“The Power of 3”
By Kellyanne Lynch
22 April 2003, 12:30 PM – 29 December 2003, 11:30 AM

11 – Realisations

Michael laid a hand across his mouth. “There were so many people who assisted Johnny yesterday,” he spoke through his palm. Shaking his head, the driver lowered his hand. Looking to Steve, he asked, “How can you be so sure that the man in scrubs was one of them?”

Steve bit his upper lip, and his eyes widened as he nodded. “This is all starting to make sense, Mike!”

Michael furrowed his brow.

“Just hear me out,” Steve raised his hands. Hooking his index fingers, he stated, “The first note we came across was the one that you found in your car. At the drivers’ meeting, Helton was implying that only an insider could have put it there, and he was right. How else would anyone have gained access to your car? Remember how sure you were that that note wasn’t there in the first place? Most likely, it wasn’t. Something like that would be hard to miss…”

“So you reckon one of the paramedics dropped it in my car?”


Scrunching his nose, Michael took in a deep breath. “You know, it is possible that someone was able to get that close to my car while we were all with Johnny,” he speculated. “It’s not like we were paying attention to anything else at the time.”

Steve nodded. “I think that’s exactly what happened.” He tucked a second finger beneath his right index. “Now, the second note was the one on my hauler, and anyone with a garage pass could get to that one.” Steve slid his ring finger beneath the base of the index. “But the third one…” Separating his hands, he slapped them into his lap. “Junior was just at the infield care centre.”

Michael raised his brows. “You mean there have been more than two notes? Tell me about them.”

“There have been four notes,” Steve reported, “as far as I know, anyway. Shortly after our meeting with Teresa in the Budweiser rig, I found the third one in Junior’s motor coach. It said, ‘Now don’t be sad, ‘cause two out of three ain’t bad’…”

“I don’t like that song,” Michael announced. Elevating his shoulders, he added, “A lot of mean stuff happens in that story he’s singing about.” Michael blinked. “So why did you go over to Junior’s place?”

“Teresa wanted him. He had just left the infield care centre…” Steve’s back stiffened. “Now I’m not thinking he was alone walking back there. I think maybe one of the paramedics offered to escort him.” He balled up a fist, and thumped it into his thigh. “And that’s how someone was able to get into the motor coach! But why did he bust the lock? Junior would have probably let him in.”

Pursing his lips, Michael’s eyes slipped out of focus. “Maybe it was the idea that an insider was involved,” he voiced. “Putting a note in my car and writing on your hauler is one thing, but to get into a driver’s motor coach… that takes some doing. You most definitely have to know somebody.” Michael looked to the other and grimaced. “You think they might have been trying to cover their tracks?”

“Sounds likely.”

Michael licked his lips, before pressing them into each other. The lines in his forehead deepened as he asked, “Steve? What did you find in Junior’s motor coach, if the lock was busted and all?”

A sharp breath stabbed the driver’s rib cage. Steve stared into the curtains’ shadows. “Junior’s coffee table was demolished,” he recalled. “There was glass everywhere and… I’m pretty worried about him, Michael.” Steve made eye contact with his teammate. “What if he’s not here? What if they…”

Michael swallowed hard.

Turning around, Steve rolled onto his knees on the mattress. He wrapped his hands around the metal bars across the windows, and pulled. Pain ripped through his right arm. “We need to do something,” he insisted, and leapt off the bed. “We need to get out of here and get some help.”

His eyes darted about the room, scanning the curtains, empty wall space, and a dresser by the door. Steve ran to the bureau, and pulled out its drawers. He pulled out three flannel shirts, a pair of overalls, and a heap of fresh white sheets.

“There’s got to be something here we can use.” Standing upright, Steve held his hands to his waist. His eyes fell upon the frame of a second door, before looking to Michael.

“That’s the bathroom,” his teammate informed him.

Steve yanked open the door and scurried into the room behind it. His sights washed over a toilet, a sink, and a medicine chest. Sliding aside a glass panel, he scanned the cabinet’s contents. “There’s a bottle of nail polish remover, a half-empty container of aspirin, and two cough drops,” Steve called to Michael as he pushed the items off their shelves. They clinked into the porcelain sink. Steve gathered them into his arms, and brought them into the guest room.

“Nail polish remover is supposed to be really combustible,” Steve told Michael, dumping his bathroom finds onto the pile of flannels. “We could throw all the sheets out the window and douse them in nail polish remover, and then all we would need is some kind of spark, and we could get a bonfire going, and then hopefully that would catch someone’s attention.”

Michael stared at the wide-eyed driver. “Steve? Were you a big fan of MacGyver back in the day?”

Steve glared at his teammate. “I just feel that we need to do something!” he huffed. He flopped onto the mattress beside Michael.

“Well, believe me, so do I,” Michael sighed. He shook his head. “I’ve been wearing out my brain since I got here, trying to think of somehow out of this mess. If you’re really set on building that fire, Steve, I’m with you, buddy. I’ll help you out in any way that I can. I just…” Grimacing, he looked into his teammate’s eyes. “I’ve just exhausted myself like crazy, and I don’t think it’s in my power anymore. I think it’s out of our hands, and in God’s.”

The two stared into one another’s eyes.

“Then there’s really only one thing we can do,” Steve declared.

Michael nodded, and took his teammate’s hand in his own. Bowing his head, he closed his eyes; the other followed suit.

“Dear Lord,” he spoke, squeezing Steve’s palm. “Please be with us now in our hour of need. Please be with our friend and brother, Dale Jr., and ease his troubles. We know that you are a loving God, and that you will always provide for your children. Thank you for taking care of us so well. Please bless Buffy and Caitlin and Margaret Carol and my mom, as well as Steve’s family and the Earnhardts. We also ask that you touch the hearts of those who took us, and show them the way to your kingdom. Please keep our souls pure from the temptation of letting anger or despair get the best of us, and keep our sights fixed on you to preserve our faith. We praise you for sending comfort and guidance through your Spirit, and for always being with us. You are an awesome God with awesome arms that raise us up unto salvation. Please make us strong and courageous. We pray in your son Jesus’ name. Amen.”

“Amen,” Steve squeaked. He opened his tear-stained eyes to his teammate’s smile.

Michael released the other’s hand. “Things will find a way of working themselves out,” he voiced. “God has a plan.”

“I know.” Steve raised and lowered his head. “The hardest thing about it is that we don’t know what it is.”

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