The Biker Chronicles
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Big Motorcycles in a Big Country . .
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About the men -and women- who ride them.
About women with and behind the men.
Harleys. Indians. Big Twins. Choppers.
Big Dog, Victory, Norton, Triumph, BSA, Moto Guzzi, BMW, Star, Shadow, Ural, overland, others of ilk,[ your motorcycle name here ].
Motorcycles, scoots, putts, bikes, trikes, motorsickles.
UNCENSORED. This is America. You can say whatever the hell you want.
You can read whatever you want. You can write any damn thing you want.
Ride anywhere you want any time you want with whoever you want on any motorcycle you want.
Stories so far are:
MAGGIE & JAKE, A SAGA, Episode 1
MAGGIE & JAKE, A SAGA, Episode 2
Loosening the reins of an Iron Horse: on going Nowhere.
Some quotes. Some yada-yada.
New stories & episodes are added at the Bottom, not the top, scroll ‘way down.
Read someone else’s story. Live your own story. Write it. Fantasize it. Read. Ride. Kiss. Write. Live.
Upload your stories and lies and pictures. Click the button that is somewhere on your screen, I don’t know where ‘cuz this web site stuff is new to me, I’m a web virgin.
Truth and fiction. Truth pretending to be fiction, and fiction pretending to be truth.
Truth so true that many may think it fiction. Straight-up accounts and outright lies.
When you mix it up, who knows which is real and which illusion?
Countless highways and miles – ridden, riding today and to ride ahead.
Highway rides, downtown cruisin’, winding country roads.
Pavement that flies by inches below your boots a hundred feet every second.
Rides in the sun, rides in the rain and wind-chill cold. Rides alone and in twos and threes and in packs on roads to somewhere and anywhere.
Little boys, young boys, watching you ride by til you’re out of sight and sound, determined to be you when they grow up. And maybe a couple of them do, or you did.
Roads and towns and bars. Loud parties, beer and babes, tequila and ta-ta’s.
Ta-ta’s in skimpy tops and ta-ta’s flashed. A campground at a rally, happy and silly and healthy fun flashing, risque’ for the lady half embarrassed but proud she was brave enough to flash ’em.
You’re a lady who rode her own to the rally and you find your girlfriend and laugh and what little residue of stress that didn’t evaporate in the wind disappears and you feel whole and when night comes she leads you to a campfire with new people and everyone talks and includes you. When it’s late and the marshmallows are gone they leave in ones and twos for their tents til its just you and a man in a wool sweater on the other side of the low fire, a man you still haven’t really met despite the circle of conversation and you both say hi, my name is at the same time and you both laugh and you toss a stick into the fire as a signal you’ll stay a little while. He scrapes the coals together and adds a log and the fire brightens as the moon sets and the chirping night darkens. . and .moon is setting getting dark
Pure solitude on lone rides, the personal rush and reflection and freedom.
Quiet back yards and turnoffs into a track in a woods. Playing slip & slide with your lady in the grass or on the seat of your scoot. In leathers and out of leathers in word and image.
Giving your mom a ride and how she looked at you afterward with a different understanding of the man she had birthed and raised.
Picking up your son or daughter after school on your big rumbling machine -if they did their homework with true effort and achieved to their ability- and seeing their thrill in the ride and their pride in their father, and seeing the envy of their mates.
Of having a beer on a brother’s porch, a good destination. Running into The Loner in a roadhouse, having a beer and pool with him and losing and that was ok because the man’s gotta make an honest living on the road. Offering a sofa for him and a garage for his bike.
Riding twenty miles past the Corporate Chain Restaurant to find breakfast at an independent diner. Meals out of a saddlebag. Living in by-the-month rentals and sleeping at girlfriends’ digs and brothers’ couches and park campgrounds and out-of-sight pastures. The job you love or endure for the bucks to support the ones you love and pay for the bike and gas.
Women that are, women that were. The first lady who lasted more than one summer, the first one you loved as much as your motorcycle, fluttering album pages of ephemeral loves, pages you entrusted for decades with a brother, safe from exes. The Perfect Woman who wasn’t attached when you were and then was attached when you weren’t and you still think of her wistfully now and again. The married firecracker who loved riding your bike and riding you, just lust she said no strings no risk. You lit her fires a thousand times then she begged you to believe the child she bore wasn’t yours. Still you asked a dozen times til she told you not quite in tears you must roll out that highway and now two decades later you wonder. . .
Women who twist their own throttle, women who ride with their man, ex’s who hated what their men loved, women who found out too late you can take the man off the bike but you can’t take the bike out of the man. Women who loved the ride or the life, women who didn’t that you wished well and left behind. Brothers torn from the road by nagging bitches. Men whose women left for caged men.
Women loved, women known, women left, women lost, and one who stayed and is with you still and you will always love even if you give up the bike. For some, a woman that you know damn well is out there and the only way to find her is to keep riding.
Scoots loved, vibrating scoots your ass was welded to but that was ok because it vibrated the nethers of the ladies. Scoots lost to time, lost to banks, lost to ex’s, lost to . . . . a dozen reasons, mostly none good enough to end riding. The sheet-covered bike in the garage that you ride sometimes on Saturdays despite your wife’s frowns, and you do truly praise the Lord but you skip church Sunday mornings for the communing you have with Him riding alone in His sixty mile-an-hour wind.
Brothers loved and lost, lost to time and geography and marriages and the grim reaper.
Late-night dreams, worlds and images and ghosts and waking-day wishes.
Live. Ride. Kiss. Love. Read. Write. Live. Kiss. Ride.
Fly low. Pay cash. Stay under the radar. Be prepared.
Stay on the bike or mount up again.
Live. Ride. Love. Read. Write. Ride. Live. Love. Ride.
by Kahuna Bud 2013, rev Feb 9, June 9 2014
Just now, June 2014, I modernized BikerStories.NET Now you can upload stories and photos. I hope some of you folks will. Site still not sophisticated – kinda like the site is a carburetor trying to figure out what fuel injection is, or an Electra Glide looking at the first Softail and saying WTF? Where’s the suspension? So if the site is clunky, well, that’s me shifting into first.
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2014: The Motor Co unveiled an Electric Harley. Well fna. As Frank might have said, “Hmmm, no foolin.'”
Maggie and Jake; A Saga
The Biker Chronicles 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, Final Edit June 2, 2014 by Kahuna Bud (E.R.)
A Friday: Jake Gets Lost, American Iron Meets British Iron. Maggie Shows Him Hers.
Jake Kelty started his Softail Heritage Classic and rumbled off his job. He headed not home, but to see some old friends, Stu and Jenny, who had just moved here from Missouri. He had their address in his head, and with his usual optimism thought he would have no difficulty finding it. “No problem”, he told himself…
At the same time half a dozen miles away, Maggie breathed a sigh of relief. “Ahhh, home at last”. She entered the house through the garage where she patted her pride and joy, a 42-year-old Triumph 750 Bonneville. “Gimme an hour, baby”, she told her silent machine. “We’ll fire you up and go for a ride…”
Forty minutes later Jake was telling himself, “Yes, problem. I should’ve kept the damn street map in the saddlebag.” The old parts of Harrisburg’s post-war suburbs were built helter-skelter, twisting dead-ends at every little stream valley, routes around them long and circuitous and non-intuitive even with a good internal sense of direction. I mean, would you turn left and left again when you knew damn well your destination lay 45 degrees forward to your right? Old homes, mostly well kept, large trees, thick shrubs, a lived-in look about it, an experienced neighborhood with a certain loveliness. Jake was a bit irked. “Shit. And I thought I could find my way by dead reckoning, by the seat of my pants. I must have left my brains in my ass today.” Jake had made loads of turns, some at stop signs on steep uphill grades, and had a subconscious appreciation for the low-end torque of the Big Twin. Still no Winslow Drive. “Well, I’m not lost. I never get lost. Sometimes I just don’t know how to get where I’m going, like now.” He decided to ask directions of the next person he saw.
Maggie liked her job and was proud of her work, and most days she came home satisfied. But today, her boss’s boss’s boss had visited and gotten underfoot and in her way while she had important work that had to be done today. In spite of him she finished it and handed it to her grateful boss half an hour early. “Jesus, thanks, Maggie. You just saved my ass! If you hurry outa here you can skip the next meaningless meeting.”
“You’re the best, boss” she said as she turned and headed straight to the parking lot. The moment she stepped outside she shook out her hair, then, in the car, kicked off the short heels. At the first red light she peeled off the damn pantyhose she had worn especially for today’s “important meetings”. At the second light she managed to unfasten the tight triple hooks on the back of her special ‘business bra’ that felt like it was made of ballistics fabric before the light turned green. She exhaled in relief and wore it loose under her blouse.
