Time to fire up the Smith-Corona. It's the 2012 ChopCult Creative Writing Contest.
Everyone has until Febraury 29 to post ONE entry per member on this thread. Neatness, spelling, syntax and intelligent narrative counts, so please use spell check, delete double spaces between words and sentences (these wreak havoc on HTML) and please use elipses ("...") sparingly. These pesky periods also diddle with the HTML in a bad way, and personally drive me nuts. Paragraphs and double-spacing are a far better way to give your stories room to breath between thoughts, IMO.
On February 29 (Leap Year!) yours truly will select his top 5 and post these entries on another thread in which everyone can vote for their favorite.
This popular vote will be open until March 15, at which point the poll will close and 1st and 2nd-place winners will be determined.
The two most popular submissions will receive a substantial prize package that includes a book or two from my personal stash, some rusty old motorcycle parts and at least a couple brand-new ChopCult t-shirts and stickers.
Thanks in advance to everyone who enters this year's ChopCult writing contest. Good luck and have fun!
Hal... You mention not to have double spacing between sentences but that's correct punctuation.
I've got something I wrote almost exactly three years ago, which (half of it) was read out on a national radio station over here. I'd like to enter it, if that's ok but do I need to reduce all the gaps after a full stop (period) to one space?
Hal... You mention not to have double spacing between sentences but that's correct punctuation.
Double spacing after the "." on a typewriter is correct, but word processing and computers eliminated the need for this mechanical kerning Band-Aid years ago.
Computers prefer single spacing between everything, and typesetter's elipses over multiple "period period period ..." On a Mac the elipses is written by holding down "option" and hitting the colon key (first one to the right of L on the QWERTY keyboard)
Years ago Billdozer gave me a book called "The Macintosh is not a Typewriter," and it changed my life.
Re: Radio story, absolutely share your prose if you wish. I'd love to read it!
Alright then, seems I might be the first one to post my drivvle here
Some history about this piece: Coming up to Valentine's day three years ago I sent a text into a national radio station about how a "first kiss" should be. They read it out on air and it apparently received the biggest response to anything they'd ever had or done on the show. They rang me up, the DJ spoke with me on air and asked me to write a piece to "fill about 90 seconds of air time" and they'd read it out the following week. I wrote a clean segment for them but then continued the story with a raunchy segment.
Anyway, I'll not be held responsible for any reactions that people may have due to reading this crap
She’d been working for the company just four weeks now. From the first day there was tension between them; an unspoken chemistry that simply must be explored - some day.
He knew her name, where she came from and lived now. He knew how old she was and when her birthday is. He knew where she ate for lunch and what she liked to order there most days. He knew all this yet had never spoken to her except to say “hiya” or “how’s things?” in passing.
He knew every curve of her body. The way the clothes she chose to wear accentuated her small but perfectly formed figure. He knew the one lock of hair that, no matter how many different ways she tried, just would not stay tied up with the rest and fell ever so softly down over her eyes.
And so he found himself in the break room with her, stealing time out from the workload for a quick coffee. The television in the background playing some daytime kids’ show; Sesame Street, he thought. But his mind is elsewhere right now. Focused on the incredible beauty beside him, waiting for the water to boil. She reached across him for a cup and a fresh wave of her perfume flooded into his nostrils, almost making him dizzy.
At that moment, she turned to look at him. He felt himself drowning in the blue oceans of her eyes. Her eyes that now, as always, had a wisp of hair across them. She felt the heat and passion in his stare. Before he realised he was doing it, his hand had moved up to her face, fingertips touching her forehead, slowly brushing that stubborn lock of hair to one side, revealing her porcelain-like features in full.
She didn’t shy away, actually seemed to follow the movement of his hand, pressing slightly against his fingertips. There were no words. What could BE said at that moment?? He moved towards her, his tall broad frame towering above her slight body, so close now he could feel her hot, sweet breath on his face.
She raised her face to meet him as his lips touched hers - soft and warm - inviting. As he parted his lips, her tongue brushed lightly over them, filling him with a flurry of deliciousness. There was passion behind her kiss. Her wet tongue moving against his own in his mouth. His kiss in return was equally as passionate.
As their lips worked together, electricity flowed through her as he gently ran his fingertips down her neck, the skin so soft and silky to his touch. The nerve endings on the back of his neck erupting and dancing as if being switched on all at once and the feeling working it’s way up to engulf his very thoughts.
Electric. The only word to describe it.
Slowly, the world surrounding them disappeared. Nothing and no-one existed any more. They were transported to another place. A perfect place. Their place. Time did not exist there. If asked, he could not have guessed how long they remained entwined as one.
There was a hunger building up in them both. Their bodies were on fire. No thoughts were spent on where they were, who could walk in, what would happen if they were caught. They were in a moment together and nothing else mattered.
He ran his fingers up the back of her neck, into her hair as she tilted her head backwards revealing her smooth soft throat to which he turned his attention. His soft wet lips, kissing and plucking at the tender skin, sending tingles of pleasure coursing through every fibre of her being.
Her hands clinging onto his shirt as she steadied herself against the counter. He trailed his tongue along her neck, down to her shoulder, slowly peeling away her top to expose the delicate milky skin beneath. Gently, he kissed and nipped at her skin, then continued kissing and licking down her chest, opening her top to free her chest, falling and rising rapidly with every breath she gasped.
She pulled his shirt out of his jeans and drew it swiftly upwards past his head and allowed him to draw his arms free. His own chest now bare, she ran her fingers through the hairs that adorned it, kissing him and licking his nipples, now hard with excitement and anticipation. She wondered what else would be hard.
He slid her top down along her slender arms, unclasped her bra and pulled it forward, her full breasts reflecting the fluorescent lighting so beautifully. He stood for a moment, marvelling at how perfect they were.
As he closed his mouth over one of her nipples, she moaned as she clawed at the back of his head, drawing him to her. He sucked deeply, circling her erect nipple with his tongue, then he blew gently across it, causing goose bumps to break out over her skin. She slapped him lightly but she liked it.
He paid similar attention to her other breast, then knelt down in front of her. He undid her skirt and slipped it down over her round buttocks revealing her lacework panties. As it fell to the floor, she stepped out of it, first one long slender leg, then the other.
Now standing there, legs slightly parted, he covered her body with soft kisses. Her shoulders, breasts, tummy, hips, her thighs so smooth to his lips it felt like kissing sunlight. He kissed her leg all the way down past her knee to her shoe-clad foot and then back up the other leg.
He pulled at her panties with his teeth. Stroking his fingertips up the backs of her legs, from her slim ankles, up past her calves. Softly over the backs of her knees, up the underside of her thighs until he reached her bottom. He slid his fingers up underneath the panties and slowly, very slowly drew them down.
As she stood there, naked but for her shoes, he took a moment to gaze at her loveliness, then he went to work.
He began by kissing her belly, slowly moving down towards her neatly groomed pussy. Her pubic hair trimmed to form what some might call a “runway”. As he ran his tongue along her labia, she raised one of her legs and hooked it around his neck, locking him in place.
He closed his mouth on her pussy and sucked hard as his tongue probed deeply. She was so wet and tasted so sweet. He held onto her tightly and fed on her eagerly, sending spasms of ecstasy shooting through her body. She arched her back against the pleasure she was enduring, writhing in the sublime feelings he was giving her.
He drew his tongue slowly along her clit time and again, building her pleasure up to a staggering level. She sat back on the counter, her legs all but giving way under her. As he sucked and licked again and again, the waves of ecstasy washed over her making her cum over and over again, soaking his face as he made love to her hot pussy with his mouth.
He stood up, her honey dripping from his face. She kissed him hungrily, tasting herself for the first time. She opened up his belt and jeans, thrusting her hands inside his boxer shorts to feel his hard cock, erect and ready for her.
