Excerpts from Wicked Bitch, in honor of Sturgis Bike Week 2009

This is a combination of excerpts from my book, wicked bitch. i am posting these because i want each and every one of you to know that i am riding to sturgis south dakota in a week. i take chemo and have life threatening lupus. i am going to ride my 16 year old heritage softtail nostalgia 3000 miles round trip arkansas to sturgis. it’s gonna hurt. bad. but i want you all to experience with me why i am going. if i could, i wish that every single one of you would be standing at the sturgis city limits sayin YOU MADE IT AMY! thanks for all your support. i will be there to introduce my book to you, and talk to you, and hug your necks. this is a promise sealed in leather and miles.

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“Twinkle, twinkle, lucky star…”

Bo and I were deliriously happy.. I was Hepburn to his Tracy, Scarlett to his Rhett, and Kitty to his Marshall Dillon. One Sat-urday morning, we had finished up our last job of the week at the shop. I had paid Tap for working that week, and he stood propped up on the desk in the office next to his girlfriend, talkin’ to Daddy about which movie they were going to see. I called home and asked Bo what he wanted for lunch.

“Pussy.”
“Well, I’ll go pick up the stuff for pancakes. See you in a few.”
“That ain’t what I said I wanted. What’re the kids doin’?”
“Goin’ to Pine Bluff to a movie.”
“Good. See ya when you get here.”

When I got home, we had pancakes, then spent a couple hours layin in bed with Merle Haggard playin’ softly in the back-ground. I was curled up under his big arm, feeling his chest rise and fall beneath my head.
“I been thinkin’ I wanna buy another Harley.”
“Oh, yea? What ya want? Another ground pounder?”
“Depends on what you want, I reckon.”

I found the prettiest motorcycle I had ever seen on the internet as we took turns searching through the used bikes on the Harley website. A 1993 Heritage Softail Nostalgia gleamed in pictures from the show room on the Chicago Harley Davidson website. It had 120 twisted spokes, a big hypercharger hanging off the side, and more chrome than I have ever seen on one motorcycle. But Bo had spotted a dark yellow Fatboy with chrome rims in Memphis that he wanted to buy, so I didn’t say anything about the one I found in Chicago. Monday morning when I left for work he was at the computer with his telephone, getting ready to call and buy me the beautiful Fatboy. He called the shop a couple hours later.
“Hey… they already sold that yellow bike. But I found another that just looks so much like you, a Heritage…”
“Is it black and white and in Chicago?”
“How’d you know?”

Bo called and made the down payment over the phone, and told them we would pick her up that Friday, Halloween day. I was so excited I don’t think I slept at all that week. All I could think about was my new Harley. The days dragged by slower’n mo-lasses on a cold day. Thursday around lunchtime we loaded up in my truck to make our way to Chicago. It was cold when we left Arkansas, and by the time we drove north all day long, the heater in the truck blowing wide open couldn’t cut through the icy chill coming off the truck windows. We stopped in Effing-ham Illinois at the big Petro to have gravy and biscuits for a late supper, and traveled on north, deciding to call it a night when we reached Kankakee. We made the mistake of picking a micro motel for the night… those tiny little rooms are not meant for two people as big as Bo and I, and the heater was turned off when we got to the room. We generated our own heat beneath the thin blankets as snow swirled outside the window. I finally drifted off to sleep, hearing Bo’s voice murmuring against my skin, “You’re so good to me…” It nearly made my heart explode.

The next morning we awoke and rushed for the warmth of the truck’s heater. It was in the mid 20’s, but at least it hadn’t really snowed much. The sun shone bright through the cold wind that sliced like knives through our clothes and skin. It seemed like it took forever to get to Chicago. The nearer we got, the more rush hour traffic we encountered, and I was about to jump out of the truck in excitement. Bo kept telling me that if the bike wasn’t in good enough shape we weren’t taking her back home with us, there are lots of Harleys out there. He knew she already owned my soul before I ever laid eyes on her. Finally we turned off a crowded little street into the drive of the Harley shop. I was running through the frigid wind without my jacket and bursting through the big glass doors before Bo could even get out of the truck.

And then I saw the real life version of the bleary picture I had been staring at on the internet for days.

“Only you can make this change in me,
for it’s true, you are my destiny”

There on a pedestal in the very center of the big posh showroom, stood the most gorgeous sight I had ever seen. I walked slowly towards her, my heart hammering, my hands shaking. The pink and blue neon over head shimmered in every crease, reflecting crazily in the endless chrome. The 240 spokes each gleamed inside the wide white walls. I tried to take in every single inch of her as I made my way toward the pedestal. The people milling around the store stopped to watch me. I was mesmerized with the vision before me, and noticed no one. I could hear Bo introducing himself to a sales man behind me. I stepped over the little chains and touched the milky white tank. I ran my finger along the Nostalgia emblem on the tank, and could see the reflection of my hand in the black paint beneath it. She had a huge headlight and nacelle instead of the factory Softail one. There was a chrome swing arm, and wide bikini handlebars. My experienced eye took in all the tiny little A’s that said she was dripping Ness. She was lowered and fat and absolutely perfect. When I threw my leg over the seat, a few guys stopped what they were doing to come over and look at me. I looked down at the neat little letters beneath the ignition switch; 1993 Harley Davidson Nostalgia, 1829 of 2700. A big fat tear plopped on the speedometer as I leaned over to reverently grasp the throttle. One of the guys standing there staring says, “Hey.. whatcha doin’? They may get mad.”
I said,” No they won’t… she’s mine.”

‘You’re my dream come true, my one and only you…..’

I rode backwards in the truck seat all the way home, on my knees, staring at the beautiful machine through the back glass. Bo teased me about did I wanna get back there and ride on her. I told him if it wasn’t 25 degrees, he would be lookin’ at her back fender instead of me looking at her front one.

“I understand the magic that you do, my one and only you…”

The next morning we unloaded her out of the back of the truck. Horace had come over to help, puffin’ up like a proud grandpa when he saw her. Tap drowsily moved around, offering congra-tulations through sleepy yawns. We backed down the long driveway and bumped the tailgate of the truck against the hill across the road. We pushed her out, and Tap pulled the truck back up to the house.

Bo sat down on the bike to ride her up to the house. He turned on the ignition, and when he pressed the starter button there was a little poof and the scent of melting wires. Bo and Horace pushed her up into the edge of our driveway as I dug through the tool pouch for tools to remove the seat. The battery had melted beneath the hot wire post. Horace says, ‘they didn’t have the battery cables tight.”
Bo declares that I ain’t ridin’ her until he gets her checked over by his buddy Joe at the Harley shop in Monroe.

We grunted and pushed her up the driveway. We collapsed on the porch gasping for breath and Horace says, ‘Damn sure is your bike, hard headed bitch. Oughta named the damn thing Irene.”

