By Mike Stevens
The crowd all burred together, until to driver Johnny Ray Wray, they appeared to be one continuous gray streamer. He was driving the racecar sponsored by Chassen Rainbows Fine Foods, in the Indy-Like 500. He knew this race was being televised, and it was the race that would make his name a household one in the USA. Up until today, he’d always had some unfortunate incident keep him from taking the checkered flag. Be it anything from a flat tire, to an equipment malfunction, you name it, he’d had it happen to him. But not today; today, he was well in front, and coming out of the final turn towards the finish line, and his very first racing victory. He caught a fleeting glimpse of a T.V. camera, which would show the world once and for all, he wasn’t the World’s Most Unlucky Driver. No running out of gas; no equipment failure—at that precise moment, the engine seized, sending lumps of metal shooting into the air, and skidding down the track behind him. No, not now! He was this close. He glanced behind him, but saw only empty oval. He had been well out in front when the engine blew, and he hoped he had enough momentum, and a big enough lead, to coast across the finish line first. He looked ahead and saw he was almost there. He was going to make it, a first place finish. He could almost taste the victory champagne, could almost feel the hug for winning he would receive from Miss Indy-Like 500, the winner of the beauty contest held before the race, could—suddenly, behind him, appeared another racecar. “Come on, you bastard!”, he implored his now-non-motorized car; just a few more feet. As he saw the checkered flag about to drop, the other car flashed by him, winning the race. S***! He coasted across the line to take 2nd place. He was crushed.
He awoke to the sound of his telephone ringing. As he stumbled blindly across his bedroom, he heard his mother’s voice on his answering machine,
“Johnny Ray, are you there? I am just calling to invite you over tonight for dinner, I’d love to have you, and I’m sure your father feels the same way.”
S***, s*** s***! Dinner with his parents was about the last thing he wanted to do. Picking up the receiver, he said,
“Hello, Mother, I’m here, and dinner sounds great. About what time should I be there?”
His mother answered, “Oh, how about 6pm?”
“6pm, I’ll be there. See you then.” He hung up the phone. Great; dinner with his parents. He already knew how the evening would go. His father criticizing him at every turn, and his mother telling him things would get better soon.
He knocked on his parent’s door, and was greeted by his mother’s smiling face.
“Come in, Johnny Ray; I thought we’d hold off on dinner for an hour or so, that way we can talk a little first.”
Super! What better way to cap off a horrible day, than being coddled and treated like a loser piece of crap, at the same time? Reluctantly, he sat down on the couch next to his father, who was in his recliner chair.
“Hi, Dad, how are you?”
He was immediately sorry he’d asked, because his father replied,
“Oh, not too good, my hemorrhoids are killing me. It’s like I’m sitting on a fiery-hot cattle prod. I’ve also got this damn excessive phlegm problem. I’ve also got—”
Johnny had to shut his dad up, before he spewed his cookies everywhere, so he interrupted him, cutting in to say, “Gee, Dad, that’s too bad. Did you catch any of the Indy-Like 500 on T.V?”
His father flashed him a disgusted look, and replied, “Yeah, I did.”
Johnny added, “Can you believe my bad luck?”
“Bad luck is something you---I shouldn’t say any more.”
Johnny knew he shouldn’t have, but asked, “Something you what?”
“No, I really shouldn’t.”
“No, really Dad, go ahead.”
“Well, okay, but you’re not going to like it. Good luck and bad is something you bring on yourself. If a guy goes around thinking negative thoughts all the time, negative things are bound to happen to him.”
Johnny was immediately angry and defensive. “Yeah, you’re right Dad, all my negative though caused my engine to seize.”
“You see; I said you weren’t going to like it, but you made me say it.”
That was about the time his mother, trying to play peacemaker, piped up with, “Johnny Ray, your luck will change soon!”
Johnny Ray Wray was way out front of the Atomic Power 300, the next race after the Indy-Like 500. The previous Saturday he had endured both his usual bad luck, and dinner with his overly-critical father and his over-protective mother, but those memories were washed out of his mind by this weeks racing. He was 2 laps away from taking the checkered flag, and proving to his father his bad luck had been just that, bad luck. That his having negative thoughts had nothing to do with---suddenly, his car hit a patch of oil left from a car that had withdrawn and coasted into the pits on the previous lap, and, when it caught dry pavement again, caught and went airborne, flipping several times before coming to rest; the car now a twisted, shattered hunk of now-worthless s***. Thanks to the safety harness, Johnny Ray was fine, but the car was ruined. The very first thing he thought of was not how fortunate he was to walk away from the crash, but that he could hear what his father his would say.
“See? Didn’t I tell you? Negative thoughts lead to negative things happening!”
Johnny Ray was totally bummed out. Chassen Rainbows Fine Furniture had dropped their sponsorship of his racing car, not that he had one now that his car had been totaled. Now, he’d have to find another sponsor. They had told him fixing the car was too expensive, and they where going to find another driver for the new car. It was just another example of his bad luck.