When Jill Met Marcie

Chapter 5: Let's Get Serious

November 1, 2001

AN:Just a small cast addition:

Oswald Longmore-Adam Campbell

Just before her shift was about to start, Jill sat at a table and buried her face in her hands.

"Jill, come on." said Chris. "I know you've got a load on your mind with this challenge you threw down, but you've got time. Worry about it later."

"Sure, easy for you to say." said Jill. "You're not the one with the test she hasn't studied for."

"Look, if you can make it through half the day without any problems, I'll let you have the other half off." said Chris.

"We'll see." said Jill.

Jill continued to work through the day. Despite the chaos running through her mind, she managed to keep a straight face.

Around noon, Suad came in. He took a seat at a table.

"Hey, stranger." said Jill. "Haven't seen you in a while."

"I've been laying low." said Suad. "It's not easy being of Middle Eastern decent right now."

"I know." said Jill. "Marcie and I were talking about that last night."

"How was the party?" asked Suad. "Um, apart from shooting off your mouth with Scott, that is."

"How did you know about that?" asked Jill.

"Tony Basilotta told me." said Suad.

"How did he find out?" asked Jill.

"Everyone at the party found out." said Suad. "From there, the news spread through the racing community faster than the cars."

"So, you're telling me that every racer in the city knows?" asked Jill.

"Sorry." said Suad. "If it helps, your friend Marcie has been around. Uh, not that way. I mean she's been all over the racing scene since she was in high school."

"I kinda guessed that." said Jill.

"Then you should know she's your best bet for preparing to race Scott." said Suad. "She knows every tuning trick, every racing trick, every driver's weakness."

"So, why doesn't she race?" asked Jill.

"Doesn't interest her." said Suad. "She says she's happier under the hood than behind the wheel. I know how she feels. I'd rather be on the guitar than in the driver's seat."

"I'll be right back." said Jill.

She ran over to the phone and told Chris "I have to call Marcie. It's urgent."

"I'll say." said Chris. "You didn't get the guy's order or tell him how the party was."

About halfway through Jill's shift, Chris made good on his deal with her and let her have the afternoon off. As she was leaving the restaurant, Jill ran into Marcie. Marcie still had a few spots of vampire makeup left on her face.

"Nice complexion." said Jill.

"It wouldn't all come out." said Marcie. "Mind telling me what this is about?"

"After what happened last night, I did some thinking." said Jill. "If I'm going to make it in this scene, I have to step it up. Suad tells me you can help me with that."

"Take me to Speed Zone and I'll explain on the way." said Marcie.

They climbed into Jill's Civic together and took off.

"Okay, first of all, you have to race." said Marcie. "You have to take on several competitors, maybe one or two every night. Don't stick to drag racing. Do some other types as well. You need to be able to handle the turns as a racer. You'll win some, you'll lose some. But more importantly, you'll build experience."

"If I keep racing that much, everyone will start to see my own strengths and weaknesses." said Jill. "Maybe I should spread out a little and try taking on several different groups so they don't get too used to me."

"Now you're getting it." said Marcie. "Another thing is you have to upgrade your car."

"Working on it." said Jill.

"Try to use your winnings to finance your upgrades." said Marcie. "I've seen what you've got in this thing. That's pretty much the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, you've got a Civic. It may not be much at first, but in the hands of a good tuner, you can make it into a monster."

"Good idea." said Jill.

"Another thing is to practice." said Marcie. "Especially do so after you've upgraded the car so you can get a feel for the upgrade."

"Great." said Jill. "Now, where do I start?"

"With a race tonight." said Marcie. "Here we are. I'll see what's going on here."

Jill pulled into the Speed Zone parking lot.

The two girls entered the shop. Tony and Caesar were talking with Tony's dad.

"And he's telling us about this racing scene in England." said Tony. "The automotive market is vastly different too. They've got Vauxhalls and Rovers."

"And French cars." said Caesar. "They've still got Renaults and Peugeots."

"But they still tune them, right?" asked Vinnie. "The racing scene can't be that different."

"In any case, it bears looking into." said Tony. "We've been looking to expand, so maybe overseas is the way to go."

"We are doing pretty well at the moment." said Vinnie. "But overseas might be too agressive. I know I said the scene can't be too different, but we wouldn't know exactly how different unless we did some research."

"That's what I said." said Caesar.

"I'll have to run it by the investors." said Vinnie. "After that, it's a matter of finding someone to go to London for research."

"Fair enough." said Tony.

"Let's get back to work." said Caesar.

In one of the aisles, Marcie and Jill were looking at parts.

"Nitrous system." said Marcie.

"Definitely need one of those." said Jill. "How does the list look so far?"

"It's looking rather expensive." said Marcie. "But I'm sure you'll rake up some cash doing street races."

