The lifestyle wasn’t always  easy, pleasant or fun. It could be downright dangerous. The extremes of the weather in the Midwest and West alone were enough to discourage any sane person from riding. The old man didn’t really understand why he had adopted it. He was not a hard, tough individual. Although capable of great violence, he went to great lengths to avoid it or trouble of any sort.  Looking back through the decades he realized he had never fit in with “normal society”, and never would.  Even in the Army, he had never really fit the mold. Shy, quiet, never a people-person, the old man had more and more enjoyed the solitude of the lonesome open road.

    The 1%-ers could be the worst. Although they generally treated him with respect, the old man was never totally comfortable with them. As with his own club sometimes, and they may even have eyes and ears there.

    He could smell the brats cooking on the grill, making him hungry even though he had eaten not a couple of hours before.  The party was on, even in this weather. Some things just didn’t change….

    It was wet, misty evening, a fine rain coming down  as he walked up the dark inner-city side street. The old man saw the row of bikes parked out front, covered with droplets of water, glistening even in the dim light of the lone street lamp up the street a ways. He had ridden in this kind of miserable cold weather, knew that to some men pride meant more than  comfort or safety. He saw the sky-high apes on one of the bikes, knew the state enforcer was there. The man had to be damn near 7 foot tall to reach the fuckin’ throttle, not to mention the jockey shift on the right side of the scooter. The old man  smiled, knowing that the choppers sounded as good as they looked pulling into the lot of the bike show earlier.

    He realized as he walked up  the cracked and buckled concrete to the heavy steel door that the bikes were parked in that spot for a particular reason, and was not only being watched by a prospect standing in the shadows. He was about to knock when the heavy door was opened.

    Entering a 1% clubhouse was a lot like entering the embassy of a foreign nation. A new and different world. A new set of rules. Their own society, in and out of this place. Even in the lax party atmosphere, one was being closely watched and sized up. Everyone was armed, overtly or otherwise. Painted concrete walls covered with 1% logos, photos of lost brothers, banners with the colors of supporting clubs. A monitor for the cameras outside, another with a porno playing. Crowded with hard men, wet leather, rough riding boots and scantily clad ladies. Food and drink were offered to the old man and gladly accepted. He sat down among others from his club, listening to them razz  prospect Rico. He relaxed watching the two bikers playing a dice game at the end of the bar, and two more playing the blues on guitars in the corner. The old man lit a coffin nail with his worn Zippo, listening to the prospect catch hell from Billy, an old 1%-er that had been around the block a few times.

    Rico should have kept his fuckin’ mouth shut. She stuck her head in between his legs on the bench and did a head stand, spread her legs wide and placed her ample bare ass in Rico’s face. Huge bare breasts hanging down to the delight of the crowd….Well, except prospect Rico. He had his hands full in, uh, other ways. The lap dance had just started and the song was gonna be a long one….

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Paradise Point

    The old man downshifted, letting the engine brake the big bike down the long hill, enjoying the deep rumble of the exhaust as it echoed through the thick brush and timber on either side of the road. Weaving slightly to  miss the broken pavement, holes, and small patches of sand left by the plow trucks.

    The area reminded him of rural Michigan….    

    The dull grays and browns of the late winter forest, as well as the quiet solitude invited the old man to the peninsula on the north end of the lake.  He needed the cold air and isolation to clear his head, lay some old ghosts to rest, and be ready for the adventures of the new riding season. The deserted rally grounds awaited.

   As he passed the gate area where a large tent would stand in several months, the country opened up, large mown grassy fields flanked by woodlands. Narrow gravel  roads winding off to the surrounding camp grounds. He downshifted again and at the intersection  with  the signposts, turned north. Following the curving asphalt road about a quarter of a mile to the deserted vendor area, a large rectangle of rough, cracked pavement which in the center a large circus tent without sides would be set up.  He rode around the rectangle, parking the heavy bike in the corner by the road leading in. Shutting it down, listening to the hot metal popping and creaking, contracting in the cold crisp air. The old man climbed off of the bike, mind starting to wander. The years of memories flooding his head….

