Another Motorcycle for Sportsterman

August 31, 2008

     I recently watched George Miller’s 1979 movie “Mad Max” again. Many of the motorcycles in the movie were furnished by Kawasaki. Most of the bikes were 1977 KZ 1000s, but there were a few KZ 900s, and I noticed one Honda CB 750. What I liked most about the bikes were the fairings. They were made by an Australian company called Replico. Replico still makes them.

The black bike in the photo is a Mad Max replica. It is a 1977 KZ 1000 and similar to the bike character Jim Goose rode in the film. Yes, the fairing would block a great deal of wind, making the bike much more comfortable and practical on long rides, but that’s not the reason I want a Mad Max replica. My primary motivation for building and owning a bike like this is the attention and adoration that I will get from Japanese tourists. Turns out that Mad Max was an even bigger hit in Japan than it was in the US. Does anybody know where I can get a 1977 KZ 1000 in mint condition?

“My new world of unreality had become so real that I felt like a superior creature among these simple freaks.”

August 7, 2008

My Hippie Uncle who Lived in the Cellar – Part 7

August 7, 2008

  All the profits from this place go back into the farm. We’re all like family, ya know? Independent free spirits with an honest connection to the land and our food source, dig? People who worship money are plastic, man, you dig? Slaves, man.” When Dale mentioned money, it got me thinking about my father.
“Yeah, my Dad was a slave to money,” I said.
“Was”?
“Ya, he’s dead. Killed himself six years ago in Atlantic City after he lost a bunch of money playing blackjack. Hardly ever saw him. He spent every night at the Taunton Dog Track,” I said.
“Randy, I’m sorry man. Really, dude. Anytime you need to talk, I’m here for you, dude. We’re all like family,” Dale said. I felt tears welling up in my eyes, and I didn’t want Dale to see me crying. My grip loosened, a chicken escaped from my hands, and I ran toward the stream wanting to be alone. Darcy followed me. I heard her yell, “Randy, wait.”
“Get away from me!” I screamed. Darcy saw my anguished face and stopped dead in her tracks. I sat by the stream alone feeling worthless. In the afternoon, Scooter and I gathered wood for a bonfire. Everyone partied around the fire. Nancy and the girls drank homemade wine and smoked pot with Scooter, while Dale and I drank beer. Dale had a bottle of whiskey. I took a swig. “Tastes great,” I lied, wanting to like it. Dale pulled two small pills from his pocket, swallowed one and offered me the other. “What’s this,?” I asked.
“Acid, man. Want to try it? You don’t have to if you don’t want to, bro. Up to you. No big deal either way,” Dale said.
“What’s it do?” I asked feeling both frightened and excited at the same time.
“Frees and expands your mind, man. You think differently about your place in the universe. It takes you on a journey inside yourself,” said Dale. My head numb from the beer and whiskey, I quickly swallowed the pill. Dale smiled and patted me on the back.
The ground shook, and I heard the roar of motorcycles ripping through the cool summer air as the gang traveled towards us down Sunnybrook Lane. There must have been fifty of them, all on custom choppers. Darcy hurried over to greet them. Leading the wild unshaven horde was a huge guy with dark brown shoulder-length hair. Radiating confidence, he got off his bike, a stripped down hard-tail. Long and chopped, the bike had ape-hanger bars and mirrors shaped like German crosses. A swastika patch had been sewn above the right pocket of his grease-stained denim vest, and he wore a bandana. He must be the leader, I thought. Darcy wrapped her arms around him, kissing him on the mouth. “Eddie, I missed you,” she said. I felt green anger simmering in my stomach and my blood boiled.
Nancy introduced the rest of the gang to us as we partied around the bonfire. They all wore the same large patch on their back that read “Road Vipers,” and they had names like Road Dog, Belching Ben, Hairy Jonney, Mad Dave, Tim Tiny and Ironhead Manny. I struck up a conversation with Mad Dave and Tim Tiny. “You got a motorcycle?” Tim Tiny asked.
“Ya, that 305 Superhawk over by the sheep pen is mine,” I said proudly, trying to make my voice sound deep.
“Jap crap Honda. We burned one just like that at Sturgis last year. Funny as hell, I laughed my fuckin’ head off. Buy a real bike kid,” said Mad Dave as he pointed to his Harley Davidson tattoo.
“Lighten up, Dave. He’s just a kid,” Tim Tiny said as he sparked up a cigarette. Tim Tiny, a bear of a man badly in need of a bath, stood six foot eight. He had a bushy graying beard and a huge beer gut. He towered over Mad Dave who was taller and wider than me. The whiskey and acid mix had stolen reality away from me. Convincing Mad Dave I was a real biker and not just a poser seemed liked a good idea.