Now, passing through the garage, she turned away from the old Triumph and began unbuttoning the rest of her dress-up work outfit as she headed into the house. Approaching her bedroom she began pulling off the offending formal business-wear and every other stitch and dropped it all in a heap. “Ohh, what a relief”. She rubbed circulation into the red strap marks made by the iron bra on her shoulders and ribs and under her breasts. She resisted the urge to collapse on the bed and instead pulled on real clothes – fresh cotton panties, worn jeans, old sneakers. She picked her favorite bra off the floor by her bed. It was old and well-broken-in, soft and accommodatingly stretchy yellow Lycra. She leaned forward to lower her breasts in and shook once to settle them and put on a loose soft cotton mens’ double pocket workshirt. She took a bite of energy bar going through the kitchen and snagged a bottle of water without breaking stride.
In the garage, Maggie glanced with anticipation at the meticulously-maintained old Triumph, but picked up a grass rake and headed out to the front lawn. Some good old-fashioned physical work in the spring air would feel great and loosen her up so that when she got on the bike her head and body would already be in a good place. Swinging a rake over a winter’s worth of sticks, leaves and whatnot on the lawn would be good exercise, vigorous arm and shoulder work. Then, her weekly weekend ride on her classic Bonneville, and that would thoroughly clean the crud out of today.
I putted past the guys with their leafblowers. Each was absorbed in their zen, their cocoon of iPod or smartphone music in their headphones blocking out the howl of their blower, glazedly watching it’s rhythmic swinging churn hypnotic flurries of leaves and sticks and springtime debris toward the street. “Nah. I wouldn’t want to disturb them”, I thought. “They might think my Harley was too loud.” Puttin’ slowly uphill around a curve I saw a woman raking the leaves in her front yard. Yeah. Raking. You know, with a rake, no gasoline or electricity. Remember those? Just a wooden stick with metal tines fastened to the end of it? You know what tines are. The kind of rake you hold in your hands and use muscles to drag through the leaves. She was raking the leaves toward and under the shrubs, not to the street. She had covered the ground around a huge black oak tree, out to its drip line. “Yes”, I thought, “a good person to ask.” I chugged slowly to an uphill stop. She looked my way and I killed the engine. “Hi,” I said, in my best stage voice that would carry across the yard. “Would you know of a Winslow Drive near here?” She walked toward me, brushing hair away from her eyes with her forearm. She stopped at her edge of the sidewalk. She was looking at the bike, not at me. Not unusual. It was better-looking than me.
“Winslow.” She was still looking at the bike. She looked into my face for a moment. “You’re not too far,” she said. She looked back the way I had come. I half turned in the saddle and looked back, too. She paused and smiled. “About 2 or 3 miles and just a dozen turns away.” She looked at me. “That is a nice machine.” In the several seconds she was looking at the bike, I was looking at her. Red hair, oh God, lots of freckles, an oversized long sleeve yellow button-front cotton outdoors shirt.
“Thank you.” I said.
“There are two stream valleys between here and there, lots of dead ends. You have to go around the north end of the first valley, come back south between them to hook around the second. There’s no direct route. Its only a quarter mile walk, but a good three or four miles on streets, a hundred stop signs.
I grinned. “So, a navigational challenge, hey?”
“You got a map?”
“Uh, no”, I admitted. “I don’t even know what street this is!”
For the most fleeting moment her lips smiled, then she squinched her eyes, turned and again looked up the street, thinking. I turned, too, but I was looking at her, not up the street. Beat-up sneakers. Jeans. No gloves. Natural fingernails. The shirt was the kind made of thick soft cotton with two pockets with flaps and buttons. Cuffs rolled halfway to her elbows. It was too large for her frame, and loose enough there was no hint of what it covered, though I did try to guess. Half a leaf, yellow and brown, was caught in her hair. All that in about 4 seconds. She caught me looking at her and her posture tightened every so slightly. I was glad I was looking at her hair when she caught me, not a second before when I’d been checking out her, uh, shirt area, a foot lower.
“There’s a leaf in your hair”. I gestured. The corners of her lips lifted a bit and she arched her brows ever so slightly. She shook her hair but made no move to find the leaf with her hands. It was real red hair, I mean it was red hair that was real, not dyed, and it reached down to her shoulder blades.
Her lips curled up just on one side and she laughed. “You’ll find it.” Pause. “Eventually.”
I laughed, too. “C’mon, it can’t be that hard.”
She smiled. “Sooner if you ask a few times on the way. I don’t mean to say you couldn’t find it. It’s easy”, she said, “if you already know. I’ll bet riding that big Heritage is easy, after you know how.”
“Sure”, I chuckled, “but I could never remember a dozen street names, which way to turn on them and in what order”. I noticed she knew what model of Harley it was, and there was no nameplate. “You know Harleys?”
Her face was straight but her eyes were smiling. “I don’t know the street names,” she said, answering my first question. “And I’ve never been there. I just” she paused. “…. know where to go.” There was some small oddity about the way she said ‘…just . . . know where to go.’ “Seriously, its a big maze, getting there.” She turned and walked across the sidewalk onto the street in front of the bike.
She hadn’t ignored my greater question. “I love them. I used to ride a Dyna some but mostly I was old lady on . . . different bikes, some choppers. Yours looks alive.”
“The bike is flattered”, I replied. “’Alive’, that’s quite a compliment. Sometimes she feels that way.” It was a nice surprise to meet someone who also rode, or at least used to, who appreciated these mechanical throwbacks to a past era. I meant the motorcycle, not me. As for calling her ‘alive’, there was truth in that, more than I was yet aware of. So she had been ‘old lady on different bikes, meaning different men, and some of the bikes had been choppers, so not dentists. My brain was having a hard time trying to decide how I was feeling about this lady. I was certainly curious in a man-woman kind of way, but when she revealed herself to be someone in the wide community of two wheels, I couldn’t help but shift just a little toward seeing this woman not solely as a good-looking woman, a pretty face and pretty nice body, but also a comrade. I quit checking her out that way for the moment, and relaxed. Nevertheless, there was an easy friendliness about her that held my attention.
The engine was ticking as it cooled. “Do you mind if I stretch a moment? I may have to take notes on these directions.”
I put the stand down, took my helmet off and hung it on the small hook I had rigged under the windshield. I took my gloves off and as I was placing them behind the windshield she said “D’you really think I can reel off all those street names and turns?” I looked up and she had a questioning eyebrow lifted over her slight smile. “Besides, that sheet of paper isn’t big enough”. She turned and looked at her front yard, one hand on the upside-down rake, considering. She looked back at me. “Tell you what”, she said, “I’ll show you over there. I want a ride more than I want to rake leaves.” Without waiting for a reply she turned toward the house and called back over her shoulder, “wait here. I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Well, damn”, I thought. “That’s awful nice of her to drive there and back.” I was a bit surprised that this stranger would go to such a length to help some guy just passing by. She sure is good looking. I pretended to no more than glance at her as she walked away through a patio door. But she did have an attractive walk. Then I wondered at her phrasing, ‘I want a ride more than …’ Did she mean to ride on the back of my bike? “That’s ok”, I figured, even kinda nice, but then she would need a ride back here, and how much time was that, and……. “wake up, Jake”, I told myself. “If she wants to ride behind me, that’s nooo problem at all.” I hadn’t had a woman behind me in, umm, a few years. Well, except there was my dear semi-platonic friend. Semi. We rode together but not on a motorcycle.
Maggie would have been quite content to finish her raking as planned and ride afterward. “But”, she told herself, “now that this biker has shown up, I have a good excuse to ride now rather than later. It’s true”, she thought, “I want a ride more than I need to rake leaves. Besides, he’s a fellow biker, so of course I’ll help him out. And”, she mused, “an interesting man, too.” A man was something she had not had in her life for a long time, though occasionally she had had . . intimacy. She retrieved the Triumph key from the kitchen and pulled up the garage door. She rolled the Triumph out of the dark garage into the early evening sun, pulled the choke, opened the fuelcock, made sure it was in neutral, clicked the key on, and extended the kickstart lever. Lifting her 5 feet five inches up high, she threw all her weight down. As expected, it barely chugged. She tickled the choke, rose up and kicked again. One cylinder fired once or twice. Third kick, the engine caught, irregularly. Maggie babied the throttle until it settled into a choked steady idle. She let it run and went back into the garage for her helmet, goggles, jacket, gloves and boots. She came out with her boots and jacket on and backed off the choke. She put each boot onto a footrest to lace and tie. As she put on goggles, fastened her helmet and pulled her gloves on, she looked out the driveway at the man on the Harley. He, of course, was staring at her. She smiled, knowing he was very surprised that she was riding a motorcycle, not driving a car, and perhaps he was aware her bike was an uncommon antique.
