After lunch, Mike and Johnny rode with Chief in his red car to the cemetary. The twins rode with their mom in her
car. At the corner of Third Street and Broadway, Mike recalled the beautiful 1960's closed-cab American LaFrance pumper
which had blocked the intersection for the funeral procession. Since he had been sedated at the time, he couldn't
remember much else.
Once to the cemetary, they parked in the lane. In front of them was a wire fence, and beyond that, KY 245.
Brin's grave was to their left. The large, sand-colored monument had a flower vase on top, and an oval picture
of Brin in Gage's colors, holding a bouquet of Triple Crown flowers. The monument's inscription read:
NOVEMBER 23, 1949-OCTOBER
HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT,
HAVE FINISHED THE RACE,
I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH.
2 TIMOTHY 4:7
For Mike, the sight of her name on the monument was like a fire ax slicing through what little healing his heart
had done. He grabbed Johnny and started bawling on the man's shoulder. Johnny couldn't stop his tears, either.
The thought of Brin being in the ground was unconsciable to both of them.
Mike was slam-dunked into the memory of being put on the plane a mere two hours after the Committal. October 9,
1978, would go down in his personal history as the worst day of his life. He had been burned in the flesh before,
but that had nothing on this burning inside him. Why wasn't her ring either burning or freezing him? Brin,
I need you now!
Johnny walked Mike back to the chief's car, and sat him down sideways in the back seat with the door open.
"I curse the day Welles and Ramsey were born!" Mike cried. He bent over double with his head almost between his
legs. Johnny crouched down in front of him, primarily to keep Mike from falling out of his seat.
Elizabeth ran over to him. Johnny relinquished his position to her. "How many more deaths do I have to die?"
Mike cried on her shoulder.
"Here's someone else who feels much the same way," said Chief, coming around the back of the car. A red-faced
Mike looked up at him, and Chief handed him a note. "Someone left this on her grave," he said.
I miss you so much
Brin. I cry every
"Here's another," said Chief, handing another small slip to him.
win the Derby
for you someday,
"Who are they?" Elizabeth wondered out loud. "I don't know any Candaces or Taras from around here."
Chief shrugged. "We've been blessed with support. Who am I to question it?"
Mike felt Brin's ring burning.
The lights and siren on the chief's car turned on by themselves for about two seconds. Johnny recoiled. He
stuck his right index finger into his ear and jiggled it.
Chief walked over to the driver's door and opened it; popped the hood of the engine compartment; and removed the fuses
for both siren and lights.
"Now we'll see if it's really Brin," he said.
The lights and siren went off for about five seconds.
"Love you, too, baby girl," Chief said.
Mike stood up. "Is that the first time that's ever happened?" he asked.
Chief shut his eyes and shook his head slowly.
"She told us," said Bobby, "That if anything happened to her, she would let us know she was with us by doing that."
"We thought she was joking then," said Barbara. "Obviously, she wasn't."
Chief replaced the fuses. "Are we ready to go?" he asked. He then looked at Mike. "Are
you ready to go?"
"More than ready," Mike said, getting in the car. Johnny went around to the other side and got in behind Chief.
The picture on Brin's monument brought back the memory of the video, and Mike realized that neither Cap nor his wife
had followed up on the initial inquiry. Back at the house, Mike ventured to ask, "What can you tell me about the
video someone did about Brin?"
The Stanleys, who were at the top of the front steps, turned to him. "What video?"
"The one using the Bee Gees song."
Brin's family looked puzzled.
"And used our wedding photos at the beginning?"
"How do you know about that?" asked Chief.
"They played it in L.A.," said Johnny, as he leaned on the railing and put one foot on the lowest step. "And
it just about broke Mike's heart all over again."
Elizabeth stepped forward. "I'm so sorry that happened, Mike. We never intended for it to leave Kentucky.
We were just trying to deal with our grief."
