The Derby


© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour


Alex had spent hours working on his go-cart for the big race that was coming up on the weekend. He had gathered up some miscellaneous pieces of wood from the barn and had used some old nails he had found to piece the wood together. There had been a tin of old green paint sitting on the shelf in the drive-shed, and he had mixed it with some turpentine to get just the right consistency to cover the go-cart. Another tin had just enough red paint in it to write BLAZER on each side. Alex had found an old tractor steering wheel and some old piping that he fashioned into wheel axles. He had stood back and admired his handiwork and was dreaming about crossing the finish line first. Everything was perfect––everything except that Alex had not been able to locate a set of wheels.

            He had searched the farm high and low for a set of wheels. He had even asked some of his friends, but they were all working on their own go-carts and didn’t have any to spare. Harold offered him one wheel, and then he smirked and walked away. Alex couldn’t wait to cross the finish line and have Harold eat his dust!

            As of Saturday morning, Alex still hadn’t found a set of wheels. He rose early and went down to the barn and just sat there staring at his beautiful go-cart. The sun was peeking through the cracks in the haymow and dust was dancing in the beams.

            “I wish this was magic fairy dust,” Alex mumbled. “And that I could be granted a set of wheels.”

            “Alex!” His mother called from the porch. “Alex, I need you to take Kenneth for a buggy ride.”

            Alex stood up and walked back to the house. “Oh well,” he thought, “Next year.”

            His mom had his baby brother wrapped in a blanket in the big buggy. “Kenneth won’t settle down and I need to get my baking done, or we won’t have any bread. Take him down along the lake road until he falls asleep and when you bring him back set the buggy under the oak tree behind the house. Then you can get about your other chores. I’ll hear him if he wakes up.”

            Alex was sullen as he pushed the buggy down the lane. What he should do is just send it over the edge, into the lake. He hadn’t asked for another brother, especially one he had to tend to on the day of the big race. And his mom didn’t even realize that––she didn’t care about what his plans were for the day!

            The sound of the wheels calmed Kenneth. He stopped crying and was looking up at his elder brother. Soon his eyes began to droop, and then closed entirely. Alex wheeled the buggy back home and placed it under the oak tree. As he pushed his foot on the wheel-brake, he smiled! If Kenneth was sleeping in the buggy, there was no real need for it to have wheels!

            Just then, Jimmy came around the corner of the house. “Jimmy, come here,” Alex called out. Alex explained to his younger brother what he was about to do and what role he was to play. Jimmy was shaking his head, but then Alex drove home the words that closed the deal for him. “You owe me, Jimmy. Remember the time I covered for you when you skipped school––actually, if truth be told here, more than one time! This is extremely important to me!” Alex got busy with what he had to do. It was a good thing that Kenneth, once he fell asleep, was a sound sleeper.


            It was a thrilling race. Alex was beside Harold in the starting line. They had glared at each other. Alex could see that Harold was not happy, especially when he saw the size of the wheels on Alex’s go-cart. It had been a tight race. Harold was bigger and stronger than Alex, but in the end, it was the large buggy wheels that had given Alex the edge and pushed the nose of his go-cart over the finish line, just ahead of the rest of the pack. Harold had grudgingly shook Alex’s hand on the podium.


            The first thing Alex saw as he was pedaling the go-cart up his laneway was his mom standing on the front steps with her hands on her hips. And the look on her face told him that all was not well!

            “Alex! You have some explaining to do, young man!”

            Alex looked up at the second story window of the house, to where the bedroom he shared with Jimmy was. Jimmy was standing in the window––distress was written all over his face.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. June
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 04:07:34

    I want to know what happened …when Mom got a hold of him. Did he win? Was it worth it…Details Mary…I am a detail person ..I just need to know?


  2. marycushniemansour
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 13:13:32

    Hi June – thanks for the comment 🙂 Yes, see paragraph beginning with “It was a thrilling race.” Alex won! And, as for what his mom did when she got hold of him – I hope the inference made in the last three paragraphs might indicate that he was in big trouble! Hopefully, this clears up the details for you. 🙂


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