brni (brni) wrote,

My Favorite Biker

The school bus is an evil concentrator, a crucible, in the Millerian sense. In the morning, facing hours of anticipated boredom and restricted behavior, the kids act out, often in cruel ways. Certain kids truly shine in this environment. The others cluster in like-minded groups for protection, and bump the less popular kids like a ping-ball down the aisle and into danger, like sacrificial penguins in orca-infested waters.

It should come as no surprise that when my father somehow came into possession of an old German moped, I very quickly opted to ride it to and from school. It mattered not that I wasn't old enough to have a license; nobody actually sold mopeds in our area back in 1980, and nobody, including the cops, knew what the laws governing them were. In fact, when I was 15, I was pulled over by a cop who proceeded to give me the third degree for driving without a helmet on a stretch of road that had 2 lanes and a divider.

Anyway, the moped didn't live long, and we got a Honda "motor driven cycle" to replace it. This one had a bit more pep - downhill, and with the wind at my back, I got that thing up to 28mph.

So I'm on my way home from school one day, and I'm waiting for the light at High and Rosedale, by the West Chester State College sign, when the air around me starts to vibrate with a deep, throaty rumble. This long, low Harley pulls up next to me. It's a beautiful chopper, with the front wheel stretched way out front. The guy riding it has old, patched jeans and a leather vest with all kinds of stuff on it. His sleeves are torn out, showing full sleeves of demons and naked women inked into his skin. His beard goes to his waist. So does his hair. He's wearing a little yarmulke of a helmet - a scoffing nod to the law.

He pulls up next to me, close enough to touch, and he slowly revs his engine up until it's deafening, lets it ease back to idle. Only then does he turn his head to look at me.

His voice is whiskey and tobacco, as low and gravelly as his bike. "Wanna race?"

I rev the engine of my Honda. It sounds like a weed-whacker. "I'd love to, but I don't want to embarrass you."

He makes a noise that could have been interpreted as a laugh. Or anger. I hope for the best.

The light changes. He is a pinprick far down the road before my bike gets up enough steam to even start moving. I blame my World Cultures teacher -- all those research books in my backpack weighed me down.
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