I looked up when the garage door opened. The woman rolled out a motorcycle instead of a car. “Well, I’ll be damned” I said out loud. As I said that, I saw that it was a vertical twin. From where I sat it looked new. Unusual, I thought, idly wondering who makes vertical twin motorcycles any more. Then I recognized it. “It’s a Triumph! Shiiiit, damn!” I was talking out loud to myself, surprised as hell. “An honest-to-god Bonneville”. I hadn’t seen one of those in years. She reached below the tank, undoubtedly opening the fuel. She turned the key and pulled the choke. The lady was full of surprises. She stood her body up and came down hard on a kickstarter. “Fuckin’ A.” I added, admiring that she kicked it. Second kick and it fired once. I recalled that. First kick not expected to fire and some guys didn’t turn the key for the first kick. A righteously tuned bike and dry air might get a start on a third kick. Kick three, she rose up again and came down powerfully. The fires lit. “Sweet.” The bike, I meant, starting so easy. Well, her, too. She let it idle and went back into the garage and returned in a short minute wearing tall boots and a leather jacket, carrying goggles, helmet and gloves. I fastened my helmet, slid my gloves on, brought up the stand, thumbed the starter and turned toward the street, ready. She adjusted the choke and idled out the driveway. She turned downhill and blipped just a little throttle, shifting quickly into second and no throttle. I followed, intrigued, to say the least.
She hadn’t been kidding about the number of turns. The further we went the more grateful I got for her leading me. Whoever she was, she rode deftly on the narrow, curving and sometimes steep residential streets. Smooth shifts and smooth clutch even at the uphill stop signs, and that was a real compliment considering the Triumph’s first-gear ratio. Confident. The seat was a little too high, I thought, and the bars a little too far forward for her frame and arms. Her legs were barely long enough, the balls of her feet just reaching the ground. The old Triumph sounded smooth and healthy – for a British machine, that is. 1970’s, I figured, early 70’s. Vertical parallel twin, solid performance as long as you kept its carb tweaked, mainly. Sparkling clean & waxed. She kept a respectful slow speed on the myriad residential streets, but when she turned onto a 4-lane highway she wound it up. For a 40-year-old classic, it accelerated like a rocket, and I hastily gave chase. I caught up, but I suspected she was babying her antique, that it had more on tap if she wanted.
I lost count but it must have been 20 turns. The sun was getting low as we reached Winslow Drive and I pulled up alongside her. She let go of the bars, sat up and grinned. “Here ya go! This is Winslow!”
“Miss,” I laughed, ‘you weren’t kidding about the turns! I lost count at 15. I extended my right hand and as she shook it I introduced myself. “My name’s Jake. Jake Kelty, and this sure was awful nice of you. I’d have been lost til midnight!”
She smiled broadly, bright eyes wide, and she was a fraction slow to let go of my hand. “Maggie W^8#)@ -something unintelligible. A pleasure to ride. Just what I needed, and I wouldn’t have if you hadn’t come along.”
“That’s one helluva nice Bonneville. Mid-70’s?”
“Thank you. 1972.”
“You keep it beautifully. Would you like to come riding with us on Sunday? Stu and Jenny, my friends here on Winslow, and I are riding to a small rally near Sunbury and you’d be real welcome to ride with us.”
She did that little head-tilt thing again. “Maybe”, she said. “Check back with me tomorrow and I’ll let you know. You know where to find me. Cheers!” With that she did a tight U-turn in the intersection and with a casual wave took off back the way they had come!
“Wait! What’s your number?” But she was already well out of earshot. “What the?” Well, she did tell me to check back with her tomorrow, I thought. Ok, but surely she knew I would have to search a long time to find her street when I didn’t know its name, let alone the crazy streets. “Yeah, as if I could find her house again”, I muttered. “But that’s what she said; ‘Check back with me ….. You know where to find me.’ Hmm, that’ll be interesting, finding her house again. “And you, Maggie Whoever, are just interesting as hell. You bet your ass you know what I’m doing tomorrow morning.” I chunked it down into first, turned slowly onto Winslow Drive and found Stu and Jenny.
END Episode 1 Maggie & Jake
The Biker Chronicles
Final edit June, 2014 , copyright 2014
Kahuna Bud aka
The Biker Chronicles, July 2012 by Kahuna Bud aka E. (Kahuna Bud) Roberts
Moe motored his stripped and striped Electra Glide up Larry & Nina’s driveway and parked next to Kicks’ Purple Dragon. His Electra Glide was stripped in that he kept only the fairing and two bags and striped like a zebra, vivid black and fluorescent white stripes. Kicks’ Super Glide breathed red and yellow fire from a dragon’s jaws on the left. A leash led from the dragon’s steel pointed collar to the right side of the tank, to the hands of a naked mermaid with major mammarage who held the dragon’s leash in one hand and beckoned you to her with her other hand. Dangerous chick.
Larry, Nina and Kicks came outside. Larry slapped Moe on the back and Kicks bumped fists. “Hi, Moe” smiled Nina, and raised on tiptoe to kiss his cheek as he gave her a friendly one-armed hug. “We were burning the bacon waiting for you.”
“Damn glad of that. Burned crispy is the way for bacon.”
They had Larry’s classic breakfast, three eggs over easy and lots of crisp bacon and well-browned home fries with onions, tall glasses of orange juice to rinse down the grease and coffee four ways. Finished, Moe started clearing the table and Kicks belched his compliments. Larry headed off to the bathroom. Nina drifted away, following Larry. She cornered him in the bathroom just as he was hauling it out at the porcelain throne.
“Let me. Hey, let me.” Nina took his limp tool and aimed it at the toilet. “Ok” she said, “start peeing”.
“Shh” whispered Larry.
“Pooh! Go ahead, I’m ready.” Indeed she was, loudly hitting the center of the bowl. “Watch. I can do a figure 8.”
She circled his stream in a wiggling 8. “No, wait, I can do better” she said quickly, and steered the stream smoothly in another 8. “Hey, I’m good” she squealed. “I got the whole thing in the water, none of it hit the sides of the bowl. Ha!” she laughed and looked up at him. Of course, as soon as she looked away from where her hand was aiming his still-streaming penis, her hand moved, too, pointing his hose off to one side. Larry stopped the stream immediately, but still, it takes a second, so the stream of urine splashed against the wall and floor.
Nina squealed loudly and giggled, forgetting Larry’s admonition to keep her voice down. “Oh, God, I aimed it away from the toilet! I peed you on the wall! Here. Take your thing back. Damn, and I made such a good figure 8,” she said proudly. She looked at it again. Larry put his finger to his lips, which Nina didn’t notice. Nina was one of those people whose voice projected, carried. Great on stage, but ‘keep your voice down’ was not a concept she grasped.
“They can hear…” but Nina was on her own roll and kept talking, oblivious to Larry’s attempts to quiet her.
“Good thing we’re done, though, ‘cause pretty soon I couldn’t have bent it down far enough. That’s ok, I’ll clean up after you go. Come on, you’re keeping Moe and Kicks waiting.”
Larry was half laughing, half serious. “Jesus, Nina . . .”
But Nina talked over him. “When you get home tomorrow Ill give you lots of beers to drink and we’ll go outside and I get to aim Mr. Happy again. I want to practice hitting things.”
Larry gently put his hand over Nina’s mouth. “Whisper, Honey. Moe and Kicks can hear you out in the kitchen.”
Nina put her knuckles to her mouth and her eyes opened wide. “Oh! Ohhhh, no.” Finally she dropped her voice to a whisper “Shit! Your friends are going to think I’m…” Larry grinned broadly and finished her sentence. “…the best wife around. They’ll envy me.” He finished pissing, shook it twice and stuffed it back into his pants.
“Envy you?” she whispered.
“Of course. They wish their wives were as fun and outrageous and spontaneous as you are. You don’t know how rare you are. God, I love you.”
“Sure. Well, I don’t want to go out there. I’m too embarrassed.”
He bent down and kissed her forehead. “I’ll call you tonight.”
Nina was never very far from a giggle, and she put her hand over her mouth to stop another one. “I think after you leave and I stop feeling embarrassed I’ll think it’s funny. Now go.” She pushed him out of the bathroom and closed the door, staying inside.
Sure enough, in the kitchen Moe and Kicks were silently laughing, their hands over their mouths to stifle the sound. Moe’s forearm was against his belly. Kicks’ free arm was stretched straight out, against Moe’s shoulder.
“C’mon, you audio voyeurs” Larry said in obviously false offense. “You think you can stop laughing enough to keep your bikes upright?” He grabbed a handful of their shirts at the shoulder, one in each hand, and pushed them out the door.
“You are a dog, man!” said Moe. He had meant to say it in a strong whisper but it came out loud enough that Nina heard, too. Kicks, too, thought he was speaking in a low voice, but Nina heard him laugh “Shit, Larry, can I bring Lola over here? Maybe she’ll learn to live life from Nina!”
