Gooseberry Island

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Book: Gooseberry Island by Steven Manchester Read Free Book Online
Authors: Steven Manchester
inched along, blaring country music. Like a massive trailer park serpent, each car or truck looked like it was attached to the bumper in front of it. People were friendly and yelled out their vulgar greetings. Lindsey was tempted a few times to holler back but didn’t. Instead, she spent the time thinking about David.
I wonder what he’s doing right now.
    Once she reached the parking lot, Lindsey was amazed at how NASCAR had evolved into such a colossal event. Her dad never missed a race on TV, but it was quite different to see it in person. There were thousands of fans setting up their tailgate camps, each smiling face waiting for the green flag to drop. As she pulled in, she had to drive around the long lines at the port-o-johns.
    Their agreed-upon rally area was a campsite that had been set up by some friends from home. It took Lindsey nearly twenty minutes to find it, but she finally did. Everyone else had already gotten comfortable. They’d arrived a day early and would be leaving for home a day after everyone else. In the meantime, they lounged back, got drunk and did some serious people watching. There was no better spot, as thousands of characters walked past their site.
    And then she spotted her dad. He was sitting beside his friend, Ruggie, as well as a stack of coolers that were strapped into a red wagon by bungee cords. And, he was already drunk.
Oh no
, she thought, and approached him. “Hi Dad,” she said, kissing his bright red cheek.
    “Took you long enough,” he said.
    She ignored the comment and took a seat beside him. When she finally caught his attention, she whispered, “Don’t you think you should take it easy?” She pointed at his beer. “It’s still kind of early, right?”
    “What?” he said at a roar, making everyone look over. “We’re here to have fun, and I don’t need a nervous Nellie watching over me!”
    Lindsey nodded, while everyone else looked away. Denis Wood didn’t have a drinking problem, or at least that’s what he believed. His drinking was everyone else’s problem, especially Lindsey’s. Since her mother had left, the bottle had become his soul mate, and he couldn’t survive without it.
    After an embarrassing start, the next few hours were filled with a strange nostalgia.
    “Remember that first race I took you to at Seekonk Speedway?” Denis asked Lindsey, reminiscing about days gone by.
    “I do,” she said, remembering that very day with a hazy sense of terror. “After the races were over, it took me an hour before I finally found you in the parking lot.”
    He laughed. “You’re crazy! An hour.”
    She shook her head, deciding to laugh it off as well.
    Everyone was in good spirits. And the faster the beer flowed, the more her dad talked; it was an old tradition.
    After some more drinking, Lindsey, Ruggie and her dad started up the throughway toward the main gate. It was like a carnival, with both sides of the fairway lined with vendors selling everything from sausages to T-shirts. Lindsey looked back. Her dad was already lagging behind, swinging a heavy cooler with each staggering step. It wasn’t even noon and his Dale Earnhardt ball cap was already sitting crooked on his head.
This is going to be a long day,
Lindsey thought.
    Ruggie pulled, her dad pushed, and Lindsey carried whatever the wagon couldn’t bear. For the first ten steps, it worked well. Then, one of the bungee cords snapped and gouged a hole into Ruggie’s hand. Denis laughed. “I didn’t think that would hold,” he admitted, his words already slurred. As Lindsey wrapped Ruggie’s bloodied hand, they restacked the beer coolers and marched on.
    Like cattle, thousands filed through the gates. The track was huge. They spotted their seats but decided to check out the fairways inside. It was worth the tour. Tractor trailer trucks of souvenirs lined the black tar trail. Each famous driver had his own and from the lines formed, there was no question that they were raking in the dough.

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