Friday, September 5, 2008

Desert Vengeance

85 miles per hour was the sweet spot on Heather, cresting the long rise and peering down the miles long straight stretch of deserted highway.

Animal was kicking back and enjoying life just for the sake of it. Boots on the forward controls, his left hand splayed across the bottom of his 'king tank', right hand palming the throttle, twin cylinders singing a note of contentment.

‘Life is good’ was the mantra repeating itself over and over in his head.

The air was so crisp, clear and cool. Animal's bike had an extra helping of torque and horsepower today...Heather was loving the extra charge of oxygen.

A momentary blip of the throttle and Heather jumped to over a 100 in an instant. Rolling off the throttle brought the iron mare back to 85. Animal yelled out over the bike's sound an earsplitting, "Yeaaaah!"

Having no demands on his time, a pocket full of cash and no particular destination in mind, it was the ultimate taste of freedom.
Reaching the end of the long straightaway he saw a rest area up on his right, smoothly downshifting, he slowed and rolled up to a shaded picnic table, shifted into neutral, switched the bike off and kicked out the side-stand. Stepping off the bike, he allowed himself a long slow stretch.

Pulling a pack of smokes and a tall cool drink from the cooler in his saddlebag, he proceeded over to the table. Instead of sitting he lay on his back across the table and watched the eagles soaring overhead. 'Yep, life is good." he whispered aloud to the majestic gliding birds. He thought to himself, "This day would be absolutely perfect if I had a lady to share it with." Another voice in his head replied, "Still, it's a damn great day.

In his relaxed state of mind he started to drift of to sleep. "Mister?" a voice from the nearby sagebrush called out to him. Thinking for a moment that he was dreaming Animal almost didn't respond. "Hey Mister." came the voice again. Animal rolled over off of the table and walked toward the sound.

'Hello?" answered Animal questioningly. A young woman emerged from the bushes and asked, "Can you spare a drink?" Animal looked around the park and saw no vehicle other than his bike and asked, "Where the hell did you come from?"

“My boyfriend kicked me out of the car yesterday and left me here,” she replied.

“You've been here overnight?” Animal replied as he walked over to the bush and peered under it,”With no blanket or anything?”

Standing back and taking stock of what the girl was wearing; Animal couldn't believe the girl was still alive. The desert can get damn cold at night, all she had on was a pair of Daisy Duke shorts and a halter top with knee high boots. It wasn't exactly the sort of clothing that fostered overnight survival.

“If that's the case, this is one tough chick,” Animal chuckled to himself. Still he found it odd that she was looking no worse for wear.

“Do you need a ride into town?” Animal asked. “Yes I do,” replied the girl, “but I don't think I want to ride on a motorcycle. I have never been on one and they look very scary. I'm afraid I'll fall off.”

Animal smiled and thought to himself, I've heard this a few times. ”You don't need to worry; there is a sissy bar on the back to keep that from happening. All you gotta do is keep yourself centered on the seat and hold onto me if you need to.”

The girl looked at Animal and over at his bike and seemed to be contemplating whether to take the ride or face the prospect of another night in the desert. It didn't take long to make a decision. Cautiously she replied, “I guess it would be okay to ride into town...If you ride slow and easy.”

Animal laughed and said, “Don't worry; I'll get you there safe and sound.” He pointed to the picnic table and continued, “But first lets get you something to drink and I have a couple of sandwiches in my saddlebags. You'll feel better after you have had something in your stomach. By the way what's your name?”

At first she didn't respond. She looked as if she was wrestling with the idea of giving this stranger her name. Finally she half whispered, “Kathy.” Sensing her discomfort at being asked, Animal didn't pursue the subject any further.

As the two just sat and ate quietly, Animal had a recurring thought that all wasn't as it appeared...but couldn't see any evidence to the contrary. Dismissing it as old habits from his former career as an undercover customs agent, he relegated the idea to the back of his mind.

“Would you mind if I had one of your smokes?” she asked. “Help yourself,” said Animal. Drawing a long drag from her cigarette, Animal could see that Kathy relaxed a bit. Finishing it and stubbing it out on the concrete slab she looked over at Animal and said, “I'm ready whenever you are.”