Nina was relieved she hadn’t caused Larry any disrespect from his mates. To the contrary it seemed she had earned Larry some points. “Men” she thought. “No figuring them out.”
Outside, Larry unhurriedly put on his half-helmet, goggles and gloves, and mounted a couple seconds after Kicks and Moe fired up. Kicks and Moe waited, neither making a move to head out first. On any of their other many rides any random one of the three men might lead. But the lead today was obvious to Moe and Kicks. They waited as Larry lit the fires of his big twin and accelerated briskly onto the street. They followed, giving the lead to Larry today, all day. Today he was Top Dog.
END Top Dog
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
Life is not a dress rehearsal. It’s live and it’s now. You don’t get a second chance.
Loosening the Reins of an Iron Horse
Like loosening the reins of a horse, “giving a horse his head”, my Road King finds its own way to lots of places I would never have gone to. I like going anywhere, or even to nowhere. Now I know where Nowhere is. It’s in Caddo County, Oklahoma. I know how to get there. Some people going nowhere don’t know where they’re going, so they never get to Nowhere. I know how far it is, how long it’ll take me to get there, and what it’ll cost for gas ($70 at $4 a gallon). You can get to Nowhere fast, or on the Scenic Route you’ll still get to Nowhere sometime. If I went to Nowhere fast, its 18 hours riding at 65, 1,200 miles. But me, whether I go fast or slow, I still get to Nowhere, so I putt along the Scenic Route, stop at Scenic Views and Mom & Pop diners and Tastee Freeze soft ice cream and kids’ lemonade stands. One day a nosey told me if I keep on the way I’m going, one day I’ll realize I’ve gotten Nowhere. Yes. I’d rather get to Nowhere on my Harley than Somewhere in a Merdes. After seeing Nothing in Nowhere, Oklahoma, I just may check my paper map, see if I can find the town of Somewhere…
–Kahuna Bud, 2011
Maggie and Jake; A Saga
The Biker Chronicles
Saturday; A Determined Jake Gets Lost, Introductions in a Diner, and Only Plans Are Laid.
The Biker Chronicles 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, Final Edit June 3, 2014 by Kahuna Bud
The next day was Saturday. I folded the local street map into the inside pocket of my jacket and set off at 9 to find Maggie. I was certain I would find her house, though it would take cruising a lot of residential streets. That was good four ways – any kind of riding is good, this was a search that would take a lot of attention, a lot of slow cruising, it was on very curvy streets, and there was a very interesting woman at the end of the search. Her general neighborhood was just 15 minutes away. An hour and a half later, and countless turns and stop signs, I was still happily determined. I figured it would take at least this long. I had seen a lot of similar houses, none of them hers. I had seen a lot of similar streets, but none of them hers. I’d seen a lot of leafblower jockeys but of course none of them were her. I saw no one with a rake. I didn’t know the street name but I might recognize the turn. If I were going up the hill I’d recognize the house immediately, but going down… I dunno, maybe. It was a nice day, sunny, a little bit cool. For the hundredth time I let out the clutch from the hundredth stop sign and chugged slowly uphill in first. I putted around a bend and bingo!, there was her house, unmistakable. A few more feet up the street and I could see around tall shrubs to the garage, where sat the Triumph parked half in the dark garage, half out in the sun, noticeable only if you were looking for it.
While Jake was searching for her house, Maggie was taking close-up photos of her Bonneville, in the good morning light. Finished, she re-parked the bike and took the camera inside and emailed the pictures to her nephew in Iraq, along with a list of recent maintenance she had performed. At the end of the list she wrote, “Relax, Jimmy, you know damn well your Aunt Maggie ain’t clueless with a wrench. I keep Uncle Boomer’s 750 in perfect condition. See photos. It’s waiting for you to ride. Stay safe, get home soon, Love, Maggie” She followed that with a friendly blinking .gif of a raised finger, her response to his joking email suggestion that she, being a woman, couldn’t really take proper care of Uncle Boomer’s antique legacy. “Bullshit”, she had muttered at the time. “The boy has balls of steel and brains, too, or he wouldn’t be a Marine lieutenant, and he has the nerve to tease me about wrenching.” She knew his ribbing of her was guy-friendliness, the kind of friendly insult that a man could only make of someone close, an insult that begged a witty insult in return. She loved Jimmy as her own son, and he pretty much was except he came out of her ex-sister-in-law’s womb, not hers. Maggie, though technically the boy’s aunt, held the same role and authority and love as any good mother. To Jimmy’s great benefit, his mother had breast-fed him for 19 months, providing him with a great immune system and essential bonding with mother. When Jimmy was two years old his mother and father broke up and Jimmy stayed with his father, Maggie’s brother John. John was a good dad, and bought a house on her street, just the third house down the street from Maggie’s, so Jimmy & Maggie’s kids fit right in and were raised almost as one household. She knew that he knew she was quite competent with oily steel, and real careful with their late Uncle Boomer’s antique Bonneville. She had 27 years on him – he was 23. Their relationship was a great mixture of nephew-aunt, son-mother, adult junior-elder, with confidence in and mutual respect for each other.
Maggie wouldn’t ride the Bonnie today because she was pretty sure she was going on a long ride tomorrow. Still, she left the Bonnie half in, half out of the garage, so he could see it if he was looking but not an obvious beacon blinking “here she is, here she is”. She felt either silly or ADD or OCD about positioning the bike that way, but it was logical; she wanted him to find her, but not if he was only able to because she made it obvious. An hour after taking the pictures the sun, higher now, shone on three quarters of the bike. Self-consciously, feeling a little absurd, she moved it two feet back so that the sun struck only the tank and engine and forward. She took a rake to the backyard and worked in the same shirt and jeans as yesterday, her hair again loose. “Do I work in the front yard and make it obvious I’m watching for him, lamely overeager, or do I work in the back yard and take the risk he will miss?” The answer was immediately obvious. “Oh. If he finds the house, he will park and come into the yard and find me. If he doesn’t find the house it won’t matter where I am. So back yard it is, play my cards close like a confident woman.” She raked the fallen leaves, sticks and winter debris, good natural mulch, under her thick shrubs. She heard the faint but distinctive rumble of a Harley some streets away, and it faded. Awhile later, still raking, she heard another Harley a couple of streets away in the opposite direction. Nearing the chain link back fence, she swung the rake vigorously, hurling leaves and twigs at it so they piled up deep enough to stop grass & weeds from growing along the fence. Twenty minutes later she had all the leaves off the yard & tidied up the edges with quick little rake flicks. Standing her rake on end, Maggie surveyed her backyard domain. It was nice to see such visible results of one’s work, satisfying both physically and psychically. Putting the rake away, she picked up her hedge clippers to trim a few bits.
“There’s another Harley”, she thought. It was unusual to hear 3 of them in less than an hour in her neighborhood, even on a weekend. Maggie turned toward the slowly approaching deep chugging of low-end torque cruising along slowly uphill toward her. “Loafing along uphill in first gear”, she thought, “yeah, first gear, sounds like comfortable rpm’s for the hill”. Aloud, she pleasantly swore “I’ll be damned”, and silently to herself, “the same bike? And”, she thought, “if its the same bike, maybe it’s looking for something. And if it’s looking for something . . . . Maggie stood there, clippers poised at a broken tree limb, lips slightly parted, intently listening and knowing she was hoping it was him, Jake. She tossed the clippers onto the picnic table and strode toward the driveway.
Suddenly the rpm’s dropped, and then, right in front of her house, came a loud one-second burst of acceleration and then a loping idle. “I’ll be damned. It’s him!” Hands on her hips, she watched him dismount and remove his helmet. She waited til he looked up the driveway at her. He waved with a gloved hand and ambled up toward her. Grinning, hands on her hips, she met him halfway on the driveway and happily laughed. “Are you lost again?!!”
They did some friendly verbal sparring, that social testing that strangers do with each other to size up the other. At one point she realized she had briefly given him an impish grin, and inside she blinked to herself. “Now where on earth had that imp smile come from!? I haven’t used that imp expression since, since ages ago! “I’m not coming on to him! Am I?”
To my credit I recognized the house before I noticed the Triumph halfway outside the garage. I grinned and congratulated myself as I loudly accelerated a second, then angled idling back to the sidewalk next to her driveway. I was grinning inside and out, happy with finding her, and hoping she’d be happy to see me. As I took my helmet off I saw her emerge from the back yard. She put her hands on her hips and I thought “uh oh, is that unhappy body language?” I ambled up the driveway and she strolled slowly toward me, and I saw a big happy grin. Stopping a few feet away, she laughed and asked, “Are you lost again?!!”
