Joel basically tuned out both of them as soon as they started arguing back and forth like teenagers in an after-school special. The night air was cold and with his healthy disdain for cold weather, he could think of several things he could have been doing instead of mediating rich-kid drama. Still, Siobhan’s aptly curved backside did look exceptional in the jeans she chose to wear out and he had a few ideas about that as well. As they continued to bicker, he yawned and looked back over at Bradley’s car. If he truly came from money, it was definitely an odd choice, Joel was more expecting some computer tuned Lambo or Porsche, but the Z28 was still a smart decision if all he was interested in was going fast in a straight line and blending in with the crowd. Just like with Sio’s Corvette, the parts were plentiful and it didn’t take a very large investment to get under a ten-second quarter mile. Even having been out of the game for a while, Joel felt fairly confident he could get the younger guy to spill on what he was running.
“Who rolled your fenders?” Joel asked quizzically.
Bradley seemed partly surprised by the question and the complete change in subject. “Oh, I have a guy on the northside…”
“Near the airport.” Joel said, completing the sentence for him. “Yeah, I know him, he does good work.” He let go of Sio’s hand and casually strolled over to the car knowing Bradley had already given away the farm, everything else was going to be gravy. He stooped down to examine the body work, confirming that it was indeed the same person. “I built a Fox Body for a guy a while back with a tubbed rear-end and had him roll the quarters on it.” The unmistakable aroma of traction juice wafted out from under the frame around the tires, a scent something like Cherry Dr. Pepper and menthol. “You running pump-gas in this?” It was a bullshit question.
“Hey now, I can’t be givin’ away all my secrets.” Bradley smirked.
Joel chuckled a bit, “Yea, i know the game. You don’t have to tell me.” He stood back up and feigned a glance at the hood again, but it was too dark to see the interior and he was curious if it had a roll cage and what kind of shifter was equipped. Somewhere in the crowd a loud bass system started booming and Joel waited before he continued: “The tach on the hood is a nice touch though, I wish I had thought of that one. I might steal that from you.” He said glancing back with a slight smile and then looking at Siobhan only just for a split-second to see if she was picking up on what he was doing.
“You know, my dad had a Chevelle back in the day with one.” Bradley said. There was a measure of respect in his voice which seemed to lend to what Siobhan had said about the father. “He gave me the idea, I haven’t seen anyone else with it.”
“Neither have I,” Joel replied. Sio was now the furthest thing from Bradley’s mind. People who had nice cars liked to talk about cars and Joel had done it for years as he worked in his shop and random people from Southside stopped by to chit-chat at all hours. It became very easy to steer a conversation even while he was busily working. Joel crossed his arms and looked the car over once more, standing next to it like it belonged to him rather than Bradley. “So let me explain something... to both of you.” He said. There was finality in his tone and a certain measure of authority, something he rarely did, but in the setting, he knew neither of them were even close to his level. “I don’t care what kind of bets or arrangements you had before this and I don’t care who’s daddy’s running for governor, mayor, dog-catcher or whatever, I’ve worked too hard to be putting up with this goddamn bullshit so this is what we’re gonna do...” He paused for a moment taking in the surprise across both their faces. “I’ll be done with her car in another week or so, if you want to race after that then by all means and if not then that’s fine too, but either way, that’s the end of it and not another word gets said about it. We all on the same page?”