The year was 1966 and Al Benedict (not his real name) had never been quite right since the war. The Korean War that is. Al suffered from what folks refered to as war wounds. Now nobody actually knew what those wounds were but throughout my youth I'd heard some whispers and even witnessed some of his unusual behavior. Naturally, speculation, rumors and gossip ran wild.
I'd heard that before he went off to war everybody on that side of town knew Al Benedict and most folks couldn't stand him. He was one of the local hooligans and neighbors always heard yelling and cussing coming from Al's house. But in those days you didn't get involved. Back then people minded their own business. As folks often said, "the Benedict's have always had their hands full with that boy." But the word was that when Al came back from the war he was a changed man. He no longer drank, fought or swore. The Al I'd seen growing up was just a disheveled, crazy guy who scared the daylights out of every kid in the neighborhood and never uttered an intelligible sentence. In fact in recent years he had taken to not speaking at all. He just sat there looking very old and skinny as hell. The only thing he did now was sit on a chair in the front yard and look at his hands. That was even creepier. The younger kids would go by the house now and then and taunt him but he'd back away from them and go inside. He did the same thing to me a couple of times when I went past and all I did was wave. Yep I always thought that Al Benedict was just the town wacko.
One cool day I saw Al in the front yard and I remembered hearing that he'd once had a motorcycle. Suddenly out of my mouth flew the words, "Hey Al. Where's your motorcycle?" He stood up like a shot and for a second looked as if he was gonna run off. Then he looked straight at me and clear as a bell said, "You wanna see it?" Nooooo way I thought as I hauled ass down that road. A week later when I walked by trying to ignore him jumped up and shouted, "YOU WANNA SEE IT?" This time his mother was on the porch and hollered to me saying, "You kids better stop antagonizing my boy! All of you!" Well by the time I got home she'd called my house complaining that I was saying stuff to her son getting him all fired up and crying. When I told my Ma what had happened I got orders to march right back over there to explain and apologize in person.
By the time I got there Al's mother was really pissed and demanded to know what I'd said that was suddenly getting him all upset. When I explained that all I did was ask about his motorcycle her whole mood changed. She was much calmer and asked if I'd please go out back to the garage with Al and look at it. Now there was no way I wanted to be in a confined space with that lunatic but I must admit that curiosity got the best of me so I went. What I saw was absolutely amazing.
Before going into the service in 1952, Al was a Greaser and he used to terrorize the locals on his noisy motorcycle. The neighbors hated him and the cops despised him. Nope, nobody had any use for Al. But when he came home from the war after enduring unimaginable horrors as a POW, all he did were two things. He spent most of the day sitting outside muttering to himself and he spent most of the night wiping down and oiling every single part of an old 1951 Harley-Davidson over and over again. When I say every part I mean if it could be disassembled Al had taken it apart. The entire bike was laid out in the garage like diagrams in a service manual and for the next God knows how long, in a low voice as if talking to himself, he touched and rattled off the names of every single part from that bike one at a time. All the parts had been rubbed so many times they looked brand new. He'd start at the beginning of the line and do each part. When he was finished he'd start all over again. Maybe he couldn't sleep or maybe he was afraid to sleep. I used to wonder if he even knew he was still alive. But then, maybe just being with his parts was what was keeping him alive.
After that day Al just went back to sitting in the yard not even noticing when I'd walk by. Even when I'd stop and say hello or ask about the bike he'd just stare at his hands. Yet when night came he'd be out in the garage doing the cleaning and oiling of everything alone. But every now and then I guess something would click in his head and Al would stand up and say, "You wanna see it?" So I'd go out back so he could call out the names. Truth be told, when he got going I don't even think he knew I was there. He just rambled on.
Al Benedict died in November, 1967 of heart failure brought on by pneumonia and numerous other health complications. He was 33 years old and another casualty of the forgotten war.
About a week after the funeral his mom called our house and asked if I would be willing to come over and pack up all of Al's parts. It was then that the '51 came to me.
The line felt good in my hand. The wood that pushes against the water is a good vessel. I pull hard and feel the wind through the sail haul back against the raised tension. The boat leaning into the turn. Water splashes, waking me to the speed of the ship. Looking at the horizon, seeing the dark bluish gray clouds rising towards the sky, rising to greet me. I tack to the north trying to get a better angle, seeing if I can make port without rain or lightning. Knowing full well I will be in the thick of the storm shortly, I stow what I can as I draw the lines in, putting them where I can get to them without a hassle. The longest task is getting the jib securely tied down. The sprinkling starts shortly after I get back to my seat. Water is all around me now. My rain gear below, the weather is warm enough, anyways, the rain feels goods. The first lightning strike falls two hundred yards away, bringing with it the thunder that I have yearned to feel through my soul. A smile appears as the thunder rolls off into the distance. Small chop turns to swells, then to big waves, washing water over the sides. The ship starts to yawn and pitch with the waves. Loosening the lines a little to have more time to react if the wind decides to push from the other way I keep her pointed in the right direction. Wanting neither to fight the winds nor battle the waves to tack into a better position. The quickest way out is straight, maybe with a little zigzagging, but straight. I laugh as I pull the rudder against my side, looking out to the water, electricity and clouds that are welcome guests to my voyage. The ship whips to port throwing me into the side. I struggle back to my seat, put the rudder back in my hand and get things right again. The waves come at me from all directions. I turn the ship starboard seeking the correct heading on the compass. The needle works its way around the dial and I pull the rudder straight. Gaining the correct direction, the wind billows the sail and pulls the boat along. Getting her back up to speed, the worst of the storm behind me, shivering with the cool gusts I settle back and enjoy the weather. I watch the clouds overhead blow quickly by. The lower wisps strike out and fly swiftly below the higher cloud banks. Waves gradually begin their descent into the waters. Still, the thunder bellows and I can hear the sound raise over the land a mile away. The lingering sounds just flow, not wanting to give way to the silence. The wind begins to slow, clouds break apart to let in the remains of the day. The stark contrast of sunlight and gray clouds is breathtaking. Another rumble of thunder and the storm is all but over. I can see the calling lights of the pier, warning of the concrete coast that threatens to destroy unwary boats. Pulling as close to the channel as the wind permits, I quickly lower the main sail and start the aged motor. The rude sound make me shudder, realizing not for the first time that I would rather be in the storm surrounded by thunder, then in the silence broken only by a two-stroke sputtering engine.
Last edited by ChetPunisher; 01-29-2012 at 3:05 PM.
Damn that wind is cold on the face, like razor blades hitting my skin. The crumb filled beard stops it a bit, but it still makes my cheeks hurt and eyes water. I’ve been over these mountains a hundred times and it’s still a shock, probably always will be. But, in a few hours when I’m blasting across the desert headed Eastbound, I’ll be wishing I could feel a breeze or two.
This’ll be my, fuck! Who the hell knows how many trips I’ve made across this country? I might have some idea if that speedo hadn’t quit out on me years ago. But I guess that’s the type of thing that happens when ya get older, shit breaks. Bikes bust, people die and hearts, well, we all know how it goes. Life man, it’s been a trip, but I’m not so sure I’d want to “do it all over again” as some people say. I know I wouldn’t mind one more ride with the Old Lady but she broke that promise. The promise to me that she’d outlast my haggard ass, and now? Well now, I have to face this shit solo. Fortunately, unlike most things, I remember our last ride like it was yesterday. And every day since, I’ve ridden these asphalt roads like she was still right behind me.