That night, Mike and Johnny slept on the floor of Brin's old room. Brin had taken her bed with her to Louisville,
but had to sell it so she could eat. Johnny was awakened by Mike sitting up suddenly.
"What's wrong?" Johnny asked.
"Weird dream about Brin," Mike said.
Mike gathered his thoughts. "She wasn't wearing what she died in," he said, nearly choking on the word, "died."
"She was wearing our uniform, but it was black."
"Uh-oh," said Johnny. "I hope that's not an omen."
"I hope it isn't, either."
When Mike got back home, a message from Peaches and Mundelein was on his answering machine. They wanted to bring
by copies of the notes that had been passed in Rooster's psychology textbook.
"We'll be releasing her possessions and car tomorrow. Just let us know when you can pick them up," said Mundelein
when he saw Mike.
"I've got work. It'll have to be the day after tomorrow."
What was he saying? His heart wanted her stuff now. "Although it's going to be torture to wait that long
to get it."
"I understand, but we have to follow protocol," said Peaches. "Tomorrow's the quickest we can do it."
Mike nodded. When the detectives left, he sat on his bed and read the written exchange between his dear bride and
Rooster. The notes were numbered down the left side of the photocopied page.
Great idea exchanging notes
Quite frankly, George disturbs
My nickname for him is "Icky."
course, I never let anyone on
Mike's stomach turned. Not even me? Is there anything else I need to know about?
But--to the point. I think he's
on a collision
course with. . .some-
me and it's not good.
I sometimes wonder
if he's out to
George is two-faced. He's
to me one minute, then
turns on me the
next. I really wish
he'd go back to
KY. What's your
George is in deep where you're
I keep wanting to tell
him that if he were
he'd be happy for you.
most miserable human
face of the earth
right now. He
cries himself to sleep
calling your name.
Sounds like someone else I know rather intimately.
When he sees Mike, he
mumbling under his breath.
so jealous of your husband,
can't stand it.
Well, then, why didn't he come after me? I didn't even get a chance to defend her honor.
After he nearly
killed me that day
you told him to shove
been hesitant to say
I have to admit, I share
"fear" (right word?)
By the way, I've got
a mount on
Dojo Mojo in a couple
You rode him before--can
enlighten me where he's
Dojo's nuts. I rode him once,
and I will not ride him again
I'm starving. I'm not
I will not ride him.
Make sure you
visit him well in advance
of the race.
Good luck with him.
You'll need it.
Dojo doesn't want to be a racehorse,
but his owners and trainer
My job is so boring.
But, as we were discussing. If
anything were to happen to me, my
poor Mikey may never live through
Had the page exploded in his face? Tears blurred his vision. She really called that one. No one
knew me like she did. Which seemed to be the problem with his grieving process--no one else on earth understood
His mind started going through what looked like cloudy doors, and he had to lay down. In the most poignant of flashbacks
yet, he saw himself running through a mist, screaming, "BRIN! WAIT FOR ME! WAIT FOR ME!" and feeling terrible
chest pain. He felt a vacuum pulling him downward, and he fell through the top of an ambulance.
Next, he saw himself looking over his own body in Rampart's Treatment Three. Dr. Brackett, the track paramedics,
and the nurses were working hard to keep him alive. He heard unfamiliar voices saying, "Father, if it be your will,
let him stay with us." He could go no further than the treatment room ceiling.
He could see Cap and Marco in a tearful embrace in the waiting room. Chet was bent over double, with his
arms crossed on his lap. Johnny couldn't sit still. Roy was talking to Albertson and Richardson. The Posse
had turned in their seats, and were almost horrified to see the sight behind them.
Dr. Brackett yelled, "MIKE, GET BACK DOWN HERE!"
Oh, if you insist.
Then he was standing at the foot of his bed in the ICU. "The brain waves have slowed down slightly," he heard
the nurse say.
