|Having a Ball
by Bob Stein
© Bob Stein -- all rights reserved
Blue lights popped on in the GTO's rearview mirror, prompting Dr. Bob to glance down at his speedometer. Seventy-six. Oh, damn! With no one else on the road this late at night, he'd let the throaty sound of the car's V-8 engine carry him twenty miles over the speed limit. It was hard enough to get insurance on the ancient muscle car, especially with two similar events in his recent past. Cursing silently, he lifted his right hoof from the oversized gas pedal and began easing over to the right. He wondered how the officer would react to the one extra horsepower behind the steering wheel.
Coming out of the Martian Flu epidemic as an equine multi-morph had forced many changes in his life, but the most devastating had been to his love of old sports cars. While his original human body had never been small, he'd managed to fit into MGBs and some of the larger Triumphs. However, as a Shire morph, he couldn't get one hoof down into the footwells, much less manage the tiny pedals. In contrast, his alternate human child-form of six year-old Robbie couldn't see over the dashboard.
Friend and fellow equine-morph Eric had come to the rescue last year. He'd discovered a tired, but complete 1966 Pontiac GTO in a neighbor's garage, and figured correctly that it was both big enough to accommodate his bulk and special controls, as well as sporty enough to appeal to his love of fast machinery. Other commitments had forced Dr. Bob to farm out most of the restoration work, but the engine was all his. The modified 389 had triple carbs, modified heads, and a cam just this side of pure racing tune. She shook like a wet dog at idle, but punching the gas pedal would turn her into a half-century old rocket.
A capability that was starting to get him into frequent trouble. He glanced back. The police car was just cresting a rise, maybe half-mile back. How much had the officer seen? If he'd actually gotten a look at the car itself, there was no escape. However, if all he'd caught was the lights going past... a reckless, stupid idea came to mind. And being the highly respected, dignified professional that he was, Dr. Bob went with it.
As the police cruiser's lights dropped below the next rise, he turned of the GTO's lights and punched the throttle. The car leaped forward, eager for a chance to exercise. He thought frantically as the speedometer swept past ninety. There had to be a turnoff close by. The sign of an all-night convenience store popped up ahead. Careful not to touch the brake pedal, he grabbed the parking brake handle and hauled back as he downshifted into first. The engine screamed past redline, throwing him forward as compression worked to slow the car down. He made the turn into the parking lot on two wheels, switching off the engine as he straightened up and rolled into a parking space between two tiny commuter cars. Heart pounding, he looked back to see the police cruiser shoot past on the main road and breathed a deep sigh of relief. Only to have that sigh catch in his throat as the officer's brake lights come on.
Oh, damn! What a stupid thing to do. Even if the officer hadn't seen his car, most of the plastic junk passing for modern cars these days wouldn't even go seventy. The GTO stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. He might have talked his way out of a speeding ticket, but evading arrest? The media would have a field day. He tried to sink down into the seat as the cruiser turned around, but there was no way to hide. If he'd only had time to slip into the store...
Another desperate idea came to mind, this one probably just as stupid as the one that had gotten him into this mess. Focusing on a point within his mind, he triggered the change to Robbie. The policeman was already pulling into the parking lot as he scrambled over into the back seat and ducked down. Sure enough, the blue lights pulled up directly behind the antique Pontiac, and he heard a car door open and shut. He curled up on the seat and pretended to be asleep just as a flashlight beam swept the interior.
There was a tap on the glass. Robbie had to take a moment to set his face in an innocent expression before looking up. The officer frowned and looked around, obviously trying to figure out how the driver could have gotten out of the car so fast. He was a young guy, maybe early twenties. With a little luck, he wasn't experienced enough with SCABS to make a connection.
Blinking in the light, Robbie rolled down the back window and screwed his face up in what he hoped would pass for puzzlement. "Yes, sir?"
"What are you doing out here all alone, kid?" The officer sounded suspicious, but not accusatory.
Robbie shrugged and waved at the store entrance. "My mom went inside to get some stuff. "
"Yeah? How long have you been here?" The officer frowned, perhaps starting to doubt whatever hunch brought him here.
Feeling a glimmer of hope, Robbie huffed a little and plopped back down on the seat in a show of disgust. "I dunno. Maybe ten minutes. She always takes forever." Only then did he remember that he was naked. Cripes! His loincloth had fallen off when he changed, and was now out of reach on the front floorboard. Ironically, his Shire stallion morph was bestial enough that he could probably get away with nudity, but the pre-pubescent Robbie was definitely going to get some stares. Like the one he was getting from the policeman. Flushing in very real embarrassment, he pulled his knees up to his chest and looked down at the floor. "I, uh, wet myself. My mom is washing my shorts out. In the ladies bathroom."
"Yeah, that happens sometimes when you're little." The flashlight beam flickered around the interior again, and Robbie wondered if the man would notice the modified seat and hoof pedals. Glancing up, he saw that the policeman was actually looking back down the road. After a moment, the flashlight was switched off and he nodded. "I gotta go try to catch someone who did something bad. You keep that window rolled up, and don't talk to strangers, OK?"
Nodding wordlessly, Robbie complied and then watched the young officer sprint back to his car and start talking, probably calling ahead to any patrol cars further up the road. For a tense moment, he wondered if the man was going to wait around for 'mom' to show up, but then the police cruiser rolled backwards and took off with a squeal of rubber that might have been intended to give a little boy a cheap thrill.
Going after someone who did something bad. Robbie flushed again, this time in shame. Driving fast wasn't all that big a deal, but everything that came after had been irresponsible and dangerous. The GTO was more than fifty years old. Restored or not, something could have easily snapped under the abuse. What if the car had flipped turning into the parking lot? Or someone had pulled out in front of him?
Berating himself mentally, he climbed back into the driver's seat and shifted to Dr. Bob. This could have been very bad. Speeding, reckless driving, evading arrest, lying to a police officer, and - he had to chuckle a bit - contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Starting the GTO, he eased out of the parking spot and headed back to the main road.
He'd lock the car away in the garage for a month as a self-inflicted punishment, and hopefully use more brain and less hoof in the future. Motoring along at a rock-steady 55, the GTO sang to him with a lazy burble. Well, maybe just a couple of weeks. After all, no one was hurt, and he'd learned his lesson. Halfway home, he caught himself creeping up past sixty, and had to force himself to let up. It irked him a little to have the econoboxes zipping past, but memory of the encounter was still painfully fresh.
A week at least - he needed time to reflect on the stupidity of his actions. Though it would be hard to keep from telling the story to the few people who knew the truth about Robbie. Nearing the garage entrance, Dr. Bob couldn't resist blipping the throttle a few times. Well, he certainly wouldn't touch the car again until the weekend. After all, he'd promised Janice a ride in the country, and it wasn't fair to penalize his fiancée for his own stupidity. However, he did resolve to buy some tickets to the next Policemen's Ball.
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