|The Road Not Taken
Author: BorntothePurple PM
Chick Hicks travels to Radiator Springs to confront the car he feels ruined his life. He will be faced with a choice. What will he do, and what will happen to him?Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,042 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 04-18-09 - Published: 02-06-08 - id: 4056669
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I'm doing something a little different with this story. I have written a story called Sic Transit Hicks which has the same beginning but a different ending. After you finish reading this chapter, please consider reading the other story and seeing how it ends.
In each story, Chick Hicks is faced with a life-altering decision. In Sic Transit, he decides one way. In The Road Not Taken, he makes a different choice. His choice has many repercussions, both for him and the rest of Radiator Springs.
Usual disclaimer applies: I do not own the Cars characters. They are the property of Disney and Pixar, and I have only the best intentions towards their creators.
It was morning. Chick Hicks awoke from a troubled sleep in his heated garage. He was not a happy car. It has been a long, lonely night, one in a seemingly endless string of long, lonely nights. As he shook off sleep, he replayed the final lap of the Piston Cup over in his mind. He remembered the satisfaction he'd felt slamming into The King, sending him flying, then the pure joy of crossing that finish line first. Finally, he had fulfilled his lifelong dream. It had been the happiest few seconds of his life. He was finally out of the King's shadow, ready to bask in the adoration of his fans.
Then it all fell apart. He'd triumphantly driven out to receive his rightful fame and fortune and had been met with boos and jeers. All because that miserable Lightning had won over the crowd by pushing a battered King across the finish line. It was bad enough being upstaged by a rookie. It was even worse that the crash had again put the King in the limelight. The crowd loved Strip Weathers, and Chick had made him a martyr.
Even though he'd beaten him, the King still had all the glory, all the sympathy. It sickened Chick. It sickened him to the core of his being.
He had become an outcast. Dinaco didn't want him. The fans didn't want him. When he'd inquired about the sponsorship, Tex had been cold and evasive. He had put Chick off. And put him off. Chick knew that Tex didn't want to endorse him and was trying to come up with a way out. Had he already approached Lightning? Was he eyeing one of the other rookies? These questions kept Chick up at night.
He was, he thought, at the low point of his career. Things couldn't get any worse.
He was wrong.
Chick felt angry and helpless. One lousy accident he thought. One lousy accident, and they all hate me. He remembered the fans had once surrounded him, remembered how they cheered for their Thunder. The twins shouting support, and then the look on their faces when he finally leapt the platform to claim what should have been his rightful prize. Could this day get any worse? He would try to forget it, he decided, as he headed for the track for his practice laps.
Still thinking about the graffiti, Chick didn't notice a gang of young cars milling around on the side of the road.
Suddenly, he shuddered as something large and heavy crashed into his side. Gasping, he pulled up- and another stone smashed through his side window. Fury and pain shot through him.
"You bastards," he screamed. "I'll tear you apart!" Shouting curses, he charged towards them.
The kids ran. He chased them, keeping up with them easily. They rounded the bend and other cars were suddenly there. A gray Chevy Impala screamed and burned rubber, barely getting out of the way in time. Pandemonium reigned. He cornered one of the child-cars in an alleyway and slowly advanced on him. The younger car began screaming for help.
A police car drove up. Thank Ford Chick thought. He turned to the cop, "This little delinquent broke my window."
The car-child began to sob. "He's crazy," he wailed. "He's trying to kill me!"
The cop stared at Chick. "At it again, huh?" he said. "Accosting children now? Maybe you better accompany me back to the station."
Chick stared at him in disbelief. "He broke my window," he said helplessly.
The young car began to wail louder.
"So you decided to run him down?"
"I…no," stammered Chick. All he needed was trouble with the law. He could imagine the headlines. With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, he began to apologize. "I … I'm sorry. I wasn't going to hurt him."
The cop shook his head. "Come to think of it," he said. "I don't want to waste any more time with you. I'm writing you a citation for assault. We'll set a court date."
"Assault? But I didn't touch him! Can't you see my broken window?"
The cop frowned. "Are you arguing with me?"
Chick folded.When this hits the papers… "No sir."
"Alright then," the cop turned and drove off.
The young car stopped sobbing. He gave Chick a wicked grin and sped off past him.
Cars all around were staring. "What are you looking at? I won the Piston Cup, damn it! It's the biggest cup in racing!" Chick yelled at them. But their accusing eyes followed him as he sped away.
It made him uncomfortable. He usually was nice to his pit crew. One had to be. After all, they were responsible for you in a big race. In the heat of the moment, he sometimes yelled at them, but overall, he thought, he treated them quite well. And they had always been supportive of him- they were, in fact, the closest people he had to friends. It disconcerted him when the only response to his "Good Morning," was a chorus of half-hearted mumbles.