    The heat and humidity of the early September evening was almost unbearable. The loud music, the constant rumble of the motorcycles, shouting, loud raucous laughter,  pandemonium. Partying on the edge….Too filled with lust to even unlace his well-worn boots, dirty jeans and shorts down around his ankles, her panties and jeans in a crumpled pile hastily thrown in a corner.  She met his thrusts eagerly, wrapping her legs around his. He held her hands above her head. The small tent smelling of stale sweat, beer, and hot sticky sex.  Tasting hot tepid breath, no longer caring about the noise or who might be listening.

    The old man was glad he had put on the old green wool shirt at the last minute. Designed for the bitter winds of Korea, it was usually his constant companion in the fall, winter an early spring. Who gave a flying fuck about fashion on the road anyway?  He zipped the heavy leather jacket up a bit against the soft, cold breezes of late afternoon. He had left the hat on the bike, wanting to feel the cooling winds in short graying hair.

    He walked up the gently curving road, small tufts of brown grass grown up through the cracked and buckling pavement. Thinking of the years of wild partying. Good times and not. Renegades wedding reception, now that was about a wild motherfucker. The bikes, the people….The band, loud but good. Dawn singing lead, belting out her raw version of “Backdoor Man”. Couples dancing, or would one say “the vertical expression of a horizontal  idea”. The trailer set up as a bar, a biker being serviced under the bar by a young lady while he enjoyed a cold brew, the blushing bride checking out the action with a flashlight. Goddamn, it was a wild one, too much weed and too much hooch….The old mans lady never let hear the end of it. Until they went to a wilder one….

    The old man walked west on the road past  where the motorcycle ministry was set up, on past the showers where he had first set up camp. They had set up lawn chairs along the road to enjoy the constant parade of bikes, trikes, all-terrain vehicles, farm tractors with wagons, and about every other conceivable form of transport ( Hell, one dude was puttering around the sky in an ultralight….). All crammed with people in various forms of dress and undress. Tattoos….Pedestrians, the naked women in body paint….The sights and sounds, music, the engines. The stifling heat. The acrid smell of weed, cooking, sweat, the piss stained porta-johns, and all mixed with exhaust fumes.   Private acts in public, the lady with the beer bottle. The old man couldn’t fuckin’ believe that one, then they took her down to the beer tent and shaved her….

    Whatta goddamn lifestyle, the old man thought slowly walking up the now deserted and desolate road. Which he now embraced….

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The Deer Hunter

    The hunter positioned a loaded magazine in the receiver of the Remington automatic, gently squeezing it in place. He pulled the bolt back, eased it forward chambering a round. Placing the weapon on safe and setting down with his back against the tree. Pulling the old green blanket up on his lap, rifle resting in his left arm, trying to stay quiet in the early dawn hours. 

    The bitter cold wind whispered and rustled through the early morning grays of the Northwest Missouri woods, driving the hunter deeper under the  well-worn blanket. He had picked this spot well, he thought. Choosing this small bluff over the spit of timber between two open fields to the south. The bluff overlooked a small creek with a tree line just beyond it with an open corn field just beyond that. He had hoped that the cover, water, and food in the stubble of the cornfield would tempt the creatures of the forest. A small pasture was a short distance to the west. He had found an ancient spear point in the creek bed that ran along side it many months ago. He had hoped that the spirits of these old hunters were with him today.

    He looked to east to see the young deer step out of the thick tangled cover, head high, sniffing the air. To the edge of the creek, head now low, drinking the cold water. Excited, but the hunter knew it was too long of a shot, head on at that. His marksmanship skills and eyesight weren’t that good, he didn’t want to risk just wounding the animal. He had open iron sights on his rifle, regretting not leaving the scope on and learning how to use it. The  deer lifted its head sniffing the air and disappearing back it the woods. Shit, he thought the fox piss he had sprinkled around his stand and in the area had masked his scent but apparently not.