Monday morning Bo went down to Greenville to Lynn’s to buy a new battery. Tuesday, he loaded up on Irene to head down to Monroe and got her checked over. He called me around 3:30 and told me he was heading home. Tap’s girlfriend was at the shop with me, and we closed up about five o’clock and walked across the street to Jayme’s house to see my little niece. We visited for about an hour, and were walkin’ out the door as Chris came in from work. He called after me, “hey.. tell ol Bo it’s deer season, can I borrow that Harley!”
I laughed at first, then I wondered why he hadn’t been by. I handed my purse to Brandy and told her I was gonna check the phone and see if I missed any calls before I drove her home.

I unlocked the shop and walked around the desk, and the red light was blinking on the phone. I pushed the caller ID button, and an unknown cell phone number showed in the little window. I called the number, and a girl answered the phone.

“Hello… this number was on my caller ID.”
The girl answered in a rush. “Do you know a man on a white motorcycle?”
My blood ran cold. “Yea, why?”
“Well, um, he hit a deer. He’s layin’ here on the ground , and that motorcycle is in pieces up in the middle of the highway.”
“Shit. Is he okay?”
“Um, yes ma’am, I think so, he told me your number, but now all’s he will say is ‘Amy’s gonna kill me.”
I grinned at the phone even as my heart hammered.
“Um, I called an ambulance and a state trooper is here callin’ a wrecker.”
I told her to tell the cops to bring the bike to my shop and stay the fuck off the old highway til I had time to get to the hospital, and then hauled ass to the hospital. I beat the ambulance there, but they wouldn’t let me back to see him in the emergency room because I wasn’t kin to him. I sent Brandi to call Tap and tell him what happened, and to call and tell Chris to meet the wrecker and let them in the shop. I was sitting on a hard plastic chair sobbing when a nurse came through the door. “Uh, miss.. Are you Amy?”
“Yea.. Is he okay?”
“Well, I think so.. thing is, we gotta do some X-rays before we let him go, but there’s a problem.”

“What problem?”

She turned beet red. “I went to cut them leather chap things off his legs and he said um, well.. thing is, I don’t know how to get them off.”
I laughed. “I’ll take ‘em off if you let me back there.”

His surly demeanor changed a bit when I stepped through the door. “I’m sorry, darlin’..”
I reached for him, tears flowing as he sat up and reached back.

“Dammit, Bo, why don’t you just learn to deer hunt with a rifle like everybody else?”

We left the hospital with him a few hours later, and went by the shop to assess the damage. I stared in shock at the machine that was a study in perfection just this morning… The wide handle bars pointed dejectedly towards the floor, tanks and fenders were battered and beaten, leather was scraped off the seat and every light was broken or ripped off. For the second time, I would have to build the bike of my dreams before I ever got to ride her.

I thanked God that we had insurance on my bike, because my tiny little shop was in her last throes of life. A girl simply was not accepted as a body shop owner in our small town. When you coupled that with the ever growing list of expensive specialty tools, computers, and software that is required, it came as no surprise when I had to take a job working for Bo’s friends Keith and Laura in their fish restaurant just to make my Harley pay-ments.

“Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway.…”

The almost tangent anticipation of past weeks seem to melt away in the excitement of this moment. I know that I will soon forget the extensive planning and preparation, packing and devising… the working on my bike, checking her over time and again.. deciding what I HAVE to take and what can be left at home… however, my memory will be emblazoned forever with the feeling of throwing my leg over the seat, feeling her roar to life to wake the sleepy morning .. knowing that I have just turned over my fate to the lonely highways that separate Arkansas from South Dakota.. putting my faith into nothing more than my machine and my will to keep going for nearly 4000 miles.

The butterflies in my stomach subside as we hit the open road. I listen to the steady purr of my Moo Glide as she crescendos to the speed limit… feel the weight of the heavy packs behind my seat that now contain everything to me for the next three weeks.. tools to underwear, primary oil to lipstick, notebooks and leathers. I know that I am robbing my scoot of her show bike virginity, and in the back of my mind I wonder time and again if she is up for the challenge.. listening so carefully to every heartbeat below the tank for the hint of something out of the ordinary. Eventually I decide that she sounds like she’s supposed to, and settle in to enjoy the roar of Bo’s Road King in front of me, pulling the big pop up camper behind him, Keith’s Sofftail custom bringing up the rear… reveling in the feeling that it’s the three of us against the world. Bo’s red converses glow in the early morning sun as we make our way north.

At our first gas stop after about a hundred miles I find that my battery is dead. I stare at my beautiful creation and curse her, wishing briefly for my old sportster back. Keith ran over to a Dollar Store and bought an extension cord and fashioned it into a jumper cable. Once I found the regulator unplugged I breathed a sigh of relief, yet wondered again at my abilities of building a bike, and wonder once more if this trophy I’ve built is gonna take me where I wanna go. We rode all day in the baking sun, and I was relieved as night fell.. my body aching in places I never knew I had. We found a KOA campground and settled in for the night, rushing through dinner so that we could rush for the swimming pool to sooth our sun burned aching bodies.

The next day started off smoothly, and then the next…Irene bought my confidence back once again. We challenged the heavy traffic of Kansas City and Omaha.. roaring past the cars and big rigs, leaning forward into the power of the wind and the big V-twin. The greenest hills in the world took my breath away in Missouri, almost making me cry at their grandness.. The highways in Iowa jarred me so much that my teeth hurt. I was relieved when we finally approached Nebraska.

“On a long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha
You can listen to the engine moaning out as one long song..”

I lost track of time and place, quit noticing the towns that slipped by as so many pages in a forgotten book. The miles became nonexistent as hours eased by and states became mere spots in endless days… the wind and sun roasted me, turned me into a creature of the road. My bike and I became one being, a single joined soul that survived on nothing more than the steady rumble between my legs. It was strange to feel the different relationship that formed between me, Bo and our friend, Keith; some sort of strange bond that held the three of us together as dependent on each other, developing a strange independence from life as we had all known it before. I watched Bo ride ahead of me for hours on end, seeming to love him even more for being there in front of me I laughed at Keith as he rode beside me, a modern day Dennis Hopper with his nose in the wind.

