Friday, September 3, 2004

It Was A Bad Motersickle, Vroom! Vroom! Vroom!

Joe stood in the morning light, coffee cup in hand, outside his shop, "Smoke 'n' Roar Motorcycle Emporium", idly musing on what the day might bring his way. His idyll was soon, if not shattered, at least mildly discombobulated by a clanking and rattling in the distance. It got louder and louderand seemed to be coming his way. He sensed something familiar about it, but couldn't quite put his finger on it. Then he knew: over the general din and cacophony came the unmistakable potato-potato exhaust note of a large-displacement American-made V-twin motorcycle, a type much beloved by all Americans. His very being trembled: Work!

The bike hove into view, pulled into the lot, and stopped right in front of Joe. Its rider reached under the seat, jerked on something that caused the engine to quit with a loud backfire, and the rear exhaust pipe fell off. Just as the engine's innards ground to a halt Joe thought he heard, in the center of his brain, a plaintive "Thank you".

Joe, an experienced motorcycle man, took a step back and beheld what lay before him. In a flash his mind's eye sent a signal to his brain, befitting his intimate knowledge of day-to-day mechanical problems : HOLY SHIT!

Fighting back an unfamiliar urge to run for his life, Joe calmed a bit as his mind processed information and fed it to him a bit at a time instead of all at once, which had been quite a shock. Before him was a bike of a type he had seen but rarely, a make not manufactured for many years, once held in esteem for its power and beauty.

Not this one. This bike was the filthiest, grimiest, greasiest, grungiest motorcycle Joe had ever seen. It had at least a dozen bungee cords, some with no hooks, that seemed to be vital to the mechanical integrity of the machine. Joe leaned forward and, knowing that as a mechanic he was exempt from the powerful taboo against touching another man's bike, tentatively, gingerly, tugged at one underneath the fuel tank. The carburetor sagged noticeably. Joe straightened and did a visual once-over of the machine. The tires were bald, but only on the right side, as if the rider only turned in small circles in that direction. Oddly, they seemed to be over-inflated. He noticed saddlebags, cheap imports, stuffed full, with cardboard boxes sticking out front and rear.

Enough, he thought to himself, if I get stuck with this thing I'll check it out more thoroughly later. Might as well get to it.

"Hi. My name's Joe. What can I do for you?"

The rider, who had by now removed his goggles, gloves, and WWII- style cloth flying helmet of the type used in the Pacific, replied, with a grin on only the right side of his face. Joe thought he must have fallen off hard at some point.

"Howdy, pardner. My name's Georgie and this is my sled "Liberty". I need you to do some work on 'er. "

Duh, thought Joe, I could'a told you that.

"What I need," Georgie went on, "is for you to take all the stuff in the bags and put it on the bike. All brand new chrome. She's gotta look all shiny and new pretty soon."

"Okay," Joe said. "Fill me in on the bike a little. It might need some other stuff besides chrome. Where'd you get it? How long have you had it? Stuff like that."

"All righty. This used to be my Poppy's ride. He got'er from his buddy and rode 'er for four years. He wanted to keep 'er for four more, but he had to give 'er to another guy. Willy, that's the other guy, he rode 'er for eight years. He wanted to give 'er to his buddy, but I hornswoggled him out of 'er." Georgie's shoulders twitched up and down at this remark. "Whoo-whee! She was in pretty good shape when I got 'er, but, Hell, I been ridin' 'er hard and puttin' 'er away wet, if you catch my drift." He winked at Joe. "Folks done told me I didn't pay enough attention to 'er, that she needed some work, but I just blamed it on Willy and kept on truckin'. Now there's another guy wants 'er an' I don' wanna give 'er up. I waited all my life to get a sled like this, and I'll hang onto 'er at any cost. She's my bitch. She'll do whatever I tell 'er to do and like it. Anyway, these parts cost a ton o' dough and I need 'em put on quick."

Joe took an instant dislike to the fellow, and thought he should have turned him away, but somehow he had taken a liking to this once-proud machine. Maybe he could help it out a little.

"You got it, Georgie. Come back tomorrow. Do you want an estimate?"

"Naw. I don't care what it costs. I got plenty. Cool. See ya manana, then." Georgie got into a limousine that, unnoticed by Joe, had been idling at the curb, and sped off.

End of Part One.

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