I don’t ride. Always wanted to. Got started too late. When I was working with D in Richland, the plan was for us to get bikes. He was all about the Crotch Rocket. Wanted the speed and the sleek. I was all about the Hog. He called me a fossil, said the girls would like his better. He was wrong, of course, but it took two decades for him to find out. I was going to get a purple Honda Shadow. It was gorgeous, short, fat, everything you look for in a dream bike when you are twenty and can’t afford a Harley. I pictured myself with a vest, leather, maybe denim. Boots, the whole deal. I didn’t care about the girls. I figured they would come, but I wanted the bike.
Never pulled the trigger. D got a job elsewhere, and I didn’t trust a steady enough income that I would be able to afford a payment every month. But I was bit.
So many things fell apart. You guys know most of those stories. Believe it or not, after three volumes of my autobiography, I actually did hold a few things back. Had a life that you could not write. Fiction has to be believable. Fact, not so much. I never got the bike, but I decided one day I would get it.
Fast forward so many years it is not worth counting. Bekah, the kids, and I are with Mentor and Marigold at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Go there, they have the Easy Rider, red, white, and blue bike, and a whole lot more. Check it out. Well, at the end they have bikes fixed to the ground, and for giggles, I threw a leg over. What I got was a sensation I could not categorize. The feel of my legs around that bike was like being alive for the first time. We decided a bike was in my future and planned for it.
We shot too high and got a Harley Wide Glide before I was ready for it. Almost killed myself about six times before I sold it to Vigil. But I did get one ride. It was about five minutes long. Medium speed, maybe thirty-five. At the end, I took switchback turn and almost ended up on a curb. One more attempt and I was done. But I will never forget that ride. Helmet. Rumble. Grip of the hands. And a feeling of dangerous badass that I think is impossible to get any other way.
One day I might try again, but I am getting pretty old and getting Bekah to let me sit another bike might be hard. Maybe now, with all we know, it might not be.
One day Bramble got his dream bike. I have no details beyond this. It was a Harley. It was big and heavy, and my mother loved it the moment she saw it. She saw him get on it and she trembled. She climbed on back, and Bramble was happy.
Try to imagine it. Your dream bike is under you. Your soulmate has her delicate arms wrapped around your body, and you are on the ride. It growls below you. The wind is doing that thing wind did on a bike before helmet laws. You are moving through your home town, which you have been riding since you could sit a bike, but it is different now. This is your moment. Your dream moment. I don’t know how long it lasted. I hope it was a long time.
What I know is that they came to a stoplight. Bramble knew how to sit a bike, but Rose had not been on one very often, and I think what must have happened was she curled her head around to kiss his cheek. Weight shifted on this heavy bike and he fought to straighten it. But this is a heavy bike. Bramble is a well-muscled man, but lean. He is short. This bike started to tip.
Bekah would have leapt off, and I would have been able to do something about it. If Rose had, Bramble would have, too. However, that is not how things work for Rose and Bramble. A slight mistake from her turns into a mess for him.
Slowly. The bike evidently tipped very slowly. He fought as hard as he could to hold up his dream and his soulmate, but in the end, it all went over. In the end, that bike was laid gently on the ground.
It was heavy and Rose started laughing. Bramble started cussing as he fought to get it up.
They taught us in the class I took that you put your ass alongside the seat, grab the bike, and lift with your legs. I am sure that, him being a veteran, he did just that. But this bike of his was too heavy, and he couldn’t get it off the ground.
Rose kept laughing. He kept cussing. Cars buzzed by laughing at him, but though all they had to do was pull over and help him get it up, no one did. Rose could not stop laughing and Bramble was stuck.
She took a dime and ran to a payphone. She called a friend. One of Bramble’s pack. She was laughing so hard that they had no idea what was happening. She got her name out and they knew Wrath’s sister was either laughing or screaming on the other end of the phone.
Of course, they came to help. Whoever he had her call showed up and the two of them got his bike up. But it was over. No more riding his dream bike with his dream girl. One misstep from her and the whole thing tipped over. He returned the bike. He returned her.
Bramble did of course buy another bike. It was in his blood. Might be in mine, too. I do miss the wind. I do miss the rumble. But let’s take a minute and see this moment. The story of Rose and Bramble is locked up in this bike of his, this girl of his, and the way everything slowly tipped on its side, leaving him straining and unable to save his dream.