Dixie walked up to him and engaged him in conversation. His soul knew what she was saying, but his ears only heard
noise. "Tell Kel I love him," she said distinctly.
When Mike woke up, he was drenched in sweat. He knew he had to call Dr. Brackett, and tracked the physician down
at his house.
"Dr. Morton told me to take off, though I really didn't want to. Working keeps my mind off of certain things,"
Mike related what he had just gone through, including Dixie's message.
"You have no idea how happy you've made me, Mike," said Dr. Brackett. "You really have no idea how very happy you've
After Mike told Dr. Brackett about his state of diaphoresis, the latter said he was coming over to check him out.
Mike continued with the notes as he awaited Dr. Brackett's arrival. If anything happens to me, my poor Mikey
may never live through it, he recalled. Okay, so I wanted to be with the love of my life. Obviously,
someone higher than me had plans.
4. BRIN DON'T SAY THAT!!!
If anything happens
to you, it'd kill us
Just make sure you
break any $50 bills.
Take a look at
and tell me what you
think about G.
The next note was the one he and Rooster had found in the textbook.
Now the questions were coming to mind--why didn't she tell anyone other than Rooster? WHY DIDN'T SHE TELL ME?
Why, why, why? He couldn't help but feel somewhat betrayed. She entrusted Rooster with this information, but not
him. That just didn't jell. He was going to have to confront Rooster.
With tears flowing and heart aching, his mind wandered back to the day Brin arrived in L.A. She was so cute in
that peasant blouse and jeans. After the crew had retreated to the day room, he showed her the engine. When they
reached the jump seats on the dorm side, they were spontaneously in each others' arms, engaged in a very long kiss.
His heart had left his usually prudent brain in the dust.
Guess I should've asked if she had a boyfriend first.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" he whispered when they came up for air.
"Now I do," she whispered back.
He sat down on the diamondplate step; she sat in his lap; and they resumed.
They looked up, then stood. Cap was standing before them, frowning and brow furrowed with mock fierceness.
His hands were stuck in his pockets, and his shoulders were hunched forward.
"Stoker, what are your intentions toward my neice?"
Mike had his arm around Brin's shoulder, and she had her arm around his waist. He felt her shaking with silent
giggles. He smirked like the cat who had eaten the canary.
"Honorable," he said.
Cap's face softened. "Sorry I interrupted," he said. He looked straight at Brin. "Don't forget your
father's reputation." Brin got a mortified look on her face, and shook her head very quickly.
After Cap left, Mike thought they would resume what they had been doing, but she started walking away.
"Brin, wait a minute!" he said, getting in front of her. "Sorry if I've done something to offend you."
"Not at all," she said. "I've got to get over to the track to declare my intent to ride, get my California license,
and get ID'd, and not necessarily in that order."
He put his right hand on her cheek. "When can I see you again?"
"Probably tomorrow, after twelve noon."
"Where are you staying?"
"Over at Uncle Hank's."
He met her over at Cap's house the next day.
His thoughts were disrupted by the doorbell: Dr. Brackett had arrived. After checking Mike over as thoroughly as
he could, the doctor said the man's reaction was post-traumatic stress induced. "Flashbacks like you're actually there
are going to become more common now," he explained.
Dr. Brackett treated Mike to dinner. The latter saw Rooster at the same restaurant. Excusing himself, Mike
caught Rooster as he was leaving the building.
"Was there anything between you and Brin?" he asked.
"Nah," said Rooster, waving him off. "Would've ruined the relationship."
"Do you have any idea as to why she told you about her concerns about George, and not me?"
Rooster became thoughtful. "I don't know why she did that. I guess I was assuming you knew about it.
But I understand your concern. I would be, too. I believe the only reason she was talking to me about it was because
I was his roommate, and she thought perhaps I could shed some light on the situation."
Well, that made sense. "Thanks," said Mike. "Sorry to bother you."
"Not a problem. Call anytime."
And down the stretch they come . . .