After a week of forevers that flew by in an instant, we crossed the plains of nothingness that seeped the history of decades, felt the presence of the ghosts of the Black Hills, and found our-selves joining a caravan of thousands of motorcycles heading for Rapid City. As we eased out onto Highway 90 for the last leg of our sojourn, Bo took off after a big ground pounder, pouring on the big fire breathing stroker and runnin’ neck in neck, payin’ no mind to the big camper behind his Harley which was practically airborne. Keith and I laughed as we cruised along about 75 and lost sight of Bo way ahead of us in the endless stream of motorcycles. We were both kicked back with our feet propped up, cruising along, when two squeaky little Honda Shadows buzzed by riding two abreast. Both riders had bright white socks shinin’ in the sun and full face helmets. I looked over at Keith and yelled, “Oh, fuck no!“

I fell out into the hammer lane and reached back for fourth gear.. My breasts were pressed against the tank, I grabbed fifth and blew between the two little Hondas and never let up, hyper-charger suckin’ air and big heads thumpin‘, flying past the blur of bikes, hands raised, fists shaking, and cheers heard over the deafening procession of engines…. I could hear Keith’s Custom huggin’ my back fender, and when I blew by Bo, my feet were on the back pegs and my ass was five inches above the seat, and I was whippin at the wind with my left hand like I was breaking in a stallion… he was pointin’ his finger at me and cussin’…. it just made me laugh harder as I let Irene decelerate and fell in beside him.

The dry South Dakota dust stuck to my wet cheeks as I took the lead with a breathless anxiety when I saw the sign. I was filthy dirty, my hair flew in tangles out of my braid, and my nose was so burned it was nearly bleeding. My legs were shaking with exhaustion and my lower back throbbed with every heartbeat. My lips were bleeding, chapped and dry. I couldn’t straighten my fingers without wincing. My skin was so red brown, and my arms were wrapped in nasty bandanas in an attempt to protect me from the glare of sun and heat. I eased down into the lower gears and idled Irene down, taking my place in the parade like procession easing down Main Street. Rows and rows and more rows of motorcycles gleamed in the blinding sun, the chrome making wavy rivers of light across the hot air. Music and laugh-ter and Harley engines blasted my mind from every corner. Throngs of people cheered and waved and moved everywhere, making me dizzy as I tried to take it all in. I could feel the hot air rising from my heated V-Twin beneath me. The road beneath my feet vibrated so much it made the soles of my feet numb. We were a band of tired thirsty cowboys at the foot of the Black Hills riding into town after a hard as fuck, ass kicking, ball busting ride. I was a modern day calamity Jane leading my rebel band into the streets of a wild western town. I had joined the ranks of thousands before me that have poured towards a shared destination… the notorious, nefarious, almost mystical destination that is the birthplace of countless tales and memories… the historical ending to the first half of my trip to which we all had rode so very hard to reach.. Sturgis.

The entire world of two wheeled worshippers dream their entire lives of making the trip to the heart of biker existence… the tiny mountain town of Sturgis, South Dakota that is transformed, for two amazing weeks every August, into the center of activity, the epitome of all that we ride for. Bike Week overflows the motels and campgrounds, bars and restaurants, and spills over to all surrounding towns as the riders journey to witness Mt. Rushmore, Spearfish, and Deadwood. Hords of bikers travel hundreds of miles to plant their booted feet on the same sacred ground as Wild Bill Hickock and Jesse James… a merging of the old outlaws and the new. We stand in a moment of silent respect in the shadow of Crazy Horse, and feel the spirits of the native Americans which still haunt the grounds, and in our heads we imagine the drumbeat of the warriors and feel the pain of their defeats. The mere number of motorcycles in the small town was inde-scribable… millions roamed the tiny town, back dropped by the awesome scenery of the Black Hills. I could feel the pavement rumble beneath my feet as we made our way down Main Street, gazing at the multitude of people, thousands of vendors, and places I had only read about in wide eyed awe… I have to admit that I was a bit disillusioned at the mere commercialism of quite a bit of it. As my hand shook from holding the clutch as we made it through the slow parade of bikes, the huge Dodge, Ford, and Jack Daniels tents made me feel as if I were stuck in the middle of a Super Bowl commercial. All the motorcycle greats were there, displayed in bold pride; West Coast Choppers, Orange County, Arlen Ness and Paul Yaffe. Hundreds of lean, mean choppers ripe for buying stood at attention along the sidewalks.. massive stores brought to life the catalogs we pour over like children at Christmas.. J&P and Custom Chrome, Samson and Vance & Hines. The entire world of motorcyclists gathered together in one wild party, feasting on chrome and beer, wheels and women. After setting up camp, we spent a week wandering the crowded streets, seeing the uniqueness of the vendor’s wares, and feeling the constant thunder that is the roar of the road. In between my interviews for stories, I searched the masses for what I came to see. The history, the drop dead assuredness of what has become known as the 1%ers and die hard bikers… what I believed Sturgis is supposed to be. It seems to have faded a bit, lost in the shadows of RVs and trailered scoots, but was still evident if you knew where to look. I loved the dark tranquility and antiquity of the tried and true bars… The Knuckle Saloon and The Broken Spoke, the Full Throttle and the Firehouse, all seemed to hold the secrets of the decades in their vast walls. The ancient Easyriders posters and antique scoots making up the decor offered much more of what I had dreamed of finding in Sturgis than all of the glitz and glitter that was found outside. I found myself harboring a bit of disappointment as I answered the question time and again… “Yes, I actually rode here.” I felt a chagrin at the vast number of people who came there simply to be seen, unaware of the historical value of the week whatsoev-er… it seemed that everyone was much more concerned with who had spent the most money and bought the biggest motor homes than who had rode and seen and experienced the freedom of the road.

The week was a blur of dreamlike wonders. They pour by the thousands into the Buffalo Chip and Glencoe, dead set on the party of a lifetime. They congregate at the beer gardens and the Broken Spoke to hear the music of multitudes and swim in naked abandon in the beer that flows so freely. Luscious women strut in their barely there outfits on every corner, and Main Street is alive with the activity of thousands upon thousands of bad ass rides… from the stripped down powerhouses chopped to oblivion to the tried and true stocks and pipe dream trikes, they all flock to park on the fabled lanes. The scent of burning rubber emanates from Mike’s Roadhouse as Billy Lane and Indian Larry unveil their latest creations at Gasoline Alley, and everyone searches for Peter Fonda to catch a snapshot of Mr. Easyrider himself. The varied colors that gleam and wild chrome that glows is but a small factor in the overall beauty and mystique that is what Sturgis is all about.
Race tracks are alive with activity as the bad boys compete to see who is the baddest… balloons are tossed, weinies are bitten, and tiny boys ride dirt bikes upside down inside wicked iron spheres. From the gruffest old iron ass to the richest silliest weekend warrior, they all are represented in this magnificent show. The Full Throttle comes to life and more people pack in by the second, be in nine a.m. or midnight, the large gravel parking lot alive with the roaring thunder that we all hear in our sleep. Beautiful girls man the massive bar at the Knuckle, and serve up your drinks with angelic smiles. The vendors hock their wares, from sunglasses to thongs, kickstands to full dressers. We all glow in the excitement and wonder that surrounds every doorway. From Australia to Canada, they all journey towards the thriving, bustling, bursting energy that throbs along the curving highways… each and every scoot adding to the rumbling song that deafens one and all.
You begin to wonder if the very asphalt will disintegrate beneath you as you feel the ground pounding. You believe your head will burst from all the sights, sounds and smells that you have only dreamed of. It is an overall experience that you will never forget.

