(It’s been a while since we’ve seen what Louis is doing. The last installment is here.)
Louis Broderick could feel his consciousness fading away. Bent over the cold tile floor, the gorilla sized arm around his neck was continuing its unrelenting push into his windpipe. He was desperately needing air and his world was starting to spin and grow dim.
In a sudden shot of survival induced adrenaline, Louis threaded his fingers around the arm of his attacker. With a burst of clarity and energy, Louis grabbed a fist full of his attackers ample arm hair and yanked it with all his might. As Louis fell to the floor gulping for air, he could see the bloody, hairy mess stuck to his fingers, its owner screaming in pain and fury.
So much for Louis being kept secure during his testimony. He had been sequestered in mostly bucolic Buchanan County for over a week, testifying about how the owners of a lithium mine he had infiltrated were siphoning money to a ring of mercenary terrorists. All Louis wanted was to take a leak, not realizing the lavatory set aside for him in a vacant jury room was being remodeled and the marshall had been planted by the owners of the mine.
The rogue marshall had attempted to strangle Louis in the midst of one of those vulnerable moments in life.
Lunging forward, Louis grabbed a nail gun left behind by the absent contractor. Aiming at the hulking marshall, Louis fired the nail gun, hitting the marshall in the groin and the stomach. Louis ran out of the bathroom seeking escape, convinced this marshall likely wasn’t acting alone.
Heading for the door, Louis saw another marshall begin to sprint out of the building as he emerged into the hallway. The marshall then stopped and turned, heading toward Louis with a rather large bladed bowie knife. This second rogue marshall quickly retreated upon three more shots from Louis’s nail gun.
Running out a door into the alley, the marshall jumped into the 1966 Mercury waiting for him. Looking around, Louis was seeking anything – absolutely anything – that could allow him to apprehend this still mobile marshall. As the Mercury was barreling out of the courthouse parking lot, Louis looked to his left.
Near a far door to the building, a white Ford Thunderbird was sitting there with the door open, its owner rummaging around in the trunk. Seeing the keys still in the trunk lock, Louis ran to the Thunderbird, shoved the three-piece suit wearing owner out his way and grabbed the keys while he slammed the lid. Hopping into the drivers seat, Louis fired up the 460 V8 in the Thunderbird, slammed the car into reverse, and aimed to perform a J-turn at the far end of the lot to save time.
Louis knew watching those reruns of The Rockford Files would pay off one day.
As Louis was just about to execute his J-turn, a female voice assaulted his right ear.
“Young man, what in the hell do you think you are doing? You may be well dressed, but you are a damn hooligan. Stop this car at once. You shoved my husband, Judge Frederick Sommerhauser, to the ground, you miscreant ass.”
Louis didn’t respond. He was focused on catching up with the Mercury. While Louis knew Ford had really strangled the 460 by 1975, its acceleration was a bit less brisk than he had anticipated. He was concerned the twenty-four year old 390 powered Mercury may have him outgunned.
“Well, young man? What do you have to say for yourself?”
Louis responded by smoking the rear tires of the Thunderbird all the way out of the parking lot.
As Louis entered the intersection of Jules Street and North 4th, he jammed the accelerator and cut the wheel to the left, as the 5,000 pound Thunderbird drifted gracefully through the apex of the curve. Mrs. Sommerhauser was oblivious to the tangential forces being exerted upon her skull as her lips flapped like bedsheets on a clothesline during a windstorm.
Seeing the Mercury in the distance attempting to turn right onto South 9th Street, Louis again jammed the Thunderbird’s accelerator to the floor, the secondaries on the big Motorcraft carburetor swallowing copious amounts of air and fuel while starting to admirably close the gap with the blue Mercury.
Needing to focus on matters at hand, Louis reached into his pocket and pulled out his badge, handing it to Mrs. Stuckenschneider. “Holy shit! You are one of their agents? Let me put on my seatbelt.”
As Mrs. Sommerhauser kept jacking her jaw in appreciation about “what you federal boys do”, Louis could take it no longer – he had to drown out the incessant noise as Mrs. Sommerhauser was all that could be heard as the Thunderbird was as quiet as a tomb. As Louis was approaching 65 miles per hour on a very urban South 9th Street, he turned on the radio. Rolling the dial well away from Paul Harvey, Louis quickly discovered Supertramp singing about saying goodbye to a stranger, which was very much what Louis wanted to do at this moment.
