The oars creaked as Jimmy Wilson rowed to the middle of the small lake, with crickets and cicadas and birds filling the late-summer morning with music. Two fishing poles lay across the small flat-bottomed boat, and Bobby Mancini chattered on-and-on about women, music, fishing, politics, racing and sports.

Bobby considered himself an expert on all of the above.

“See, you gotta outsmart the fish,” Bobby rambled. “Especially bass. Bass are really smart. Smarter than most men, actually. You gotta be strategic, and know how to land ‘em. You gotta be smooth, and quiet, and use the right equipment.”

“Is that right?” Jimmy said with a knowing smile.

“Of course that’s right. I know what I’m talkin’ about.”

“So if we gotta be quiet, why’d you bring the radio?”

“Huh? Oh, well, you know how it is, killer. I’m so good, a little noise won’t slow me down at all. And it’s nice to have some tunes on a summer day.”

It was good to have friends. Jimmy’s friend Gene Morrison owned this little farm pond, nestled behind a cornfield along a wooded ridge a couple of miles north of Perkinsville. It was a fine fishing hole, and Gene even kept this beat up old boat tied up along the shore. All Jimmy had to do was bring his rod and tackle box and he was good to go.

This morning was a welcome escape from a growing sense of urgency and chaos in Jimmy’s world. He was on the crux of the final showdown of the USAC Champ Dirt Car season, with the finale taking place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in three days. He was leading the points and had a legitimate shot at the title, but he had to hold off a surging Duke Moran and his formidable four-cam Ford.

Jimmy wanted the Champ Dirt title more than anything he had ever wanted in his life.

Winning his first USAC sprint car title a few years ago was special and memorable, of course. At heart, Jimmy considered himself a sprint car guy above all else. But the Champ Dirt series was just a little bit bigger, a little bit more prestigious, a little bit more challenging. And winning it would be a little bit more satisfying.

Bobby flipped on the radio and tuned in the big Central City station. They made small talk as Jimmy reached into the small container of worms and baited his hook.

“Hey, that’s today,” Bobby said.

“What’s today?”

“The song…you know, ‘It was the third of September…’” That’s today! Coincidence.”

Jimmy listened to the lyrics and chuckled.

“That’s your song, Bobby. You are a rolling stone, that’s for sure.”

Bobby laughed and shook his head.

“Now, killer,” he said. “Can I help it if women find me irresistible?”

Jimmy studied his bobber, gently flicking the end of his fishing rod. “Irresistible…in your dreams.”

“That’s what I been preaching to you for years,” Bobby insisted. “Don’t make the mistake I made, killer. Don’t get married. Having a wife and kids really crimps my style, you know? I was born for fun and excitement. That’s the way to live!”

“I’ll get married one of these days,” Jimmy replied.


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