“Not anymore! Y’ see, I figured the only way to find you was for me to get lost, like I was yesterday, and that’s where you’d be. And I was right, because I did get lost and here you are.”
Her eyes twinkled. “Me? Lost? I’m not lost! I live here!”
“Well, actually, I wanted to thank you for leading me over to Stu’s, but you took off so quick last night I was thanking your tail lights.”
“You did thank me, and I knew you were ‘way late getting to your friend’s, so I just took off.” She wore a new impish grin on that little head tilt she did yesterday. “Besides, it’s hard to go slow on the Triumph.” She straightened her face to merely friendly, a touch neutral, like two adults more neutrally getting to know each other. I couldn’t help but read that as less than the happier exuberance she had been displaying until moments before. I didn’t know it was because she was over-correcting her come-on grin.
“Yes, I’m sure it is. I saw that when you rocketed out onto the 4-lane highway. Very fast, and you handle it very well, too.”
“I was babying it when I did that. It accelerates a hell of a lot faster if I open it up.”
“I can believe it”, I said, “especially since you obviously take really good care of it. It almost looks new.
“Thanks,” she said. “It looks just as good on the inside, too.”
“My compliments. I’d like to repeat my invitation to ride up to a little rally in Sunbury with us tomorrow. It’ll be my friends Stu and Jenny, and you and me. Maybe 20, 30 people there. I don’t know if you would ride the 750 that far & I understand if you don’t want to. Its only 60 miles but it’s a real pretty ride if we stay off the Interstate. What do you say?”
Maggie’s green eyes looked into my blue ones. “I say I’m hungry. I’ve been raking a ton of leaves in the back yard, and there’s no ready food in the house. I say let’s ride over to Sally’s Diner and get some lunch.”
“Great. Give me a minute.”
Maggie walked back to the Triumph. She was dressed just like yesterday, same worn jeans and yellow oversized cotton shirt. Like yesterday, she went through her starting routine, fuel open, choke, tickle the carb. She stood and threw all her hundred and twelve pounds down on the kicker. The Lycra bra held her hooters back from bouncing too much, and besides, she knew the overlarge cotton shirt gave nothing away. Jake, however, had superior powers of tata observation and detected a major oscillation under the thick yellow cotton. She came down a second time, Jake verified the “oscillation”, and the 42-year-old vertical twin fired once, paused, and with a little babying settled into a nice, loping high idle. She left it on its stand and went back into the garage to collect her riding gear. She re-appeared beside the Triumph in a minute, wearing her leather boots and open jacket, and carrying her goggles, gloves and helmet. For the second time, I was impressed with her natural ease kickstarting, and how well the old British motorcycle ran.
Maggie led once again, I followed. Two miles and about 9 turns later we pulled into Sally’s Diner, a genuine independent diner with chrome exterior, wonderful, not some damn national chain restaurant. We backed our machines into an extra-wide spot at the front of the diner where we could see them from a booth. Sally greeted Maggie as we walked in. “I’ve got a booth for you right over there, Mags, where your motorcycles are, so you” – Sally glanced appraisingly at me – “and your companion can keep an eye on them.” Sally’s appraisal of me had been a mere two-second eyeball from head to toe and back up to my eyes, and there had been a barely perceptible pause before saying ‘companion’. She seemed protective. Maggie gave Sally a momentary hug and thanked her. I smiled at Sally and said hi. As we sat down Maggie told me “Sally’s husband is Greek, so they have a few Greek items. I’m having the antipasto.”
“Ah, Greek,” I said. “In that case I won’t need the menu. A Greek salad for me. Tell me about this Triumph you have. It looks in fantastic shape.”
Our teenage waitress, Betsy-Lou, took our orders and popped her gum as she left. Maggie started what turned out to be a long story. “It was my Uncle Boomer’s, his last favorite motorcycle. He rode mostly British motorcycles all his life. Nortons, BSAs, Triumphs. He had an Italian bike once, a big touring Moto Guzi. Lovely motorcycle, he said, but he got tired of waiting for parts to fix it. For long trips he got a Wide Glide that he rode to Sturgis and Mardi Gras. Toward the end the doctors told him the vibration was too much, so he found an orthopedic surgeon who was a Harley rider. After all the diagnostic imaging the biker doctor told him he would be ok for a couple years on a Road King or Electra Glide, but sooner or later he’d have to move to either a big smooth Honda or big smooth BMW cruiser, and, after that a small convertible car. He got a Honda because it was real smooth and a lot cheaper than a BMW R1600. Actually the 4-cylinder K series would have been smoother but Uncle Boomer was old-school and liked the Boxer engine.“
“He must have been a real character.”
“Oh, yes, character’s the right word. This Triumph wasn’t his last motorcycle, but it’s the last one he cared about. So, he gave it to me, because he knew I’d like it and take good care of it.” Their food came.
“So, did you ride a lot with your uncle?”
“Not at first, and then yes, lots. My mom & dad wouldn’t allow me to ride on motorcycles even though it was Uncle Boomer, so until I was twelve I almost never did. But by then – age 12 – I was living with Uncle Boomer and Aunt Mae September through June, the school year, and half the summers.
Once I started living with my Aunt and Uncle, I lived by their rules, not Mom’s. If I was responsible and respectful I could do most anything. And mostly all I had to do to ride with Uncle Boomer was ask nicely.”
“Why did you live with your aunt & uncle?”
“I was third of five kids and Mom thought I was a troublemaker.” Maggie paused and smiled overly innocently. With no explanation of that interesting comment, she continued. “Once it was pretty well established that I was to live with them pretty much permanently, Uncle Boomer and Aunt Mae became my mom and dad, functionally, I mean. Daddy was a good man, I loved him very much and was always thrilled to see him, it was just that he wasn’t around much because of his work. Daddy worked building the first Interstate highways and had to be at the leading end which often was hundreds of miles away. He sent most of his pay home to Mom and paid the bills and he and Mom loved each other and us, there was never any trouble of that kind. Mom had my younger brother and sister to raise by herself and they thought I was pretty impossible.”
“You?” Jake pretended surprise. “You said you were a troublemaker. In what way?”
“I was a tomboy and that was ok with Mom until I reached 12. I started puberty and it umm, showed, so Mom decided I had to quit being a tomboy with my 12-year-old friends, who were mostly boys. She thought that was old enough for me to start acting ‘female’. I wouldn’t stop doing boy-type things with my boy-pals, so she got insanely strict about it and that made me even more determined to stay a tomboy. My boy-pals were just ordinary 11 & 12 year olds doing normal 12-year-old stuff. They hadn’t discovered girl bodies yet, Mom shouldn’t have worried. When Mom got super-strict with me I reacted by purposely hanging out with older boys, boys well into puberty, like 14 &15, and the ones I picked were ‘bad’ boys. They were real interested in me and they were thrilled for me to hang out with them. Luckily they were still so young they had no girl-confidence and no real idea how to act on their new urges, except dare me to take my clothes off.” Maggie looked up from her antipasto. “I told them I would if they took their clothes off first. This was out in the woods. They wouldn’t so neither would I.” She whispered and grinned. “Their loss. I would have if they hadn’t chickened out.” She took another bite and Jake took another sip and Maggie continued. “I had only a birds-and-bees concept of what sex was. Well, actually I had seen goats doing it and all sorts of animals giving birth, it was a farm, but that didn’t quite compute or translate into me doing it. Anyway, since it was against the rules to show boys your body, I wanted to. Mom found out, of course, because I told my sister, because for me the whole point was for Mom to find out, an in-her-face rebellion against her new anti-tomboy rule. But the story she got was that we had taken our clothes off. I hadn’t but to me that was a technicality because I would have if the boys hadn’t chickened out. She went ballistic. She got word to Daddy, and he came home and they pulled me up by the short hairs – well, I only almost had those yet, but they read me the riot act and didn’t give me a chance to repeat such escapades. They told Uncle Boomer and Aunt Mae right away and it was decided by all that I would go live with them, about 40 miles away from those lecherous boys. That was a huge distance then on those roads.”
“And you liked that? Was it better with Aunt & Uncle?”