As we packed up to head back for Arkansas, I reflected on my experiences of the week, and found them bittersweet… I loved the fact that I had actually experienced the legendary occurrence that IS Sturgis. I knew that I would forever treasure the memories and friends that I had made along the way. However, I also felt a distinct sadness at the near extinction of another legend… the true biker. I realized that among the millions of people I had seen, such a tiny handful of them were the guys we all think of when we hear the word “biker”. The ones who live for the simple pleasures that the road and motorcycle offers… those of us who work simply to keep our scoots running, and are willing to sacrifice all we have to keep them. This dying breed is quickly being replaced by the rich weekend warriors who buy a Harley just because he has nothing better to put on his trailer. I offer, as a final summation of the Sturgis experience, an extreme gratitude to those I met who treated me so very well… and a tearful goodbye to those guys who still have primary oil in their veins and wind burned skin. I have to say that they are the true legends of Sturgis, and the heroes of the highway.

While we were in Sturgis, Irene blew out an o-ring around a jet in the carburetor, letting the jet walk with the vibration of the engine. We repeatedly took off the breather and tried to find why she was either flooding or starving. All day the first day I fought her, sometimes hitting on one cylinder or the other, sometimes both kicking in and the big bike almost lurching out from beneath me. We put her in a Harley shop in Lincoln Nebraska.. they cleaned and checked out the carb, but they didn’t find the o-ring. They thought there must have been trash somewhere in the lines that they flushed out. She ran fine for about an hour, then started the same thing all over again. I was hot and tired and hurting. Keith and Bo were aggravated because my beautiful show bike was holding up everything as I stopped time and again, carefully removing the bowl on the bottom of the carburetor to drain out all the fuel that pooled there when she flooded. Finally after a horrible three days, we were in Arkansas, then Little Rock. It started pouring down rain as we made our way through Pine Bluff and the last leg of our trip. It was pitch dark and raining so hard I was barely able to see Bo’s taillights in front of me. Finally the lights of Monticello loomed before us. In a way, it didn’t look like home to me anymore. It was just another blur of Wal Mart and McDonalds and tail lights in another town on the highway. We rumbled down the long driveway of Keith’s restaurant, and his daughter flung open the big double doors. Bo and Keith rolled to a stop on either side of the door, but I rode Irene right through that door, parking her hot and dripping wet right beside the buffet. Half the customers stared in wide eyed shock, but the rest of them, the ones who knew where we had ridden from, stood up and clapped.

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“Then today I started lovin‘ you again…”

With Bob visiting his folks in Minnesota and me suffocating in my familial home, I decided to take a day off to visit Randa in McGehee. I laced my bright red high heeled Roman sandals up to my knees, pulled on a soft grey knit mini dress, and topped it all off with huge sunglasses and a wide red head band. In a cloud of smoky eyes, blood red lips and White Diamonds I swooped into my Mark VIII. The Arkansas heat warmed me and the black leather cockpit into which I was ensconced as I eased out onto 278. I turn up the radio to find Merle.. “Today I started loving you again…” That leads into Mac Davis as I pass the turn off for sixteenth section road… I stick my nose up in the air, step on the gas pedal, and chuckle to myself, Bo’s probably selling tomatoes today and I’m gonna go right on through town and he won’t even know… I crank the stereo and belt along with it… “I’ll just use you then I’ll set you free…”

My visit with Randa consisted of lots of giggles and gossip, and left me in an easy relaxed mood. A whirlwind of hugs and laughter envelops me as I drop down into the seat of my car. I light a cigarette and ease down the street toward the four way stop by the McGehee bank. I check my phone for messages as I roll to a stop. I tap long red nails on the steering wheel and look across the road, right dead face to face with Bo. There sits his truck under the awning of the empty building next to another truck. Both are loaded down with fresh tomatoes and vegetables, and a little old man is dozing in a lawn chair between the trucks. Bo is leaning against the front end of his truck, straw hat pulled low like a Stetson over sunglasses hiding the eyes that I feel boring into my soul.

“What a fool I was to think I could get by…”

His arms and legs are crossed in a deceptively casual swaggering stance. Look at his ass, standing there all tan, in that white shirt that shows his huge shoulders and arms. His whiskers glowing all white next to the burnished skin of his cheeks. He raises one hand, then one finger, and motions… then he mouths the words, “Come here.” Well shit. I shake my head, my heart pounding.. Then I hear the horn beep behind me. . Fuck a duck. He grins this big ol shit eatin’ grin. I pull my car into the parking lot and try to hide my shaking hands as I kill the engine.

“I got over you just long enough to let my heart ache mend…”

He raises one eyebrow at me as I step out of the car. I adjust my short little dress and sashay into the shade beneath the awning over the trucks and vegetables. I plop down in one of his chairs and cross my legs, all cocky and shit. I wave my sexy red shoe in the air to an unknown beat, and drop my cigarettes on the ground beside me, acting like I am Katherine of Aragon… well, probably more Anne Boleyn.

He follows me real slow and eases down into the other chair, digging in his pocket for a Pall Mall, acting like Mr. Man and pretending to ignore me, but I know he is staring at my fire en-gine red toe nails. Ha. The green scent of the tomatoes is heavy in the small space between the little boarded up building and his truck. The air is heavy enough to be liquid, and the peaches in the old man’s truck lend a sweet exotic taste to the humidity. I pretend not to be nervous at all.
“How come ya’ll over here sellin’ vegetables instead of under the big tree?”
“Aw, that fat bitch from the church they built over there came out yellin’ at us again, Talkin about we were desecratin’ their sanctuary. So’s we came over here to peddle a bit. What you doin’ over this way? Got another boyfriend?”
“Fuck you, Bo. I came to see Miranda and get out of my Mom-my Dearest’s house while they gone to Little Rock today.”

“With only these few million tears I’ve cried…”

“I see… you got the keys to that white Harley?”
Kiss my ass…. “Yea, here.. You take em off the ring, I don’t wanna break my nails.”
He does his little raised eyebrow thing again at my nails, then leans in real close to get the keys then take his sweet time taking them off. Finally he hands them back to me, and I drop them on the ground next to my pack of camels, snagging one out of the pack and lighting it.

