“Geeze Louis, how many engines does that thing need?” Mercedes said as she walked into the garage.
Bentley took a break from his work and smiled. He was finishing up sealing the transom when she entered, but there was nothing he enjoyed more than talking about his boat.”
“I told you before,” he said with a grin. “Dodge said ‘every pontoon needs its own engine if you want to break records.’”
“I thought that just meant your boat needed its own engine.”
Bentley laughed at his sister ignorance. “See these?” he started, tapping the side of the right pontoon. “These are actually called pontoons. The boat is named a pontoon because it has pontoons. There are three, so I need three engines.”
Mercedes shrugged, walking around the boat and examining it. “Won’t that make it slower? The third pontoon I mean. You know, because of the added weight?”
Bentley shrugged. “Different people say different things, but personally I notice a difference in a positive way.”
“You think you’ll win this time?” she said, looking at his face and causing him to look down in embarrassment.
Using the rag draped across his lap, he wiped at the oil spot next to his foot on the garage floor to keep himself from looking up.
“Duh. With all the modifications Dodge told me about, I’m sure to pull away and break every record.”
Bentley paused and thought back to the last race. There had only been two lake racing organizations that included pontoons in their competitions for the longest time. Both were up north, but now an organization in Florida had finally decided to joy the fray. Now he could compete without having to drive hours and hours to get to the course.
“I’ll have the home team advantage this go round, so there’s no doubt I’ll pull it out.”
“Yeah, but either way at least you won’t have to drive like 15 hours to go and lose. That return trip must have been brutal.”
Bentley shrugged and glanced at the grease spot again, trying to feign nonchalance to stay strong in his sister’s eyes. She must have seen right through his machismo façade, deciding to change the subject instead of continuing.
“What else did Dodge tell you to do to this thing?” Mercedes said, perking up Bentley.
“Aside from adding the third engine to go with the third pontoon, he also told me to add lifting strakes, add under skinning, make her backloaded, and seal the transom,” Bentley said, pausing for a moment before snapping his fingers. “Oh, and trim the motor.”
Mercedes looked at him with a blank stare, examining the racing stripes painted onto the side of the boat.
“Yeah, I know what zero of that means.”
Bentley shook his head. “Well, you asked. I won’t point it all out since I’m sure it’ll just look the same to you, but the under skinning and lifting strakes make her ride smoother in the water and reduce choppiness. The sealed transom will also reduce drag. Angling the motors will give me additional performance if I angle them up.”
“You’re going to make this thing go so fast it shoots straight out of the water and flies clear to the moon.”
Bentley laughed. “I wish. You remember that time I took you out fishing when we were kids? Before I started racing and made all the modifications?”
“Yeah, you virtually killed us and sank the boat every time you stopped.”
“Right, well, wrong. I was in complete control, but I brought that up to see if you remember how the front end of the boat dipped into the water.” She nodded and walked back around the boat, sitting in the only other chair in the garage and folding her legs. “Well, moving all the weight to the back helps the boat sail over the water instead of plowing through it.”
“Makes sense I suppose.”
“It makes absolute sense. Dodge is a genius. I also took out the extra seat to lighten the load. She’ll ride like a jet boat now.”
Mercedes shook her head. She stood up and glanced at the name of the bot, rolling her eyes and heading toward the garage’s exit.
“What is it with boys and making their boats women?’
Mercedes disappeared around the corner and Bentley yelled after her. “It’s tradition!”
He turned back to the boat. He had called her The Loose Lady, but he couldn’t remember why. He’d named her before he started racing, and it had been a gift from their rich Italian uncle, Maserati.
His thoughts drifted to the legend in the pontoon racing community that everyone but him idolized. ‘Rad’ Brad Rowlings had broken pontoon speed records every year he raced, though in interviews he always said the fete was no big deal since they were all his records. He had reportedly said that he’d keep getting faster until it wasn’t possible anymore.
Bentley narrowed his eyes and went back to work sealing the transom. He thought of Brad’s boat, wondering in whose favor the differences would work. Brad had just two pontoons, but three engines. All the racers trimmed their engines, so there was no doubt Brad did too, but Bentley failed to remember if he had lifting strakes. Realizing he had barely taken note of any of the modifications to Brad’s boat made him wonder if Dodge knew. He set his tools down and wiped his hands on the rag in his lap before standing and stretching. He used some Goop hand cleaner before grabbing his phone and calling Dodge.
Dodge had been his mentor for the last decade, and he knew everything there was to know about everything. After Bentley and Mercedes’s father passed away, Dodge stepped up and helped, however, he could. Being a friend of their dad meant he also looked after their mother. If there were ever a man, Bentley would be okay with dating his mom it was Dodge, but he knew it would never happen.
Dodge answered, and they talked until Bentley regained his confidence in himself. The race was still a month away, but Bentley knew he was going to conquer the world.