It was late in the fall, and we were making our yearly trek down South to avoid the shit New England winter. Once those leaves start turning we make our last trip of the year across the Kancamangus Highway. We hit those mountain twists and turns, breathing in the fresh, October air and making a few stops along the river for some “us” time. I tried for years to convince her to sell that old dilapidated place we kept on the lake so we could live full time in the warm sunshine of Florida, but she wouldn’t budge. That’s how she was with most things, stubborn. Me? Not so much, there were very few things I gave a rats ass about in this world, my kids, my wife and my bike. She let me keep riding, even after the back surgery and the blown out knees. And after the kids were all grown, all I needed was this bike and that woman. I don’t think she ever realized how much she meant to me, guess that was probably my fault.
It was the beginning of November and we were cruising down old Route 1 headed to Florida to stay with friends. She told me she’d felt worse before and that being out on the open road would do her some good. There’s something to be said about riding through those small, southern towns. There aren’t so many yuppies and you can actually get a decent breakfast without a side order of fucking Cantaloupe. Riding along the miles of trees and farms, smelling the cow shit they spread all over the place. After thirty miles of it you’ve had enough, but the first nose full is almost welcome, almost. If you look real close when you pass by some of these garages on the side of the road, you’ll spot brand new Cadillac’s through the cracked and missing boards they’ve got for walls. It’s funny what some people cherish. We always took our time headed to the Sunshine State, we were both retired so we had no need to get anywhere fast. We’d been going for three days when she said her headaches were coming back, so we took up in a hotel.
We never made it down to Florida that year and I’ve never been back. Without her, it just wouldn’t be the same. It’s been ten years since her passing and I’ve never even been back to the East Coast. After her funeral I spent some time with my kids but all I could see was her face staring back at me. Once I got the call to pick up her ashes I split. I packed her small brown box into my Saddlebags and hit the road. Every single thing I owned was on that bike, all the shit I didn’t need stayed behind. And I’ve been riding ever since. This old bagger and me have been all over the place and now we’re on our way to Iowa to see my grandkids. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve seen them. I miss ‘em tuggin’ on my beard, trying to rub off my tattoos and kissin’ the one for Grammy. The colors are hardly there anymore, it’s kind of a dull and faded, but you can still read her name just fine. And the feelings are still there like the day it was permanently etched into me.
I’m beat, been riding for eight hours now, used to be I could go for eighteen. Guess that’s just another one of life’s little “fuck you’s”. These days I just lay my head down whenever I get tired. No need for a comfortable bed, I’ve got my small, one man tent and roll to keep me off the ground. I find a nice patch of grass, off the beaten path, put up camp and lay it up for the night. Sometimes longer if it’s a decent spot. If it’s a good night I'll dream of her and me, riding along the Eastern Seaboard. Her arms draped around me, her legs by my side and chills down my back as she kisses the nape of my neck. And if it’s a bad night, I'll be waking up tomorrow, alone.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am of the imperious height of 5’5,” and contrary to popular belief, the biggest thing about me, so I’m told, is not my wiener, but rather my mouth. I admit I can be a little verbose, a tad digressive, and when drinking, maybe a little waggish but am very democratic so usually I have something to say. However, and unlike that chick at the other table who obviously was vaccinated with a phonograph needle, I don’t have the urge to just blabber for the sake of blather. Now- just a note on my riding habits in the city. We all know that the motorcycle is made for going through and around tight spaces so in city traffic I will take full advantage of that fact, and, have you know that my maneuvers are an art form and while my pipes are quite resonant and while you are at a stop I will sidle up to you smooth as a school boy sneaking under a skirt, you sense me there but now gone daddy gone, out of your world and way, with ‘nary an inconvenience to your droll work-a-daddy-work-a-mommy day. Maybe I made you smile. Maybe I pissed you off- just like the dude in the black SUV today. It is not my intention to flaunt my finesse in your face, but merely to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. And with a smile. And some throttle. Sometimes with a bottle.
So, it’s perfect tee shirt weather today in Chicago, and am homeward bound traveling a mildly trafficked Damen avenue oh so pretty tree lined yuppie avenue.
and hey what’s this? Ten cars crawling at a stop sign. Too fucking long. Zoom a zoom, three seconds over Tokyo and bye bye to traffic. In the groove on the move and you know how sometimes an object can be so big you don’t even notice it, like for example, a big blue Dept. of Streets and San rolling rattling garbage truck? Well kids, it’s me on the right of this large black SUV waiting for Mr. Red to go green and I am sooo mellow now just bopping along to Archie Bell and the Drells doing “Tighten Up” in my head Archie Bell and the Drells IN MY HEAD who not only sing but can dance just as good as they want. Now horn section; bwah da da daaaaa da (tighten up)!
Light turns green throttle gently to pass and go around, now in middle of intersection only now noticing big garbage truck in front of me which would not be a problem had not Mr. Black purposely decided not to let me pass so I throttle up more he speeds up more safe passing distance gone garbage truck blinkers on, snail pace, Mr. Black on my back, pass not completed and I’m squeezed out to be kept behind this black 4 x 4 but it’s all Kool and the Gang with me because at least we are moving. Mr. Blue has made his right turn and Mr. Black who has a firemen license plate is moving at a good pace so no worries mate. Do the tighten up!
Only a couple of minutes has passed and the next intersection is already upon us and I see Mr. Black’s turn signal indicating a right while I choose to go forward and never straight and here we are at the red, side by side like Fred and Ginger. I am gonna groove to the sound of my D and D’s* and not even glace at the dude. My name is Mr. Mellow, I’m going home for jello. I’m a lover not a fighter. I…"hey asshole, didn’t you see that blue city truck?” I turns around with me in my sooo laid back pose; right hand dipped on the throttle, left draped over right, shades dropped down to tip of nose, cool forward slouch, looking straight at this cabrone: “why yes. yes I did. I saw his blinkers too. Why? Was that your girl friend driving?” With the window only partially down (what are you afraid of) I could only see from the shoulders up but he sure looked like a bruiser, maybe in his early 40’s (younger than me) beefy and possibly Irish judging from how quickly his face could turn from Protestant dry white to Catholic merlot red. I love to watch the neck veins explode. Now he’s yelling another insult or two my way and something something about my hat on backwards and a pocket knife, “yeah, I see that knife in your pocket” but my pipes are too loud so I calmly turn the ignition off. My turn. And I’m calm, not yelling back still in my Cool Hand Luke pose and I quote a line from Reservoir Dogs: “Hey little dog. Are you gonna bark all day or are you gonna bite?” “ My bike is off, I ain‘t going anywhere.” Dude looks at me, light turns green, I’m smiling and getting ready to turn on my ignition to hear his last parting words that “I should be arrested.” Yeah and I should be horsewhipped too, but it ain’t gonna be by you and now he’s gone.
So I guess I got lucky again, huh? The turning off of the ignition thing? I dunno, sometimes things just take over, you can’t stop it. In the back of my mind I’m rationalizing here’s a guy works for the city, who could get fired for getting too stupid and besides, wtf is he so agitated about? Anyway, someone got lucky so remember, if ya can’t ride it like ya stole it, then ride it just to piss ‘em off.
Jack loved driving his motocross bike. It was a Suzuki RM 125 which he had bought off of guy who had bought it brand new and drove it about four times before he decided to sell it. Jack had worked hard to save up enough to buy his first motocross bike and this one was pretty much brand new.
Jack loved that bike.
The town where Jack lived was a mixture of brand new suburban developments and old farms and fields so there were plenty of spaces to go riding. A large farm bordered Jack`s backyard, there was an apple orchard, a few old barns, and around five different fields where the farmer grew corn, tomatoes , pumpkins and various other vegetables. Jack avoided going on the farmer`s property. He had heard rumours of the farmer peppering trespassers with buckshot.
There were plenty of other places to ride which were easily accessible from his house.
