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 "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"

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James Knowles
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PostSubject: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 1:34

About a year ago I felt compelled to write a piece of auto racing fiction for Halloween. What follows is what I posted, which received a VERY cold reception at another forum.

I'm curious how it will be received here.

Apologies for French language butchery and stereotypes-it is the 'persona' of the main character.
Applaud, critique, or worse yet, say nothing at all...

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I can’t recall the year, it must have been the mid 70’s as I remember the fuel crisis being in force, but it was early October when a call came in the early hours from my rally sponsor. It seemed a last minute agreement was being cobbled together for me to run a car in a tarmac event in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. While it was far beyond me to follow the logic of an American beverage concern wishing to promote its products in the most snobbish of wine regions of the world, it was easy logic to them. A competent team had been located, an English speaking co-driver very familiar with the region on board, and a decent Group 2 prepared Alfa was already in the shop with the painters at work. As I contemplated the current state of my passport and my lack of command of French, the voice on the phone said my flight was booked departing on the 25th, with stage 1 of the three day rally beginning on October 29.

A few weeks and hundreds of miles in the air later and I was settled in the pub of the rally hotel reviewing the pace notes with Pierre, my co-driver. It turns out the route was not solely tarmac, but also gravel bits as well, nearly a 50/50 cocktail, so tire choice would be coin tosses throughout. We had spent the previous days circulating the route (at legal speeds) and having him point out to me items which required attention, notes on changes in case of inclimate weather, and his past experiences on this route. It would be a challenging event, but we were under clear orders to finish first, as this entire effort was being coordinated for brand recognition. It would be in my very poor taste to do contrary..

A puzzling incident occurred when we returned the Alfa to the team’s makeshift garage one evening after a full day of reconnaissance. As we exited the car one of the mechanics, with a bit of a wry smile on his face inquired something about the “rue de la morte”. When I asked Pierre to what he referred he replied “It is nothing, monsieur. He makes a bad joke.”

The team gathered that evening and the manager (translated when needed by Pierre) issued last minute instructions to the team. All knew that finishing the event was the ultimate goal, and that the burden of keeping the car in one piece was primarily my burden. Not ideal conditions for one to rally under, but how could I argue? Service points were reviewed, the status of the car discussed, and a final review of responsibilities briefed before all went to bed early to start the rally the next day very early. Pierre and I caught a bit of television for the weather forecast (good day 1, good day 2, questionable day 3), did a final route review and he was off to bed at 9pm.

Whether it was jet lag or Strasbourg sausage I don’t know. But sleep did not come easy that evening, and I found myself dragging to the bar at about 10pm in search of brandy. The bar was largely deserted as the hotel was occupied solely by rally participants, administrators and marshals-I was one of the few unfortunate ones not sleeping. The jovial barkeep (who spoke good English) was amusing. And we chatted small talk about our lives, work etc. He asked me about the rally and I told him I was a driver, here primarily to raise consciousness of an American beverage manufacturer. As we talked the thought occurred to me that the odd comment made by the mechanic that evening might strike a chord with him.
“’La rue de la morte’…you are certain this is what he said?” the barkeep said with eyes wide open.

Once I confirmed he looked at me incredulously, “Monsieur, it is an evil twist of fate that you are here, for your purpose, and at this time of year….”
In sorrowful tones he told the story of the rally, only two years prior on which a car (a Stratos he said) driven by a young Belgian, Ika Bod Kraan, was contesting the very same rally I was to begin tomorrow. He was a young hellion-buffeted by family wealth on all sides, and at the time rally was his folly. He bought the best car and had the best team, yet treated all of the above with flashes of anger and abuse. It was only the head rally officials who could bring him to anything close to control. Anyways it seems Ika’s recklessness in a car that was beyond his abilities had accounted for many spectator injuries, and damage to much property of the local township. He was reprimanded heavily and publically for his actions, and he vowed to the officials he would win this rally if he died trying. This incident frightened his co-driver to the degree that he walked away then and there, to which the inflamed Ika retorted he would go it alone (which was allowed on national events in France).
The final day of the rally saw Ika return to his worst behavior, in and out of the car, but just within the limits of the officials. He was in second, and fighting hard for the win when the night stages approached, as well as storms which encompassed the region. On the stage named “Endormi Creux” travelling at speeds of over 200km/h Ika lost control of his Stratos.

“Over and over it somersaulted, and then burst into flame, and he died a horrible death..” and the barkeep shook his head. We spoke further on about motor racing and the associated dangers, but the hour was late-and I was ready for bed.

After awaking the next morning and being greeted by beautiful weather in a beautiful area of France, I was able to engage the rally fully, and plowed through two days of very successful driving. The Alfa had been setup well, and despite driving at about 90% myself and Pierre found ourselves much further up the standings than we had anticipated. We were 4th in class two, and within reasonable distance of a class victory. With regards to which I received a phone call that evening:

“You are now encouraged to go for the victory” my sponsor representative had said. “This has provided us a chance to aggressively promote our brand abroad. Please go for it-and win it.” He said in a do-it-or-else tone, rather than with competitive enthusiasm. I shook my head, and went to sleep of how I could accomplish this revised goal, having driven to a slower pace in the prior days.

