Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Dennis and I became friends when I started working at my present job back in nineteen seventy nine.  He was a man who was always on the go doing something.  In his younger days he would jump from hobby to hobby and from woman to woman.  Most of all in those early years his time was spent on racing.

By the time I am writing this Dennis would have raced go karts, 1/4 midgets, midgets and remote control cars as well as remote controlled airplanes and helicopters.  He enjoyed competition and went where ever competition could be found.  Dennis always gave one hundred percent to whatever he was doing.  We had a softball game one year between sales and engineering and Dennis played shortstop like Ozzie Smith diving for every ball that was anywhere near him.

When I met him he was racing his go kart.  I had been introduced to racing by Harry, my wife's father.  We would go every weekend during the summer to Riverside raceway in North Kansas City and I fell in love with racing.  Racing with Dennis would bring me to a higher level of involvement.

We would work on the go cart in his basement in Roeland Park, Kansas during the week to get it ready for the Sunday race in Liberty, Missouri.  This go kart wasn't what the average person would think of as a go kart.  It sat low to the ground and had a two cycle engine on it.  It took Bridgestone tires and was capable of going upwards to sixty miles an hour.  As in any kind of racing the driver looks for any advantage he can get to help his chance of winning.  For Dennis this involved tweaking all parts of the kart during the week and taking it out for a test drive.

One summer evening I was over at Dennis' watching TV while he tweaked his kart a bit.  We would take it out of the basement through the cellar doors and he would drive it around the block and back to the house where we would carry it back into the basement for more tweaking.  In between one of these test runs I noticed a police car stop in front of the house.  Two officers got out of the car and began walking up the driveway.  I quickly jumped up and met them on the front porch where they asked me if I had a son.  I honestly answered that no I did not and they said there were complaints of a noisy little go kart being driven around the neighbor hood.

As I was assuring them that since I didn't have a son it couldn't be my kid driving the thing one of the officers wandered down the driveway to the cellar doors that were wide open with Dennis at the bottom of the stairs working feverishly on his go Kart.  The officers walked inside and let a whistle of disbelief out  They started questioning Dennis about the contraption and after explaining to them that he raced it they informed that unfortunately he wasn't allowed to drive it on the public streets.  No headlights, no break lights, not licensed, well the list went on and on.  As they left they wished Dennis good luck this weekend and followed that with a final warning about driving it on the public streets.  Dennis figured he had worked on the Kart enough for one day.

Then one Sunday our boss Kevan along with Bernita and her sister Betty came out to watch Dennis race.  I helped Dennis work on the Kart between races as I always did while the three of them began drinking beers to cool off as the afternoon began to get hot.  Dennis did not win that day but by the time the day of racing was over Kevan, Bernita and Betty were pretty well soused.  We decided to follow them over to Bernita's house to be sure they got home okay and then have dinner with them.

During dinner Kevan, our boss and mentor, continued to drink until he was pretty well gone.  We all decided that we should get Kevan home to his wife who would love having her husband delivered to her in this shape.  I would drive Kevan's car with Kevan in it and Dennis would follow in the van with the go kart inside.  We worked and worked to get Kevan out to the car.  Before he would go to the car he said he had to go to the bathroom so we let him.  We all sat in the living room waiting on him and after a while Dennis decided to go check on Kevan in case he had passed out in the bathroom.  When Dennis opened the door he was stunned.  He called for me to come take a look and when I got to the bathroom it was obvious what had happened.  The window in the bathroom was wide open and there was no Kevan in sight.

We decided to spread out and look for Kevan around the neighborhood and finally found him two houses up laying in the front yard of one of Bernita's neighbors.  We gently picked him up and walked him back to the car talking softly to him as we went.  Things would be okay and Rose wouldn't be too upset even though both of us knew it was a lie to tell Kevan that.  Rose would go through the roof.  This wouldn't be the first time we had delivered Kevan to her on the front lawn.

We finally got Kevan in the car and as we were telling our goodbyes to Bernita and Betty, Kevan somehow silently slipped out of the car and began to run down the block.   We eventually caught him even though he was running around like a he was returning a kickoff in a football game.  As we led him to the car he began insisting on going to the bathroom again but we denied him that luxury.  He would get in the car now and we would get him home.

As soon as Kevan was in the car I started driving to keep him from getting loose again.  All the way back to his house he was mumbling.  He would talk about how much fun the races had been then shift to how mad Rose was going to be again and then all of a sudden you would hear "THAT WAS A FUN RACE!!" and so forth.  Eventually he fell asleep in the car and all was quiet on the return home.

Rose did not care to much for Dennis and myself.  It always seemed that when we were around her husband he usually came home disabled from alcohol.  In truth it was because we wee there that Kevan felt comfortable drinking because he knew we would get him home safely.  One night after a get together with some of our co-workers I had just driven Kevan home in my car.  As I came up to the house I saw the shadow of Rose in the doorway.  The safest thing for me to do that night was to reach over Kevan, open the door and let him roll out onto the lawn before speeding away.  It didn't win me any points with Rose but it saved me from taking the shots from her that were aimed at Kevan.

This delivery was going to be tricky though because I was driving Kevan home in Kevan's car.  As I pulled quietly into the driveway and turned the car off, I quietly opened the door and left it open.  I didn't want to shut it because the sound might arouse Rose from her chair and send her tearing out into the front yard to confront me.  As I slipped out of Kevan's car leaving him asleep in the passenger seat, Dennis had pulled up and opened the passenger door to the van.  I jumped in quickly and we sped away.  All Rose would find would be her husbands car with a door open and her husband sound asleep inside.

Rose never confronted us on this delivery.  If she didn't catch you delivering her husband than she pretty well forgot about it by the next time you would see her.  There were a lot of other things going on between Kevan and Rose for her to focus on drunk deliveries all the time.

Kevan came back to the races a few times after that but we were sure to do our best to ration his beer drinking during the day.  In spite of all of that though, there would be more times that we would have to deliver Kevan to Rose and take a chance on getting his beating that, according to Rose, he deserved.

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