I stood on the highway, along Route 66, the serpentine highway famous for fast cars and bikers with my thumb out wondering who in their right mind would pick up a man in tattered rags. I wore torn jeans with tread-bare knees and rolled up cuffs because they were too long for me. The shoes they draped over where scuffed leather slipons. Not my favourite, but beggars cannot be choosers and I had to take what the roadside bandits had given when they ambushed me and stole my Porche 911, all the while agreeing to help me change a flat. The bristling breeze had my salt and pepper hair dishevelled enough to make me look as if I were one of them.
The scruffy beard of three days growth made me look haggard and old. The black and white checkered shirt I wore was more rag then glam… God I missed that Armani suit I thought as another dust devil kicked up, again coating me in a thin layer of sand. By now it had progressed into my mouth and I couldn’t spit, feeling like I had recently smoked a joint. My red-eyes, from the dust, completed the look… Great a California Hippie is what I’ve become. All I needed now was a Volkswagen Bus and I could tour with Peter, Paul and Mary as the opening act.
The sun shone bright, but was low in the sky indicating that soon it would be nightfall. I wondered where the hell I could be as I hadn’t seen a sign since I started walking and it had been, oh, never since passing a town… I had been too into the drive to notice these things. Thinking I may have to camp on the side of the road, I was about to give up when I heard a distant rumble, like a bike would make.
Stopping and straining my ears I found the sound came from in front of me. I stuck out a thumb and felt the tight jean jacket cut off circulation to my shoulder. I thought I had been saved as I spotted what I hoped wasn’t a hallucination flying up the road towards me in a dust ball. As the rider neared, a gearing down occurred causing a whine in the transmission case of the bike. Good, I thought, as I moved over to make room for the bike and rider to pull over on the side of the road.
When the rider got near, I could spy him better. He wore a leather jacket, buttoned tight, with a Nazi Iron Cross on each sleeve. I could not make out his eyes as he wore riding goggles, had on a spiked-topped helmet, worn low on his sweaty brow, and he had covered his mouth with a triangular bandanna. There was a blue background to the bandanna, but it had an intricate white pattern superimposed upon it. The chaps covering his legs seemed form fitting from long hours on the road. They where also black and looked cracked and creased from long use. The bare knees gave fore telling of a wipe out in his past.
The bike he rode was ancient, an old Triumph, and had a sidecar attached to the frame. The power-blue body had white flames emblazoned up the sides of the gas tank and the front forks were chromed, like the handlebars so the bike shone in the sun, giving an appearance of the sun leading his way. There were saddle bags over the back of the frame and I thought he may have food, water,and other supplies for a long trip stored up in there. The biker pulled over and quickly jumped out to see to my needs after killing the engine.
“You been out here long?”
“What are you doing here?”
“I was car jacked changing a flat.”
“Want a ride? Nearest station is ten clicks back the way I came.”
“Sure, I can pay if ya want.”
“It’s okay… Rules of the road you know.”
The old biker lifted his bandanna and spat, revealing a full beard, “It’s something fiercely hot out here today, hop in the sidecar.”
“I promise to go slow… You look like you ate enough dust already for one day.”
“Say, if the price where right, would you sell this bike, sidecar included?”
“Might… been thinking of a new one anyway.”
“I’ll think about it on the way to the station.”
I approached the bike and checked out the sidecar. There was an old scuffed up helmet sitting on the lacquered pinewood bench that I assumed I should put on. The biker climbed back onto the seat and kick started the bike as I settled in for the short drive. I thought I was glad I had brought cash with me even though bribery had done little with the bandits. They must have been out for a joy ride alone and had not taken interest in the thousands of dollars in his wallet.
The still nameless biker spun the bike around in a semicircle and started up the road, gearing up as we gained speed. I thought I’d like to catch up with the duo someday and help them understand who I am… I guess there was always hope they would wreck the car and stick around waiting for me… Yeah… Waiting for eternity to come. I surveyed the scenery and found the guardrail’s appropriate placement blocking the high up drop down to the bottom of the rock filled gorge below.
There was enough wind blowing in my face that I felt the need to cover my eyes when I looked in the direction of travel, even if the sun was to our left as the horizon shone above the trees. I hoped this guy would sell, I was already enjoying the ride of freedom, and could use the bike to find my way back to society, or the bandit duo, whatever happened first. A sign ahead announced gas next left. I was relieved to next see the arrow announcing the station’s turn. Glad to be here, I checked out the parking lot as we pulled in.