“Way better. Waaaay better. They were more outgoing people, had more friends, grownup friends I mean, but those friends had kids, too. They were more active, more exciting. And they were both there. Even if I was off playing, hanging out somewhere, I knew they were home or would always be home that night. It felt secure. They almost never yelled. They had no problem with me being tomboyish. It was a farm, a real farm with lots of practical work to do. No kid could possibly just be a girly-girl and not do real farm work. Taking care of animals is lots of work plus maintaining and fixing a zillion things, plus Aunt Mae expected me to learn to cook. But they didn’t grind me down with constant work. Just the opposite. They gave me tons of freedom. I don’t mean bratty freedom. They expected respect and I gave it. I had chores I had to do, truly had to do, and I had to do my homework every day and at the same time every day, after school and before playtime. I learned pretty fast that if I did those two things right away before and after school they let me do almost anything I wanted. And if I didn’t do the chores or my homework they wouldn’t let me do anything. By ‘do anything’ I just mean I had freedom to go wherever I wanted, on foot, do what I wanted. Like, I could go meet up with my pals and run around in the woods or my friends would come home with me or I went to their houses. With no notice I could stay overnight at several other kids homes any night I didn’t have school next day and I came home in the morning. All it took was a phone call from that mother to Aunt Mae and all was cool. I learned early that if on my own initiative I helped for 10 or 20 minutes with some chore at friends’ or relatives’ homes, or helped make dinner those parents would always welcome me and let their kids run around with me. I thought it was a big joke that these other parents thought I was a model girl! I never had any urge to hang out with older boys ever again. It was good I made that mistake at 12 with 14-year old boys instead of at 14 with 17 or 18 year old boys.
“So I rode on the back of Uncle Boomer’s motorcycles all the time. Mostly they were Harleys, old ones he bought used cheap and repaired. Sometimes he picked me up from school, and that was so, so cool. Everybody was jealous. Understand, Uncle Boomer rode his motorcycles almost everywhere, almost every day, unless he needed a pickup truck to haul something or a car to drive a bunch of us somewhere, or when it got really cold or heavy springtime rains. I outgrew the only spare helmet he had and he made me earn a new one if I wanted to keep riding. Then I started doing little things like cleaning the bikes. He taught me how to change oil and eventually I learned a fair amount of mechanic stuff but around sixteen I quit caring about riding with him. But that was being a teenager not wanting to be seen with Mommy and Daddy all the time. You know how it is, I found out about boys. After that I didn’t ride with Uncle Boomer too much except he picked me up from school sometimes and rode me to ball practices and I wore this leather jacket that everybody wanted, boys and girls. That jacket attracted a lot of boys.”
“Don’t you think that it was you, not the jacket, that the boys were attracted to.”
“Touche to my comment about you and your Sportster. But Jake, I’ve talked all this time and I still didn’t get to how I started riding motorcycles!”
“But you’ve been telling where you were introduced to motorcycles.”
“Introduced, yes, but it’s not how I started riding. Except for a little riding on the dirt paths on the farm, Uncle Boomer wouldn’t let me ride. Definitely not on roads.”
“Then it’s an even better story. I like it, keep going.”
Maggie deflected the subject to me. “I want a chance to eat, not talk. Your turn, Jake.“
“Ah, well, nothing as interesting as your story. I was born in a small Pennsylvania town north of Pittsburgh, about 300 people. I was literally born in the town. Mom rejected going 18 miles to the nearest hospital, thought that was foolish taking that kind of ride when she was about to give birth. Mom had it arranged to birth her babies at the doctor’s office in town, two blocks away. That worked fine. I was 3rd of 7 kids. When I was 8 we moved to what I guess you would call the ‘town suburbs’. That is, instead of living on the four blocks of town streets, old, old houses next to each other, we moved a quarter mile out of town, which put us right on the dividing line between suburb and farmland. Looking north from my yard it was woods and farms and tiny towns 90 miles all the way to Lake Erie.
“When I was nine I started riding my bicycle all over, on those narrow blacktop and gravel roads. Later I rode sometimes 15 miles away & 15 back. Lots of days I just rode a couple miles to the local grass strip airport next to the gun club. I hung around waiting for Piper Cubs or other little airplanes to take off or land, which was just about the most exciting thing for me most days in my little town. I dreamed of being an airplane pilot.
“I first got a close-up look at a motorcycle when I was 15, in ‘73. I had a job at the gas station and was saving up for a car, and one day the station got a new regular customer. On a motorcycle. A big, loud, black, fast motorcycle ridden by an old guy – must have been thirty years old. I got the car, though, not a motorcycle, ‘cuz my parents said ‘no’ pretty damn firmly to a motorcycle. The only time I saw motorcycles was summer weekends. They would thunder by my gas station on the main road coming out of Pittsburgh going north to Lake Erie and back.
“I went into the Army a year after high school, that was after Nam, even though Nam and the draft had made the military unpopular. When I got out I took a job in a steel mill in Pittsburgh and bought my first bike a month later. It was a 1971 Sportster. It was 11 years old, I was 23. That thing was damn near the fastest vehicle on the road. I survived by riding smart and controlling my throttle hand.
“I made only two improvements to the Sporty – a spare helmet and one saddlebag, so I could carry a passenger.”
Maggie interrupted, “A ‘passenger’? You mean a hot babe, don’t you? You & your Sportster must have been a real chick magnet. And the saddlebag was for lunch and a blanket, am I right?”
I looked at her with raised eyebrows. “I guess you could say it was a real asset for picking up girls. Amazing, actually.” As she was taking a drink of ice tea I noticed again her red hair and freckles. I looked straight at her and said, “I tended toward lasses with red hair and freckles.” She laughed so suddenly that tea flew out of her nose.
She seemed to be making a big effort to suppress a smile. I moved away from red hair comments and continued. “Yes, I slowed the Sporty down by making it haul some extra weight, in the form of one or another young lady on the back. That probably kept me out of accidents, too, because I rode more sanely when I had a girl on the back. I dated ‘mature’ girls, my age or at most a year younger. After six months at the steel mill, other mills started downsizing and I realized the whole steel industry was declining. Besides, I wanted something more challenging, and I still had the itch to fly. The pay was pretty good and I was single, so I could afford flying lessons. I was handy with tools and helped out pilots with their airplanes and after awhile quit the mill and started working for an aircraft mechanic company. Having a pilot license I sometimes got to test-fly planes we worked on. By then I was 26 and single, and decided that the ‘someday’ to go to college had arrived. Going to school I couldn’t afford both a car and a bike so I sold the car and went to school in Florida where there were lots of small airports and a motorcycle was practical year-round. I started out in engineering but that curriculum had no fine arts, no history, no literature, nothing except math and science and engineering classes. I was curious about more than numbers so I switched to liberal arts and took math & engineering & chemistry for all my electives.
“Back to motorcycles. I used to ride down to Key West back when it was sleepy, before it commercialized.” Jake skipped the stories he could have told about the ladies who rode the back seat, arms wrapped around him, hand inside his pants. “Wrenching airplanes I could do part time while I went to classes full time. It paid well, plus I usually wasn’t paying rent because there were a couple of airplane hangars that the owner let me stuff a bed into a corner, put up a wall around it and use the sink and john after hours and early in the morning and if I had a guest she – I mean they – had to leave before customers came in the morning. They just didn’t want the rich airplane owners to know about it. It was a bargain for them because the deal was I was available to do urgent or emergency work and occasional night fueling. But my junior year I was feeling more mature and assertive. I was ok with the Spartan accommodations but I didn’t like the visitor restrictions.” Jake stopped. “Geeze, why am I telling you this? Pardon me.”
Maggie smiled. “If you didn’t tell me I would be imagining, and perhaps imagining inaccurately. It’s amusing, your embarrassment.”
“Huh. Well, I picked my favorite airstrip with the airplanes and airplane customers I liked best, and the coolest hangar owner. I don’t know how but it was easy to persuade . . . Salt was tearing up the Sporty bad, rust everywhere, not worth fixing because I rode it onto beaches. I sold it for peanuts and got an old big twin, old because I knew I’d be taking it onto beaches. A Super Glide, the lowest price of the Harleys. One built before AMF bought out Harley. Far enough. Let’s order dessert, and you’re up.”
Betsy-Lou took Jake’s order for blueberry pie and more orange juice. Maggie declined dessert. “Bring an extra plate and fork, would you, Betsy-Lou?” She chewed her wad of bubble gum, said ‘yup’ and blew and popped a large bubble as she left.
Maggie resumed. “Well, in my first year of college I had a boyfriend with a Honda 90. That was a big deal then, the really cool thing. You remember Honda’s advertising, ‘you meet the nicest people on a Honda’. We rode around on that and had a freshman blast. One day he left me stranded somewhere, not a big thing, just annoying. But there I was walking outside of town, a 19-year-old chick walking along a mile from nowhere, helmet dangling in my hand, and this guy on a Sportster rode by, saw that I had a helmet and offered me a ride. That was a thrill. We were together til the weather got cold. Just as well because he was distracting me from my studies. When the weather turned warm the next spring he showed up at my dorm. I went on a couple of day rides but by that time I was immersed in classes and didn’t have time for him.
