[chapter six]

"Okay, ready?" Fiona asked.

"Shoot." Junior answered, throwing a crab rangoon in his mouth.

"Okay. Here we go." Fiona said, her fingers on her laptop so she could transcribe Junior's answers as he spoke. When she had it all typed up, she would run it by him, then send it to the publishers. "When you turn on the TV, what channel do you go to first?"

"It's a tossup…either ESPN or The Speed Channel. I really like Animal Planet and Discovery though." Junior said.

"How do you take your coffee?" Fiona asked and Junior laughed.

"This is going to be fun." He said.

"That's the idea." Fiona smiled.

"I like my coffee black with lots of sugar." Junior grinned.

"Do you consider yourself a Democrat or a Republican?" Fiona asked.

"Neither, truly. But I think I agree with Democrats more on social issues and stuff. It must be a Southern thing." Junior said. "Wait, that sounded dumb. Let me say something better."

Fiona laughed. "Don't be silly. It's fine. Okay, next question. Which word describes you better - outgoing or shy?"

Junior sighed slightly. "I think being a driver has forced me to be outgoing - dealing with the public and the fans and the sponsors, I have to be outgoing and upbeat. But really, I'm a pretty shy guy. I'm not good at making close friends, and I hate being the one to have to ask the girl out. I'm really pretty shy."

Fiona smiled gently. "Okay, next question. Do you wear contacts?"

"Mm-hm." Junior said. "Most of us do, but it's a bitch when you get dirt in your eye while driving!"
Fiona laughed. "I can only imagine! I've never seen you in glasses - I bet you look good in them. What is your favorite month?"

Junior cleared his throat slightly, blushing at her casual comment. "Um…October, I think. It's cooler and everything smells like fall. The trees changing and the winter coming - I love that. And my birthday is in October." Junior smiled. "That makes me sound about 9 years old, doesn't it?" He and Fiona laughed together.

"What's the last book you read?" Fiona asked.

"I have a hard time finishing books during the season - I seem to start them then not have the chance to finish 'em. I think the last one was the 4th Harry Potter book though. It was really good." Junior answered, snagging a piece of sweet and sour pork from Fiona's plate.

"I thought so too. I just wish the 5th one would come out!" Fiona laughed. "If you could change one physical thing about yourself, what would it be?"

"I wish…I'm not sure. I used to hate my hair, but it's okay now. I think I wish I was bigger - taller and stronger. I'm pretty wiry, not really strong. I don't think I want to look like The Rock, but bigger in general." Junior said, blushing a little. "Does that sound vain?"

"Not at all." Fiona reassured him. "Do you shower facing the showerhead or with your back to it?"

Junior choked on his noodles. "What?"

"You heard me. I have to throw in a few juicy questions for the ladies." Fiona teased.

"Okay, fine. My back to it." Junior answered softly.

"Trading Spaces or The Iron Chef?" Fiona smiled.

Junior laughed. "The Iron Chef - especially when it's a really gross ingredient."

"Do you think the Packers have a shot at the Super Bowl this year?" Fiona asked.

"Do you?" Junior shot back.

"I do - they traded Dorsey Levens, but they have gained a great player in Ahman Green, and Brett Favre is still the top quarterback in the game. Now that Antonio Freeman isn't sucking the money from the organization, they can pay to cultivate some new talent to work with Brett. So I say yes." Fiona returned with a sly grin.

"What you said." Junior laughed. "Personally, I think the Patriots are going to be a threat again this year."

"Do you have a girlfriend?" Fiona asked, shrugging apologetically. "Sorry, they insisted I ask this one."
"No, I don't." Junior replied. "I haven't really had many serious girlfriends in my life. I think my love life gets blown out of proportion."

Fiona looked down at her list. "If you weren't a race car driver, what would you be doing?"

"I think I'd be involved in racing somehow - maybe still sweeping floors or changing oil in cars. I've always wanted to go to college, but I don't know what I would study. Maybe somethin' crazy like astronomy or journalism. But truly, I think I'd be involved in cars or racin' somehow." Junior answered.