“Mad Dave, I may ride a Jap bike now but I’m a Biker, man. Yesterday I was on the wrong side of the road and this fuckin’ Station wagon came at me head on. I never flinched once, man. Ran um right off the road. A whole fuckin’ family, man. It was funny as shit.” I laughed, then continued. “Gave um all the bird and kept ridin’. Was funny as hell, bro.” Mad Dave wasn’t amused, and Road dog became irate when he heard me bragging.
“That’s not cool, kid. People like you give bikers a bad name,” said Road Dog. Road Dog stood six foot four and weighed about two hundred seventy pounds. He had shoulder-length, black hair, a goatee, and sideburns. Patches and pins from biker gatherings and rallies adorned his sleeveless denim vest, and he had arms like a silverback Gorilla.
“Bikers don’t run families off the road. We live by a code of honor,” said Mad Dave.
“You need to grow up, Punk,” said Road Dog. Dale heard the conversation and attempted to rescue me.
Dale whispered so only I could hear, “Randy, You need to shut up, man. Understand? These guys are Bikers. They’ll break all your bones and burn your bike.”
“I’m not afraid of those clowns. Give me another swig of whiskey,” I said.
“You’ve had enough and you’re havin’ a bad trip. I think you need to go inside and sleep it off,” Dale whispered.
“Get off my case, Dale,” I said.
“Randy, you’re on your own. Nice knowing ya,” Dale said, then walked away. I stood by the fire brooding with anger, and seeing Darcy hanging all over Eddie wasn’t helping the situation. Plummeting deep into a hellish chemical vortex, the acid had me in it’s clutches and I slipped into a strange new world. The people around me began to change shape. Some of them became tall and thin like sticks, and others looked short and fat. The short fat ones grew horns on their heads and the stick people grew chicken feathers and sprouted wings. My new world of unreality had become so real that I felt like a superior creature among these simple freaks.
Road Dog appeared to be skinny and short, and he had a white rooster head. His neck looked very thin. I could just ring it, I thought. He called me a punk. Nobody calls me a punk. I’m highest on the food chain among these chicken people, I thought. Before I knew it, I had charged toward Road Dog and thrown a punch at his white chicken head. Unreality vanished in an instant and I realized I hadn’t actually hit a chicken head but Road Dog’s chest. Experiencing more reality, I felt Road Dog’s huge gorilla ham fist slam into my jaw. Landing on the ground next to the fire, I saw stars, then felt Road Dog’s black boot slamming into my stomach. “Stop Kicking him,” Nancy yelled. Some of the other bikers started laughing. I picked up a bottle from the ground and started to stand.
“Stay down, kid,” said Road Dog.
“Kids got heart, I give um that,” said Mad Dave.
Holding the bottle above my head, I screamed, then charged at Road Dog, but stopped cold when a flash of metal caught my eye. Road Dog had brandished a switch blade. With deadpan eyes he stood ready. Dale’s words about shutting up echoed inside my head. I still had the bottle in my hand and felt both surprise and relief when something unexpected happened. Eddie saved my life.
“Randy, drop the bottle,” Eddie said. I dropped the bottle. “Road Dog, put the knife away,” Eddie said. Road Dog continued to glare at me. “Road Dog, I said put the fuckin’ knife away!” Eddie yelled. Without taking his cold dark eyes off me, Road Dog slowly folded the knife and put it under his coat.
“We’ll meet again, kid,” Road Dog said.
“Randy, I’m only gonna’ say this once. Get the hell out of here. I don’t ever want to see you around this farm or Darcy again. Now geet!” Eddie said. Without saying a word I staggered toward the house, then tripped on my own feet and fell in the dirt near the steps.
“He’s in no condition. Somebody has to drive him home,” Nancy said in an slurred motherly tone as she rushed over to me.
“I’ll drive him home. I’m not that drunk,” Scooter said.
Scooter helped me to my feet and I saw two people moving toward me. One of them was using crutches. “It’s Buck and Cindy,” Scooter said. With Cindy at his side, Buck hobbled closer. My face and clothes were covered with dirt, and I struggled to stay on my feet.
“Randy, what the hell happened?” Buck asked.
“He drank too much whiskey and pissed off a few bikers. I was just gonna’ give ‘um a ride home before he gets himself hurt,” Scooter said.
“Thanks, but he’s my nephew, I’ll handle it,” Buck said. Nancy came out of the house and handed me my helmet and backpack. Teary-eyed, she hugged me, then returned to the party without saying a word. “Randy, you gotta’ smarten up. I know you’re dealin’ with a lot shit because of your father, but these are the cards life dealt you. You got to let it go. Getting wasted and feeling sorry for yourself is a road to nowhere.” Buck said.
“Darcy dumped me,” I yelled.
