How can I defend
"Let's live for now not then"
We're chasing tail lights
Let them fade into the distance

A car pulls up outside the Roadhouse. A Chevrolet Impala, 1967. Jet black, in perfect condition. You listen to the purr of the well tuned engine as it pulls gently into the parking lot, the handling exquisite, the bodywork nothing short of gorgeous. Your hand twitches as you remember what it was like driving a car like that, only four short years ago.

Let's say the engine stalled and start again
Turn around let's turn around
It's a dark road we been heading down
Trust me tonight I swear I know where we are

A race, THE race. Winning this race could mean you got out of the LA street scene. When your father gets out of prison, you could both run, run far away. Away from this life. It poisons you, street racing. It sucks you in, sweet and tempting, icing sugar melting on its tongue, before yanking the rug out from under you, and you have to scrounge to survive. You had been lucky, finding Dom. Your father hadn't been so fortunate, leading to him doing ten to fifteen for a drugs charge and you working at Dom's garage, first as a grease monkey, then, when he realised you could walk and chew gum at the same time, designing cars and general computer shit. Not exactly legal, but it paid the rent.

Then you found out about Race Wars. And you started to think. Maybe, just maybe, if you were fast enough, you could win.

You weren't fast enough. You lost your car, to Johnny Tran of all people. And you couldn't face that. So you just started driving. You didn't care where to, as long as it was away from here.

You drove all the way to central Nebraska, to a small dive, Harvelle's roadhouse painted in peeling paint above the door. The owner, Ellen, an older woman with honey coloured hair and a tired face took one look at you and gave you a job and a place to sleep.

We're gonna run all the lights
We're gonna blow right through the radar
Fast cars
We are fast cars
How can I pretend the signs don't say dead end
So many hearts just wind up in a junkyard

You liked Ellen, she reminded you of Mom. And you liked Jo, she was always friendly to you, smiling as she went past, teaching you the ropes, how to carry the barrels without straining your shoulder, how to pull the perfect beer, holding the glass slanted to create a frothy head. You even liked the building itself. It smelt of sawdust and gunpowder and history, the walls with a million stories to tell, each one older than the last. The inhabitants had their stories as well, ghost stories, intended to scare and frighten over a round of whiskey. But that's all they were, right?

You knew Ellen was a widow, her husband has died six years previously. You didn't like to ask how he died, but the question was in your eyes. She never answered. You know what that's like. Memories are painful, so you push them away, where they can't hurt you.

Where memories are nothing but spare parts
Turn around just turn around
And leave the past behind us now
Come on we aint gonna crash

It's three years later, and you're clearing up after closing time. The last of the cars has left the parking lot, and the only ones in the bar are you and Ellen. You look at her, asking a silent question. She smiles and nods, so you grin and bound over the counter, your boots clipping an empty glass teetering at the edge of the bar. It falls, and you stretch for it, but it lands, shattering into a million pieces. For a second, you are reminded of the broken glass in a shattered headlight of a beat up car, and your arm itches with that familiar longing. You look at Ellen, an apology on your lips, but she is already pulling a broom out from under the bar, ready to clean up. She waves you away, and you retreat, loping out the front door and looping around to the back of the parking lot, where under a tarp lay your baby. A Volkswagen Jetta, white. Dad's, until he went inside. You don't drive it, not anymore. You know that driving it will only lead you to bad places. Specifically, back home. Or, even more specifically, where home USED to be.

The Roadhouse was home now, and the Harvelle's were family. You look at the car before going back inside. You used to open the engine up, tinker with it.

Not anymore.

This time we ain't slowing down
we'll pull ahead of the pack
Slip through the cracks 'cause we are
Fast cars

Back in the bar, you notice a new inhabitant. A guy, like most of them, about forty, with sandy hair and blue eyes that make you take a step back when he looks at you, anger burning so clearly in them it's like touching a burned out engine thirty seconds after the crash. 'Who's this?' he grunts, jerking a thumb at you. Ellen answers, her voice clipped and cool.

'A friend. You can talk in front of him.' She passes in front of you, whispering under her breath.

'Don't react. I'll explain it all later, I promise.'

And he talks. He talks about impossible things, things that belong in books, and the cool, clean darkness of the movie theatre. He talks of a death, in California. Stanford, to be exact. Then he mentions a name. Just a name, and the reaction from Ellen is interesting. She blinks, thrown, before recovering her composure. The man, the 'Hunter', as he calls himself, doesn't notice.

You do.


Why does that name garner that reaction? Who, or what, is Winchester?

On a long ride take your foot off the brake
Let's just put it in drive
We are fast cars on the inside
There's no turning back
On the highway of life
Fast cars
We are fast cars

The first time you heard that name. No. The second. A whispered conversation between Jo and Ellen, overheard by accident. Winchester. He left. You don't know where, or why, or even who, but you know he did.

And then nothing. For a year. Three hundred and eighty days, to be exact, until you hear the word Winchester again. But you learn a hell of a lot along the way.

Flying through the stop signs
Running over bad times
Gunning down the daylight
Counting days like white lines
Holding on for our lives

The right way to hack into the FBI database, for example. How to strip a 9mm Glock and rebuild it in a minute or less. How to wire a bomb from corn flour, water and a plug fuse. How to down numerous shots and remain upright.

All very useful, although, admittedly, some skills more useful than others.

The first time you wired a successful bomb (i.e. mastering it thirty seconds after Jo taught you the basics), Ellen coined the term Mad Scientist. Due to the 'mad computer skills' and the mullet you grew a couple of months back, it fell perfectly into place, knocking a pang of homesickness into you, only the third since you'd run to Nebraska. The first being your car, hiding under it's tarpaulin comforter in a dark corner of a parking lot, unloved and forgotten. The second being a hunter coming into the bar, his coffee coloured skin and thick forearms reminding him all too clearly of Dom, the one person who reached out to him, who trusted him when Vince and the others didn't. Dom, who was father, big brother and all round awesome dude rolled into one.

We are fast cars
We are fast cars

The fourth sudden attack of homesickness came when you watched the Impala roll into the parking lot, outshining all other cars, barring one. The Jetta, in its plastic covering, waiting for the day you lift her out of the dust and set out on the road again.

On a long ride take your foot off the brake

That itch in your hand never goes away. Not for four years. You don't think it ever will.

Let's just put it in drive

There'll always be a tiny part of you that wants, no, longs, for the broken roads, and the thrills of street racing.

We are fast cars on the inside

A tiny part that yearns for your fast car and your friends.

There's no turning back on this highway tonight

A tiny part that needs its old life past.

We are fast cars

But you resist, and roll back over on your bed, waiting for the inevitable. A knock on the door and you walk back into your new life.

We are fast cars

No longer Jesse, car guy, but Ash. Lynyrd Skynyrd roadie and hunter. Until the day you die.

We are fast cars