"Which value meal at McDonald's is your favorite?" Fiona grinned.

"I gotta go number 1. I love me the Big Mac!" Junior laughed and Fiona laughed with him.

"Hog." She teased. "And I bet you supersize, and never gain an ounce."

"Pretty much. I have a quick metabolism - I can't ever seem to gain weight." Junior said guiltily.

"Figures. Meanwhile, I eat nothing but carrots and I still fight my weight all the time. I think I'm just destined to be a fuller-figured gal." Fiona rolled her eyes. "Bites."

"I think fuller figured is a good thing. You look gorgeous and curvy and girly." Junior rambled. "You shouldn't have to diet."

Fiona stared at him a moment, then laughed. "Will you marry me?" She teased. "Why can't all guys think that way?" Junior blushed, as though realizing what he had said out loud - thoughts that until then had only been in his mind.

"Well, it's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." Junior answered.

"Okay, okay. Are you pro-choice or pro-life?" Fiona asked.

Junior sighed and didn't say anything for several seconds. "I'm pro-choice. It's a woman's body and a woman's right to choose. But, I love kids, and I wanna be a daddy someday. If I were in a relationship, I would still want to have a say about abortion or adoption, but I realize it's ultimately the girl's decision. I just hate that guys are cut out of the picture entirely. Sure, there are a lot of sleazy guys out there who would walk away from their child, but not all of us. But yeah, I'm pro choice."

"Are you religious?" Fiona asked.

"Man, this must be the serious part of the questions." Junior laughed. "I was raised to be religious. We went to church, we prayed all the time, and religion is a big thing at the track. But, I've never felt particularly religious, and prayer isn't something I'm into. I like the idea of heaven and the afterlife, especially because of my daddy, but I'm not a particularly religious man. I'm not even sure I believe in a God." Junior sighed. "Shit, maybe I shouldn't have that in there. If NASCAR thinks I'm being…"
"I'll decide if we can keep it or lose it." Fiona said. "I was curious myself though. Interesting." She glanced at her paper. "Okay, fun question. What's the last CD you bought?"

Junior laughed. "Okay, that's much easier. I just bought Nelly's new CD, which kicks ass, by the way."

"Would you rather be smart, handsome or talented in some way?" Fiona asked.

"Well, damn. That's a hard one!" Junior said. "In my line of work, I'd rather be talented. I think race car drivers are a combination of lucky and talented. Since I want to be good at my job and really excel, I'd want to be talented. I sometimes wish I was smarter, though."

"You are smart." Fiona insisted.

"Yeah, I'm a smartass." Junior cracked.

Fiona wagged her finger at him. "You are smart, you just don't seem to think so. But I know so." She looked to her list again. "Favorite vacation spot?"

"This sounds so lame, but I love goin' home. I love Mooresville, and I love toolin' around Lake Norman and seein' my friends. I've been to the Carribean, which was great, and Cancun, which rocked, but if I have time off, I just wanna go home. Sleep in my own bed, see my old friends. That means more to me than seein' the world." Junior said seriously.

Fiona smiled. "Last question - you want serious or silly?"

Junior thought for a moment. "Serious, I guess."

"What do you miss most about your dad?" Fiona asked softly.

"Everything." Junior said quietly. "I miss his advice, his belief in me, his support. I miss his raggin' on me, his jokes, and his pride when I do somethin' good. I never wanted anything but to make him proud, and I miss the fact that he isn't around to see me win or lose or screw up or do somethin' right. I just wish…I just wish I could have made him prouder of me when he was alive."

"He was proud of you. Total strangers saw it in his eyes, and in the way he watched over you. He was so proud of you, J." Fiona said earnestly. "That's the end of my list."

"How'd I do?" Junior asked seriously.

"Came through like a champ." Fiona smiled. "Now pass those rangoons."

chapter seven