“And you’ll probably get dumped again,” he yelled back. “It’s part of life. You’ll meet another girl and forget all about Darcy. That’s the way it works, trust me.”
“No, I want her. Don’t you understand? She’s the only girl for me. We were meant to be together. If I can’t have her, I got nothin’,” I said then started punching the side of Nancy’s house. Buck hobbled closer, then gripped my arm.
“Randy, stop it, just stop,” Buck yelled, then continued, “I’ve really tried to be good to you because I know you’re still hurt and confused, and because you never really got to know your Dad. Things weren’t supposed to happen the way they did, but they did.”
“I’ve got nothin’,” I said.
“You’ve got nothing,’ hu? That’s bull-crap. What about that motorcycle over there?” Buck said.
“That piece a Jap crap,” I said. I pulled away from Buck, picked up a rock and threw it at the Honda. The rock missed the Honda but shattered the headlight of Eddie’s custom chopper. With a concerned expression Buck glanced down toward the fire and I did the same. Music blasted from a stereo as the Road Vipers danced to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” by Iron Butterfly.
“They didn’t hear it. Randy, you and Cindy get in the car now,” Buck said. Buck put my helmet on his head and hobbled toward the Honda.
“Buck, what in God’s name are you doin’?” Cindy asked as she ran toward him.
“Can’t leave it here, they’ll burn it,” Buck said. Buck dropped his crutches on the ground, and with pain flooding his face lifted his right leg over the seat and sat on the Honda.
“Buck, this is crazy. Get off that thing and ride in the car with us,” Cindy said.
“I’ll be fine. You and Randy just get in the car. I’ll follow you. Just drive slow. Hurry!” Buck said. Cindy jammed Buck’s crutches between the seats and we jumped in the Karmann Ghia. Cindy drove slowly and Buck followed us home. When we arrived at the house, I helped Buck off the Honda. Seeing pain flood into Buck’s face, I felt ashamed knowing I caused it.
At noon I awoke to a thunderous roar. Eddie and the Road Vipers pulled into the driveway. My head pounding and my whole body sore, I forced myself out of bed when I heard Buck yelling. “Randy, get down here with fifteen bucks now.” Stuffing cash into my jeans, I rushed outside. Eddie and his gang of Road Vipers had their bikes parked in front of the garage. The unwashed horde of outlaws glared at me as I approached. The energy of hatred hung is the air and bubbled in my stomach when I saw Eddie. Buck must have said something to calm them down, I thought. The garage wasn’t on fire and Buck was still in one piece. “Randy, pay Eddie for the broken light,” Buck said sternly.
“Fifteen Bucks,” Eddie said, holding his hand out. I paid him. It was half my life savings.
“Eddie, I know Randy wants to apologize,” Buck said loudly.
“Oh . . . ya’, sorry,” I mumbled. Eddie rolled his bike into the garage, Buck installed the new headlight, and the gang rocketed away down Pine Street. That was thirty eight years ago.
I sit in my office behind a shiny oak door with a sign that reads, “Randal Andrews, Chief Investment Strategist, Wellington Investments.” Buck’s speech that night at the farm about going down the wrong road became rooted inside my mind. Once the booze, acid, and obsession with Darcy left my system, I exited the self-destructive path. I buckled down in school, graduated near the head of my class, and received a college scholarship. I finally forgave my father, and decided to move on with my life.
I heard through the grapevine that Nancy sold the farm, became a massage therapist, and moved to California. Eddie and Darcy got married, moved to Tennessee, and now live in a trailer park. Dale and Scooter started a natural ice cream business in Maine, and still grow their own pot. Buck and Cindy got back together for a few months, broke-up again, but remain friends to this day. Buck became an editor and columnist for “Barnett’s Magazine,” a custom motorcycle publication.
I never saw Darcy, the Road Vipers, or anyone from the farm again, but the images and sounds from that magical summer are permanently seared into the hard drive of my subconscious. Today, I have enough cash to buy a garage full of custom motorcycles but no time to ride one. The magic of youth and the thrilling image and feel of the 305 Superhawk can never be recreated, and for that reason I will probably never own another motorcycle. Dale would probably say I became one of the plastic people owned by “the man,” and he might be right. I’ve had relationships with plenty of beautiful women but I’ve never been able to recapture the same feeling of love I felt in those few special moments with Darcy under the apple tree.
Do any of us really choose the road we’re on? Is fate predetermined or do certain people and magical unexpected slices of time shape our future? I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is that life changed after my hippie uncle lived in the cellar.

