Jack McCoy was certain his boots were sticking to the pavement. Or tarmac. Or whatever you call the surface of a racetrack. The heat was so oppressive a few unfortunates could be seen vomiting in the first aid tent. But not Jack. After his warm-up laps in the morning, he stripped down to his shorts and waited for the race in the shade, periodically dousing himself with water. Now he realized the others were not weak, just stupid. As was he, in a way, to accept this challenge.
"You can't think like that now, Jack," he chided himself inside his helmet, "Concentrate on the race." His thoughts, however, continued to debate. What am I doing here? Why is a man in his 50s sitting on a 650cc roaring beast of a machine wearing only his underwear and a tight leather racing suit? Is this a mid-life crisis? That's what you thought about Claire, at first. He retraced the steps in his mind.
Jack McCoy gad always been a motorcycle rider and he had always been competitive. Competitiveness was a trait that helped him succeed in his schooling and his career as a district attorney. And it helped him get lovers, though they weren't always the kind he needed. Before Claire, did anyone see through the bravado? Did any lover think there might be a real human being under that exterior. Maybe the superficial was all they wanted. Or the physical love, a talent of his.
But where was Claire? They tried to keep business affairs out of their personal lives, yet it never seemed to come about that way. Last night, after work, they sat in his apartment, which wasn't their usual meeting place, as he never could seem to keep a clean home. Their words drifted where they should never go: the latest case. As usual, they disagreed about something relating to it and she let her opinion be known. He loved that about her, but, as it was late and they were tired, it ended up being a big blow-up. So now Jack was here, at the racetrack, alone, with Claire nowhere to be found.
A large, strapping man approached Jack calling, "Hey, beanpole! Hot enough for you? Didn't think you would make it. Thought your nerves wouldn't hold out and you'd 'forget'."
Jack sneered slightly, then replied, "Hi Robert. You should know by now that I never turn down a challenge, be it in the courtroom or anywhere else."
"Thattaboy, Jack. So, where's your lovely business and 'personal' assistant?"
Jack frowned, "What do you mean?"
"Oh, come on, as if everyone doesn't know. She's quite the babe; you should show her off a bit."
Jack turned away, muttering, "The race should be starting soon. Don't you have a bike to take care of?"
"Oh, getting a little testy, are we? You're only anticipating your future loss, so maybe if you accept it now, you'll be in a better mood."
Pulling on his leathers, Jack was silent, but his anger and frustration rose. Robert, he had learned throughout the years, was a master when it came to getting what he wanted and he often wanted to defeat his enemies in every pursuit imaginable. Claire often told him not to mind these kind of men, but he was Jack McCoy and he had a reputation to maintain. He wondered if that was why she was not here.
After adhering his impossible leathers to his skin, he wandered over to the holding pen, attempting to focus his mind along the way. Some of his anger and annoyance still clung to his thoughts, aided by this oppressive heat. He found his Yamaha and ran a final pre-race check. Chain, tires, brakes, ego, gasoline, they were all here. Now he had nothing to do until race time, but ponder his foolishness and the mistakes he made with Claire.
Soon "Public Heat Seven" was called over the loudspeaker, which was Jack's race. He mounted his motorcycle and coasted down the slight decline to his start position. Robert was there already and when he saw Jack, he winked through his visor. Arrogant jerk, Jack thought, he thinks he's won already. He was determined to not go down without a fight. He thumbed the ignition and the engine roared to life.
Jack revved the engine twice, eyes trained on the "Christmas tree" lights for the anticipated green. The illuminated countdown began and he hurriedly shifted into first. The sound of ten motorcycles clutches finding the friction point surrounded him and drowned out any conscious thought. Finally the green flashed to life and the riders rocketed from their positions, accelerating forward. Jack fell behind the pack at first, wary of any daredevils with a short life expectancy ahead. His prognostication proved correct, as one rider misjudged his speed and traction and low-sided in the corner, taking out two others as he slid on his back into the trackside hay bales. With the pack thinned, Jack took the opportunity to accelerate ahead of the pack and dive into the next corner. His speed forced him onto the safety strip border, rattling his undampened steering and causing him to lose traction. By sheer force of will he pulled out of that turn ahead of the rest. His heart rose when he realized he was leading, but quickly sunk when Robert zipped past him in the reverse curve. Jack, infuriated, clung to every one of Robert's daring lines and accelerated where most men would not dare. Nevertheless, Robert was far more adventurous and he took the lead. Jack, try as he may, could not keep up.
In the final turn, as Jack's rival was speeding to victory only feet in front of him, something went terribly wrong. Robert chose the wrong line and attempted to cut the corner too sharply. He tried to adjust, but instead overcompensated. His front wheel cut across his path and he entered the most frightening of motorcycle crashed: the high-side. Robert was flung over the side of his bike, which toppled in Jack's path. Jack countersteered, flinging him and his bike toward the hot pavement as his direction changed sharply. His leg scraped along the ground and he released the tension on his handlebars. Jack's bike righted itself as Robert's crashed into him and pinned him where he lay.
Disregarding all else, Jack braked hard, turned onto the grass, and sped towards his friend. He dismounted his bike and ran toward where the racetrack crews were lifting the motorcycle off of him.
"Robert! Robert, are you okay?" he called.
Through a bloodied mouth he replied, "I'll be fine. I've lived through worse." He smiled and added, "Your 'assistant' is here. Go see her."
Jack said, "Are you sure? All right, I'll see you at the hospital," as he patted his shoulder.
"Ow, that hurts!"
Jack backed away before he could cause any more damage. He strode up to Claire, who stood beyond the barriers.
She smiled at him as she spoke, "Jack, you never cease to amaze me. Last night I thought you were the most heartless bastard on earth. Today, I see a man more concerned with the welfare of a friend than winning. Now I know why I keep you around."
Jack curled up the corners of his mouth as he said, "Well, prepare to be surprised again." He tossed Claire the keys to his motorcycle, "I'm driving the car."