On this day, a warm sunny day, Labour day to be exact, Jack decided to go to one of his favourite places, a huge field where he and a few of his friends had built a big jump on the top of a small hill. There was a long straightaway, then a very mild curve you could take full out in top gear, up the small hill and off the big jump. There was plenty of landing room after the jump so you could be in the air for a long time and still have lots of room to land. After landing you could leave on a path or turn around and jump again.
Jack loved that feeling of flying through the air. It was like time slowed down and everything went quiet when his wheels left the ground. Reality, time and sound only returned to normal when the wheels slammed into the ground again.
After doing the jump over and over for quite a while Jack noticed there was a police car parked on the street that ran parallel to the field. The police in this town were always chasing Jack and friends. People would complain about the loud motocross bikes and would call the police. The police would try to stop Jack and his friends but they never had much luck-there were too many fields and tightly wooded areas dotted with swamps that were perfect for dirt biking but not accessible by cars or trucks.
Jack flew over the jump a few more times and then took the path that led away from the jump and towards his house. Out of the corner of his eye Jack could see the police car moving.
Halfway down the path Jack decided to turn around and try the jump again. He went over the jump a few more times and then continued down the path.
The path ended at a street and you had to drive on the side of the road to get to the next path. In this part of town the streets didn`t have any sidewalks, it was usually gravel, then a ditch. When Jack came out of the path and onto the gravel he saw the police car again. They must`ve been waiting there for him and had decided to leave since Jack didn`t appear when they thought he should.
They were heading in the opposite direction. Jack hit the gas and drove down the street towards the next path, front wheel in the air and running a stop sign in the process. It wasn`t that Jack was trying to piss the cops off on purpose, he always drove like that. It was fun.
Jack got onto the next path that led to his street. It was quite a long path through a small forest with a bit of mud to go through. At the very end of the path there was a little jump that put you onto the street. The path was at a ninety degree angle to the street so you had to go off of it turning so you could drive parallel to the street. It was also really important to look out for cars coming as well.
Just before Jack went off the little jump he could see a police car barrelling towards him. It was really close. Jack landed the bike and the police car banged into his leg with it`s front bumper, trying to knock him down. Jack absorbed the impact and hit the gas. Jack was in full panic mode now. Someone was trying to kill him. The police car managed to stay beside Jack and swerved into Jack again. The impact wasn`t hard enough to knock Jack down, he just absorbed the hit again and managed to stay on the bike. At the end of one particular driveway the owner had placed two large boulders. The boulders were approaching fast. The police car smacked into Jack one more time just before Jack ran into the boulders and then the police officer slammed on the brakes, he was sure Jack would crash now.
Jack hit the boulders with the gas pinned and the engine screaming way past it`s redline. The bike was thrown up in the air all crossed up at different odd angles.
For some unexplainable reason Jack did not crash. He hit the ground with the throttle pinned.
At the end of this street was an old path that no one had used for a few years and now was quite overgrown.
It was hard to tell there was even a path there.
Jack slammed into the vegetation at full speed, if there was pain from the branches hitting his hands the signal never got to his brain-there was too much adrenaline controlling every action now.
He was now on the farmer`s property near Jack`s home. There was a network of paths that led to a wide flat trail that the farmer used to get his tractor to his fields. It was bordered by large trees and deep in the farmer`s property. Luckily for Jack this trail led right up to his backyard. He was almost home free.
Jack drove up onto the tractor trail and turned off his bike. He was shaking from the whole ordeal.
As he pushed his bike down the trail he began to slowly calm down. It almost felt like he could breathe again.
Then he heard a noise behind him, it sounded like twigs snapping and dried leaves being crushed.
Jack turned around and a police car was right behind him!
Jack ran with the bike, jumped on it and started it all in one motion. He was so close to home but there was no going home now.
Jack wailed through the farmers field, past the elementary school and then came out in a more developed part of the town where most of the fields were now gone. He was in full panic mode now and had nowhere to go. He was just going nowhere as fast as possible.
All of a sudden Jack remembered a story his friend Norm had told him about how he had escaped the police by going to Bill`s house, opening his garage door, driving the bike in and closing the door. Norm ended up leaving the bike there for a few days and had walked home with the cops driving past him frantically looking for the renegade dirt biker.
Jack thought this was a brilliant idea. He screamed through parks and down streets to get Bill`s house as fast as possible.
He got to his friend Bill`s house, opened the garage door and hastily pushed his bike inside, closing the garage door behind him as soon and as fast as possible.
Bill was shooting pool when he heard the garage door opening and closing. ``That`s odd`` he thought to himself. ``Who`s opening and closing the garage door?``
When Bill walked into the garage he saw Jack there with his bike taking his helmet off. Jack looked visibly upset.
``What`s going on Jack, don`t you knock anymore?`` Bill asked slightly annoyed.
``The cops are chasing me-they tried to kill me!`` Jack shouted as quietly as possible.
``Oh jeez, well come in then, just leave the bike here.``
Bill had been chased on his dirt bike as well and knew what it felt like.
Bill had been playing pool and Jack grabbed a pool cue and attempted a few futile shots, he was still too freaked out about his ordeal.
Then the commotion began. Almost every police car in town, about 10 or 12 were on my friend Bill`s street. Bill lived on a very quiet suburban street where kids played street hockey outside almost all year round. At the end of the street there was one of the last remaining fields in that area.
Bill`s father came downstairs. He had heard the motocross bike screaming and then the garage door opening and closing. When he saw the cop frenzy outside he knew something was up.
``What`s going on here!`` Yelled Bill`s dad as he came stomping downstairs.
He took one look at Jack with his motocross boots, pants, jersey and the scared rabbit look on his face and knew instantaneously that Jack was the reason there was a million cops on his quiet street.
``They`re after you!`` Bill`s dad bellowed angrily.
``Get out of my house now!`` he demanded.
Jack tried to reason with him. ``They hit me with their car, they tried to kill me!``
``GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!`` Bill`s dad commanded.
Jack was sure his goose was cooked now.
He put his helmet back on while his friend opened the garage door.
``Sorry about that Jack.`` his friend said sadly.
``It`s OK Bill, it`s not your fault.`` Jack replied.
Jack pushed his bike out of the garage and onto the street.
At first he looked to the field as a direction. The field had about twenty police officers in it, they were all walking around looking for Jack. They thought he had laid his bike down in the tall grass in an attempt to hide.
Luckily for Jack the other way was toward home and that was completely clear.
Jack kick started the bike and roared off. All of the police officers turned their heads as they saw the bike speed away from them.
At the end of Bill`s street there was a huge drop-off and then a farmer`s field, Jack flew off the drop-off, raced across the farmer`s field slammed into the deep ditch that was in his way, across a small field and then drove into his backyard. At last he was home safe.
His dad, and probably a good part of the people in town, had heard the screaming motocross bike and the multitude of sirens wailing.
``What going on?`` Jack`s dad asked angrily.
``They tried to kill me.`` Jack answered.
``Put your bike at the side of the house.`` Jack`s dad advised.
Jack lay his bike down at the side of the house and threw a tarp over it.
Then he took off his gear except for his pants and boots.
Then without any forethought he picked up a rake and started to rake the grass his dad had just cut.
All of a sudden a police car emerged on that farmer`s trail that led to his backyard. The police car was a few feet from Jack`s fence. Luckily for Jack the fence and grape vines that were growing on it obscured some of the police officer`s view so he could not see Jack`s pants or boots. All the police officer could see is some kid with no shirt holding a rake.
Jack looked at them with fake questioning look.
Slowly the police car backed up. Soon it was out of sight.
The chase was over.
He learned later that almost the whole town had seen the police cars zooming around with their sirens wailing, that neighbourhood kids had given police false directions and that the CB radio people had even been involved.