He grumbles, “smoking’ too much,” as he reaches for another Pall Mall and lights it off the one in his mouth.
“So, he’s off in Minnesota, huh?”
“Yeah…”
“Wanna go home and get a few nuts off then?”
I choke on the cigarette smoke, coughing and sputtering. He’s leaning in real close and laughing softly. I stand up and wave the smoke away that’s burning my eyes . I step away from him and grasp the door handle on his truck with both hands, not daring to look at him. “Wh, um, what did you say?”
“You heard me.”
“That ol man over yonder probly did too!”
“I imagine he knows what fuckin’ is too.”
I knew my face was burning, I gasped “BO! Shhh!” in a loud stage whisper, and the old man on the other side of the truck chuckled, and I heard his old chair squeak as he shifted his bony little butt over to listen closer.
Bo stands up and moves in real close behind me, I feel his breath shifting my hair, then the damp heat of his big body looming in next to me.. Damn, it was hot. He put one hand on either side of me against the truck, pinning me in with my back against his chest. I crossed my arms and pretended to ignore him as he moved his mouth closer to my ear, then I reached out to grasp the door handle again. Damn him.. I felt his hat touching the top of my head, and I closed my eyes. His scent was making me feel faint, like tomatoes and cologne and soap and man and Bo, God it’s Bo… He moved his big hot hands to cover my white knuckled grip on the door handle, his big arms slick with sweat rubbed up against my arms, the friction making me shiver. His big chest was hard against the back of my shoulders, and I squeezed my eyes shut tighter. “Bo, everybody right over in the Mcgehee Bank can just look right out their windows and see what you are doin’ to me.”
“If they look a little closer, they can see what you’re doin’ to me.” The words seered white hot into my brain, puddling in the pit of my stomach in a burning confusion. He took one step for-ward, and I felt what I was doing to him pressed up against me.
“Um, Bo, I don’t think we are supposed to do this anymore.”
“I thought about takin’ you back, ya know.”
My spine went ramrod stiff. “What makes you think you could?”
He pushed me roughly up against the truck and growled into my neck, ”Because the part of you that belonged to me will always belong to me, Bitch.”

“And I’m right back where I’ve really always been…”

“Bo, um, we really probably shouldn’t be doin’ this right here.” He started rocking his hips slowly into my butt, and in spite of myself, I could feel my head starting to fall back against his chest.
“He pressed me farther into the truck door, and started running his hand down my side. By now the only thing holding me up was the weight of his legs and hips mashing me against the truck. I felt his breathing ratcheting hard from his mighty chest. His voice poured over me like warm honey as he murmured, “Does this remind you of somewhere we’ve been before?” I saw our hands clasped on the door handle of that chevy truck, so many years ago parked there at the jap camp.. the cool crisp air falling on the night causing my skin to prickle as he impaled me, his chest against my back…

He dragged me back to the present by rubbing his whiskers down the soft flesh of my neck. I was trying to keep my balance on my own two feet, trying to swim to the surface of the liquid fire he was drowning me in….

He started to sway slowly into me, his body moving with the same graceful languor with which he could rule a dance floor. “Remember when I bent you over this truck seat? In that barn, it was rainin..” Against my closed eyelids played that day… The thunder making the tin walls of the barn shiver as he pulled my jeans down around my ankles and guided me face first toward the truck seat…

“I’d like to kiss you right here..” he reached beneath the short dress and ran his finger along the little crease beneath my red lacy boy shorts, right where my hip meets my thigh… Damn.

“I think I’ll do just that, just as soon as I sell these ladies some tomatoes.”

WHAT?!
I tottered on those tall shoes as I jerked my head around to peer in wide eyed shame at the two little old ladies standing opened mouth by the back of Bo’s truck. Jesus God. Bo ‘s big body was heaving with laughter as he strutted right along to the back of the truck, and I stumbled like I was on a three day drunk trying to get to my car. Movin’ like the tin man as I tried to gain control of my body, I bent over to grab my keys and cigarettes, then remembered how short the skirt was…I jerked upright in time to see the leering toothless grin of the old man in the lawn chair, I didn‘t dare look back at them women I had just pretty much mooned. Bo called out to my retreating back, “See you at the house in 45 minutes.” Blast his hide.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Someday when things are good, I’m gonna leave you”

After a long and tiring, though pleasant, day spent visiting with my family and then going by my Dr‘s office for the nurse to collect blood work, I again aim my new blue Mustang East on 278, taking the route that for so long took me home. It’s the first time I will see Bo alone since the cancer scare, and I am looking forward to the visit. I hug the deep curves and smile at the butterfly of anticipation that flutters deep within me… laugh at myself for still feeling like a school girl meeting her beau, pun intended, and not a shameless adulteress heading towards a sordid, complicated affair which in all actuality was closer to the truth.
As Jeanie Sue Riley blasts through the air conditioned air on my car, I recall the phone call this morning…
“Hey, good lookin’..”
“Hey! Whatcha doin’?”
“Didn’t you say you gotta doc’s appointment today?”
“Yes and no… I had to come and get blood work to make sure I am up to our trip to Canada. Did I tell you Ben’s goin’ with us?”
“Yea.. It’ll be good for the boy to do that travelin’..So, when will you be finished?”
“I’m pulling out of Doc’s driveway as we speak.”
“I’ll see in you in thirty minutes.”

“I found another man, who can give more than you can…”

I crawl up the long gravel drive trying to not stir quite so much dust up to coat my electric blue car. I hop out and nearly run for the front door, tripped up by the pack of dogs at my feet… I am so glad to be there… always.
Short Dog meets me at the door, wiggling her fat little body happily as I take a moment to lean down and kiss her. The living room is dark, as usual, but I know my way around. He is in his usual place, sprawled out in his big leather arm chair, feet propped up on the ottoman, Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty on the television. Even in denim cutoffs and a ragged old sleeveless work shirt, he is so beautiful to me. My eyes drink in how his hair has grown since I last cut it, the deep tan that he picks up so effortlessly every summer visible through the white material of his sleeveless shirt. I kneel down beside him and lose myself happily in his big bear hug, hungrily breathing in the scent of him. I say ,”I’ve missed you.”
“Why? Don’t I look the same as the last time you saw me?”
“Of course you do… that’s what I miss. ”
“Aw, hell, nothing about me to miss.”
The heat in his body seeps into mine, his smell envelops me in a warmth like no other. I feel his weighty right hand rest lightly on my neck, fingers easing into the edges of my hair beneath my pony tail and I vaguely remember him telling me once he thought tiny curls falling from pinned up hair was sexy. I keep my body and head sprawled across his wide chest, lying so still hoping he doesn’t move his hand, and that he does. He smells faintly of fresh cut grass and tomato vines, cigarettes and co-logne and man. “How long are you here?”
“I should already be on my way home really, but couldn’t stand not seeing you at least a little while… you know I can’t tell you no when you call.”
“You here to play with my dick?”
I grin at his intimate familiarity. “That‘s up to you, I think”
He catches my right hand with his left and places it on the hard-ness beneath his jean shorts and says,” Not sure if you can wake the ol boy up, I’m kinda tired.. . Might take alotta persuadin’…”
“persuading is what I do best” I whisper into his ear.