He eased onto the track. As he drove, the anger and humiliation began to fade. Life was so hard, but Chick loved the feel of his tires gripping the pavement, the sensation of air rushing by. As he rocketed down the track, he was filled with a sense of peace. It was, he realized, the only time he ever felt peaceful. His problems seemed lost in the wind. If only a race could be like practice- no pressure, no consuming desire to win, to humiliate and dominate. Hating the other cars on the track during a race gave him energy, an edge. But it also drained him.
And in practice, he didn't have to cope with being second best. As he rounded the last turn, reality pushed its way into the forefront of his mind. He heard, once more, the sneer in his wife's voice on the night she'd finally left him. "You are a nobody. You will always come in second. Second place and second rate. You hold me back, because you'll never be better than what you are. A loser. You will never amount to anything."
Familiar rage flooded through him and he shuddered with it. How he hated the King and Lightning!
He ended the lap and started to head off the track. Two of his pit crew were reading a newspaper. They were talking quietly, whispering, heads down. When he drove by, they looked up guiltily. He frowned.
"Let me see that."
The headline screamed out at him.
"The King to Remain Dinaco's Golden Boy" it read. "In a surprise move, Dinaco spokesmen and president Tex Dinaco has decided to keep Strip Weathers as Dinaco's sponsored car. This comes as a shock because The King, who was nearly wrecked in his last race by rival Chick Hicks, has retired from racing. Citing a growing hatred of Chick among racing fans and the general public, Tex apparently decided to keep The King on…."
With a curse Chick threw the paper onto the track. Screaming obscenities, he drove over it, backed up, drove over it again. His pit crew stared at him uneasily.
"I'm going to kill him!" Chick screamed. "I swear to Chrysler I'm going to kill him!"
The crew scattered.
Alone, Chick turned away. Tears filled his eyes, embarrassing him even though there was no one to see him cry.
He drove. His only thought was to confront the King. He had no clear idea of what he'd do when he found him, but he had to. He had to find a way to cut him down, even though the King had always seemed indifferent to his insults. He had to vent his frustration. It was immature, he knew. But he couldn't help himself.
It didn't take him long to reach the King's private track. He drove around but there was no sign of the other racecar. He cornered one member of the King's pit crew as he was coming out of a building.
"Where is Strip?" he demanded.
The poor tire changer looked around as though seeking escape. "Ummm….."
Chick had to get the information. Fighting down his anger, he gave what he hoped was a winning smile. "Listen," he said. "I'm not going to yell at him. In fact, I want to apologize. I really regret what I did. It's been eating away at me. I want to say I'm sorry, and congratulate the King on keeping the sponsorship."
"Um…ok," said the other vehicle uncertainly, more intimidated than convinced. "He went to Radiator Springs. He wanted to meet the Hudson Hornet."
"Thank you," Chick said.
He drove off.
Radiator Springs, here I come.
But he hadn't wanted to take a truck. In fact, he hadn't told anyone where he was going. And, he thought bitterly, there was no one to tell. No one really cared where he was going. As far as the whole racing world was concerned, he might as well drive off a cliff. Screw that he thought I don't need anyone.
His journey ended just at nightfall, which was a good thing for him; like all racecars, he had no headlights. He moved slowly through the town. The neon lights glowed brightly, some of them flickering on and off.
As he passed a large (and very unsteady-looking) tower of tires, a pale yellow 1959 Fiat rushed up to him.
"Hello friend, have you traveled far? Come and check my-" Luigi stopped in midstream. He stared at Chick. He made a noise like "huh" and without another word, turned and drove away.
Must be one of MQueen's pit crew the racecar thought. Wonder how many more of the little freaks I'll run into?
Cars were beginning to emerge from the doorways of buildings. A green 1959 Impala Low-Rider. A show car. Even a 1960 VW bus. They were all strangers to Chick, but they watched him with silent, hostile eyes. He didn't feel like approaching any of them to ask about the King.
A rusty tow truck pulled out of a building Chick identified as a café.
This car broke ranks with the others and rolled up to him.
"Name's Mater." The tow truck paused, looking at him more closely. "Hey, are you that there car from the race?"
There seemed no point in denying it. Chick nodded.
Mater's face clouded. "That was wrong, what you done did to the King." He said.
"I know," Chick said quickly. "And I feel terrible about it. I want to go apologize. Have you seen him?"
Mater's face brightened. "That's good. He done went for a drive. Wanted to see the sights."
"Hmmm…" Chick said.
"His wife's waitin' at the Cozy Cone," Mater said helpfully. "Iff'n you want to apologize to her too."
"Maybe later. Can you tell me which way The King went?"
"He headed off to the lookout."
Chick was starting to lose patience. "Which is where?"
"Thataway," Mater pointed with one tire. "Down that road."
"Thanks, um..Mater," said Chick. Then he paused. "And where, by the way, is MQueen?"
"Lightning? Why, he's out with Sally. If'n you wanta wait, they should be back soon. You wanta apologize to him too?"
"Sure. I'll catch him later. Thanks."
He started to turn away when Mater spoke again. "Hey," the tow truck said, apparently spotting the dent and broken window for the first time. "Yur hurt. You should see Doc. He'll fix yuh up good as new."