The End

“Glazed with a sheen of oil that rose up from the road, puddles from last night’s rain glistened like tiny rainbow colored pools in the magical splendor of the early morning sun.”

August 2, 2008

My Hippie Uncle who Lived in the Cellar – Part 6

August 2, 2008

because of his age we can’t move him until he’s stable. Good job calling the ambulance. You saved your godfather’s life.”
“Oh, . . . thanks,” I said. The doctor got into his car and drove away. We all sat at the picnic table stuffing ourselves with hamburgers and hot dogs. Buck, Eddie, Bob and Cindy drank beer, and there was no more talk of Larry. My mind was still replaying the events of the day. When the doctor told me I saved Larry’s life by calling the ambulance, it made me feel proud. Still, a few haunting questions lingered in my thoughts. Would Larry have had a heart attack anyway if the music hadn’t been so loud? And did the shocking image of Darcy’s bare chest a few days earlier play any part in the way the day’s events unfolded?
Bob and Eddie split, and after shaking their hands, I sat at the picnic table with Buck and Cindy. At the far end of the table the percolator bubbled. Comforting fresh coffee aroma drifted toward me. Buck and Cindy smoked cigarettes and flirted while I watched the java perk. A few minutes later, it was ready. Buck and I drank ours black. Cindy put cream and sugar in hers. “Randy, you seem kind of bummed,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s just . . . everything today. I don’t know what I‘m tryin’ to say exactly. It’s nothing’,” I finally blurted.
Buck took a drag from his cigarette, squinted, and toyed with his long mustache. He seemed to be in deep thought and didn’t say anything for several seconds. “I’ve been feelin’ kind of weird about what happened today. Poor old people. Maybe I shouldn’t have played the music so loud,” Buck said. “You need a break from this place. Get away for a few days. I can finish the Norton. You’re only sixteen once.”
“I talked to Darcy’s sister, Nancy. She said you’re welcome to visit the farm anytime and stay as long as you want,” Cindy said. “Darcy asked about you again, and wanted to know if tomorrow night was OK.” As Cindy spoke, my dark mood vanished, and I felt my spirits soar. A tried to conceal my elation, but Cindy had me all figured out and I think she enjoyed pulling my strings.
“Yea, sure that sounds groovy,” I said. “I just…”
“Just what?” Cindy asked.
“Just have to run it by Mom first,” I said, feeling a little embarrassed for mentioning it.
“Don’t sweat it,” Buck said. “Brought the idea up to her a couple of days ago. She likes the fact that it’s a farm. I’ll talk to her again tonight, though. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
“So should I tell Darcy you’ll definitely be at the house for dinner tomorrow at sixish’?” Cindy asked.
“He’ll be there,” Buck said.
After Cindy split, Buck and I cleaned up the front yard. I remember it had started to rain and I hurried Buck’s stereo and record collection into the house. Butterflies churned inside my core. I felt the elation of nervous youthful energy as I pictured Darcy greeting me at the farm.
The next morning Buck woke me up and we rolled my Honda out of the garage. Glazed with a sheen of oil that rose up from the road, puddles from last night’s rain glistened like tiny rainbow colored pools in the magical splendor of the early morning sun.
Buck gave me one of his old half-helmets and a set of goggles. Worn leather ear flaps and scratched black paint gave the helmet character. It fit comfortably well.
Pushing the Honda to the end of the driveway, I waited as Buck hobbled in crutches toward me. He stood next to the bike, shifted most of his weight to his left foot, then lit a cigarette. Giving me a brief stern speech about safety, he said, “Fire it up, put it in gear, give it some gas and let out the clutch slowly.” The bike started on the first kick, and my heart beat faster as I revved the engine.
I hadn’t told Buck about my previous embarrassing incident in the registry parking lot, but I was determined not to repeat a similar blunder, so I let the clutch out nice and slow, a little too slow, in fact, because the engine continued to rev; then Buck yelled, “Let the damn clutch out!” The cigarette wobbled in his mouth. I let it out and the front wheel shot up off the driveway. The bike rocketed into the road much faster than I wanted it to and headed straight for a parked car. I eased up on the throttle. The front tire came down hard and after a quick change of direction, I traveled down the road in first gear. The engine howled.