Animal packed up the contents of his saddlebags and threw a leg over the bike, motioning for her to get on the back. “Just place your foot here on this peg and swing your leg over.” She did as he asked. Animal wondered if she did it just a little too easily for a novice.

Bringing Heather to life, he waited for the knee-squeeze that always accompanied a new girl’s first reaction to the shaking and loud rumble. When she didn’t respond at all it struck him as more than a little odd. The thought nagged at him as he shifted into gear and pulled out from the rest area.

After he got up to a cruising speed of 70 mph, Kathy leaned back against the sissy bar and Animal could feel her settle in for the ride. 20 minutes later, as they were approaching town, her casual posture almost made Animal wonder if she had fallen asleep.

Rolling down the town's main drag, Animal saw a group of bikes parked in front of a local tavern. He slowed and started to turn into a parking spot. Kathy suddenly seemed to come to life, and now he felt the familiar knee-squeeze, extremely tight, and she grabbed his shoulders and pleaded into his ear, "Don't stop here, keep going, get out of town!" Animal twisted the throttle and took off.

Reaching a few miles outside of town, Animal pulled over to the side of the road, shut off the bike and turned on his seat and said, “OK, what gives? What the hell was that all about?”

“I haven't exactly been truthful with you.” she replied.
“No shit. But now would be the time to come clean,” said Animal.
Tears were welling up in her eyes as she looked at Animal and mumbled, “Those bikes you saw in town....they are looking for me.”

“What the hell for?” Animal yelled. He was getting a sinking feeling in his gut as he waited for her response. This 'good day' was looking like it was going to hell pretty damn quickly. Suddenly, Kathy jumped to a standing position on Heather’s foot pegs and screamed, “They’re heading this way!”

Glancing over his shoulder, Animal witnessed ten sport bikes screaming out of town and heading in their direction. Animal figured an explanation was gonna have to wait. Waiting on what sounded like a pack of angry diuretic mosquitoes didn't look to be a healthy pastime. Animal started Heather; her angry, deep-throated bellow spurred into action with a twist of the throttle. He shifted into gear and laying rubber for 20 feet, hurdled out on the asphalt. Knowing that even on her best day, Heather couldn't outrun the pursuing multicolored wraith that was rapidly approaching.

Looking for a means of escape, Animal saw a Cadillac heading into town towards them. Figuring to at least have a witness to what, at this point, wasn’t looking good, Animal aimed to close in on the vehicle.
The oncoming Caddy driver was less than a quarter mile away and closing quickly. Animal looked into his rear view mirror to see the pursuing bikes no less than a hundred feet behind him and one was almost abreast of Heather.

“Damn.” thought Animal, “they caught up quick.” The lead rider pulled almost even alongside Heather. Looking forward, Animal saw the Caddy driver stick his hand out and before he had time to react, he saw a flash and heard a loud pop. Instinctively swerving, the bullet ricocheted off the triple clamp of his front forks. Adrenaline caused his eyes to follow the path of the bullet, and then he watched as the rider next to him flipped backwards off of his mount as his face plate imploded. The now rider-less bike continued on following a straight line, narrowly missing the oncoming Caddy.

“One down,” flashed in Animals consciousness. Not wanting to be in line for another shot from the Caddy driver, he swerved sharply to the left across the path of the Caddy. The driver, reacting to the sudden move, yanked his wheel left and in doing so, had turned into the headlights of the onrushing bikes. Two bikes became a mangled twisted decoration of the Caddy’s grill. The helmeted riders flew along the hood and into the windshield. Before the Caddy driver could get the fabled image of life flashing before his was game over.

Animal witnessed the melee in his mirrors just before Heather decided she was a trail bike, taking to the air across a drain gully, barely clearing with the front tire. The rear tire landed partially on the ledge and forward momentum pushed Heather out into the desert.