     The hunters mind  wandered as the sky had lightened, watching the harvested field turn from dull gray to bright gold, as he had on so many days in the field. He thought of the well-worn Remington he had with him. Scratches on the two-piece  walnut stuck and some of the bluing gone from the steel receiver and barrel.  Well worn, but well oiled and maintained like so many tools that he owned. He had bought the weapon from a farmer buddy that owned two of them, an ‘ought six and a .243. He borrowed two hundred dollars and after intense negotiation, paid for the .243, farmer-bud keeping the telescopic sight. The hunter had to mount a scope on it that he already had as the rear sight that had been removed to fit the scope that had been on before. Old fashioned, he didn’t like or trust telescopic sights, know how to use one and couldn’t hit shit with it trying to sight it in. Off came the scope, a gunsmith in Kansas City replacing the missing rear sight. The hunter took the weapon home, installed swivels and sling he had purchased from the ‘smith, disassembled the weapon and gave it a through cleaning and oiling. Afterwards it shot like a champ….

    The young buck he had seen earlier not fifty yards in front of him. Casually walking down the tree line, nose to the ground. Fox piss worked after all….

    The hunter tossed off the blanket, and took a hasty but steady kneeling position pushing the safety off with his right index finger. The animal saw the movement, turned and trotted toward the middle of the open field. The hunter drew a quick sight picture and squeezed the trigger, a loud boom echoing through the quiet timber and fields. Stock shoving him hard, bolt ejecting a smoking empty, clacking into battery chambering a fresh round. The deer jumped high and started to run. He led the animal slightly and squeezed off another round as the animal jumped into the thick cover on the far side of the field. Shit….The rifle performed flawlessly, he hadn’t. So he thought.

    He was moving fast, across the creek and up the edge of the thick tangled cover on the far side of the cornfield. Finding a blood trail, envisioning an hours long chase of a wounded animal. The young buck lie just inside the thick cover, both bullets having found their mark. Barely clinging to life. A loud report, the weapon cycling, stripping the final round out of the magazine, chambering it.  Ending any chance of further suffering. The hunters prayer, thanking his Creator yet again allowing him to feed his family. The hunter now had work to do, and a long ways to pack out the animal.

    He felt out-of-place in the well-lit and heated grocery. Jeans stained with blood and bits of hair, a common sight in a small town store. Still, he wasn’t the average customer. His lady had helped him unload the deer at a neighbors who was handy with a knife and would properly butcher the animal. He watched her pick the cans and dry goods off of the shelves. Short, stout, very top-heavy, but nimble and quick. Ruddy complexion and a cute smile. She was an old school farm girl who was a hell of a lot better at raising a garden than he was at harvesting meat.

    He enjoyed the hunt but not the killing, he had never gotten used to it and his lady knew this, sensing his feelings.  She simply said that was part of it. Part of life. She knew his feelings about one shot kills and knew that they didn’t always happen. She had talked about seeing animals flattened by large-caliber bullets, seemingly well-placed shots, only to get up and run. Wild animals were tough, able to withstand punishment that humans couldn’t imagine.

     It had gotten dark while they were in the grocery, and much colder, but the heater worked well in the old wagon. It had been a long day in the field, and they both had a catching up to do about the days events. The drive home would allow that, and a hot supper and shower would be a fitting end to a hard but productive day….

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    The woodsman stepped carefully among the debris in the forest floor although it was unlikely  that there would be any game out on a day such as this. The wind was biting bitter cold, the sky a heavy dark gray spitting bits of sleet and snow now and again. Dim and dusky for as early in the afternoon as it was. The bright green hedge apples stood out among shades of browns and grays of the late fall woods. He scanned the woods mainly out of habit but a squirrel or two braving the cold would welcome addition to the game bag. Or even some shed antlers for one of the many craft projects he had going on.

    The woodsman was dressed warm but not warm enough. He kept moving. Old well-worn boots, wool socks, wool long underwear he had from the Army.  Dirty worn jeans, heavy belt, flannel shirt. The blanket lined prison issue denim coat had been given to him by a friend  who had done a little time. The rough green fedora and cast-off Army wool scarf kept his head and face warm along with long hair and scraggly beard. A leather possibles bag hung on his right side with a powder horn and used a nice walking stick in his right hand. A small sharp sheath knife was on his left hip.