Parked there was an old pickup truck, dark green, with rust around the fenders. There was a crack in the windshield that I thought would make a unique thump-thump sound every time the wipers where turned on. An old dog was in the progress of sniffing the tires, and a nearby kid ate an ice cream cone waiting for his grandpa to finish smoking. There was a red corvette at the pumps with a middle aged man filling the car for the next leg of his journey.
The dirt lot was well compressed and showed a lot of traffic. The main building was no more then a shack, but somehow served refreshments including popcorn, hot dogs, burgers, fries and pop. There was a separate building no bigger then a small woodshed that apparently passed as a bathroom. There were two RVs parked for the night and the owners already had a barbecue going cooking pork chops with diced garlic potatoes and onions in foil wrapped packages.
The biker pulled in next to the shack and killed his engine, letting it whine as it sputtered out. I climbed out again wondering what the guy’s conclusion would be and wondering If I could afford it.
“Well… Here we are.”
“Yeah, thanks for the lift.”
“I thought it through, I’d sell for no less then six grand. Both helmets included.”
“Sold…Need a ride?”
“Naw, my buddies will be along any time now, I left early today to get to our next stop first. They all have sidecars too.”
I reached for my wallet… damn… Where did it go? I looked down at the ground hoping to make something happen. I had put it in my back jeans pocket when I had hurriedly changed during the car jacking. I felt the pocket again… Damn… There was a hole I had not noticed big enough for my wallet to fall through. Mild panic set in. Butwhat could I do?
“Ummm… I seem to have lost my wallet along the way.”
“oh, really?You good for six grand?”
“Is there a phone nearby?”
“The cook house will have one.”
“Come over with me… I’ll see if I can getmy bank to wire it directly to your account.”
“Sure… I could use a new set of chaps and new boots.”
I looked down and had not before noticed the worn-to-the-steel cap boots he was wearing. This guy must have had some serious scrapes along the way.
“Lets go.” He said.
Together we walked over to the shack, I with hope and he with anticipation of the looming deal.
When we got within earshot, I asked the clerk, “Do you have a phone I could use?”
“Local calls only.”
“No problem,my bank has a toll-free number.”
He placed the phone on the counter and I picked up the receiver. I turned the finger wheel at position zero for the operator and heard the pulse.
“Operator.”, said a raspy voice that sounded like it belonged to a chain smoker.
“Dial Klondike 5556204 please.”
“One moment, I’ll put your call through.”
There was some static as the connections were made, and then ringing in his ear.
“Hello, First National Bank of LA. How may I direct your call?”
“President’s office please.”
“I’m sorry but Mr. Hodgeworth is busy.”
“It’s Mr Rightful.”
“Oh… I’ll put you right through.”
After a few minutes of my bank connecting with who turned out some Mr. Davidson’s bank the transaction was put through to my friend’s relief.
“Thanks Mr… You know me and two friends have just started a motorcycle company based on a new age clutch design. My friend, Mr. Harley should be here any minute now. He’s driving the prototype to road test it before production. If there is anything I can do for you… Feel free to look me up.”
“It’s more what I can do for you… I’m just that sort of guy.”
“Well there he is now… He also ha a sidecar, so, I’ll hop in with him. Good day.”
An orange Harley-Davidson pulled up, with as much chrome finish as could be put on a bike and that’s the last I seen of Mr. Davidson for awhile to come as they left in a loud rumble and a cloud of dust.
I walked back to my bike surprised to find a plump American Shorthair sniffing my newly acquired bike.
“Hello Mr. Rightful.”
“Oh my! A talking cat.”
“Yeah… I’ve been known to do that. I speak Spanish too.”
“Nice to meet you… What’s your name? I feel under privileged since you seem to know who I am.”
“Annabelle, and it’s my dream to ride with you.”
“Nice to meet you Annabelle. I’m headed to LA… You’re welcome to join me if you want. Hop right in.”
“Okay, let’s hit the road.”
Well, that’s the day I met my new friends Mr. Davidson and Annabelle. Turns out Annabelle became a lifelong companion, who later on went sailing with me and my wife, harvesting freshly killed souls. We sailed the Caribbean and had the time of our lives… At least till I lost a bet.