Animal turned to see three more sport bikes go down; one high siding and sliding into the roadside ditch, two others didn't make the leap, impacting straight into the side. The resulting effect looked as if some lunatic farmer was planting wheels. Animal's innate sense of wit popped the question, “I wonder if that counts as a bumper crop?” Before his subconscious could respond with a retort, Animal rolled the throttle open wide and hauled ass over the barren desert.

The harsh terrain was giving Animal a fighting chance of escape. Heather’s rugged frame, born from decades of dirt and board-track racing was sufficient enough to handle the strain; the factory had built her well. The pursuing plastic-covered rice-rockets could not hold up to that kind of abuse. Animal noted that the remaining four riders didn't even attempt it. They headed down the road looking for a pathway leading in his direction.

Animal saw a trail heading up between the mountains ahead and steered Heather toward it. Downshifting and letting Heather’s ample torque pull them up the mountainside, he spotted an old mine entrance. Rolling in just enough to be out of sight, he shut off the bike and set her on her kickstand.
Turning to his ashen-faced passenger, he could see the fear in Kathy’s eyes. He realized growling at her wasn't gonna help. After taking a minute to breathe and give her a chance to regain some composure Animal calmly asked, "Are you ready to tell me what the hell is going on?"

Kathy wailed, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, so, so sorry! I didn't mean to get you mixed-up in all this."

"Just what is all this?" questioned Animal as he pointed outside. "Why are all those people after you?"

"The riders you saw are computer chip smugglers. I was catching a ride from a guy I knew, and we were just supposed to be going on a long cruise. When we stopped at that rest area you met me at, I had opened his backpack to get a drink when I saw computer chips stamped 'Classified - Government Property'. The leader of the group saw me and pulled a gun. I ran into the bushes to get away. They all started running after me, so I jumped down a rocky ledge and found a hiding spot. That's when I realized that I still had the backpack in my hand. Two of the group passed by almost on top of me and I heard them screaming that they needed to find the bag because they were supposed to meet the buyer today. They searched all morning, then I heard them arguing that I must have doubled back and could have gotten a ride into town. At that point, they all ran to their bikes and took off toward town. Later when you pulled in, I wasn't sure if you were the buyer they had been waiting for. That's why I lied to you."

For a very brief moment Animal thought back over the day and wondered if somehow he had accidentally ingested some peyote for breakfast and this was just a bad trip. The pain in his aching back from the gut-busting ride told him that no, this was real.

Animal had dealt with smugglers when he was still a customs agent; he knew too well the lengths they would go to avoid being caught. This was a dangerous game of cat and mouse he had stumbled into. Animal got a mischievous gleam in his eye and thought too bad for kitty because this particular mouse had a nasty bite.

Looking over at Kathy he tossed her pack of smokes and calmly asked her to stay put while he went out to assess the surroundings. Stepping out of the mine into the exposed mountainside he looked over the desert below, two separate dust plumes below told him the four riders had paired off and took different paths. He could see that at least one pair had found the old mining road and would soon be heading up his way.

Animal decided that it would be rude of him not to be a gracious host and prepare a welcome. Heading back into the mine he opened his saddlebag and pulled out a leather pouch. Untying the knotted string the contents unrolled to reveal a silver gilded pommel of a custom made bowie knife. Animal reflected for an instant that it had been 5 years since the blade had seen daylight. The custom hilted knife had been a gift from a grateful family that had been threatened by drug-runners. Animal had saved the mother and daughter from being shot in a firefight. Shot in the thigh he had still managed to kill two attackers with his bare hands. The resulting wound from the firefight forced him to early retirement. Extreme cold or humidity always gave a noticeable limp in his gait. Still, he'd gladly pay the price again anytime to save a woman or child. Unsheathing the blade Animal heard Kathy gasp in shock. Attaching the scabbard to his belt he walked over to her and spoke in a soft tone, “Don’t worry, I will get us through this”.

Kathy looked and saw the Machiavellian twinkle in his eyes and his quiet confidence. She somehow knew the pursuing killers had just picked a fight they had no clue how to win.

