NEXT TIME AROUND

By John Thomas Tuft

Far down the back roads, deep into the short scrub pines
Sits the old broken trailer of Lil’ Scooter Shine
Behind it sits a now overgrown quarter mile track
Where the smells of oil and moonshine harken one back
To the night of the great Beaver Island Moonlight Race
When little Scooter Shine disappeared without a trace.

With a four-barrel carburetor in his ’69 LeMans
He could blow the doors off like a jailbird breaking bonds
And on that fateful night he challenged all newcomers
To put up or shut up in this last race of the summer.
A tall dark stranger said he would certainly give it a go
A murmur went through the crowd for this was the biggest show.

Before the race began the two men made a fateful wager
That whoever was the winner won the hand of Sally Prager.
Now Sally was the most beautiful girl in old Beaver Island town
And Scooter always figured he would put her in a wedding gown
But the stranger snapped his fingers and gave Sally a knowing smile
And said, “I’ll be back for you after I win the fastest mile.”

The race began with a gunshot, they dashed off in a cloud of dust
With Scooter’s heart in his throat, for win this race he must
For the first three laps the two cars were running very even
And Scooter knew the next time around he needed to believe in
That the desires of his heart could outrun the fastest comer
In this the last race of the Beaver Island Moonlight summer.

But, alas, at the last pole the dark stranger pulled ahead
And as he crossed the finish line, all Scooter’s dreams were dead
So, he took one last longing look at Sally’s beautiful face
As he fishtailed off the racetrack and blew right by his place
Driving off into forgotten with his fragile broken heart
Muttering to himself, “Next time around, I get a better start.”