    He carried a  long, thin but heavy 32 caliber squirrel rifle in his left arm, its great length making passage through the some of the thick tangles of brush a challenge at times. The ramrod extending about six inches in front of the barrel, easily snagging the vines. The long rifle had been built by a friend. Stock burnt black just below the flashpan of the flintlock. Well used, but clean, well oiled and maintained. He could smell the gun oil on the barrel  and lock. The linseed oil on the rich walnut stock. These aromas mixed with the decay of the forest floor and warmed the woodsman’s heart. Helping to take his mind off of troubled and lean times.  

    He continued across a draw,  up to a fenceline that would lead out into the stubble of the plowed and harvested fields. He walked up the fence as thick timber and brush narrowed to the open fields, staying in the heavy cover as much as possible. Surveying the raw, open fields. The woodsman had seen much sign of deer and other game, but like himself they were staying in the shelter of the heavy brush and bare trees.

     It was getting much colder, the sharp wind brutal and biting. The sky was turning darker, snowing harder. The wind was picking up, the bits of ice stinging his face. He wanted to stay longer, allowing  the increasingly cold winds to further purify his soul, but was afraid that a longer stay might turn in to a very much longer stay and he wasn’t equipped for that.

     He headed back into the woods, back to where the old Ford truck was, hoped it  would start and make it up the narrow trail to the road home.  The wood stove and a hot meal awaited, along with the missus and kids, but he would soon miss the moaning bitterly cold winds. Song of the heavy timber….

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Entry for February 16, 2009

They were heading west and would head south once they hit I-15. Heading toward Las Vegas….If they made it that far. The rear tire was nearly bald, and had gone flat back where they had camped for a week. He had a hell off a time plugging the slice on the edge of the tread; as old as the glue was, he didn’t know if it would hold. They had a long ways to go, and there wasn’t much out here on this two lane no-name road except sand, rattlesnakes, and the fucking heat. One hell of a long walk if something took a shit….

Still, the overloaded bike ate up the miles, running well in spite of everything. Bike was filthy, Rider, clad in jeans, western boots and long sleeved undershirt was filthy-er. Passenger was wearing boots, jeans and her ever- present tank top; always the sun worshiper. Both had good sunglasses and bandannas, lots of sun blocker to protect in the extreme heat of day. The country they were in was desolate and deserted, rarely any other traffic. He hoped that there would be a gas station when he needed it….And that the back tire held….

He had watched the front move in as long as he dare. The heavy shelf cloud with the cumulonimbus incus towering above it for miles. Turning from blue/black to a bright malignant green when the lightning broke loose inside; some of the white bolts breaking free and hitting the ground with a loud, thundering boom. The wind picked up and turned cold….Time to haul ass….He made it to the entrance of his shelter when lightning hit a tree with an earsplitting crack and blinding flash….Knocking him on his ass. His now wide awake lady reached out and grabbed him, dragging him in around the fireplace into the shelter as another bolt crashed near by. So much for not hitting the same place twice….

The wind moaned and howled, rain and hail damn near horizontal. Their shelter shook and shuttered violently, the small rock ledge and densely packed trees their only saving grace. About six inches of water was running through the center of their camp as the rain let up and the storm abated. The cover had partially blown off the bike and a bit of their bedding had gotten wet, otherwise their camp looked fairly intact….Glad they were well above the “small” creek….

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    The old man continued to roll north, watching the sky closely. Late night black until the lightning lit up the towering storm clouds in green and orange hues. The pavement was damp and he could smell the rain. It was still far enough off that the thunder was still a deep distant rumble, nearly drowned out by the exhaust note of the bike. He had waited too long, knew the weather was gonna turn but getting lost outside of Wichita and stopped by the cops just outside of some no name Kansas town slowed him up a bit. Among other things….

