Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oil & Hay - 22

About twenty laps into the race the fine mist that has lingered over the track all day grows heavy. It soon begins to rain at one extremity, the elevated, wooded section around Burnenville and Malm├ędy, whilst elsewhere it's dry. This phenonemon, unique to Spa, intensifies the impression one has of occupying the whimsical space of a dream.

You can't quite see where it's wet; you feel it under the car. You have to hold on tight, ride across until you hit a patch of dry on the other side. And then you're on the throttle, at the limit, angrily making up for lost time.

I come out of the sweeping right hander at Stavelot and perceive a spectral figure in my path, black robe-clad, gesticulating madly. Have we aroused some mythical being from his slumber? He bears a sign. He's not getting out of my way. I swerve a bit and he leans over; in a flash I see his contorted face leering at me as I pass. I check the rearview and see him shaking his fist at Checho.

On the following lap, though I'm petrified I'll see him again, I try hard not to lift. I come around the corner. There he is. Waving his sign. He encroaches upon my line just enough that I have to swerve again. My mouth is dry, my heart throbbing. What is that he's wearing? I know what it is. It's what a priest wears. It's a cassock. He's a priest. And his sign? I can read the first word only:


Lap after lap I brace myself for this close encounter, always missing the madman by a foot or two as he glares down at me, mouth agape. Each time I manage to read another word:






And the lap after I've read the last word, he is gone.

It's raining harder now. I chase the foggy haze around each corner, down each straight. It appears as though I soon will catch it.