Jack never drove that bike in that town again, he ended up selling it and buying one that was a different
color. He also changed his equipment so he couldn`t be recognized. From then on Jack tried to stay off the streets and drove quietly when he was close to people`s houses.
Jack was never chased by the police on his dirt bike again. Then he got a street bike, and pulled over whenever he saw those flashing lights. Well, most of the time anyways.
(Please note, I am removing this story from consideration for fairness, since it was run on Chop Cult)
Motorcycles are a polarizing form of transportation. Broach the subject and you will find people fall into two groups. On one side are the folks who think they are loud and dangerous, ridden by dirt-bag miscreants who eyeball women. On the other are those who lecture how the vehicle offers ultimate freedom, complete with the self-bolstering undercurrent of a social outsider. But like most matters in life, the truth is an alloy of these viewpoints. And the real beauty of a motorcycle comes from the random and at times dangerous events that occur along the way. This is the stuff that makes stories and legends for years to come, told and retold with steadily growing warpage of the facts.
This is one of those stories.
One day my phone rang. It was David. “Eh Mate. Whadda say we ride to Cottonwood, Arizona next week for The Smokeout?" He asked as if his mouth was full of marbles like all improper Brits. The motorcycle rally would be the same as the rest: overpriced consumables, crowds of poorly-socialized gorillas, and the inevitable apparel stating such crowd-pleasing favorites as Show me your tits and If you can read this the bitch fell off. But rallies are little more than an excuse to go somewhere on a motorcycle. The trips are about riding together and living unplanned for a few preciously free days.
“Just you and me?” I asked.
“Nah, Gilby’s comin’. You could meet us in LA on your way from San Francisco.”
I said yes and packed my things.
My journey of 1004 miles from Berkeley to Cottonwood began with the proverbial single step right into the ‘MacArthur Maze,’ a cheeky nickname for the junction of interstates 80, 580, and 880. This masterpiece of civil engineering has an uncanny ability to produce traffic jams at the least provocation, especially when fueled by Californians, a breed of driver who firmly believe they are entitled to occupy the fast lane regardless of speed or ability. Navigating such pandemonium on two wheels takes great skill and patience. But how could I exhibit such a virtue as a mother next to me turned completely around in her seat to yell at her kids? A highway patrol officer drove right past her on his cell phone laughing, maybe about the fact that as a cop he did not need to follow the law. A lifted Chevy Suburban with mud tires and a Harley-Davidson sticker in the back window cut me off, reminding me of one of the great truths in life: Huge trucks with Harley stickers are typically driven by folks who do not own a motorcycle and behave like they have something to prove. I kept to the slow lane, the only one that moves with consistency.
Exiting the Bay Area revealed route 101, a beautiful thoroughfare of alternating farm land and rolling hills that transforms from elephantine redwoods in the north to wind-sculpted Blue Oaks and pungent smelling eucalyptus in the south. There are even the occasional palm and cork tree. The landscape and myriad of trees, many of which were introduced from Australia, Europe and Africa, created a spectacular backdrop for a road trip.
Just south of San Jose the road entered the Santa Clara Valley, the heart of Steinbeckian California. Dusty farms dotted with migrant workers picking produce and tending crops lined my passage. Occasionally a person looked up, drawn by the engine rumble, though most ignore my existence. A jackknifed truck sat dormant in the opposing lane, surrounded by scattered crates disemboweled of lettuce. Some men collected the heads while other swept up the leaves. The entire stretch of highway contained random produce strewn along the road like remnants of some great war of vegetables. Gilroy, a town famous for garlic, enveloped my nose with the rich and homely smell of welcoming kitchens.
From Washington to California route 101 is peppered with enough amenities to ensure a comfortable transit. That is unless you are a person with a propensity for finding any stretch of road deficient of a gas station. Travelling south on a barren stretch of the highway, my small handmade gas tank ran dry and the bike sputtered to a halt. Checking the petcock, it was already on reserve! How could this have happened when I and I alone ride and work on my bikes? Clearly some lowlife scoundrel insinuated themselves into my shop and flipped the switch. It was the only logical explanation.
Waiting on the roadside for a AAA truck to deliver gas to your motorcycle crushes all undercurrents of a social outsider.
Gassed up and back on the road, 101 came to San Luis Obispo Bay. The highway graded up past a set of retired railroad tracks to reveal the endless majesty of the Pacific Ocean. At Pismo Beach I stopped for food and shelter. Skipping the quarter-driven showers, the ocean happily removed the road’s grimy remnants. Bobbing gently in the surf with nothing more than boxer shorts on, I watched the sun set.
In Los Angeles, Dave and Gilby were packed and ready to go. After listening to my recount of running out of gas, we agreed an extra can of gas was needed for the stretch to Cottonwood. Of course the can needed to be carried on my bike, since it was for me. And luckily I had prepared.
Earlier that year, my cousin gifted me a 1981 Honda Goldwing that could only be described as a real standout. It came complete with flat tires, rusted shut brake calipers, and gasoline in the tank that was so old it smelled like turpentine. The only way the engine would run was starter fluid – a superbly volatile mixture of hydrocarbons, diethyl ether, and carbon dioxide – dumped directly into the carburetor in amounts copious enough to set fire to Satan himself. Once the engine did turn, it shot fire from the exhaust, sputtering and stumbling like an asthmatic old man with a gimp leg. The bike did have one redeeming attribute though: Nice hard bags. And in the weeks prior to the ride, I mounted a single hard bag to the motorcycle using vacuum clamps. It was next to the rear wheel on the right side, since the left side would not accept it because of the license plate. When finished, the bag was three inches above the shot-gun-style exhaust pipes, plenty of room for heat to be carried away by the rushing wind of the open highway. And from San Francisco to Los Angeles this well-grounded hypothesis was validated. The cool breeze of the 101 in fall had left the bag unmolested by exhaust heat. My understanding of thermodynamics remained triumphant, or so I thought.
Our path from Los Angeles went due east by Joshua Tree National Park, where gnarled trees reminiscent of Dr. Seuss dotted a landscape ceaselessly assault by sunlight eager to transform its energy to heat. Gently undulating miles of road were bound by spiring mountains standing like sentinels in the distance. We rode through transfixed by the desert tapestry and the hot air rushing over our skin; friends on the open road in the vast and still wild west.
Needing water and gasoline, we stopped in Twentynine Palms. Exercising proper English, one would hyphenate ‘twenty-nine’ in the town’s name. However, this tiny Southern California hamlet has decided they have no need for such superfluous fanciness. And as the name suggests, there are palm trees there. The main road through town, aptly named Twentynine Palms Highway, is lined on both sides with mature, well-groomed palm trees. It was there in the Mojave desert that we learned just how much hotter the air had become.
Dave pulled up to the inside line of pumps in front of a car with a young Asian couple. Gilby chose the outside line of pumps with me behind. Hopping off my bike, I found Gilby standing before me with huge saucer eyes visible behind those ever-present aviator sunglasses. He began frantically waiving a pointing finger at my bike. Casually turning to see what he was carry on about, I found the Goldwing hard bag emitting what could only be described as liquid fire from a gaping hole in the bottom. Far worse, the fire was rapidly collecting in a puddle just feet from the pumps.
Silencing Gilby is one of my outstanding achievements in life. This is a man who spent his life as a rock musician, at times playing with mega bands. The type who purchase hair products by the gross, have groupies that behave like lemmings, and use pyrotechnics indiscriminately. One simply can not spend decades doing this without seeing some pretty crazy stuff. And while Gilby will freely admit that he dropped out of high school, he is quite well spoken and has no impediment to inserting his viewpoint in debate. Take any topic, any group of people, or any location, and Gilby will materialize out of thin air to ensure his right to exercise free speech. Yet now he could not muster a single word.
The fire was growing, spreading towards the pumps.