“When I went home that summer I wanted a boyfriend with a motorcycle. No question, no doubt. Riding with Uncle Boomer had been fun and so had the Honda 90 guy in a different way, a nice fun thing for a new freshman girl. But that couple of months riding on the back of that vibraty Sportster with my hands around a strong guy, totally wow. That was my idea of a boyfriend. That’s what I wanted. There were two problems, though. First, I was living at my Mom’s and she of course did not allow me on motorcycles and definitely not associate with motorcycle people. On this issue Aunt Mae agreed with Mom. ‘Most of them aren’t like your Uncle Boomer’ said Aunt Mae. If I’d been living with Aunt Mae & Uncle Boomer I would never have sneaked around. But I was living with Mom and Dad that summer and I had no qualms about sneaking past my mom. I found out there was a biker bar about forty miles away. A boy cousin drove me there and he was so suspicious, thought there was something going on I wasn’t telling him about, though he sure didn’t know I was going to a bar. I had him drop me off in front of a nice looking house, said it was a girlfriend from college and she had a Honda 90, that’s why I had my helmet. I got out of the car thinking I was now committed and hoped I could get a ride home. I walked to the bar. Remember I was 19. I just asked the first big tough-looking muscly biker who arrived if I could go in with him, because I was 19 and underage. I remember this like it was yesterday. He just drilled me with his eyes and asked me if I was really 19, not younger. I pulled out my driver license and showed him. He looked me up and down, not too long but very purposely obvious about it. God, I felt exposed. He asked me ‘Would I know your biker boyfriend? You been here before?’ I told him I didn’t have a boyfriend but I used to have a boyfriend with a Sportster in Kansas and no I’d never been there before.”
Maggie stopped and looked up from her plate. “I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, Jake. I hardly know you. I haven’t thought about this for ages, but I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Jake was completely absorbed. “It’s a great story. I’m fascinated.”
Maggie drew a breath and took a bite of her neglected lunch. “Ok. I kinda like telling it, though parts of it get pretty…racy.” She cleared her throat. “So Bear – that was his name – asked me if I was alone. Jake, understand, I had really worked up my courage to make this trip, get into this bar, strand myself, I guess I thought I’d find a guy like my Sportster guy back at school. I knew this was ‘way beyond what a ‘good’ girl would do. But in my own mind I knew I was a good person. I knew morality, real morals not fake public-face morals. So I had all this adrenaline. I told him I’d never been to a biker bar before, I’d come 40 miles to check out this place, my girl cousin didn’t want to drive me but I got a ride from a boy cousin who dropped me off in town, and I had my helmet with me so maybe I could get a ride back home and so yes, I was alone. He looked up at the sky and rolled his eyes. I remember this exactly. He said ‘Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,’ God, Jake, I don’t know why I’m telling you this. It’s, well, this isn’t a story I would tell anyone but a biker lady and not any man but . . . “ She exhaled deeply and continued. “So, Bear looked at me again, from my hair down to my knees and back up again, locking his eyes onto mine. Geez, he made me feel not just naked but my n…” She stopped abruptly, realizing she had almost told Jake that her nipples had gotten hard from Bear’s overt assessment of her. “Yikes”, she thought to herself. “Here goes.”
“So, my mind totally resolved, I instantly decided I would stand up straight and proud of being good-looking and not embarrassed and be cool and confident as he checked me out, yet not come across as slutty.”
She took a bite of lunch and continued more carefully. “I was scared of him but I wasn’t afraid of him, if that makes sense. Anyway, I didn’t know who he was and just hoped I hadn’t chosen the wrong guy to get me, underage, into the bar. He said ‘You’re alone, and 19, under drinking age, don’t know anybody, and 40 miles from home and no way to get home, you’ve never been to a tough bar or maybe no bar ever, and you’re pretty as hell and you’ve got a really nice ra…’ Maggie caught herself mid-sentence again and didn’t repeat the rest of Bear’s comment, ‘got a really nice rack on you that these guys would do anything to play with’. She cleared her throat again and continued. “figure. . . , and you just wanna go in and hang out awhile, and then ask a random biker here to give you a ride home tonight.” He waited, and I just looked back at him and said “not a random biker”. ”Girl, it’s illegal for me to take you in there.”
“I told him, smiling, that I was sure he didn’t give a damn about the fuzz and considering this is a biker bar I bet the barkeep sees lots of under-twenty-one girls and I would hide in the back if police came in. I could tell he liked me. I remember exactly what I said. “Please, take me in. I’m sure there are some decent guys. I’ll hang out with them and not even speak to any scumbag. I promise.” I saw him caving in and was glad because I didn’t want to have to hit up another biker.
He laughed, really laughed, sighed, & said ‘OK, darlin’ Maggie, the gods are smiling on you today. You’re lucky you asked me. I shall take you inside. My name’s Bear.’ He put his huge arm around my waist and I was thrilled and scared and really close. Geez, I was 19 and he had a fabulous male odor and I . . .”. This time Maggie chose her words less automatically, not saying that at that moment she had felt a most powerful heat in her lady parts and stumbled when she clenched her thighs together while walking. “He waltzed me right in and ordered two beers and we sat at the bar and he of course wouldn’t let me pay. Jake, I had a great time in that bar for that whole evening and managed to not get drunk. It was mostly guys, half of them in colors. Three young ones were real cute, just, maybe a year older than me, presumably 21 but I didn’t think so. Bear let them hang around me but I saw him gesture away one guy and I think he quietly told a brother I was off limits. I loved him right away. He was a sort of guardian angel for me in the life for years.
“I spent a lot of time with my back to the bar talking together, the four of us. Bear was married and told me so. He was real protective but he wasn’t hitting on me. I was lucky he was the guy I asked to get me into the bar, ‘cuz he had cred, a lot of it, and he felt responsible for me because he had brought me in and I was inexperienced and vulnerable. Bear moved down a stool to give ‘my boys’ room on both sides of me but close enough he could hear the conversation. The guys were easy-going, cursed more than I was used to, but comfortably, naturally, not crude or gross.” Maggie laughed. “They were sometimes crude and gross elsewhen but not then. They were impressed with what I knew about motorcycles, hands-on basic mechanical stuff that Uncle Boomer had taught me. They gave me cred they wouldn’t have given most chicks. They did call me ‘chick’ and I would always be a chick with them, or old lady. Them surrounding me, and Bear having brought me in, was a good thing because there were some older guys not in colors trying to hit on me. Some of them were old, like 28 or even 30. Bear told me it’d be real smart of me to speak up myself, let the wolves hear direct from me. So I spoke up pretty strongly, conversationally but in stage voice, ‘whoa, fellas, I’m not being anybody’s old lady today. I just wanna have a beer and hang out with my friends.’
Jake seemed very attentive, so Maggie continued. “The first time Bear got up he looked at the 3 guys around me and told them he’d be back in a little bit, and that he’d like the three of them to ‘stay here with the little lady, talk with her and make sure everybody’s respectful’. That was a teeny bit embarrassing, because I needed to be protected. Bear left and right away these two sleazy old weasel-eye men came over and tried to talk with me and squeeze past my 3 bar pals. My guys blocked them but they wouldn’t back off. One of them said something like ‘get the fuck outa the way we’re gonna talk with the fine little bitch. She ain’t your property.’ I’m sitting there starting to get scared. The two sleazeballs were getting pushier and looked dangerous, like violent dangerous. Then two guys in colors came up. Each one pulled a sleazeball around, hit him in the gut twice and then punched him once hard in the face. They both went flying backwards over an empty table, they flipped over and landed face-first on the floor. Three other club brothers frisked them and took two knives off each of them. One of the colors guys nodded at me and said “they won’t bother you any more, miss.” And they all just went back to their tables, casual as could be. My three guys nodded to the bikers and just said ‘thanks’. The place got quiet, the two bad guys staggered up, saw that a lot of eyes were on them and they just left. The waitress said something to the guys at a table near the door, and they got up and went outside. I thought they were going out to beat them up some more but my friends assured me they were just going out to collect their bar bill and a ‘generous tip’. And the bar went back to normal again.
“Jesus, Jake, I was blown away. I had never been threatened like that and never seen anything like it in my entire protected little life. I was shaking a little. Two of my boys each put a hand on my shoulders, apologized for the hassle, smiled and told me to relax, everything’s fine. The bartender brought me a shot of whisky, on the house. I put my beer down and tossed the shot. I was full of questions, like who were the two bikers, I didn’t know them. I really appreciated their help, I wanted to thank them but I did think it was kinda violent, should I buy them a drink, what? My guys explained that nobody with any honor would have let those two dirtbags near me, or hassle any other girl or woman, especially if she was as obviously virgin as I was.” She looked at Jake. “He meant virgin to biker bars and the life in general. I suspected that Bear, though absent, had something to do with events. He had. My three suitors had been extra vigilant and had hand signaled ‘knife’ , and the two club members knew I was with Bear, so were quicker to respond, though they would have anyway. When the whisky hit, I relaxed and said I wanted to go over and thank them, and maybe I should buy them a drink. ‘Thank them, sure’, my guys said, ‘take a seat for just a minute, no more, but don’t buy drinks.’