Animal retrieved a 50 foot roll of stainless steel multi-strand cable, ten times as strong as the best test fishing line ever devised and just as thin. He pulled out a custom purpose built multi-tool and it's nylon-leather constructed sheath and attached it to the inside of his vest. The last item from the collection was a telescoping nightstick, which, when collapsed fit into his left boot’s sewn in holster. Animal carried no gun; he stopped carrying when he retired. Too many mothers’ sons had met their (deserved) express ticket to hell at the end of his desert eagle. Remembering that it had been his job didn't always make it easier to sleep at night. Animal didn't particularly like killing, but had no compunctions when it was necessary for survival. Then there was days like today...when they came out shooting first.

Animal was making reservations for the sport riders. Lucifer was gonna gain few more arrivals today. Hope he's got his furnace warmed up, thought Animal.

Stepping out from the entrance once again, Animal headed down the trail away from the mine. 1500 feet down the mountain he found the place to spring his trap. Towering saguaro cactuses flanked both sides of the mining path. Tying the steel filament across the roadway just above handle bar height would certainly do the trick. Animal walked 100 feet back up the road, paused to light a smoke and waited for his guests.

The yapping cylinders of the oncoming riders gained in intensity as they saw Animal standing in the road casually smoking a cigarette. Furious at his audacity, both riders downshifted and poured on the fuel. Twin helmets went sailing out over the desert air as the headless bikers and their whining mounts flew forward and exploded on impact with the boulders along the trail.

Animal surveyed the carnage and knew the smoke and flames would be seen for miles. He knew he had gotten off easy with the first pursuers. He wouldn't be so lucky with the remaining two. He knew they would be aggressive in their approach. Heading back into the mine, Animal told Kathy it was time to go.

Rolling in second gear, taking advantage of the engine’s braking power, they headed down the opposite side of the mountain. From this vantage point on the trail, Animal and Kathy could see police cars arriving at the highway wreckage.

A sudden flash of yellow off to his right warned Animal that the remaining two riders had found them. He leaped onto the highway from the dirt road that paralleled the highway. The sport bikes rapidly closed the gap. Flanking Animal on both sides, the rider to his left reached for his holster and started to pull out his gun. The one on his right pulled in close and tried to grab Animal’s forearm. Before Animal could react, Kathy pulled his knife from its sheath, swung the blade wide and brought it down on the grabby biker’s neck. The bike veered off crashing in a whirl of dust and gravel. The left side rider pulled out to the left and thinking they had no weapons opened his faceplate to better sight his nine millimeter. He leaned in closer to look Animal in the eyes before he killed him. Lining up the shot, he was shocked to see Animal look back at him and smile deviously. Before he could pull the trigger, Animal reached and pulled the nightstick out of his boot and shoved it into the front wheel, sending a flaming yellow comet cart wheeling end over end down Main Street.

Animal downshifted and brought Heather to a sliding stop. A lone rider was sitting on his bike in the middle of the street. A sheriff’s car was parked next to it. While revving his engine and taking a long hard look at Animal, the rider spun his mount around and headed away out of town. The sheriff turned on his blues and started heading in Animal’s direction.
Animal looked over his shoulder and quietly said to Kathy "This goes higher up and deeper than we thought, and it isn’t over yet." Spurring Heather into gear they headed out across the desert.


B.B. said...

Wow! Talk about an adrenaline rush! That was awesome, I can't wait to see what comes next. I love that even though the story is so intense, you still find a way make me laugh in parts. Good job Big D.

Shannon said...

Looking good forrest. I noticed a few changes and the addition at the end. It's definitely coming along well! We already discussed this one so you know i love it. I'm excited to be the first to comment on one of your stories.

The details truely do grap you and make you feel as though you are right there watching it. well done!

FLHX_Dave said...

I really dug this Big D. Mack Bolan buys a bike! (Not sure if you have read any of Don Pendletons "The Executioner" series)

You know. I thought about the steel cable stretched across the road many, many times while I have been riding outlands. Kinda freaked me out when I read that because it one of those things some sick asshole would do for thrills. I actually watch for stupid shit like that.