That's when Oswald walked up to them. He was now dressed in men's clothing and the wig that had covered his blonde hair was gone. "I know you." he said.

"You do?" asked Jill.

"Last night at the party." said Oswald. "You were the girl who challenged Scott Temple to certain death."

"I thought British humor relied on understatement, not overstatement." said Marcie.

"We do it both ways." said Oswald. "I'm Oswald Longmore, just so you know."

"Oh yeah." said Jill. "The guy who was dressed as the girl from 'Heavenly Creatures'."

Oswald was taken aback by the mistake. "Yes, that was me." he said.

"So, what brings you over to us?" asked Marcie.

"Well, your little dare has me curious." said Oswald. "I'm wondering if you're really something Scott should be worried about."

"Oh, I'm the real deal, baby." said Jill.

"Saying it and showing it are two different things." said Oswald. "How about in an hour, we head to the L.A. River around Cesar Chavez Avenue."

"Sounds like a deal." said Jill. "How much are you willing to wager?"

"I've got a thousand dollars I'm willing to part with." said Oswald.

"Okay, it's a deal." said Jill.

"I'll be there with bells on." said Oswald.

One hour later...

"When he said the L.A. River, I didn't realize he was referring to this." said Jill as she looked around. Her Civic and Marcie's Tiburon were parked in a mostly dry drainage channel.

"Shocking, isn't it?" said Marcie. "This is the best we can do for a river out here."

"I've seen this in so many movies." said Jill. "Looks like I get to live out those scenes."

They heard an engine roar and saw a blue Miata drive down one of the ramps. The car had been customized with a Bomex body kit and BBS LM rims. The Miata parked next to them. Oswald and another man climbed out.

"Nice to see you made it." said Jill.

"I always keep my word." said Oswald. "By the way, this is Jeremy. He'll be the flagman for this race."

"Hello." said Jeremy.

"I'll be at the finish line." said Marcie. "Jeremy, what's your cell phone number?"

Minutes later, Marcie had driven down the river and parked under a bridge for Fourth Street. She climbed out and looked around.

She then picked up her cell phone and dialled Jeremy's number. "Yeah, I'm at the finish line now." she said. "Looks clear." she said. "Let's get it on."

Back at the starting line, Jeremy was on his cell phone. "Okay, we'll start." he said.

"They look about right." said Jill as she looked at her Civic. It was parked on the left side of the water channel. Oswald's Miata was parked on the other side with its front bumper about level with the Civic's.

"I want a fair fight." said Oswald. "They should be even."

"Okay, guys." said Jeremy. "We've got a couple grand sitting on this. The rules are simple. You go when I flag you and the first one under the Fourth Street bridge wins. Am I clear?"

"As glass." said Jill.

"Not tinted, though." said Oswald.

"Then, take your wheels and start your engines." said Jeremy.

Jill and Oswald climbed into their cars and started their engines. Both shifted into first gear.

Jeremy stood on a small bridge over the channel and raised his hands over his head.

Jill revved the engine in her Civic. Oswald did the same with his Miata. Jeremy dropped his hands. The two cars took off.

The Miata started to take an early lead. Jill threw her Civic into the next gear as they passed under the Santa Ana Highway. She started to catch up.

Oswald looked over at her and pushed the accelerator to the floor. He made a quick gear change and started to widen the gap.

Jill kept her accelerator floored. She managed to gain some ground on Oswald.

As the two cars passed under the First Street bridge, Jill had almost caught up with him.

Marcie watched from the finish line. She could see both cars approaching rapidly.

Jill started to pass Oswald when he upshifted again. Jill did the same and started to pull ahead.

Marcie ran off to the side and watched.

Jill and Oswald kept their accelerators floored until they raced under the Fourth Street bridge. Jill had a slight lead.

Jill shrieked with delight. Oswald groaned and pounded the steering wheel.

"Alright!" yelled Marcie.

Jill and Oswald turned around and headed back to Marcie's location. They parked next to her and climbed out. Oswald walked over to her and said "Well, you just got yourself a thousand quid. Treat it well."

"Hey, you might do better next time." said Jill.

"Maybe." said Oswald. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go pick up Jeremy."

Oswald got back into his Miata and drove back to the starting line.

Jill turned to Marcie and asked "So, how was that?"

"Well, you won and your purse is about a thousand dollars heavier." said Marcie. "However, you didn't win by much. The route was mostly straight, so acceleration and top speed are a couple of problem areas."

"So, how should I address that?" asked Jill. "Practice and skills or upgrading the car?"

"A little of both." said Marcie. "Increasing the horsepower would be a good idea, but you need to work on the drivetrain to distribute the power."

"I guess we're going to Speed Zone tomorrow." said Jill.

"Girl's gotta shop." said Marcie.