Now might be a good time to explain how a series of grossly miscalculated steps resulted in our motorcycle bonfire. The assaulting heat of the desert combined with the heat of the exhaust pipes had slowly begun to melt the bottom of the plastic Goldwing hard bag. As the hole grew and heat pored in, the gasoline in the can expanded, escaping into the bag and out the hole. Now gasoline does not simply combust with moderate heat. It needs an ignition source to begin burning. In this case ignition came from the shot-gun-style exhaust pipes, which when the bike was shut off expelled the last remnants of fuel-air mixture as a lovely blue-green flame with a charming ‘pop’ sound. It was this tiny flame, a simple afterthought of the running engine, that forged our own private hell.
The world transformed into a slow-motion theatre with a series of near-coincident events. The attendant inside the station began doing a chicken dance at the sight of the fire. The Asian couple yelled something and jumping into their car, peeling out of the station with one door still open. Dave, comprehending the scope of the situation, ran towards my bike and missed being hit by the escaping Asian couple’s car by a last-second vault over their hood Bo Duke style.
Understanding why a person would run towards fire at a gasoline station demands knowledge of the inner workings of a man like David Perry. As a former member of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, subtle military behaviors still permeate his everyday actions. He works regimented and long days. He has an overpowering need to color categorize his shoes. Above his desk hangs a painted picture of his mariner grandfather. Given the chance, he will describe the man at great length with glossy-eyed reverence. Dave has an inherently high energy level, similar to a hyperactive child who stumbled upon a box of unguarded pixie sticks. Once he cajoled me into running a twenty-kilometer race through the woods while it rained. The course took us up mile-long hills of clay-rich mud that stuck to our shoes with unrelenting accumulation. When he finished this joyous event well ahead of me, he turned around and ran back so he could finish the race by my side, cheering me to go faster. I contemplated punching the evil bastard. With barely operating motor functions remaining, I crossed the finish line and Dave began bouncing around transfixed on the fact that we must now go to the pub. And of course, we did.
Dave grabbed a window squeegee from a tub of cleaning fluid and started smacking the flaming bag on my bike. After a few whacks, he ran back to the container, dunked it, then came back and returned to smacking. Gilby, agreeing this was a wise course of action, grabbed another squeegee and followed suit.
As more fire poured out of the bag, the need to get rid of the gas can became evident. The flames were now to the pump housing. Popping off the top of the hard bag, a column of fire erupted to the awning, forming a tiny little black spot on the white surface. My hand went deep into the bag, grabbed the can, and launched it towards the street. It was a bad shot. Rather than making it to the road, the gas can hit the trunk of a palm tree and exploded. Twentynine Palms was in distinct danger of becoming Twentyeight Palms.
The trunk and surrounding side walk were ablaze, creeping further and further into the street. Cars skidded to a halt with brakes locked. One person threw their car in reverse, returning from where they came with the transmission gears howling. Another did not stop at all, but just did a squealing U-turn and drove down the wrong side of the road. Across the street, a woman walking with a boy grabbed the youngster’s hand and drug him urgently away as he gaped at the ensuing wonder.
Frustrated with battling the growing fire with a squeegee, Gilby grabbed the entire container of window-cleaning fluid and dumped it on my bike. Dave dumped another, effectively quenching the blaze. The bike was left scarred, but it was not so bad. It had been created pale with a rough-hewn demeanor and so took brilliantly to the sooty and burnt remnants, which to this day remain as a ghost of stupidity past. The Goldwing bag on the other hand was decimated. It had melted to the ground in a puddled mass like oversized black drapery. I had nothing left beyond the clothes on my back.
We stood and watched the tree and sidewalk continue to burn as the police, fire, and ambulance brigades arrived, wielding a cacophony of siren salad. They ran around doing their business as we tried to stay out of the way, each envisioning the level of accommodations at the Twentynine Palms jailhouse.
In time, the fire was out. The gas station was safe and the palm tree intact despite a newly-acquired patina of black on its trunk. The fire chief ambled over, and taking off his hat drew in a deep breath. Before he could speak, I summoned the only known response from a catholic upbringing – guilt – and launched into a diatribe of explanation, excuse, and, most importantly, apology. He listened with relaxed intent, not allowing expression to escape his gaze wrinkled from years in the brutal desert sun. Several police officers and fire fighters joined in to listen, enjoying the sight of a cornered animal. And why not? I nearly blew up their town and decimated one of their beloved palms! Short of breath and out of words to defend myself, I shut up.
The fire chief cracked a smile and said leisurely, “Mad? We’re not mad, son. Hell, this is the most excitement we’ve seen round here in years.” They began to laugh, and slowly Dave, Gilby, and I relaxed as we realized we were not going to be thrown in jail. The chief halted our effervescent banter with a hand and said, “One thing, son. Next time this happens, go ahead and use that.”
Following his finger, a fire extinguisher hung two feet above my smoking motorcycle.
I'm sorry, I pawned my old Smith-Corona. Here's 'The Breakdown.'
It was too hot for this shit. Mid-July, dead in the water beside fresh black top, under the oppressive Florida sun was not a place I had hoped to wind up when I woke this morning; here yet I was. More specifically, here we were. Kitty twisted a grimy canvas shoe in the white gravel of the berm and smiled that smile a woman uses when she knows there’s nothing she can say that won’t provoke an argument. What could she say, really? “Baby, the bike stopped?” “Is it fixed yet?” “What’s wrong?”
She wasn’t a whiner. She wasn’t easily irritated by the unprovoked attacks life throws at people and she usually had enough faith in me to know that as soon as I figured something out, I’d tell her. But something in the way the sweat was beading on her cleavage told me I’d better get to work on it. She may have been patient, but she wasn’t going to suffer indefinite discomfort on behalf of my pride.
I’d known Kitty for something like eighteen years. Looking back, I probably fell in love with her the moment I saw her, but life is never charitable enough to play its hand in one go. After surviving the world's most awkward flirtation, we dated like only a pair of newly-minted adult outcasts can date. We flew down the road on battered old motorcycles, we made out in public, we raged and we swore, we clung tightly to each other and damned the world, we had no plan, and no clue; then it was over, sort of. We were always friends, though it was a strange friendship, at times more like a marriage; we got along almost effortlessly, but when we argued it was a no holds barred emotional outpouring. There were years we didn’t speak, usually over some petty incident that had escalated into all out war, but we never really left each others orbit, always coasting along side by side very pointedly ignoring each other, never doubting our mutual anger wouldn’t last forever.
Then suddenly it would be over.
One of us would deliberately track down the other and place themselves directly in the way, tempers would momentarily flare, each of us standing there unsure what to say to the other, weighing whether our strange relationship outweighed the bitter glory of being right. Seconds would tick by, then one of us would smile and it would all be over, the tension would disappear in a hug that was just shy of too long for ‘just friends.’
Between the two of us, we had survived serious illness, suicide attempts, marriage, divorce, parenthood, financial distress, triumph, failure, and everything else you could think of. Against both our wishes, we somehow grew up and even learned how to camouflage ourselves as perfectly normal human beings, provided the world didn’t look too closely.
When my marriage had imploded after five years, I had fled to the Florida coast at her invitation; no strings, no promises, no plans. I needed a place to learn to be myself again, to breathe, to recover, and she extended the invitation with no questions.
Now, here we were, back at square one, nearly two decades later we were just a couple of punk kids again broke down by the side of the road with no back-up plan.
I tore my eyes off the bead of sweat sliding between her tits and turned to stare at the carburetor. It stared smugly back at me. It knew it was off the hook this time and if it could have pointed, it would have leveled its finger at the ignition system. “We’re good on fuel,” it would have said, “talk to the guys in charge of fire.”
