from the Car Wars game universe:

Assigned to do the Chris “Powersaw” McCarthy interview, I visited his old family homestead. When I arrived, however, I found instead an individual who gave to me a unique view of the Saw’s autoduelling history. The Powersaw McCarthy interview can be found elsewhere in numerous television replays. What follows is the time spent with his father, Scats McCarthy, while we waited for the Saw.

As soon as the chopper settled, I stumbled out, leaving Fletcher to power down the bird. The day was overcast and turbulent, my stomach clamored threateningly for solid ground. Up in the hills, the clouds hung low, shredding themselves on the treetops. Mist sifted through the sparse undergrowth and a palpable gloom seemed to peer from the deep woods. The air sat in my lungs, sweet and damp.

In the three cleared acres around us sat two large houses and numerous barns, sheds, and garages. On the porch of the older house, a grizzled man leaned against a pillar and watched me slog across the front yard. Dressed in flannel and denim, he sucked a pipe and fingered his ragged beard. I placed him at about fifty years, and hoped he wasn’t senile.

“You’re early,” he said suddenly, by way of greeting, “ain’t no one else here.”

I hadn’t yet warmed up the journalistic charm, and all I managed was an “Oh.”

The oldster peered at me, then reached into his hip pocket. “Don’t matter,” he said, “come sit and we’ll wait. Want a chew?” He held out a plug of tobacco, and when I declined, he bit off a chunk for himself and put the pipe back in his mouth.

I wandered up and sat on the damp stairs. From the back of the porch, an immense dog growled at me, but refused to leave her suckling pups.

“You’re here to see little Christian, ya?”

I nodded. Chris McCarthy is 6 foot 4 and weighs 250.

The old guy puffed his pipe, then paused to spit. “Well, I’m his pa. Name of Scats. Christian’s out with the family, sorta welcome home thing.” He waved his pipe towards the woods. The deep woods.

I looked the man over again. He still looked weathered and senile. Behind the house, chickens clucked. “You’re his father?”

Scats grinned, exposing brown teeth. “That’s what his ma says, anyhow. And the other five all look like him, so’s I’m inclined to believe her.”

“Powersaw has brothers?” I asked, thinking of a possible up-and-coming scoop.

McCarthy pulled at his beard. “Well, one, but Grant, he died the other Fall, careful how you use his name around the others. No, mostly Christian’s got sisters. Four of ’em.”

“And where are they?” Maybe Fletcher, who doubled as my cameraman, could get some good pictures.

“Why, they’re out their ma and the rest of the family. Damn joyriding.” He looked wistfully to the west and waved his pipe again. Towards the deep woods.

I stared dubiously into the gloomy depths. The trees grew packed together, with underbrush tangled at their bases. “Joyriding? What, on bikes?”

“Ya, sure. Bikes, trikes, trucks. They took nearly everything but little Christian’s Stump Jumper. Me, I bummed my wrist and can’t work the sticks. So they left me behind with the youngest; they’re down for their nap right now. Big night tonight.”

“Why, what’s tonight?”

“Told you, Christian’s welcome home thing. Now that he’s back we’re gonna take some Doland toll.”

Somewhere between the tobacco and the pipe, his words were losing sense. “Some what?” I asked.

“Dolands. Last Fall, some of their boys shot up young Grant. Watch how you use his name around here, see, they jiggered him and now them Dolands are gonna pay. We been waiting for Christian, since he always was real close to young Grant.”

Fletcher was out with his camera, shooting footage. It occurred to me that I should be taking notes. McCarthy spit and puffed, and his fist clenched down on the pipe briefly.

“So this is something of a clan feud?” I pried.

Old McCarthy sighed, then knocked his pipe out. As he blew the stem clear, he pulled out of his mood. “Feud? No, just family business.”

“The whole family?” I was, well, surprised. “His sisters, too?”

McCarthy looked at me, confused. “Sure. Can’t women hate the Dolands? This here’s America.

“Look, kid. When the boys start getting big in their britches and the girls stretching their shirts, well, then we take them out and leave ’em in the woods with a bike. Everyone does it, so we’re all equal, see?”

“Alone, in the woods?” My voice cracked.

“Oh, it’s mostly show, really. No one never made it. If they survived to that age, they can do it. If you know the woods, they’ll treat you right in return.”

I was blatantly astonished and I suspect my mouth hung open. Scats scratched his beard, then turned to look at me. “Ever been in a road duel, kid?”

“Yeah, sure,” I muttered, thinking back to the time I’d unwittingly become a gunner in the news van.

“Fun, weren’t it?” Scats gazed off into the trees and grinned, apparently recalling some particularly joyous dustup. Then he spat and looked at me coldly. “Out here, it’s different. A man fights for his family and his life, and it’s the terrain that’s your worst enemy. Folks like the Doland boys are just added topping. Yep, them woods will kill you.

“But you learn to live with them, then you learn to love ’em. Them woods, they get into your system. You always gotta go back in.

“Like now. Little Christian’s out there warming up on Bethany’s bike, but tonight he’s taking the Stump Jumper in, and I’m gonna be his gunner. The woods getcha that way, you can’t quit.” He stared at me from under grey brows, and I realized those clear eyes were far from senile.

For the first time, I looked into the woods, instead of at them. Within the cool dusk and seductive mists, I imagined I could see the young Powersaw McCarthy riding his bike amongst the trees. Riding where trunks loomed and the ground bucked underneath him. To the Saw, road duels were dessert. He’d grown up where opponents were spice to the real challenge. Cream skimmed from the top.

The sound of motors buzzed through the woods. Scats punched my arm and grinned. “There they are. Nice sight, my family, ain’t they?”

A dozen bikes and trikes and a few pickups, all jacked up and riding mud slingers, flickered amongst the trees. The trucks bounced around the trunks, and the bikes, bright flashes of color in the dark woods, jumped and spun. One of the trikes let off a greeting burst of gunfire and Scats waved his arm.

In the lead of the humming, jostling pack road a pair of bikes. In tandem precision, they flew over a log and skidded to a stop in the clearing. On one bike I recognized the hulking frame of Powersaw McCarthy.

Scats stood on the porch, chewing on his empty pipe. His weathered face scrunched into a wide grin. He punched me in the arm again. “That there’s Christian,” he beamed, “and the other one’s my pa.”

Something inside me said I’d be coming back to these deep woods.