With his foot still stuck in the ass of the Thunderbird’s throttle, Louis was gaining on the deceptively agile Mercury, but at a rate he ached to increase.
Looking ahead, Louis saw the Mercury careen left onto Seneca Street. This was his moment! Seneca was not a through street in this area. Blasting past the intersection of Seneca and South 9th, Louis took a gamble. One block later, at Penn Street, Louis cut a hard left, with Mrs. Sommerhauser banging her head against the window of the Thunderbird.
“Sorry, ma’am. I’m just trying to rectify a problem.” Louis said unconvincingly. He had learned to exercise a bit more charm and a few manners since his initial outing with the organization but he still had a lot of room for improvement.
Cutting a hard left off Penn Street onto South 12th, Louis could see he had indeed closed the gap with the Mercury. Seneca ceasing had prompted just enough lost time from the Mercury driver’s quandary that Louis was now within pouncing distance of the Mercury.
With great gusto, the Mercury cut left onto Olive Street as South 12th terminated at Lewis Park; keeping his momentum, Louis was able to ram the Thunderbird into the left rear corner of the Mercury as it slid left through the intersection.
Momentarily losing its steering abilities from the shove, the Mercury regained traction and blew through the intersections of South 10th and South 9th. As the Mercury blasted across South 9th, it whacked the rear of a Camry who was oblivious to any nefarious goings-on. With Louis on the Mercury’s bumper, the Camry’s driver was able to see Louis and his Thunderbird glide by upon its 180 degree spin and coming to a dizzying halt.
By this time, the novelty of having such an agent driving her car had ceased. Mrs. Sommerhauser was becoming agitated.
“Young man, I demand you cease this reckless driving at once! Stop this car. I insist that you do what I say. Your reckless disregard for lawfulness will succeed in getting somebody – most likely us – killed! I shall see to it that your careless abandon of basic decency will be rewarded with you being terminated from any meaningful employment. Now STOP this car!”
As the radio poured out the beginning of a wonderful Supertramp guitar solo, Louis withdrew what little charm he had deposited into Mrs. Sommerhauser’s goodwill bank.
“Listen lady. I know this is awkward, but these people are the damn poster child for that disregard for lawfulness you keep yammering about. You know what they’ve done? I rather doubt it and I doubt you could comprehend it even if I told you. But I am going to stop them before they kill anyone else – oh, yeah, they’ve killed a few judges around the country, by the way – and who the hell else is around to do so???”
By this time the Mercury had blasted past Messanie Street, toward Charles Street. Louis feared they were heading toward the onramp for I-229 – the question was, which way did they plan to go? I-229 was a double-deck bridge through downtown, with the ramps for both north and south being quite close together.
Keeping his foot to the floor, Louis was smacking the Mercury on the rear bumper every time its speed dropped. He was hoping to terminate this situation before it could easily get out of hand on the interstate.
As feared, the Mercury was shooting toward the southbound ramp for I-229, desiring a merge onto the interstate on the lower level of the bridge.
Suddenly it seemed as if the breathe of fate was cascading over Louis. While there was hardly ever any traffic on I-229, there were suddenly two eighteen-wheeled trucks running side-by-side on the southbound lanes. Louis could tell the timing and spacing was such the Mercury would have to slow or be ran over…
Sticking his foot the rest of the way to the floor, the normally defanged 460 in the Thunderbird was suddenly able to clear its lungs and give an uncharacteristic shot of energy. Fully exploiting this, Louis rammed into the back of the Mercury, pushing it toward the trailer of the nearer truck, just in front of the trailer axles. Not quite able to slam on his brakes in time, the sudden deceleration of the Mercury caused Louis to slam again into the rear of the Mercury as the trailer axles bit into the steel flesh of the now mangled Mercury, dragging it down the interstate.
The jolt caused Louis to lose control, the Thunderbird spinning around with the drivers side smacking the concrete wall alongside the bridge.
After Louis’s tongue-lashing, Mrs. Sommerhauser had finally realized the enormity of the situation. As they slammed into the bridge, an uninjured Mrs. Sommerhauser quickly turned toward a quite injured Louis.
Along with several internal injuries, Louis was bleeding from his nose and had two broken teeth lodged in the plastic steering wheel of the Thunderbird. As he drifted into unconsciousness, Louis was able to discern enough to hear sirens in the distance while Mrs. Sommerhauser quietly said “I thought it was you but didn’t think they had changed your name; I didn’t think I would ever see you again, let alone like this. You are a complete copy of your father; I’m not going to let anything bad happen to my grandson.”
