Boy Racer fell from the sky, fully formed. He was born a lanky sixteen-year-old with perfect skin and a tricked-out car.
Boy Racer couldn’t remember anything before 1996, the start of his junior year at Santa Carla High. He couldn’t remember buying his car—a purple Maxima with a super wing spoiler, suicide doors, and lime-green underglow. He couldn’t remember choosing his wardrobe—a closet full of wifebeater shirts, Cuban link chains, and Adidas 3-Stripes pants. He couldn’t make sense of why he always smelled of Cool Water cologne or why even after a shower his Caesar cut was still shellacked with gel.
Boy Racer was only capable of swaggering. He tried to walk like regular people, tried to slouch and plod, but Boy Racer’s body rejected everything his mind desired.
He asked his foster father—a police chief who allowed Boy Racer to speed and run stop signs without so much as a warning—what his real name was. His father shrugged. You’re just Boy Racer. When we found you that’s what everybody was already calling you.
Santa Carla High’s claim to fame was its absence of sports teams and high percentage of mopey students. The mopey students at Santa Carla High wanted the handsome Boy Racer dead. They’d gotten it into their heads that Boy Racer was too kindhearted, too wealthy, had too many girlfriends in surrounding towns.
Boy Racer worked hard to dispel these rumors. He stopped students in the hallways and told them he was just a myth, the creation of a vindictive person, a megalomaniac with a grudge. He wrote an op-ed for the school paper explaining how he was still a virgin, how he also struggled with sadness and depression. He described in detail his dumpy ranch house with its chipped walls, dead shrubs, and empty aboveground pool.
The mopey students refused to listen, refused to believe. When Boy Racer passed them in the parking lot, they exchanged disgusted whispers. What’s with the hot car and flawless skin? Boy Racer really thinks he owns this school.
Boy Racer coped with his outcast status by driving fast. He sped down Santa Carla’s coast in his Maxima, hugging corners, hopping curbs, drifting, floating, a glowing lime-green ghost that couldn’t convince anyone it was possessed.
Boy Racer always ate lunch alone. He sat in the corner of the cafeteria and watched the goths, the mopiest of the mopey students. Boy Racer dreamed. He dreamed he was Keith, the leader of the goths. Keith wore black leather gloves and a black trench coat. Keith didn’t drive a car; he rode a dirt bike. Keith didn’t need gel; his bleach blonde hair swooped back naturally.
Boy Racer wished he had a goth girlfriend like Moon with her studded choker, lips painted Night Bird, pasty legs squeezed into ripped fishnets. He fantasized about going down on her while Bauhaus played on the stereo and a skull candle burned. He imagined Moon tasting like clove cigarettes. He imagined her clawing his hair and screaming out Beelzebub’s name when she climaxed.
The air conditioning in the cafeteria was always turned up high and Boy Racer shivered in his wifebeater. When Keith and the goths bumped into him on purpose, Boy Racer felt their warm skin and wanted to be warm as well.
The flyers appeared on Halloween. Santa Carla High was papered with hundreds of Xeroxes of Boy Racer’s face, chin lifted, wise-ass smirk. Printed above his face in bold letters were the words: Victory Begins When You Kill Something Pretty. Boy Racer ran through the halls ripping down the flyers. He wept while all the mopey students chanted. Fake tears! Fake tears!
Boy Racer sat in the front seat of his Maxima, a pile of crumpled flyers on his lap. He wailed, begged God to open the sky and take him back. That’s when he saw Keith in the rearview mirror. The wind split and suspended the tails of his trench coat like ashen wings. A hatred for pristine creatures forced Keith’s mouth into a rictus grin. Walking toward Boy Racer’s car, he waved a homemade blowtorch.
Boy Racer didn’t run. He simply pulled his seatbelt across his chest and locked the doors. As the spoiler ignited and flames engulfed the body of the car, Boy Racer cursed Santa Carla High. He cursed them with happiness, light, Mariah Carey, and a championship football team. His Adidas 3-Stripes melted easily, congealing in globs against the charred skin of his legs. Darkness closed in on Boy Racer. He inhaled the sweet stink of burning Cool Water and glimpsed Moon in the distance, mascara smeared, mouthing what he wanted to believe was I love you.