Monday, July 28, 2008

Midnight Flight

"Oh shit! Hubby's home!" yelled the sweet young nymph that Spider had met at the local watering hole.

Spider glanced out the window and saw the headlights of the white 4 door sedan pulling into the driveway. The realization that it had a box of lights on the roof didn't exactly make him want to stay around for a chat. "What the hell, you're married, to a patrol cop?" exclaimed Spider.

"No, he's the Chief," replied Dawn.

Jumping into his boots and pulling up his pants which had been left fireman-style just for these kind of unforeseen situations, Spider stumbled for the back door, knocking loose all the knick-knacks and memorabilia that had been set on the shelf in the hallway entrance. His hyperactive brain briefly made note of the fact that they were all awards for marksmanship. "Shit!" thought Spider, "What a way to make a bad situation worse."

Jumping on his chopper from the last step out the back door, he landed square on the seat, a lot harder than he intended. "Talk about getting blue balls," he winced to himself.

Jamming his leg down on the kick start the bike roared to life. In his haste, his foot slipped off and the lever came smashing up with a sudden crack to his shin. Screaming in rage and pain he twisted the throttle and popped the clutch. Popping an unintended wheelie, his tall custom-made sissy bar hit the ground and dragged the whole length of the driveway out on to the street. Rolling off the throttle brought the Avon back to the pavement.

Spider snapped the shifter into the next gear while glancing behind him to see the "Chief" hauling ass out the front door with a shotgun. A loud blast solidified his urgency. Knowing that if caught, his bike would certainly be impounded and if he made it to jail, his long-kept secret would be known. His deception would break their hearts.

Spider had once made a promise to his folks that he wouldn't ride anymore. The long history of his old escapades on bikes doing jumps and many a month spent in the hospital made the old folks jittery whenever they heard a burbling twin. For years he still rode but kept the bike out of site in a 'Bro's' garage.

Cresting the top of what the locals call Jacob's Ladder, the bike sailed airborne. When it landed, the tires howled in protest, and the next step in the ladder launched the screaming mechanized comet skyward again.

The seven hills started to take their toll on 'Liz's' hardtail frame.

At the base of the hill Spider downshifted and stood on the rear binder. The 12 inch over girder flexed and twisted as Spider slid a wide left to shoot down a narrow alley. The fat rear tire made a staccato beat as it rubbed along a wooden fence. Shooting upright as the bike straightened out, he repeated the trick each time at every intersection. Gaining distance with every turn, Spider looked for the quickest way out of town.

Spider felt rather than heard the bikes backbone bend as he leveled out on the straightaway leading towards the salvation of a bridge crossing the river in the distance. The city's skyline was in view. "Come on, baby hold together for me," he exhorted his wailing mount. Doing well over the posted double nickle, the last hurdle to his escape was in sight. The siren's scream fading away amplified 'Liz's' howling anguish. Reaching the last obstacle to his freedom, Spider twisted the bike's throttle hard enough to bend the handle bars.

Had they been standing on the bridge that night, the Wright brothers would've thought that flight had already been mastered seeing the black banshee leap from the summit.

Landing in a screeching shower of protesting drag pipes, Spider's knees, which had formed a vice grip on the bike's frame, smacked the bottom on the coffin tank ripping the fabric of his jeans from his kneecaps and blood rapidly filled his old boots.

Bringing 'Liz' back to a slower pace, the rear tire chattered on the pavement telling Spider that 'completely round' was no longer one of the features of his rim. The chattering clutch rattled to him its tale of woe. The oil pressure light glared on as he made the last turn into the open door of Roach's shop. Making her final effort, the overstressed twin seized tight and abruptly fell silent.
Roach, standing at his workbench, raised an eyebrow and uttered, "What the hell is going on?"

Spider watched as 'Liz' broke apart to the shop floor and replied with a wink, "I'm just fulfilling a promise."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Bad Day?

"Watch your head," said the officer as I was being shoved into the back of the cruiser. Contemplating how I ended up in this mess was just making my headache even worse, and watching the hamfisted kid loading my bike on his truck wasn't helping.

How did I end up here? Well, that's gonna take some explaining. There really is something called the Harley Davidson Mystique; sometimes you just don't see it coming.

It started simple enough, taking a cross country trip to relax and get away from it all. Just me and my girl, a Harley named Stephanie. Cruising the back roads of Iowa, passing the cornfields and country lanes. When I spotted a little cafe just up the road, I pulled in for a good ol' hearty breakfast. A dozen bikes were parked in front, and a club prospect was motioning for me to park next to a nice custom FLH.

Dismounting and heading in to the cafe, the bike club's sergeant-at-arms opened the door and welcomed me in. "You in town for the poker championship?" he asked. "Didn't even know you had one, just passing through." I replied.

Seeing what he thought was an easy mark, the road captain of the club responded, "There's a grand prize of $500 with only a $10 buy-in. Simple five card stud with jokers wild". Musing that I was a fairly good player with a decent shot of winning some much needed green prompted me to abandon my good sense and agree to sit for a few hands.

I managed to win a quite a few hands and was up $200 when common sense returned and I elected to get out while I was ahead. As you would expect, this didn't sit well with the other players.

