The phone makes a chirping sound from my wife's purse. Pulling it out, she clicks a button and reads the message. "You're not going to believe this," she says as she finishes reading the text.
"Meet you there, last one there buys dinner."
We are sitting at the one stop light in Kimball, Neb. We had come back to take care of some business before fully beginning our new lives in Sheridan, Wyo. In the process we decided to have dinner with our good friends, Dusty and Mary Schutz. Our favorite place to go with them is Rock Ranch in Pine Bluffs, Wyo. And now that we had all agreed to meet there, Mary has decided to issue a challenge.
Sheree looks at me, "We are in trouble, they know all the back roads; they can get there quickly."
I smile and nod my head; apparently they have never messed with a Cossel with a hunger in his belly and a lack of funds in his wallet - I am not losing this race.
Careful to maintain the speed limit, I pass the Pamida store and turn east on to Interstate 80. As we begin the climb up the on-ramp I stomp on the gas. The engine of my GMC Envoy leaps to life as gas courses through it. I can feel the car starting to snarl as the speed passes 75, 80, 90.
"Woah!" scream the kids in the back. "Hold on!" I yell.
The tires scream as I cut around a semi and quickly switch back into the other lane. The driver of the rig lays into his horn, I laugh maniacally in response waiving my fist out the window at him.
We pass Bushnell after about five minutes of weaving and swerving across the road. My SUV seems to be screaming at cars as we approach them, telling them to get out of our way, we are on a mission. Cars spill off the highway as we blast past them.
I pull my helmet and goggles on and make sure my racing harness is secure, Sheree and the kids do the same. No one talks. All that can be heard is the guttural screams and grunts from me as I pass yet another truck, car, mini van, determined to get my meal for free.
"Find out where they are!" I scream at Sheree as one of my eyes begins to squint, the other getting wider.
"They aren't responding!" she yells over the roar of the engine.
"Damn!!!" I stomp harder on the gas putting a dent in the floor board.
The speedometer seizes up as we pass the 135 mph mark. I reach down and rip it from the dashboard, "Who needs this damn thing anyway!" I toss it out the window and place my hands tightly on the steering wheel.
Out of the corner of my eyes I see it, a red Ford Explorer flying down U.S. 30 headed to Pine Bluffs.
"There! There they are!"
Sheree looks out the passenger window, sure enough Dusty and Mary are roaring down the parallel highway at the same break-neck speed as us.
She shrieks, "Get us there faster!"
The car takes on a mind of its own as it forces itself to squeeze out more speed.
I look over and can see Dusty is driving. I can tell he has the same twisted look in his eyes as I do. Apparently he wants a free meal as well. Mary is slapping Dusty on the back, encouraging him to pick up speed to match and beat us.
Dual semi's appear on the road infront of the Schutz family and I can feel that victory is close. As they approach the oncoming trucks Dusty pulls hard on the steering wheel and sends his family bouncing across a pasture narrowly missing the oncoming truck.
"That crazy bastard! He is going to get them killed!" I yell. "Damn you Dusty!"
The Schutz's cross the pasture and leap onto the interstate in a cloud of dust and grass. The calf they picked up along the way leaps off the back in terror and runs screaming back to its Mom. Dusty laughs and offers it a one fingered farewell.
Side by side we cross into Wyoming. Our windows are down and taunts are flying as fast as our vehicles are moving. Even the kids are involved.
"Monkey butt!" shrieks Tayla from the back seat of her car.
Jared waves a Nerf gun at us as if saying hello before pulling the trigger and unloading it on the side of my car.
Vincent and Aydin begin throwing open bottles of sodas and snacks they had been storing along the trip. We hit the curves right before the exit to Pine Bluffs and desperation begins to take over.
Dusty, sensing I am about to make a move, wretches his steering wheel to the left slamming his vehicle into mine.
"You wanna trade paint do ya! Ha ha!" I scream as I give it right back to him. We bounce off each other vying for position as we approach the off-ramp. Dusty makes to slam into me one last night time but I hit the breaks forcing him to careen across the rode.
I stomp on the gas and fly down the exit ramp. I blast through the stop sign, cutting off a tractor coming out from the underpass. In my rear view mirror I see Dusty punch his Exlporer through the guard rail and launch into the sky.
"Holy hell!" my eyes wide in bewilderment.
The Explorer slams down onto the street in front of us, all four tires exploding on impact. Inside the Schutz's bounce around like dolls before finally coming to a rest. Smoke is rolling from the engine but Dusty, determined not to pay for dinner, steps on the gas forcing the car to move forward.
At the slow speed of 20 mph, I pass the Explorer and pull into the parking lot. I unstrap, take off the gear and get out of the car. Dusty finally limps the car into a parking stall and shuts it off. The car shudders, kicks out a back fire and dies.
Dusty and Mary get out of the car and walk around to the back. There the stare-down begins; me with Dusty; Sheree to Mary; Aydin to Jared; Vincent to Tayla.
Tension fills the parking lot, a small crowd gathers. We begin circling each other, looking for an opening. I reach for my side, everyone tenses up, Dusty makes a grab…
We all explode into laughter at the current situation. I walk up to my friend, give him a hug and tell him how good it is to see him; her; the kids.
We walk inside and enjoy a wonderful meal. Outside the cars continue to smoke, pieces falling off every once and awhile.