    The Flint Hills were a beautiful sight in the late summer morning, rolling green with different shades of brown and grays of the rock outcroppings. A hawk soaring high in some invisable current. Even with the light haze, one could see for miles. The old man wished that he had more time to get lost on some back roads. Hell, he wasn’t for sure where he was going anyway. Just a rally outside some little hamlet that he had read about on the internet. It had been a rough week at work, this was a good excuse “to get the fuck out of Dodge” and unwind a bit on the open road.

    Goddamn, it was getting hot….After picking up a couple bottles of water at a truckstop, the old man  rode around the parked rigs and headed west on the parched two lane blacktop. He turned north on the dusty country road hating the way the front wheel danced on the loose gravel. He saw the large circus tent with the sides rolled up; turned up the dirt road and into the old cornfield, bike handling like a pig in the mounds of loose dirt, weeds and stubble of what had been planted there. He parked the big Harley among the other bikes, flattening an old beer can and placing it under the kickstand hoping the heavy scooter wouldn’t turn over in the loosely packed dirt.

     What he had thought to be a bike rally turned out to be a tent revival. He looked around scoping out the scene. The bikes, four wheel drives, old cars. A couple of RV’s set up on the west side of the tent.  A grill was set up and the burgers and brats smelled good, he hadn’t eaten in a while, suspected many of these here hadn’t eaten in a while. A real mix of people….Rednecks, bikers, freakers, anything and everything in between. 

    The food had been good, the music and preaching not half bad. The preacher an old country boy that was pretty damn good at what he did. One of the bikers played a wicked guitar. All in all a good time, the people mostly friendly, and the old man relaxed sitting in the old steel folding chair.

     She introduced herself and asked for a ride to the truck stop to refill her coffee cup. He suspected she wanted a little more, and planned on giving it to her. He mounted the heavy iron horse, lit off the engine and wrestled the heavy beast up on the road as she tied her long curly hair back in a tight bun.

     They blew by the truckstop, heading east on ’50. Running the bike through the gears, both digging the low deep exhaust rumble and the Easyriders soundtrack on CD player. He was soaked in sweat, had to smell but she didn’t seem mind as she rubbed his shoulders. Hell, he would dry soon enough….

    The old man set the cruise, letting the bike find it’s way through the gentle rolling hills. Enjoying the scenery, the old school rock ‘n roll, and the company of an attractive younger woman. Braking for the spot in the road towns, resuming the cruise on the outskirts. forgeting time, feeling the hot sun and the gentle hands. Inner peace and contentment were hard for him to find, but now and again came along in short glimpses. Enough of a good thing, he turned the big bike around at an old shabby deserted gas station, stole a kiss, and headed back west, into the setting sun and Salvation….

    Fuckin’ storm was building and the old man was riding right for it. Could now feel the steady roll of the thunder, lightning putting on quite a show and no riding around it. Shit, he should have left earlier. No such thing as perfect motorcycle weather in the Midwest, but then that was part of the adventure….

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The Visit

    The old man felt a hard jolt and the bike started to go down. He kicked down hard with his left boot, throttled and steered into the skid; rear tire biting, throwing grass, dirt, and gravel in the air. He damn near hit the fence, thought he had highsided but had managed to power the heavy iron beast upright and back on the asphalt road. Barbed wire at seventy miles per hour would have sucked. Shit the leg hurt, thought he had broken it…..The old mans  head wasn’t in the game and it could have cost him dearly, ending up with whom he had gone to visit. Or the morgue….

    He really didn’t want to go, but she had asked him to see her through this. Like a fool he went. Some things were best left behind, walked away from but the old man was a sentimental old fool. The patron saint of lost causes….

     It had rained hard that morning. After he left the bike shop, he rode through town getting a bit wet from the water still on the streets. Once he got on the highway things would dry soon enough. Unless the weather turned again. Sky looked mighty dark where he was headed, and the old man hoped that wasn’t a hint of things to come in the weather as well as in his heart. He turned west on ’50 off of the interstate dodging rain ( or not ). Setting the cruise, the exhaust pipes settling into their deep familiar rumble. After a while turning on the Grand Funk disk he had loaded in the player earlier. “Inside Looking Out” had been one of his faves since high school. The bike chewing up the miles….The unease growing as he neared his destination….