I rose from my crouch and fumbled for my cigarettes as a silver SUV whipped by just shy of ninety. The wind from its passing washed over us like a hot, wet blanket and it disappeared into the infinite prospective of sugarcane country. Kitty rolled an arm up from her side and extended her middle finger at the dwindling vehicle.
“Assholes,” she growled. “They never even slowed down. For all they know they ran right over me.“
I unhooked the tool roll from the forks and threw it on the gravel beside bike. “Nah, they’d have stopped long enough to beat me to death with a tire iron, drag our bodies into the cane, and maybe make a pact to never speak of this again.”
She lifted her sunglasses and rubbed at her eyes, blinking them against the tropical sun; their usual stop-your-heart-blue color was a faultless match to the tropical sky. It made her seem less like an unfortunate passenger in this mechanical mayhem, and more like a bemused goddess, so bored with her heavenly paradise that she mistook the trial of mortality for some sort of party game she could play with her resigned worshipers.
“Oooh, then I could wreak supernatural havoc on them from beyond the grave! Kinda wish they would have hit me now.”
“Yeah, except I think I have enough trouble for right now. Don’t need a carload of vacationing suburbanites swinging tire tools at me.”
She grinned and rolled her eyes at me. “You are no fun at all. Any way I can help?”
I lit a cigarette, blew smoke at the old pan head, and kicked open the tool roll. “Get in the backpack and find the coil I’m hoping I threw in there.” She undid the flaps on the old Alice pack I kept lashed to the towering sissy bar and began rummaging through its contents. I sat down cross-legged on the shoulder and pulled off the spark plug wires, ignoring the fact that the antique motor was still pinging with the heat of its hundred and twenty mile run.
“So, it’s the coil?”
“It’s as good a guess as any,” I replied.
“That’s fucking comforting,” she leaned over to hand me the coil, sweat dripped from her face onto my arm. Her tone wasn’t angry or accusatory but I knew she would feel a little better if I had an actual solution.
“If this doesn’t work, I guess call Freddy and have him bring the truck.”
“Too bad you didn’t already have him stuffed in the backpack. You sure that’s what you want to do?”
“Yeah, the only other parts in that backpack are two quarts of oil, a couple spark plugs, and a spare drive chain. Since we’re not leaking oil and still have a chain, it’s this coil or Freddy’s truck.” She smiled and plopped down beside me. “Besides, for all I know this is the coil that Milwaukee slapped on the thing when they built it.”
“I’m doubting it,” she countered. I dropped the old coil between us and she picked it back up to examine it. “Although it looks like it could be.”
In the heat, sitting this close, her smell was a mixture of strawberries and the tang of fresh sweat. It was not unappealing.
“A sixty-three year old coil? Stranger things have happened I guess.”
“Sixty-three years? So what, the motor was built in ’48?”
“Most of it, probably the guts have been replaced multiple times.”
“I think when we get home you should replace them again.” She leaned in to wipe the sweat off my cheek, and then she kissed it. “Seriously, I’m getting hungry, Freddy is two hours away, and if this doesn’t work I’ll have to resort to cannibalism.” She clicked her teeth together and playfully bit my shoulder. In spite of myself I smiled. I knew her well and her playful demeanor was a veiled complaint. I kissed the top of her head and started the struggle to get to my legs working again while she picked up the tool roll and dumped it into the backpack. She was in a hurry.
“Let’s see if I was right,” I struggled upwards, fighting the pins and needles in my thighs. She stood and moved out of the way, lingering long enough to kiss me for luck.
As I righted the bike, a string of shiny new Harleys swooped by, the rider of the rear bike actually taking the time to wave. “Thanks for the help!” she screamed at the procession of electra-glides.
“Please, about the best they could’ve done was call road service, and we’d already thought of that. Now a parts delivery truck, that I could’ve used”
Kitty smiled and stretched. “You know, I think it's neat that you know how to do what you just did. Most wouldn’t. It’s one of things I always liked about you.”
“Most would, if they had to, but only an idiot would take the time if he didn’t have to.”
“Babe,” she smiled demurely, “only an idiot would pour so much time into a sixty year old motor whose only reliable feature was leaving its owner stranded on the side of the road.”
“Yeah,” I smiled at her and slammed the kicker down. Nothing happened. “But it takes a bigger idiot to ride with the first idiot.” I slammed it down again and the old pan head sputtered back to life. I pushed down the surprise I felt on my face and flipped the kick stand up. “You ready to head back?”
“I think there’s a little diner on down this road, maybe about thirty miles.” She pointed down the road, opposite the direction of home.
“And you’re buying. Consider it your punishment for being an idiot.” She leaned into my back and nestled her head against me while I kicked the old chopper into gear and gave the mill Hell, accelerating out onto the black top, trying to outdistance the tropical sun. Just before the sound of the motor and the rush of wind made conversation impossible, I heard her murmur, “but it’s okay, because you’re my idiot.” Followed by a much louder, “Hurry up, I’m HUNGRY!”
I probably didn’t need to go at him that hard. I can feel something dripping on the toe of my boot and as I look down, I realize it’s this guy’s blood dripping off my fist. I probably shouldn’t have gone at him that hard. Everything is quiet. The clowns from in the bar aren’t yelling anything. Hell, I can’t even hear the cars on the street. I can see their mouths moving and I can see the guy’s girl, black eye and split lip dripping blood as she cries over her douche bag boyfriend who I just stomped the hell out of. But the only thing I hear is the gurgling breath that rattles outta this woman-beating piece of shit. I look at him real close and I can see now that I really shouldn’t have gone after him that hard. The left side of his face is not right, kind of squished in looking. His nose is more of a lump with two holes in it, than something a man would breathe through and his jaw is way off to the right side of his neck. I stare at this guy as the woman who’s ass he just kicked rolls him onto his side and a god damn river of blood pours outta the crooked gash that was his mouth. Shit. I really got after this clown.
I know where the complete disdain for men who hit women came from. I remember cleaning my mom’s blood off the floor from dad tuning her up. I just got home and could tell Pops was at it again. The screen door was hanging onto the frame by one hinge and there was burnout marks from his big Shovel that he only left when he was pissed or drunk on the driveway. Most days I could pull dads anger onto me and make sure my mom and sister were safe, but I wasn’t there that day. Walking in the front door I was greeted by a trashed out living room, the kitchen table flipped over and a splatter of blood all over the floor. I found the bathroom door closed and could hear Mom inside sobbing and the water running. I hated hearing her cry like that; great gulps of air followed by that mournful wail that can’t express how much pain she is feeling. I fucking HATE men who hit women.
I hear a bike start up. That’s the first thing I can hear. As I look over at my bike, I can see Jake running towards me yelling something and Russ on his bike gunning it outta the parking lot. What the fuck is Russ running for? He didn’t do anything. Pussy. I can feel myself being jerked around and it’s beginning to irritate me. As I jerk my arm away I can barely hear Jake saying, “We gotta fuckin go!” Since its Jake I let myself be guided to my bike but I can’t quite figure out how to make it work. How do I get my leg over? Where does the key go? How do I choke this fuckin thing to make it start? I’m sitting on my bike and I still can’t hear anything but I can see red and blue lights reflect off of the tank as I just sit there and stare down at my bike. The lights make the flake in my paint look amazing. All of the sudden, my tank is gone and is replaced by the pavement and I have this heavy weight on my neck and back. I feel them wrench my arms back and at this point I realize that I’m busted. I shouldn’t have gone after that dickhead so hard.