The next few stops and starts went more smoothly, and after about an hour of riding, the old Honda started to feel like an extention of my body. Buck seemed pleased with my progress. I rolled the bike back into the garage and covered it with the tarp. “You’re ready to ride on your own, but take it slow. Don’t ride beyond your capabilities. Dig?”
“Dig,” I said just to put Buck at ease. Deep down I knew I wouldn’t be able to ride slow for very long. I wanted to feel the bike’s power, it’s acceleration. I wanted to feel the summer air hitting my face at one hundred miles per hour.
That afternoon, I got dressed, putting on worn ripped bell bottom jeans Buck bought for me at the second hand clothing store, and a tie-dyed tee shirt Cindy made for me. My new dark-blue denim jacket looked kind of weird in contrast with the faded jeans, but Mom had sewn a peace sign patch on the right sleeve and an STP oil logo on the left. Standing in front of the mirror in my mother’s bedroom, I tried to imagine the jacket faded and worn like my jeans and how cool it would look. Can’t wait, I thought.
Buck gave me both written and verbal directions to the farm, then tied my backpack to the Honda’s seat. He handed me four condoms. “I assume you know what these are for?” The sight of the shiny condom wrappers shocked me a little, and I tried to mask my embarrasment with some really bad humor.
“You fill um up with sour milk on April Fool’s Day and leave ‘um on the neighbors front steps,” I said, then laughed. Buck smiled.
“Yeah, well as long as you know what they’re for.”
My departure turned out to be not a minute too soon. Still on Pine Street, I spotted my mother’s 1968 light-blue Oldsmobile Delta 88 traveling toward me. Mom must have left work a little early, I thought. My heart felt like it was in my throat. I hated having to lie to her about the motorcycle, but Buck was right. She could never find out about the bike, and wouldn’t understand. After Dad’s death, Mom became overprotective of me and was a chronic worrier. She loved me very much, more than some mothers loved their children, I thought. At the time I knew keeping the secret was important, but my reasoning was sort of muddled. Looking back, not telling her about the motorcycle was more than just the right thing to do; it was an expression of my love for her.
Dad’s gambling, cheating and sudden shameful death had caused her great pain, and so harshly, so brutally stole her noble dreams of the near-perfect family. She had endured so much pain in the previous few years. Life had been unfair to her and the loss really took its toll, sapping her happiness. Good people often have bad painful lives, I thought. As I became more familiar with this disturbing concept, it both puzzled and angered me.
Wearing the helmet and goggles was probably enough to mask my identity and Mom definitely wasn’t expecting to see her son on a motorcycle, but mothers can be almost psychic when it comes to their children, with finely tuned eyes in the backs of their heads and almost superhuman intuition. They must have a sixth sense or something, I thought. As her car approached, I tilted my head toward the speedometer. Using my peripheral vision, I caught a quick glimpse of her bleached white nurse’s uniform. White contrasted with her dark brown hair pulled back and up into a bun. She may have turned her head and looked at me, but the image was so brief I can’t say for sure.
As I traveled down a side road, the Honda’s engine sounded wild and sweet. Shifting into fourth gear, I twisted the throttle and the bike rocketed ahead reaching sixty plus miles per hour. Zooming at three times the speed limit, my carefree euphoric state changed suddenly to one of fear. Like a menacing coiled snake waiting for a mouse, the first major twist in the road revealed itself to me. Panicked, I engaged the Honda’s drum brakes, then leaned into the sharp corner. Images of racing motorcycles from Buck’s magazines flashed inside my head and I shifted my weight trying to lean the bike closer to the road the way racers did, but the corner was too sharp.
Crossing the road’s centerline I saw the grill of a Ford Country Squire station wagon approaching rapidly. Oddly, time seemed to slow and I could see a family inside. The wagon had luggage and bicycles strapped to the roof. The driver blasted the horn but the Honda’s footpeg had already come in contact with the road, making it impossible for me to return to my side. Sparks flew up as asphalt continued to grind into the metal foot-peg.