The beginning of the story was very familiar for some reason. The whole just cruising and thinking about how great things are...even if they aren't.

Hurry up and get the next mile written already. It was like having sex for the first time. Intense, awesome and over way too quick because it was so much fun.

Worth the wait D. Another victory as far as I am concerned.

Lady Ridesalot said...

I love it! I felt the excitement and danger as I read. You really put us there, and I was feeling myself leaning closer and closer to the monitor. This was worth the wait! I am anxiously waiting for the next part. You're putting just enough twists in this that I'm still trying to figure where it's going. I love reads like this.

I'm glad I'm not in the dark anymore, I would have hated to miss this!

Go Animal!

Dean "D-Day" said...

Who's the drug dealer now?!

Awesome as usual! Keep it up!

aaroneousmaximus said...

best story I have read in a while. I eagerly await the next installment.

aaroneousmaximus said...

best story I have read in a while. I eagerly await the next chapter

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Wholly Fock! Best yet!

I was there man. What an adreanaline rush. Maybe those of you readers who wanted more action out of Son's of Anarchy should nominate Big D. to be on their writing staff!

Good job brother. Keep it up.

Best line..."Lucifer was gonna gain few more arrivals today. Hope he's got his furnace warmed up"...

KT Did said...

That is a rush! Just an, and probably my most memorable riding friend, was called Animal. He passed on, had a heart attack at 51. He was one that built the bike up from nothing in his garage. But he was one bad ass biker dude--I will never forget him. His daughter Laila is in my blog and I was there the day she was born.
Good writing. I could see him doing just this!

Big Daddy said...

When I was a wee laddie in 76 After my brothers wedding. I and some friends thought it would be funny to tie a paper streamer across the 2 lane highway in front of my parent's house.
A van full of people [who later turned out to be best friends]
saw the streamer , thought it was a rope and hit the brakes hard. almost flipping over. then the driver saw what it was and let off the brake and passed through it.
I never forgot it.
Many years later I was blinded in N jersey when a kid droped a beer bottle off a overpass and it went into my rigs windshield, try shutting down a fully loaded eighteen wheeler going 80 safely when you can't see.
So yes this kind of shit happens.
Thankfully it is rare.
I too had a close riding friend twenty years ago named 'Animal' we lost contact over the years and I had heard he passed.
Wouldn't it be a mind f--k if It was one and the same?
In fact as I write this I remember when I built my first chopper from castoff and rusty parts. he helped.
Mr M
thanks for the job reference:]
But I would rather a show that I wrote so I can hire my blooger buds to work on it.:]
glad I could excite you.
Lady R.
I waited to publish for a few days for you to be able to come back.
what can I say? I learned from you LOL.

KT Did said...

Well...his first name was Darrell. If its the same friend we MUST talk.

"Joker" said...

Sorry I'm late. As you know, I've been doing quite a bit of writing myself lately. I've come over here a couple of times before and gotten interrupted just when I was settling in for the read. I don't know about you, but I hate being interrupted in the middle of a good story, so I chose to deal with the interruptions first. Only problem was I never seemed to have time to get back after!

I'm glad I waited. Tonight, I was able to sit down in total peace and quiet and read this. I really enjoyed the hell out of it. As a rider, I too sort of winced at the idea of the cable across the road. Some dickless piece of shit actually set up a few of those traps several months back in one the Metro West suburbs of Boston, but luckily they were spotted and removed before anyone got hurt. That's some scary shit.

Looking forward to the next installment, and hopefully, a few more crotch rockets eating some desert floor.

Ann said...

Babe, this story fucking rocks! I love it, and I love that you wrote it! You're the best! ILY!

IowaHarleyGirl (Stephanie) said...

Wow...great story! As I've said are an amazing writer. Mr. M is right...SOA needs to contact you about their show!! :)~

Veronnica said...

Big D, this story fucking rocks! I love it and now I'm off to read the next chapter, which I'm sure will kick ass just as much as Animal did in the first chapter! Oh and I love "angry diuretic mosquitos" LOL