The sounds and scene come rushing back as the stand me up. I can see and hear everything now. I can’t remember his name, but I hear the bouncer telling this fat cop something like, “I tried to stop him.” I can see that there are 4 cop cars in the lot and an ambulance. I look for the woman beater and can’t see him because he is surrounded by medics and his woman sitting on her butt sobbing hysterically. I can see the people gathered around staring at me in horror, like I had wiped out an entire village of Care Bears or something. The same people who yelled at the guy for punching the shit outta his lady. Fuckin cowards didn’t do anything to stop him, just yelled. Then I see Jake and he looks worried. He may be smaller than me, but he is 6’ and 220lbs, Jake doesn’t worry about anything but riding and buying beer, why the hell is he worried now?
Showing up at the Police Station is the same old shit, but this time the fat bastards’ are looking at me with…what, wariness , caution even fear? Whatever. Bunch of pussies. I take my glamour shot, ink up my fingers and shuffle off to my cell to wait for the judge on Monday. I had to run into that woman beater on a Friday. Fucked up my whole weekend, damnit. This screw comes in and tells me to follow him before I can dose off. What the fuck is this about? As he guides me down the hallway, I see my reflection in the window for the first time. Like a walking crime scene. My hands are covered in crusty blood up to my wrists, my shirt is torn and I have bloody hand prints on my chest, and my elbows are covered in the same crusty shit as my hands. I looked at my hands a couple of times and I never saw the blood before now. Well, that ain’t good. I try and rub my hands together to knock some of the crust off and the cop who is walking me down the hall grabs me and says I have to stop scrubbing. Whatever. I get into this interview room and wonder what the hell this is all about? If they think I’m going to rat someone out for a Simple Assault, they are barking up the wrong tree. Never gonna happen. Im sitting there wondering what the hell is going on when two detectives walk in with a camera and a notebook, “What the fuck is this all about?”, I ask as they have me stand up against a wall and start taking pictures.
“Congratulations Fuckhead. You graduated to the Big Time. He’s dead.”
I really shouldn’t have gone after him that hard.
Dave woke late with a splitting headache. He walked into the kitchen looking for something that could pass for breakfast. The refrigerator empty, he turned to the counter where he found a plate containing two unappetizing slices of pepperoni and mushroom pizza. He couldn’t remember how long they’d been there, but it was long enough to develop a distinct odor. The pepperonis were curled and colorless and a discernable growth of suspicious mold covered the mushrooms. He swatted away a fat fly, picked up a slice and choked it down. His gag reflexes nearly rejected the fetid meal, but he held it down. Leaving the other slice laying on the counter, he wiped his mouth on his sleeve, walked to the door and stepped out into the porch.
After the door slammed shut, the house quiet, the patient fly settled back down on the remaining slice to resume its meal, unmolested.
Dave walked around to the shaded side of the trailer where his trusted Shovel waited for him like an expectant lover. He climbed on, hit the toggle, choked the S&S and kicked it over. It coughed once and expelled what appeared to be a cloud of multi-colored butterflies from the exhaust. Dave shook his head, attributing the mirage to last night’s cheap whiskey. He kicked the Shovel again. This time the engine caught and started the staccato series of explosions that added to his headache, but fortified his soul. He rode out through the dilapidated neighborhood, avoiding familiar potholes.
Dave twisted the throttle and cut through the crumbling urban landscape. He picked up speed, split lanes between a pair of pickups and jockey-shifted into third, the cool breeze lessening his headache, but doing nothing for his queasy stomach. He stopped at a light and waited, goosing the throttle to keep the still-cold engine from dying. He watched the stoplight, waiting for green, when it began to appear distorted. Nearly imperceptible at first, but then there was no mistaking it. The stoplight looked like it was melting like candle wax, pieces of the metal frame dripping to the street and splashing on the pavement, like molten lead, just a few feet in front of him. Dave now began to question his sanity as the red orb of the stoplight finally lifted into the air like a child’s helium balloon and sailed away on the gentle breeze over the trees and out of sight.
Dave tried hard to regain his composure, straddling the delicate balance between rational thought and panic, as his sanity unraveled in front of him. He feared he was slipping into madness. Then, through the foggy haze of semi-coherence it occurred to him, maybe it was that damn pizza and those mold-covered mushrooms! That’s it, he was under the influence of powerful hallucinogenic mushroom mold. Quite simply, he was tripping his ass off!
The light turned green and Dave instinctively rolled on the throttle and continued his journey through the dilapidated city, which now took on an ominous, apocalyptic character. The street signs wept openly, their mournful cries audible above the din of Dave’s motor. His bike moved through the streets propelled by unseen forces, transcending space and time while furtive eyes peered out from behind hidden places. He glanced at his rearview mirror, fascinated by the multi-colored contrail streaming out behind him for many miles. He became distracted, gazing upward at the rooftop workers, broken men in yellow raincoats furiously nailing strips of bleeding flesh over well-worn rat holes, stemming the rain flow in the scorching sun. He looked back at the road ahead just in time to see a matronly lesbian crossing the street in front of him, pushing a shopping cart filled with North Korean toasters and Communist dogma, a basket of exotic fruit balanced precariously upon her head. Dave braked hard, but too late. He laid the shovel down. The stench of burning rubber and cries of orphaned children filled the air that morning as his bike skidded along the pavement, sliding with great force under a parked UPS truck. Dave’s head hit something hard and unforgiving. Then, everything went black.
Dave found himself being drawn to an intense light, so brilliant that it was overwhelming, yet comforting in its familiarity. As his eyes adjusted he realized he was standing before the Throne of God. High above him on a golden altar was the Lord Himself. A legion of winged cherubs circled him like moths around a July porch light. His white beard shone with the intensity of a million arc welders, as he carefully shoveled diet cheesecake into his mouth with a plastic spoon. Dave stood there trembling in His presence.
A long time had passed before Dave dared to looked up again, and finally he could remain silent no longer. Through trembling lips he began his tear-filled confession. “Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned. I’ve lied, cheated and stolen. I’ve drank hard liquor, smoked controlled substances and abused over-the-counter cold remedies regularly. I‘ve squandered my wealth on prostitutes, loose women and strippers. And that one chick looked like she was twenty and swore she was eighteen!” “SILENCE!” Said the Lord, and the sound was like that of omnipotent thunder echoing off distant mountains. “I’m well aware of your petty iniquities, that‘s not why you‘re here.” The Lord continued, “You risk facing eternal damnation for far more serious sins. You have voluntarily watched episodes of Dancing with the Stars, and downloaded Nickleback songs to your Ipod. Worse yet, you’ve dumped used motor oil on your neighbor’s begonias and purchased cheap, knock-off Chinese motorcycle parts from discount warehouse catalogues, sullying your good name doing dishonor to your craft. Do you deny these charges?”
Dave hung his head, his heart heavy with shame. He offered no excuses for these heinous acts. Through sobs, he tearfully replied, “I’m Guilty.”
After what seemed an eternity, the Lord spoke: "My son, you’re genuinely repentant, and since I’m a benevolent deity I shall give you another chance. Now go, and sin no more!"
The light’s brilliance receded, fading slowly to black.
Dave was hearing voices. Quiet and distant at first, then gaining in volume. He began to recognize them as his neighbor’s kids. The muffled voices turned to giggles as Dave regained consciousness and his eyes blinked open. He looked around, trying to gain his bearings, then realized he was in his front yard, sweating in the midday heat. He rose to his feet unsteadily and staggered towards the trailer.
He walked in and flopped down on his couch collecting his thoughts. He concluded the only logical explanation. He had eaten some moldy mushrooms, never left the house and the whole thing was nothing more than a bad, psychedelic trip. Dave stood up and walked to the kitchen counter, picked up the remaining slice of pizza and threw it into the trash. He climbed into bed, lay down and slept the sleep of the exhausted.
Outside a fly buzzed around in confused circles finally landing on the seat of Dave’s Shovel. Dave hadn’t noticed it, but the entire left side of his bike was paint-scraped and chrome broken.black.