The sun had come out and it was fuckin’ hot, brown skin already burning, having put the sunblocker on too late. He gassed up just north of the hospital. Spilling the volatile liquid on the tank, hot engine, and himself . Great, now all he needed was some dickhead with a lit cigarette…. 

    The old man must have been a sight walking in….Security guard was scoping him out bigtime, he was  glad he wasn’t frisked. When he found the waiting room outside of recovery, he didn’t fare much better with family and friends. One in particular. Waddafuck, the old man knew he shouldn’t have worn colors. Proverbial whore in church….

    He spotted the youngster  immediately. Looked just like his photos, but no uniform. Ballsy little fucker….Old man told him not to be riding crotch rockets at 150+….Youngster didn’t need that kind of attention from the cops, and the old man didn’t need more funerals of some young pup scraped up off of the highway. Needed to stop screwing that girl in his mothers store, too but the old man didn’t go there. Young an’ dumb an’ full of cum….War did that sometimes.    

     Strappin’ young stud, the old man thought….They had “met” before, only the last one wasn’t so cordial. Ah, well, fuck it. Had that big nut cowboy strut, lean and straight. She was younger than the old man, maybe that’s what she really needed.

    She had asked to see him. The old man was hot, emotionally drained. The cool air conditioning, cold water, and comfortable chair had put him  to sleep. He didn’t want to go in, but he heard her weak voice….Friends relaying, asking him to come….

    The old man walked in the  cool darkened room a bit disoriented. He stood off to the side, allowing friends and family at her bedside giving her flowers and other small gifts. Showing their love and respect. He thought about a few kind words and a hasty retreat, but she wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easy. She asked him to come sit on the side of the bed . What a sight he must have been. Filthy from the road, well-worn scuffed boots, dirty jeans, t-shirt, faded colors on a leather vest. Stiff from dried sweat, smelling of road grime, exhaust, 91 octane gasoline and coconuts. Essence of Loser, medley of the highway. He sat down, running his fingers through her curly blonde hair. She took his hand and started stroking it and said “I didn’t think you would come”. The old man nearly broke down….

    They chatted for a while, occasionally holding her head up.  Feeding her chips of ice with a cheap plastic spoon from a styrofoam cup. Listening closely, dingy, ears still ringing from the hours on the big Harley. She talked of her friends, the rallies, often nodding off mid sentence, dopey from the morphine. Everyone smiling….She continued with the story telling,  winking, giving him that crooked grin, leaving out certain names to protect the not-so-innocent. Teased back, getting the finger for his efforts….  

   She needed rest. The nurse finally started chasing every one out.  The old man got up, stepped back. Friends and family hugging and wishing her well. The young stud said his goodbyes, stroked her arm and fingers. Not much response, dope must be kicking in good….

    The old man kissed her lightly on the forehead, her eyes closed, asleep, he thought….Kissed  him on the neck….Kissed her nose….Her cheeks….Kissed his neck, cheeks….Both kissing lips…..Again…. her arm around his neck….Embracing….Kissing, the old man nearly lifting her out of the bed. Her bare back feeling cool to his touch. Show ’em how it’s done, Baby…. 

    The starter whined, still warm engine rumbling to life. As the old man pulled the big bike out of the lot and on to the city streets, he thought about how goddamned hot it was this early in the year. The long ride home. He turned onto ’50 thinking of the bittersweet events of the day. Journey on the cd player, a fitting tribute he thought. Miles ticking by, mind wandering. Beautiful if not hot day, heading into the sunset….Fuck, he was going the wrong way….

    He got the bike turned around after looking at the map, goosing the throttle hard. The cup holder started to flip over with the bottle of water in it, pulling the foam insulator out. He righted it, pushing the insulator back in….And ran the bike off the road….  

    The sun was going down, the cool air feeling good on the old mans burnt hide. Really was good riding that evening. Nice country side, no traffic…. Was looking forward to home, maybe the local watering hole first….Wasn’t all bad the old man thought. It was early summer, and a lot could happen. More adventures, good and bad, to come….

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