Maybe that's a good idea. After all, I can't go driving around with a broken window.
A few moments later, he pulled up to Doc's office and knocked.
"I'm coming," he heard from inside.
Doc came to the door.
Wait a minute…Doc Hudson? Crap.
Doc looked Chick up and down. He said nothing.
"Just thought I'd see the great Hudson Hornet," sneered Chick. "So how does it feel, old man, to be out of the action? Reduced to hiding out in this crappy little town? Too bad about that accident….how sad…. Just couldn't pull it together afterwards, huh? I guess you didn't have it in you."
Doc frowned. "Came all the way out here, Hicks, just to insult me?"
Chick sneered. "Don't flatter yourself. I'm just passing through."
"What do you want here, Hicks? What are you up to? I'm warning you, we won't put up with any trouble from you." He leaned forward, nose to nose with the green stock car. "Just give me an excuse. I'll have you locked away for so long you'll rust."
Chick smiled. It was not a pleasant smile. "We'll see, old man. We'll see."
He slowly drove away.
Chick drove on the winding roads as he headed in the direction Mater had indicated. The wind blew pieces of grit through his broken window. Each piece stung. His window had not bothered him so much on the way down to Radiator Springs, but now it was starting to hurt as the dirt hit it.
He cursed to himself. Why did I have to mouth off to the Hudson Hornet? Maybe he would have fixed my window if I'd asked nicely…screw that, Chick Hicks doesn't suck up to anybody. He may not have fixed it anyway, even if I'd been nice- he is Lightning's pit boss, after all. I'm not exactly popular among these people. Who knew "Doc" referred to the Hudson Hornet?
He had pretty much convinced himself that Doc Hudson would never have fixed his window when a particularly large piece of grit bounced up from his wheels and hit him in the eye. He winced.
Ford, I hate these roads. I belong on a nice, smooth track.
The injury and the rough road brought back painful memories.
The memories always lurked under the surface, taunting him. They were there at the start of every race in that small, nagging voice that said, "You little fool. You don't really think you can win, do you?"
And, more than that, they were there at the end of every race. "Your Father was right. They all were. You are a failure. You will never amount to anything. Second, again!"
Chick Hicks shook his head. I showed them. I did show them! I'm not little Chicky anymore. I won a Piston Cup! Sure, I race dirty. But that is the world we live in. You need to fight dirty in order to win. No one will give you anything. I've had to fight for everything I've ever had. It's the cars who don't realize that who never get anywhere.
And every blow from his father, every beating from the neighborhood bullies, every snide remark and taunt from his other classmates, had all combined to make him the car he was today. A tough car who didn't take crap from anyone.
So it wasn't really so bad, was it?
Except, of course, he hadn't really shown them anything. He was still not respected, still not appreciated. He was still in the King's shadow.
Into the night, under the yellow moon, Chick drove. The road twisted and turned. He heard the chirping of insects, the cries of night birds. Finally, he came around a bend and saw the King.
Strip Weathers was up on the cliff. He was staring out over the land, at the beauty of the rock formations in the desert. It was truly a gorgeous sight, nature's wonder touched by moonlight.
Chick Hicks saw none of it. As he watched the King silently standing there, all his hatred returned in a hot rush. He remembered every humiliation he had endured since the last Piston Cup race.
Slowly, silently, he crept up behind the blue racecar.
And jumped as the King suddenly said, without turning, "Hello Chick."
How on earth did he see me? Chick wondered. He pulled up next to the King. For a moment they sat in silence, staring off into the distance together. The night was quiet around them.
Chick looked out over the land- beautiful, but barren.
"Well," he said finally, breaking the silence. "I guess I owe you an apology."
"I guess you do," said Strip Weathers.
"I actually didn't mean to hit you so hard," Chick paused. Then the words burst out of him, "Do you know what its like? Always being in someone's shadow? Never beingable to measure up? You don't know what that does to a car."
Strip was silent for a few more minutes.
"You might be surprised," the King said finally. "You weren't around then, but I've lost my share of races. When I first came in as a rookie, there was one car I never could beat. I must have finished behind him in a dozen races. I lost the Piston Cup to him too.
And you know what? I never did beat him. He retired."
Chick said nothing.
"You're problem is, you let ambition consume you, blind you. There's more to life than winning. You don't need a Piston Cup to prove your value. It's not just winning, it's how you get there. Lightning MQueen knows something about that."
There was a pause. "We could talk," said the blue racecar quietly. "Want to head to Flo's?"
Chick hesitated for a moment. But it was too much.
"No thanks," he muttered. And started to drive away.
Then he paused, directly behind the King. The other car was silent, staring off into distance. His bumper was less than a foot from Chick's front.
And it occurred to Chick, then, that he didn't have to be second best anymore. He could stop that.
He could end it. Right now. If he really wanted to.
This is the end of part one.
Go to my author's page and click on Sic Transit Hicks. Go directly to chapter five to continue this story and go down one path.