“So I took a chair over to my two rescuers and thanked them. They told me it was their pleasure. ‘They’re not men, they’re snakes. It was best they leave.’ I stayed less than a minute, like I was told, and as I left I gave each of them my best not-a-come-on smile and repeated my thanks. When Bear got back the waitress snagged him right inside the door. He came straight over and asked me if I was ok and my three protectors told him what happened. He friendly-punched each of them in the shoulder, told them thanks, and tried to pay their bar bill but they already had. He tried to pay the two bikers’ bar bill, but that was on the house. Bear told me it had been real mannerly of me that I had taken it upon myself to sit with them and thank them.
“That was the beginning of my worldly education. I learned the culture and after that I always felt pretty safe in biker bars.”
“That’s a great education”, I said. “You have some of that wildness about you still.”
“I never thought of it as bad, though some of the men were rough. If they didn’t know how to stay on the good side of the law, I stayed away from them. Not that my friends were choirboys, but mostly they had morals, not church morals, but,” she looked straight into my eyes, “I can tell you know about the kind of morals I mean.”
“From your story, you are one in a hundred thousand. I’m pleased to meet you,” I said.
She ignored my compliment and finished up. “I went back to the bar a few days later and one of the guys became my boyfriend for the summer, and I rode with him all the time. My Mother was appalled, said he was antisocial, a ‘dirty ne’er-do-well’. But I was older now, I’d been on my own, sort of, away at college and I stood up to Mom. I told her he didn’t do anything illegal and he was exciting. God, I remember some of this so clearly. I hugged Mom and whispered, ‘He’s only for the summer, Mom. I’m going back to college, good and moral.’ So Mom didn’t get in the way. She cautioned me every time I left with Jerry but that was all. And he wasn’t dirty, he was earthy! My ears are ready, Jake.”
“Wow. That is crazy great. I love it. Tell me more.”
“Nope. Your turn.”
Jake sipped the dregs of his coffee. “Ok.” Miss Bubble-Gum arrived and Jake said ‘thanks, not now’. “I got the Super Glide and rode to campus every day from whichever hangar I was living in. If the weather was horrible I left the bike in the hangar and hitched a ride in someone’s car. Work was flexible. I could name my hours. Most of the planes were private, most were on the ground three out of four days and if I finished them all I’d just take the bike somewhere for a few days, sometimes Key West. Sometimes I would suggest to an owner that his airplane really ought to have a long check flight, a couple hours, to make sure the problem was solved. Especially if it was a really nice plane, like a Mooney or an aerobatic Aeronca Citabria to do rolls and loops and stalls. I would take my tools and assured him if the problem recurred I’d see it first hand and put down at any airport – Florida has hundreds of little airports – and tweak the problem on the spot. Usually the plane didn’t need such a checkout but it was a good way for me to fly down the Keys and back the next day. Free gas, too.” I grinned.
“And take a friend, hmm? What a scam artist you are. I’ll remember that. You must have been a fun date.” She tossed her hair, re-settled it on her shoulders and reclined against the edge of the diner’s booth. The hair-toss was unnerving to Jake and he found himself staring at her hair until he realized she was watching him with a little lip twist that Jake would later learn betrayed her internal smile or laugh.
Jake recovered. “I got married at 31 and started having babies. I didn’t ride from 31 to about 40. My kids were little and there didn’t seem to be time. When my oldest was 10, I discovered that the way I was being a dedicated father I was spending all my time doing that, and none doing any of my personal interests. I was out of touch with friends. I realized that even though I was spending a lot of time with my kids, in a certain way I was being a poor role model. Their daddy never did anything exciting. Daddy was just at home all the time. You know what they say about taking care of yourself first, that you have to or you can’t properly take care of others. So I started doing stuff I had given up. Swimming. Canoeing. The drawback about the motorcycle, though, was my personal safety, because they needed me. If you tip a canoe its just an inconvenience in warm-water Florida. On a bike it could, as they say, ‘ruin your whole day’. Or life. My wife threw a fit about the bike. I was careful about when and where I rode. Early morning weekends, late night, light traffic, never rush hour. I bought a 10-year-old Softail that needed work. At first my wife hated it. Sometimes my oldest helped me fix it up and my wife hated that, too. I understood. The garage became a workshop for the bike and for lots of other practical things. The kids saw their dad taking something old that didn’t work, fixing it, making it work again. Doing something he enjoyed. Starting to ride again was one of the best damn things I did for the kids. They all wanted rides, they were 10, 8, and 6. So they got rides with Daddy on his big motorcycle, but only when their chores and homework were done. So they got their homework done, so they learned more at school, and they did their chores and learned responsibility and earned their fun. All that because Daddy was doing something he loved. That convinced their mother that there was an upside to my having a motorcycle. Occasionally she rode on the back with me and got a huge thrill out of it. Just about the coolest thing for the kids was if I picked them up from school. They had a dad who did interesting stuff, not just go to work, come home and get on their case about chores or homework or behavior. And my relationship with my wife improved because I was always in a better mood, and that was good for the kids, too, seeing their mom and dad happy with each other.” I didn’t add that the wife’s favorite time to ride was late night with a warm jacket, tilted forward hugging tight to me, feeling the engine vibration and getting horny as hell and making wild love in the garage the instant we rolled in.
So I’ve been riding from 40 til now. Back then I told my kids they would wait until they finished college before they started riding their own motorcycles. A person is a lot more mature at 22 than 18, and a hell of a lot safer driving either a car or a motorcycle. I started at 23, fresh out of the Army. One of them bought a little Yamaha one August. Well, small bike, big bike, just as bad in a crash. I told him I’d co-sign a loan for a used bike after he graduated, but until he sold the Yamaha I was not paying his tuition. He sold. The kids are grown up, moved out and living their own lives. They stay in touch. The house is pretty empty, my needs are simple, I have some friends I ride with, and I volunteer for a few things. So how about tomorrow? Will you come with us?”
“Yes! It sounds fun, and it’s not too far for the Triumph. She’s in great shape but she is old. I ride her every week, enough to get her thoroughly warm, keep her fluids moving and her seals oiled but I don’t put a lot of miles on her. A good hundred-mile run may be good for her. I was just about to go out on my weekly ride – even though I did run her yesterday” she added, “but I’ll wait til tomorrow.”
The check came, Jake picked it up, Maggie objected, Jake insisted, Maggie dropped an overly-generous tip. Betsy Lou popped her gum. Back at their motorcycles they were suddenly awkward, neither knowing what to do or say next. Finally Jake said they would meet at Stu & Jenny’s house at 9 o’clock, tore a corner off his map and scribbled the address. He watched her smoothly wind up through 3rd before she went out of sight, and he putted thoughtfully home.
As he reached to hang up his jacket he realized he would rather be on his bike. He dropped a couple bottles of water and energy bars into the left saddlebag, stripped the wrapper off one and dropped it into a jacket pocket, shut off his cellphone and dropped it in the right bag and pulled the garage door down. He fired up the big old green Heritage Classic and let it rumble easily as he sat, his mind turning over the points of the compass.
Squeeze the clutch. Chunk. First gear. Softly he let out his left fingers, lifted his feet onto the broad footboards and became airborne. To the north were foothills, just mountainous enough to make the lines on the folded map wiggle. The map was somewhere in one of the saddlebags. He twisted more and leaned hard left out of the driveway, accelerating. There were roads ahead, an independent diner somewhere along one of them, and fuel pumps here and there. He shifted unhurriedly into second. The twin cylinders beat their low thunder. The asphalt below his boots sped past faster. A smooth shift into third with a stronger twist, the wind pushed harder on his chest and Jake gained altitude. The road came up to meet them, a dance floor for Jake and his green iron horse.
END Episode 2 Maggie & Jake; A Saga
The Biker Chronicles
Final edit June 4, 2014 Kahuna Bud Roberts Copyright, 2014
Got a picture of your grandmother on a bike back in the day? Or mother. Or dad. Here’s one from Zeke in Alabama. Hey, they were ol’ ladies and biker chicks back then and are still ladies somewhere. Maybe now, mellowed by years, they might tell their grand-kids some sanitized stories about the great times they had as an ol’ lady before getting married and leaving the life and ‘settling down’ and birthing you.
Keep the rubber side down and the leather side up.
Fly low. Pay cash. Stay under the radar. Be prepared.
Stay on the bike or mount up again.
Live. Ride. Love. Read. Write. Ride. Live. Love. Ride.
Who is Kahuna Bud? Click Here. Or Here. Maybe Here?. No? F the web. Try a photo.
E. (Kahuna Bud) ******* in Virginia with Ekwothia, 1983. She recently became a grandmother. Yeah. Also began telling old stories. . .