went on to say that Dale Jr was at Concord Airport, returning from a race, when he stumbled into a drug transaction. Then he singlehandedly chased, and caught, the bad guys.
What…The…Hell! No mention of NASCAR’s shady dealings. No mention of any shootings or kidnappings! No mention of Shaft. Most importantly, no mention of me! I didn’t know whether to cuss or cry.
Chloe looked as if she was enjoying watching my reaction. “I don’t know if I should give you this or not”, she said as she pulled an envelope out of her purse.
There were two pieces of paper in it. A letter which simply said, “You can’t beat us. Join us.” The other piece of paper was a NASCAR issued check for ‘consulting’. The amount? One million dollars.