Only ten feet from the wagon now, I could see a woman sitting in the passenger seat. She had a wide eyed panicked expression on her face. The man driving looked angry and continued to blast the horn, then swirved toward the ditch, missing me by inches. Dirt from the side of the road flew up around the wagon as it shuddered to a halt.
After stopping, I spun the bike around, rode toward the station wagon and parked behind it. Approaching the wagon, I saw the woman checking on her kids in the back seat. My palms started to sweat and a lump was forming in my throat. Buck’s safety speech suddenly had more meaning and his words about riding slow echoed inside my head. At that moment the driver sprang out of the vehicle and started toward me. Outweighing me by at least fifty pounds, he barreled closer, his face contorted with anger. “What the hell is wrong with you? You got brains up your ass! You almost killed us!! I’ve got kids in the car, Sonny!”
“I’m really sorry, Mister. I didn’t . . . ”
“You should be! Sonny boy, you took that corner way too fast. You’re lucky I don’t kick your butt! My daughter’s crying, and my wife is a nervous wreck.”
Seeing the man’s wife cradling the crying, frightened young girl made me feel more abashed than I ever had before. She couldn’t have been more than two, I thought. Wishing I could turn back time, and wishing I could start the day over, I lowered my head in shame. Buck’s safety speech echoed repeatedly inside my head, becoming louder and more meaningful with each repetition. Thoughts of cops revoking my permit, then talking to my mother about my reckless riding rapidly flashed inside my head. Maybe if I kept my mouth shut he wouldn’t call the cops, I thought. I imagined my mother finding out about the motorcycle and pictured her face as she looked at me with puzzled disappointment, knowing I lied to her. The little girl’s crying seemed to be getting louder as if her fear response was on some sort of time delay. She was so young, this was probably the most terrifying thing she had ever experienced, I thought. Suddenly I didn’t feel cool and grown up like Bob Dugan or Eddie Swartz. My stomach churned as if I’d just eaten three plates of tainted shellfish loaded with tarter sauce gone bad. “You’re going to apologize to my wife and kids right now. Understand?” he said.
“Yes sir,” I said. His stern words gave me hope. Maybe he was willing to let this go. It wouldn’t make sense for him to call the cops on me after I apologized to his family. Maybe I could actually get out of this with just a bruised ego, I thought. Then I remembered the Honda’s damaged footpeg. Buck would surely notice it. I walked around the car and stood near the passenger side door. The man’s wife glared at me scornfully, and the young girl stopped crying but clung tightly to her mother. “I’m very sorry about what happened. Is everyone OK?” I asked.
“Yes, thank God, but you be more careful and slow down! You keep riding like that, and you’ll wind up dead or in jail,” she said.
“Yes, Ma’m, I will, I promise you, and again very sorry for what happened. I just got my learner’s permit and this is my first day on the motorcycle,” I said. I could tell by the man’s firm look that he wanted me to apologize to his children as well. Bending down, I leaned on the car and looked at the little girl. She was wearing blue denim overalls and her light brown hair had been twisted tightly into pigtails. Her freckled, bright red cheeks stained with dried tears, she looked at me curiously. “Hi, I’m Randy what’s your name?” I asked. The little girl’s curiosity quickly turned to shyness and she buried her pudgy face into her mother’s chest.
“This is Anna, and that’s Jason in the back seat,” said the woman.
“Hi, I’m Jason,” said the boy. Jason didn’t seem to be upset at all and smiled as he spoke.
“Hi, Jason, I just want to say I’m very sorry for the way I was riding,” I said. Anna was looking at me again. “Anna, I’m very sorry,” I said. Anna didn’t say anything but continued to stare wide eyed at me.
“I like your motorcycle,” Jason said.
“Thanks,” I said.
I started walking around the car, looking for any damage. “Anything damaged?” I asked. The man didn’t answer. He inspected his entire car, paying special attention to the lower part of the door panels. Then he looked underneath and checked the exhaust.
“No, everything looks OK,” he said. How about your motorcycle, any damage?”
“Footpegs’ a little scraped up, but I’m sure my Uncle can fix it,” I said.