To be continued…
THANKS ! .
A good morning smiler .
+1 & I love the Mercury
I love the Merc ! moreso than the ‘Bird .
Saw this exact Thunderbird on a curb in the older Highlands section of Louisville where I ate dinner the other evening. Apparently there was some damage to the interior also (maybe blood stains?) because, during the repairs, it had been gutted and changed to a white décor with burgundy dash and carpet and a different set of wheels added.
Thanks for the Rock Island cameo! As I write this, I’m only a few blocks away from Wag’s Auto Center!
That was me, I got the pics a few weeks ago and offered them to Jason for his article. 🙂
Yeah, I figured! Thanks for your contribution.
That was awesome! Thanks!
I hope Louis took his Dramamine before putting that Bird through its paces. 🙂
Fun story, as always. I hated to think of that Mercury so badly mangled. The 66 Mercury was a really nice one.
I’ve set it up for Dramamine or Demerol or some type of pain killer for the next installment.
Oddly, if one held their jaw just right, these ‘Birds were like the old matronly gal that would pick up her skirts and amaze you with her ability to move so gracefully. However, if a curve sign advised 45 mph, one better heed it.
And I learned something new too — I never would have guessed that there was a double-decker freeway in St. Joseph.
Wow – you guessed the location with my vague hints? That is impressive!
Yes, the double decker in St. Joe pretty much obscures the riverfront in the downtown area.
The reference to Buchanan County was a good hint — and the scenery sure didn’t look like Buchanan County, Virginia, which is deep in the mountains and has a tiny population.
I drove through St. Joe last year on US-36, but never noticed the 229 freeway.
The interchange for 36 and I-229 is right at the Kansas state line. Depending upon how far west you went, you might not have seen it.
I did embed their driving quite near the Jesse James home and within a block of the original Pony Express stables.
What a great twist at the end (after all the metal twisting)!
Another great read, can’t wait for the next installment. (Needs a Vega!)
Not only were the Ford’s borrowing styling from the 63 Pontiac in the mid 60’s, but that 66 Mercury’s taillights are heavily influenced by it too.
Excellent read, as always! Now where did I put my copy of Breakfast In America…?
For some reason the front headlights of the T-Bird’s of this generation resembles the headlights of a 1970 Oldsmobile 88/98.
Another exciting installment! I’ve always thought these Mercurys (Mercuries?) looked like Chrysler products.
From the side, the T-bird looks like a Grand Torino Elite.
Or, is it the other way around, the Elite is emulating the T-Bird:-)
Super read, Jason! (“broken teeth in the plastic steering wheel”…shudder). I always get the sense from your great fiction that you have the same love of 70’s & 80’s car chase-adventure shows that I have.
Guilty as charged! I’m not above surfing youtube for car chases when the need for an automotive thrill arises.
Hemmings Blog has been running a bunch of car chases from the ’70s on Sundays lately. The funniest ones are from Italian movies. 🙂
hehehe. More please.
+1 this is WAY better than any prime time network soap. “tonight, their destiny will be revealed…” It never was, and we kept coming back for more. Jason, you (and Louis) have ’em beat by miles! Time for a feature film.
There actually was a 70s B-Movie with Stacey Keach & Roger Moore featuring a chase where one of these ‘Birds gets trashed.
That matador, though. Three times in the same chase scene from different angles. Definitely a B movie. I drive that road; god knows what kinda permits they needed to get that.
THANX ! .
I so love these old cheesy films with terrible continuity errors .
At this same time (early 70’s) my buddies and I would often pick up old $25 klunkers from the late 50’s and early 60’s and thrash them just like this for giggles , a wonder we never got badly hurt and only arrested once .
The hand of fate was kind to Louis this day. Had the ’66 Mercury been not suffering from an exhaust system that had collapsed internally, creating massive back pressure which choked it’s 2 barrel 390’s engine, the ’75’s emission strangled 460 would have had no chance of catching up.
Always a problem with old Fords ~ they had super restrictive exhausts from the factory to make them quieter ~ a simple dual free flowing system with a proper cross over woke them right up and eliminated most hot running issues , better jetting and headers made them scream .
Good times , I had a few Hot Rod buddies who were die hard Ford Men .
Catching up on my fiction reading finally. Another well-done chapter, but I’m heartbroken about the fate of some of my favorite cars!