The final day of the rally and the sky was dark. Rain was imminent. I made my mind up to take care of business as soon as possible before the rains hit, but it seemed some stages had to be cancelled, and only three evening /night stages remained. We lied third, and a bit further off from first than I would have liked. While at the final service-I really didn’t want to take the phone call, but had to of course.

“It is important for you to realize your contract is up for negotiation at the end of this year, and that your performance on this rally will be the breaking point. Do I make myself clear?”

Almost immediately after he rung off, the first clap of thunder was heard, and the bottom fell out. To make matters worse, after service my co-driver was nowhere to be found. No one could recall seeing him anywhere. It didn’t matter-my sponsor had given me all the impetus I needed to contest the final three stages. Light pod was fitted, strapped in, and away I went to win my class.
Stage one and two of the final three went brilliantly. I drove like a man possessed, and the car supported my every move. I moved up a spot, and was within a reasonable spot of time to take the lead. Endormi Creux was the final stage, and as I mentally focused on the kilometers ahead of me, the heavens dropped, and it rained like mad..

I took the start and thundered through the slippy, muddy stage, lights glaring the surrounding forest of darkness as I carefully picked my way through the end. It was about mid way that I saw the lights in my rear mirror, far behind but a very, very fast pace. I couldn’t believe it at first, as I was seeded quite low, and there really weren’t any very fast cars behind me. But still, the lights came on, and on. On the corners the attitude of the car was not to be believed. Rules of physics and grip levels were non-existent as the car came onwards. A part of me said to pull over, but recalling the phone call from my sponsor pushed my right foot further to the floor.

The car was nearly on top of me when a near hairpin approached. As I applied early braking I was terrified to see the Stratos shoot forward, overshoot the hairpin and plow at full speed through the forest. Missing all trees, but then be lifted and somersaulted over and over again, until a fiery mass erupted in my rear view mirror, and the entire woods burst into flame. Which grew bigger, and bigger, until it seemed as if it were going to engulf ME......!!!!!!!!!!.....
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An alarm bell went off, and my hand directly shut it off, very nearly knocking over the three-quarters consumed bottle of brandy. I raised out of bed and glanced at myself in the mirror, sweat pouring down my face from the dream….what dream? There had been too many covers on the bed which caused me to sweat.

I dressed, rang Pierre, grabbed my helmet and went down for coffee, soberly awakened to what lied before me for the next three days…

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Martin Audran
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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 3:44

I like to read this kind of story sometimes Smile 

:top: 

I must say I don't understand the cold reception on that other forum scratch 


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Richard Coxon
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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 11:22

Great read James! And yes I agree with Martin, Why did you get a cold reception? Nice twist at the end. :clap: 

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Guillaume Siebert
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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 11:30

Yeah nothing wrong about it, why the hate ?

Btw you can translate "Sleepy Hollow" par "La vallée endormie" or something like this Wink

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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 12:45

Guillaume Siebert wrote:
Btw you can translate "Sleepy Hollow" par "La vallée endormie" or something like this Wink
Wasted 2 years in high school and a full year of college...

All of my French to English translations wind up being "Frenglish"...

Google translate no help either...

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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 12:49

Richard Coxon wrote:
Why did you get a cold reception? Nice twist at the end. :clap: 
Perahps "cold" was a bit strong....

There was just no response...which was perhaps chilly, but not cold....

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David Jundt
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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 16:08

I guess there were only few motorsports enthusiasts...

Nice read :top:

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Carl Larrad
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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 21:21

James Very imaginative and engaging i found it quite funny that you started out with the Story in a Pub
and ended up in a Bar ... I Wonder if the french call it a Pub or a Bar .. :hum: 

As i read the story of Poor Ike i was kind of expecting the worst thinking that this character was
also going to meet a similar Fate so was relieved that the end of the story was a happy ending .. Smile 

Relieved because it would be nice to see how the adventure continues and lets see where he ends up next
will he manage to renegotiate his contract .... Will he stick with the beautiful Alfa ..:D 

We want more study 

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Richard Coxon
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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 21:23

Carl Larrad wrote:
it would be nice to see how the adventure continues and lets see where he ends up next
will he manage to renegotiate his contract .... Will he  stick with the beautiful Alfa ..:D 

We want more study 
+1 :top:

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PostSubject: Re: "The Legend of Endormi Creux (Sleepy Holllow)"   Thu 31 Oct 2013 - 21:43

Carl Larrad wrote:
We want more study 
Carl-you are too kind.....all of you have been very supportive.

When my brain wanders and I have idle time this is the result.


Have no idea how I could follow this up, but stay tuned, who know what might happen.

You've planted the seed......

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