The hand that was still playing in my hair suddenly grew force-ful, pulling my head up for a kiss that filled me with him. It’s amazing that after nearly a decade every kiss held the perfection of the first. I ran my hands over his face, through his hair, felt the soft white whiskers, the heat of his skin, the taste of his breath… treasuring him, trying to memorize every second to sustain my heart when it ached for him after I left to go home. I lean away for but a moment, to unbutton his shirt slowly with shaking hands, pausing to kiss each new inch exposed, revealing bit by bit the Indian tanned chest from shirtless hours on that old John Deere. I lay my head for a moment on his mighty chest and feel the sturdy thump of his heart, and smile to myself as I reminisce that heartbeat always sounded like the downshifting rumble of his big old Harley. I run my fingers down the nearly invisible bypass scar. I play in the soft downy wisps of hair on his significant ribcage. I gaze hungrily at his head slightly tilted away from me, eyes half closed and a sexy grin, the snowy curls of a haircut slightly neglected, the dark long eyelashes… the strength and heat and raw male sexuality that made him who he was. I reached up and touched the soft whiskers on his face. I ran my hands slowly everywhere, wanting to touch every inch of him, kissing him here and there.. I glanced up at his head laying relaxed against the back of the chair, eyes half open, lips parted, smoldering heat pouring from his heavy lidded gaze and fell just as deeply in love with him as I had a million times before. A few more moments of slow exploration, trailing kisses down the faded scar, touching all of the skin accessible, until he said “Let’s go to bed.”
We both stood and made our way there in silence, shedding clothes along the way. Then he did something he had never done before. He pulled me toward him, and turned me to face the full length mirror on the other side of the massive bed. We stood there and stared at each other across the bed, his dark skin against mine so pale, his immense body towering behind me He ran his hands along my body slowly, watching himself in that full length mirror… like he was memorizing me, and it drove me insane. Hr stood at least a head taller than I, his skin much darker, his roughened farmers hands caressing me, making their way up and down my belly and sides, sending my insides into spastic little shivers…. There are simply no words to describe it. it pains me to never know the ecstasy of actually drawing with my words that grasping, gasping. falling, gnawing, amazing moment….

He reached up and took out what was left of my pony tail, then ran his hands through my hair, freeing it to curl wildly around my face and down my back. This variation to our already amaz-ing couplings was so hot my knees were weak with need… I begged him shamelessly as his hands roamed until he finally led me up onto the bed, still facing the mirror on my hands and knees. It was an almost surreal joining, oh so sweet, oh so sexy… I couldn’t take my eyes off his face in the mirror, his huge body looming behind me as he pushed me farther and farther into ecstasy. His left hand grasped my hip, holding me captive on my hands and knees, right where he wanted me…he reached his long right arm out and grasped the huge bedpost, and was a magnificent sight, so primal, naked and stretching out long and tall, buried deep within me as his face contorted at the orgasmic spasms washing through both of us and his head fell back with a sound almost of pain. My own body collapsed on the bed as I fought to drag deep ragged breaths into my overworked lungs. The sound of my pleas and pleasure hung in the quiet air. I crawled to where he had sat down on the edge of the bed, and wrapped my entire body around his, my legs snaked around his waist, my breasts pressed against his back and my head laying between his shoulder blades. “I do still love you, ya know?” his voice surprised me and then his words did. He hadn’t said these words to me in over a year… not since I had left. I nodded my head, and fought the hot tears of joy and despair that had lodged in my throat. We sat that way until we could breathe normally again, then stood side by side in the bathroom as we cleaned up, him dragging me into several more deep hungry kisses before we were finally dressed and heading for the porch for a much earned cigarette.
The screen door slammed shut behind the small entourage he and I made with Short Dog leading us to the chairs on the porch. I sat there happily, still sweaty and a bit breathless, and lit a ca-mel. Bo pulled out a Pall Mall, and I told him about my new puppy, Honey.

“Oh, Lord.. She is the worst little puppy ever, Bo! She chews just everything and kills frogs and torments Jackson, and I am totally head over heels in love with her!”

He responded with boasting comments about the strays in his yard, Poppy, Annie, old Belle…. He smiled and petted a cute little black and white terrier and said “This is Roscoe….’ and then he gasped heavily and grabbed his chest, then his head fell down as if he were taking a sudden nap.
No… god no…

“Some day soon I’ll be just one more memory,
And one more man you can say you’ve had…”

I jumped out of my chair and fell to my knees in front of him, calling his name with increasing frenzy. He seemed to be shrinking into himself… I shook him, I begged him to stop playing games and told him I was calling an ambulance. He opened his eyes and said “Amy?” like a question, dropped the cigarette he was holding and then his last soft breath sighed out onto my cheek. I screamed his name and held him and tried to breathe in his mouth and watched my tears roll down his chest as I checked everywhere for a pulse. I slapped him and screamed until my throat was raw. I saw the faintly bluish tint spreading on his cheeks, and knew that I had heard him say my name for the last time. I held his hand awhile, and just sat and looked at his face…. I love you too, baby… I always have… no God no… It was the most precious, horrible, fragile moment, closest thing to a miracle and a nightmare that I have ever seen or felt. I curled up into his slumped body and cried, all the little things he had said and done that afternoon slamming into my head and I realized he had known… he gave me his last moment, his last smile, his last word, his last breath.

“and you’ll call my name when things are not so good…”

I walked slowly into his house…through the living room, dining room, kitchen… I looked at the beautiful Corinthian leather fur-niture, and remembered gliding along the rich buttery surface on the sweat that surfaced his chest. The glass of tea he had been drinking sweated on the end table. Marshall Dillon talked too loud on T.V. The kitchen sink showed me washing dishes and Bo walking up behind me, enfolding me in his big strong arms.

I walked all the way to the bedroom, still heavily perfumed with the earthy scent of our lovemaking. I sat on the horribly disheveled side of the bed, his side of the bed, and touched the Bible that lay there…. Though I never had said those words to him, til death do us part, I have never understood them better… I looked at the Colt that always laid there… looked at it a long time… I thought about the constant vomiting three or four days a week. I thought of the pains that scream though my nerves and joints when I wake each morning. I thought of slow horrifying deaths of your immune system killing you. I put my hand real close to that Colt 45, and it shook uncontrollably, to the point that the heavy diamonds in my wedding rings clinked against the polished steel barrel. I thought of Bo never ever feeling the wind of the highway on his face or the roar of a Road King at his beck and call, and my hand steadied. I reached for it then, and my hand was balanced… and then looked up directly at a picture of Becca he had stuck in the window frame. I look down at the rainbow of color that was the string quilt we spent so many days and weeks making, and remembered long hours spent teaching him how to make quilts on that old Adler sewing machine, scolding him for amorous overtures leaning across the antique sewing machine, grinning at his joy when he completed one gorgeous quilt after another. I evoked the scene of only a month or so ago when Becca stood right here touching that beautiful quilt, and said, “Look, Uncle Bo! This is made from my dresses!”

