With a little luck, I’ll try to finish this story for you today. It’s gone on too long and I’m tired. While writing I find, as with my life, that I can be easily side tracked. Like electricity seeking the least resistance, I’ll be on course, only to shoot toward another direction with no obvious plot, plan or reason in mind. Just floating around the pond like one of those “Pick a Duck, Win a Prize” yellow rubber ducks you see at the carnivals and county fairs.
As a refresher for those who missed the first few episodes of the story, I’ll try to get you up to speed. A few weeks back, I had a week where some things didn’t quit go as planned. I’d broke down twice on the highway in three days and woke up to discover two flat tires on another day. It’s all there in the links below. I helped my elderly neighbor Peggy fix her garage door she likes to run into all the time and explained how I smashed the tip of my middle finger on my right hand and how it remains numb to this day. I also mentioned how it seems that whenever I take a ride on my motorcycle it rains, regardless of how nice the forecast may be. So now, let’s try to finish the story….
It’s a beautiful day. A Chamber of Commerce Day is what they like to call it around here. I’m in the garage ready to take a Friday afternoon motorcycle ride. Check the fuel. Half a tank. That's enough to get me out of town. Turn the fuel valve on, two full turns on the throttle grip to prime the carburetor, lift the choke lever and hit the starter button.
The motor fires up with a roar. God I love that sound.
I ease off the choke and set the throttle to a high idle to let the motor warm up. If you want a motor to last a long time, you should let it get up near operating temperature before hitting the road. Kind of like an athelete does. Most feel they don’t have the time for this, but I feel it’s important, so it’s just part of the ritual.
Florida has a no helmet law for motorcycles. I wear mine since I found out, while showing off with no one around one day, that the pavement is harder than my head, and that three cracked ribs will take about eight months before they heal enough to take a deep breath without them hurting.
I pop my helmet on to protect the valuable gray matter and pull the chin strap tight. Put on my best, look at me now, mirrored, wrap around shades and throw my right leg over the saddle. I’m freakin’ John Wayne on an Iron Horse with eighty-five ponies under the seat. It thrills me every time. I back the throttle down to an idle and the familiar thumpity thump of eighty-eight cubic inches reminds me of a thoroughbred waiting at the gate.
With an easy boost I back out of the garage, down the drive far enough to turn the front wheel and get pointed in the right direction.
When I perform this maneuver I’m always facing Peggy’s house. I like to see her car parked in the garage before I leave. It somehow makes me feel a little safer even though there are thousands of Peggy’s going to the Doctor or the Winn Dixie or the Bingo on the west coast of Florida.
Check for cars, pull in the clutch, drop the foot shifter into first gear, give it a little gas and release the clutch. The beast lurches out of the gate. I shift into second gear as the wind picks up speed as it goes by and begins to rattle in my ears a bit. This is what I live for. Sweet freedom.
It’s about five miles to get to the expressway from home. I have to go by the new Cop Shop to get there. North Port’s finest have a reputation of being just a little too gung ho. Now before you jump on me, I already know. They serve a valuable need in the community, and we need them just like everybody else. I don't have anything against cops. Hell, my sister’s been dating a cop for a couple years and he’s one of the coolest guys I know. (I don't hear any Chapel Bells, but who knows.) He even has his own blues band. But our local boys lean a bit too much on the side of aggressive.
All the cop cars have the windows tinted so dark you couldn’t see inside if you had to, but they ticket everyone else who’s tint is a shade too dark. Don't play your car radio too loud. They have a law against that, too.They also call in every license tag of who ever they happen to be behind in traffic.
When I bought my van I got pulled over two days in a row because the plate transfer hadn’t past the State computer system yet. When I asked the second cop why he pulled me over on the second day he said my plate didn’t match the vehicle. I said, “I know, your buddy told me yesterday.” Plus they’re so darn young. I swear the guy hadn’t outgrown his skateboard yet and probably won’t start shaving for another year or two.
They ticketed a city worker for driving one of those golf cart like things on the side walk. He was picking up the garbage like his boss told him to. And about a month ago they ticketed a single mother right in front of the kid drop off at the elementary school. Apparently Mom’s seven year old removed her seat belt a little too soon when they pulled up to the drop zone.
There’s an article in the paper every month or so about stuff like that. All I’m saying, is I behave myself around town and if you ever come through our little slice of Mayberry Heaven, I recommend you do the same. In defense of the patrolmen, they were just doing what they were told. We just got a new police chief and he said he wants a friendlier type of police force. That will be a good thing for people like me.
Not that I’m a bad sort. I'm not. It’s just that when I was a younger man, I wouldn't always conform to the recommended behavioral standards set down by civilized society. I used to think if I bought stock in Anheiser- Busch and Exxon Mobile, I’d be able to drink and drive my way to prosperity. It didn’t take very long to find out that my retirement plan had a major flaw in it. Something that I had failed to recognize at the time. A night in jail was all it took to educate me about the finer points of higher finance and the subtleties of road side sobriety tests.
Sorry, I'll get back to the story. Some of the fun of riding a motorcycle is hard acceleration and leaning into the turns and riding up and down hills. Florida is flat, so forget the hills, and the roads are so straight you can ride for miles without any hands on the handle bars. Now, I don’t recommend that for anyone. Ever. But I do it all the time. I never said I was a good example. It’s just the way I roll.
The point of all this, is that there aren’t a lot of places you can legally be an asshole on the highway. The on ramp of the expressway is one of those places that you can. You roll into the ramp kind of aggressive like and when your half way though the turn, you crank on the throttle and bang a couple gears. Before you know it, your up to the seventy MPH traffic speed. Or a hundred MPH if you accidentally don’t pay attention to much.
I don’t like riding on the expressway that much. People drive like idiots down here. It’s like their ass is on fire and the nearest water is fifty miles down the road, so I try to stay out of the way for the most part. It’s about fifteen miles to the exit I want, so I can head toward the sticks and some nice winding country roads. I check my mirrors often when I ride. If someone’s going to kill me from behind, I want to see what they look like so I can haunt ’em in the after life for ruining my day.
I check the mirror and here comes some redneck in a way to big diesel pick up truck , cowboy hat and all, getting right up on my license plate. All I can see in my mirrors are headlights and a big chromed out grill. I wave him to back off, but I must be invisible again. A word pops into my head…..Asshole!
Junior finally manages to get into the passing lane by cutting into another car like he’s the only swinging dick on the highway and his ass is still on fire. I show him where I smashed my middle finger about a year ago and how the tip is still numb as he goes by.
Skippy decides to floor it in an act of deviance and revenge and dusts me out in a cloud of stinky black diesel smoke as he rolls on past. He is the exact reason ignorant people should not be allowed to breed.
I decide to put an old gypsy curse on Diesel Dan that was taught to me when I was a kid by an half crazy old man that lived down the street in a single wide trailer with an out house in the back. Diesel Dan don’t know it yet, but if the curse works, his legs will be grown together when he wakes up in the morning.
Now I know a lot of you are wondering about when we get to the part about the motorcycle sex. I don’t know. Maybe next chapter. You know you wouldn't have made it this far if I put it in the first paragraph.
This is all taking way longer than I thought it would. So until next time, remember to watch out for motorcycles, they’re everywhere.
Links to the other chapters if you need a refresher or a nap: