by Audrea Crowley
Set somewhere in middle America, in a two-horse town, Ned and Dustin have been best friends since grade school. Dustin's the crazy one - a little short, a little fat but still cute, always planning and scheming, and forever getting Ned into trouble. Ned is the sweet one. He's tall and slender. He doesn't try hard because he doesn't have to. He's the responsible heartthrob who every girls' mother prays she'll marry. Now in their late twenties and both roadside construction- site flaggers for an overbearing boss, they find themselves in a tricky situation. You see, Ned takes care of his Grandpa Bumpus (Bump for short), who is a pack-a-dayer and a habitual gambler. Bump's been in and out of trouble his whole life but this time he got himself waaayyy behind the 8-ball. He may be old and creaky and he may rarely leave his recliner but make no mistake, Bump is a force of destruction. In a flash, he bet it all. Actually, more than all. He bet money he doesn't have and now all hell is gonna break loose.
Sure enough, two regular loan shark collectors are coming for Bump. They're a couple of half-wits, but they're dangerous nonetheless. In a panic, Ned writes a ten thousand dollar check (his entire savings)and needs to come up with another forty grand. The timing couldn't be worse because just the night before Ned had proposed to his high school sweetheart, Shelly. She has been waiting and he has been saving. But Ned can't tell Shelly what's up, so he and Dustin devise a plan. The plan is to restore Bump's old rust-bucket, piece-of-shit-but-still-pretty-cool, 1957 Studebaker truck, named Agatha. They plan to enter Agatha in the annual county hot rod competition to win the fifty thousand dollar prize. For the record, note that this bad idea was all Dustin's. And it may very well be his stupidest of all stupid ideas because they only have two weeks to accomplish this probably impossible task. Why impossible? Because they have no motor, no wheels, no metal to patch holes let alone an awesome paint job. And not to mention the same cheating bastard wins every year! What's up with that?!
Over the next two weeks nothing is beneath them. Ned and Dustin do anything to bring Agatha back to life. From stealing road signs to Ned's root canal - a little something he needed to do to get his hands on some Laughing Gas to supercharge the motor... no big deal. Everyone pitches in- Bumpus, Itsy (Bump's new girlfriend), Shelly, guys down at The Garage, bikers from a biker bar, the town dentist, a Kung Fu paint master, and even a rookie cop. Meanwhile, the town's senior officer and the rookie cop are working around the clock to figure out who the heck the loan shark is. Turns out, unbeknownst to the cops and Ned and Dustin, the never-losing cheating bastard is the loan shark! The townspeople won't turn him in because everyone owes him money.
They all manage to restore Agatha but this turns out to be just half the battle. They have to race on competition day and beat the cheating bastard who never loses. Come race-day, the rookie cop solves the case and so if Ned and Dustin actually win the competition then maybe they'll get to keep the fifty-thousand dollars!