I sighed and put the picture in my pocket as I went and picked up the telephone, dialed 911, and laid the phone beside his hand. I kissed him, and held him one more time, my tears pouring unbound down his cold face. Then I took the coward’s way out and got in my car, and started home. Marilyn called me as I was leaving, her instincts feeling my grief across thousands of miles. I had her call the Monticello police department and make sure someone went out to find him. My dad’s neighbor heard the call over the scanner, and Daddy called my cell… I started calling to let people know as I sat on the side of the highway and watched the fireworks over Pine Bluff lake. I had to call Buck for the second time in a year and tell him he had lost a sibling. I hate the fucking Fourth of July.

“They say she just went crazy, screaming out his name….”

My body has convulsed in uncontrollable sobs for two days. I have tried to drown myself in Old Granddad, only to become more sober. Tears seep from my haunted eyes in a chilling con-stant waterfall, even to soak my pillow in fitful slumber, and I am trapped, clawing frantically every moment to awaken from the demons that are clawing at my heart, taunting my soul and my sanity with a bloody truth, he’s gone… he’s gone…. I know that Bob does not understand, and I do not have it in me to help him, I cannot even help myself.

“He kept some letters by his bed…”

The letters I had written to him, apparently every one for nine years, were found. Everybody knows. Apparently he kept them all, even the most recent ones that I always wondered if he opened… the ones that were poured out in sorrow filled tears as I had trouble adjusting to my new world… pitiful outcries that echoed with the undertones of “there’s no place like home…” I find out only now that he kept every single one. It’s a stab of mind numbing, heart wrenching bliss, a knife dripping with the sweetness of what has just died, what I didn’t even know. I re-call every letter he has written to me; remember the acrid scent of burning paper as I held my cigarette lighter to each and every one of the recent ones after it was read. I remember his favorite words of Frost curling into a flame, then ashes. What I would give to have just one of them now.

“She came to see him one last time…”

As I ease my car towards downtown McGhee, I grasp the steer-ing wheel at the same time I gasp for deep breaths, searching desperately for some half-human mask to hide behind while I say a final farewell to my discarded soul mate. The sunlight gleams in the chrome of the bikes assembled, and I navigate my Mustang in beside them. I swing open the door and step out onto the pavement, my stomach lurching at the white-hot pain coursing from my brain in denial. I feel various sets of eyes boring into me as I crush out a cigarette… I take a deep breath and step away from the car. No, God, please, no… I am thankful to find Clay standing between the bikes smoking a cigarette, a friend amongst all the antagonism, real or imagined. He hugs me, and murmurs comforting things, giving me the strength to walk across that parking lot. Bo’s son stops me and hugs me, and I feel so very much love and sorrow for him that it very nearly overwhelms me. It barely registers when he tells me that Buck now has Irene… she was given to him to sell and pay for Bo’s funeral. I have no idea what to say to him, I want to tell him it wasn’t so bad, that he wasn’t alone, that it didn’t hurt, but the very thought of it is more than I can bear. At that moment I am so very thankful that he has such a wonderful mother, and is close to her.

“Oh, we all wondered if she would…”

I do my best to speak to the friends and family members outside the door, Bo… Bo… Bo… My trembling legs carry me blindly through the sedate lounge… toward a door. The door that I never ever in my worst nightmares could have imagined entering… My hands quiver in cold terror as I approach the quiet room. My heart contracts in excruciating spasms as I move toward the casket. I have to see him, touch him, knowing it’s the last time I ever can.

“All dressed up to go away…”

I am shocked to see him in a starched white shirt and tie, and wonder vaguely why he isn’t wearing his leathers. I fight tears and think of how I think he should look, surrounded by his Bi-ble, his leathers, laying in state like the amazing man he was, wearing his gleaming Stetson and darkened sunglasses… I fight for breath as I reach out tremulously, and lay my hand on his chest, now so still… I venture to hold his hand, and it’s so cold… I take out the thin auburn braid of my hair that I had made so carefully the night before and wrap it around his wrist. I tuck the red and yellow roses beside him, and fight the memories of him tracing the lines in my tattoo with his finger, drowsily telling me how he would color this rose red, that one yellow, as we basked in the languid aftermath of loving, made so cozy by the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the tin roof… I find that I can’t take my hand from him, am struggling to accept that I will never be able to lay my hand on the soft whiskers anymore, never again wrap my arms around that whiskey barrel chest . I know that my tears are splashing on the satin folds of his final bed, but I’m paralyzed in agony. Others move close to pay their respects, but I am oblivious to them for the most part, until a little old lady beside me registers when she speaks.
“Well, he died doing what he liked best.”
I feel my knees trying to buckle, and the casket rocks slightly as I grasp the sides for support, and force myself to look at her. She points to the pack of Pall Malls someone had put in his pocket and says, “Smoking them damn cigarettes.”

Shit… I gotta get outta here…

I have no recollection of the drive home. I do not know how I got to his funeral the next day or much of who was there. I re-member my sister holding me upright, keeping me grounded to the earth within this horrific nightmare. I can still feel Bob’s presence, ever reaching through the insanity that is threatening to engulf me to grasp my arm, holding me steadfast to reality, loving me through it all. I vaguely remember my heart crum-bling into tiny pieces when someone guided me into a chair where the family sits… I know I felt uncertain, afraid someone would get mad because it wasn’t my rightful place. But Tap’s mom held my hand, pulled me down into the chair beside her. I realized she was in the same place as me… she had loved him and lost him too. I remembered all the times I had jokingly told him he would need two rows at his funeral for ex wives and my heart contracted in pain. My grief swallowed the ceremony, I haven’t even a shred of reminiscence except staring fixedly at the beautiful horrible casket, the red roses someone had chosen, having no clue of their significance. Suddenly it was over, and I didn’t even know it had begun. The only other remembrance stored by my dying heart is a bittersweet one. As everyone stood and began to mill about, I heard an unmistakable thunder. Tap was standing near me, and I grabbed his arm, and said “Oh, Tap look!”
Up the gravel road came a slow, rumbling cloud of smoke. As it neared the graveyard the familiar thump of a Milwaukee heart-beat made the ground beneath us quiver, and one and then another and another single headlight came into view. At the last moment, almost too late, a small group of weathered leathered angels, a pack of old Vietnam Vets, with old J.B. in the lead, arrived to escort Bo home.