You would have thought the patch-holders looked like a horde of marines storming the beach on D-Day when they started after me. The waitress who was simply curious about all the ruckus came out of the kitchen; lucky for me the closest of my pursuers tripped over her and then his followers fell on him like dominoes, which gave me time to haul ass out the door.

The club's prospect was heading in as I was going out. I bowled him over with a right hook and jumped on "Stephanie". Spinning dirt and gravel, I hit the road doing about eighty.

Winding that V-twin for all she was worth put me well over a hundred and a few miles from the cafe in no time flat. In the rapidly approaching distance, I saw what appeared to be a dust storm blowing accross the road.

What felt like a million hot BB's stung me as I rode into it. Katydids swarming over the fields had soaked the bike and myself; a nasty, green, gooey mess covered everything.

The heat of the engine baked the slop hard and tight, clogging the air-cooling fins of the cylinders and oil filter. Overheating almost instantly, "Steph" siezed up and busted A-rod, scattering hot oil and fragments all over my jeans.

The rear tire screeched in protest of the sudden lockup of the grenading motor. Road grit filled my torn Levi's, branding my ass with the hot oil and metal as we slid along the dirt for nearly a thousand feet. When the entire mangled mess finally came to a stop in a cloud of smoke and dust, the bike and I looked like refugees from a tornadoed trailer park.

Just when I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse. An old biddy on a golf cart rode by smirking, and yelled over at me, "Nice job there, Mr Motorcycle!" cackling to herself and continued on down the road. The distant siren drawing closer told me this day wasn't gonna get better anytime soon.

A random thought occurred to me that if I would've just gone to Hollister or Salinas, I'd have been sitting on a stool drinking a cold beer right about now.

The brief pause inside my head was interuppted by the officer's voice. "How did you find yourself gliding along the gravel on this fine sunny day?" Before I could reply the officer held up a hand and contiued, "Connie called me from the cafe and told me all about what went down." pulling me upright the cuffs were applied instantly. "Let's go, hotshot".

The cruiser hit the highway and started to head away from town. "I thought the county cell was in town?" I grunbled. "Who said anything about jail? You do something I don't already know about?" Figuring discretion being the better part of valor, I kept my tongue in check and sat silently, wondering what the hell else today had in store for me.

It turns out, Officer Wendy is a biker chick who owns her own hog named LadyR, and rides a lot of miles with her sister Connie the waitress. So, here I am stuck in this hot tub with the two sisters drinking a cold one and getting "special" treatment of my road rash. Also, it turns out the hamfisted baby brother owns a bike shop and "Steph" is being rebuilt for free in time for the three of us to ride up to Farmington, MN for the Bottoms Up Rally.

On top of all that, I'm still ahead $200.

Idle thoughts flew through my brain...can I really call this a bad day?!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Becca's" Last Ride

Desert winds had gently unearthed the sand encrusted handlebars of "Becca", the worn chrome glistened in the early morning sun. Long buried and lost, "Becca" awakened from her dusty dreams. A voice carried over the boulders and scrub, the cadence of the sounds brought forth the long ago memories of how she came to be enshrined in a dry riverbed.
The day of Sept 2, 1972 is forever etched in her memory. It was the day that Art (Silver Fox) Valdez had first walked into the showroom of the Harley dealership in Glendale, AZ. The die had been cast, set in sweat, blood, leather and steel.

When friends were met and many adventures taken, Silver Fox's easy laugh and her contented rhythm were always paired. When attention was needed, he was always at her side, tending to her. Washing and waxing her, she always looked sharp.

When he met a lovely young woman at a social dance, she did not react in jealousy. It was understood his affection for her wouldn't change. The woman destined to be his wife would come to revere "Becca", as well. The honeymoon ride to the Bradshaw mountains was a testament to "Becca's" power and sure-footed ability. Silver Fox's riding abilities were legend. For the two week stay, many miles forged a bond for the (now) three.

Fast-moving storm clouds gathering over the horizon soon brought the need to return to "civilization". The delay in packing for the trip out gave the rain time to arrive. "Becca" labored mightily against the muddy slick trails down the mountains. Over ruts and gullies deeper and more treacherous by the minute; Silver Fox's skills, taxed to the limit, were not enough. Only "Becca's" pride and steadfast loyalty kept her upright.

The distant rumblings of rushing water rapidly closing in, she redoubled her efforts to gain traction and torque. At a quarter mile from the interstate, the race was lost. In the final moments she pitched over a gully and tossed her riders off to higher ground. The raging waters claimed her as a prize.

Silver Fox and his new bride had stumbled to the highway from the safety of higher ground. Both knew only a supernatural effort had made this possible. In the years to come the tale of "Becca's" herculean last ride was oft repeated to friends and family. Every anniversary the grateful couple would hike out to the last known spot and toast a drink to her honor. A long standing ritual of twenty-nine years.

On the thirtieth year, a family reunion was held at the spot. they regaled their grandchildren with the story of the family legend. Christian and Jayden, their oldest grandsons, walked to a small rise overlooking the wash. A flash of chrome winked in the dusty, dry wash below.
"Look Grandpa!"