From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered- we few, we happy few, we band of brothers.. Shakespeare
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hello, Darlin’…”

The full moon in January is called a wolf moon. It is the largest full moon of the year. Native Americans called it a wolf moon or a hunger moon because it is the dead of winter, when the wolves come starving to the door. Pagan and Wiccan worshipers believe it is a time of things you hunger for, as well as a time of connecting to the past.
The first day of the wolf moon this year fell on a day that Bob had a doctor’s appointment in Little Rock. By the time we sat in that office for three hours, I barely made it back to the car. In spite of the horrible pain in my back and hips, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to ride my bike so, so bad. I told Bob on the way home.
“You sure?” he asks.
“Yea, I think it may make me feel better.”
When we got to the house, he parked the car to the side so that we could get our bikes out. We put Jackson and Honey in the house and gathered leather jackets and gloves.
“Where do you want to ride to?” he asks.
I thought for a second. “Let’s ride down to check on Buck… that‘s a good ride down the highway.”
We loaded up and made our way down to visit. After a couple hours of chit chat, we noticed that the sky was clouding up, so got ready to go.

“It’s been a long time….”

Buck followed us out to the bikes. He looked at me for a long moment, then says kinda softly, ”Why’d you buy that one? You coulda bought a white one.”
My heart thudded in my chest and my blood roared in my ears.

“They told me you sold her to pay for Bo’s funeral…. Can I see her, please?”
“It’s mine, and I paid for the funeral, but I ain’t sold her. She’s in the ATV shop uptown.”

“Just for old time’s sake…”

“Is it ok if I go see her? Please?”
“Sure, go whenever you want to… tell Cuz to call me if he has any problems.”
My heart was constricting so hard I could barely breathe. I was going to get to see Irene, walk through a door and actually see her, touch her, one more time. My beautiful Harley had been sitting 3 or 4 blocks from my house the whole time.

“What I’m trying to say is..”

“Would… Will you.. If I can sell my Sportster, would you let me buy her?”
“Yup.. be glad to.. I been tryin‘ to sell it really.. Just is paying insurance to me. But no bites. I don‘t even have a key to it.”
“I do.”
He looked at Bob and they chuckled softly, shaking their heads.
“How much do you want for her?”
He named a price that was just a little more than what I would get out of my bike. He knew it, and he knew I did too. I was in shock; there was so much emotion in me that the tears wouldn’t even come. I was so grateful to even know that I could see her one more time, sit down on that big wide seat and look at the console, where printed neatly are the words “Heritage Softail Nostalgia 1829 of 2700“. This man, with whose life mine has clashed and soared and clashed again, was giving me back something I never would have dreamed of. It felt as if a piece of me long dead suddenly drew a breath of life, and once again I loved Buck like he was my big brother.

“Gotta go now… gotta try to find a way…”

The ride back into town seemed to take hours, and but a mo-ment. Over and over in my mind I played that trip home from Chicago, sitting backwards in the truck seat, looking at that big beautiful machine riding in the back. I was nearly in a daze by the time we parked the bikes and got into the car.

My hands were cold and shaking, tears quivering on my eyelids as we pulled into the parking lot. I hurried out of the car, the tears flowing unbidden from beneath my big sunglasses. Bob tried to keep up as I hurried inside. There, behind rows and rows of 4-wheelers, sat Irene.

“Hello, Darlin’… nice to see ya…”

She was covered in a thick layer of dust and grime. There was no windshield, and one foot peg had fallen on the floor. She looked old and raggedy and forlorn. There wasn’t another soul in the shop. I made my way over to her, and wiped my hand down the wide tank. The white paint I sprayed so carefully six years ago gleamed beneath my shaking fingers.

“You’re just as lovely as you used to be…”

The sound of a truck crunching slowly onto the gravel drive drew my attention, and a sweet faced smiling man stepped out. I still barely trusted my voice. He shook Bob’s hand in friendly greeting as I said, “I am thinking about buying this bike. Do you mind if I sit on it? Crank it?”
“Naw, go right ahead and try.”
I looked at Bob, and this time he didn’t look shell shocked or confused. This time his eyes held the somber understanding of a biker witnessing a reunion of two old friends. His eyes were bright as he gave me a slight nod.
I reached down and felt the gas switch and choke from memory. I twisted the throttle three times, and checked to make sure she was in neutral. My thumb glided over the ignition button, and she purred and rumbled her way to life, as if it were just another morning on the way to Sturgis. My tears dripped from my face as I murmured to her, leaving tiny round spots in the dust coated tank. I finally remembered where I was, and looked over to where Bob and the shop owner were standing. He gave me a huge grin and said, “You’re Amy, ain’t ya?”

“I may never get to heaven, but I didn’t miss it much.”

“It isn’t the destination, it’s the journey….”

If God and the fates see fit to guide this story of my life through the printing presses on laughter silvered rims, Irene and I are going to make that ride to Sturgis one more magnificent time. It may kill me in September, but in August, I plan on wearing the dust and the highway and the tears one more time. I am going to fly past that sign that says Welcome to Sturgis, and Bo’s ponytail will hang down my back in his memory… just as Steve White’s wedding band will be around my right thumb. I know that Steve will be waiting for his cell to ring, for me to tell him I made it safely, and I know that I can make this trip because of two things: my guardian angel will be leading the way on his Road King, and my darling husband will be on his Electra Glide, as always, by my side. As God is my witness, I will once again raise my fist in exuberance as one more time, I make that last wonderful mile.

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3 Responses to “Excerpts from Wicked Bitch, in honor of Sturgis Bike Week 2009”

  1. Wow…just read your blog and I wanna welcome you with open arms…Sturgis is my home now and the thunder is rollin through here hourly. Hope this trip is a great one for you…and you are in my family’s prayers. God is watchin you , sweetie…B safe. You’re gonna make it AMY!!! woooooooohooooooooooo

  2. Amy, you have the gift for living and witing…I like how you say, “It isn’t the destination, it’s the Journey”…Yeah..the freakin’ Journey is all that matters, doll!…So great to meet an outlaw biker, writer, mechanic, artist, hottie, like you…I’ll never forget my first trip to Sturgis..sober by the way…and finding a bunch of hippies and bikers in front of a house..I kinda was embarrased asking them if they knew where an A.A. meeting was…They said, “Right here dude, in ten minutes.”…Yeah, Amy, It is all about the Journey…Surprisingly, that is the name of my memoir…”The Journey”…So cool meeting you. Sincerely, Rich Cronborg…Cronborgart.com

  3. Enjoyed this story, you are an excellent writer. It held my intrest from start to finish. It touched many emotions in my soul. Made a 68 year old man . want to ride again. You, Ride With The Wind. So good to have u as a FB friend, wish that I knew u in person. Wishing you many rides. Gerald Wood

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