“Oh, so I assume you’d prefer it if we didn’t get our insurance companies involved?” he asked.
“Yes sir, I’d really appreciate it if we didn’t. Like I said, this is my first day ridin’ and I don’t want to lose my permit,” I said.
“I’m sure you don’t,” he said.
“So, you’re not gonna call the cops?” I asked.
“No, but let this be a lesson to ya’,” he said. “Next time you might not be so lucky.” I extended my hand as a sign of peace. The man looked at me sternly. A few seconds elapsed, but he finally shook my hand. “Jerry Hastings,” he said.
“Randy Andrews.”
“Randy, I’m headed for the Cape. Be safe, young man, and get a haircut, will ya? You look like one of those damn hippies. As the wagon moved out of the ditch and onto the road, Jason waved to me from the back seat. I waved back.
Riding toward the farm, I stayed under the speed limit still feeling strange about the near accident. I crossed the town line into Middleboro, Massachusetts, then turned left onto Sunnybrook Lane. I knew the farm wasn’t far. In meadows, I saw cows on both sides of the road grazing peacefully in the warmth of the sun. Thickly laced with the smell of manure, the hot summer air rushed into my face. The organic aroma seemed strong at first but not altogether unpleasant. I got used to it quickly. Rounding a sharp corner, I saw crows scatter and swerved to avoid a dead rabbit carcass in the road. It reminded me of my own mortality and my near accident. I started thinking about my father again and how he had used death as a selfish cop-out.
Several dogs spotted me and came charging out into the road. The dog in the lead, a snarling black and tan German Shepard, made a valiant effort to catch me. He followed me long after the other dogs, a Golden Retriever and two mutts, had given up the chase. I kept the motorcycle going just fast enough to stay ahead of him. Good thing I wasn’t on a bicycle, I thought.
Ahead, I saw a woman standing in front of a white farm house. She waived enthusiastically and smiled warmly. Must be Nancy, I thought. Pulling into the dirt driveway, I shut off the engine. “You must be Buck’s nephew, Randy. Welcome. We’ve all been looking forward to meeting you,” Nancy said, then threw her arms around me, and kissed me on the cheek. She had long chestnut brown hair and she wore a red bandana headband that had several different kinds of wild flowers in it. The cotton fabric of her long white sundress looked thin and I could see she wasn’t wearing a bra. “Where’s Darcy?” I asked.
“Out riding her horse in the pasture. She’s really looking forward to seeing you again. She should be back in a few minutes. Come’ on, I’ll introduce you to the others.”
“Cool,” I said.
“Park your motorcycle near the sheep pen. Nobody ‘ull bother it,” Nancy said. Riding the Honda closer to the sheep pen, I stopped on a bare patch of dirt. Buck had given me a small plywood square. Pulling it from my backpack, I got off the bike and slipped it under the kickstand. Several sheep peered curiously at me from inside their pen as if they somehow sensed my naiveté to all things rural, their white coats stained with dirt from the floor of the pen, especially the belly fur of lambs as they lay safe at their mother’s feet. While two young rams sparred playfully in the warmth of the summer sun, images of my near accident replayed inside my mind.
“Randy, come’ on. Everyone’s waiting,” she said. Nancy’s words pulled me away from the sheep and my disturbing thoughts. Smiling warmly, she stood at the side door of the house and motioned me toward her. Nancy wasn’t as shockingly beautiful as her sister Darcy, but her long sun-bronzed face and lightly freakled nose gave her a pretty earthy quality. When she smiled her whole face lit up, just like Darcy’s. Cindy didn’t mention Nancy’s age, but I knew she was a few years older than Darcy, and guessed her to be around twenty-nine.
Walking into the kitchen through the open door, I saw five people sitting at the kitchen table, three dudes and two girls. The doorway didn’t have a screen door, and the room smelled like marijuana and soiled cat litter. Flies feasted on small food scraps atop unwashed plates, and cats lounged like royalty on the kitchen counters, some licking themselves, others sleeping. A large green glass ashtray sat in the middle of the table full of beer tabs, orange peels, cigarette butts and roaches. Several small marijuana plants sat on a table near the window. One of the guys flashed me the peace sign and said. “Hey, you must be Randy. How’s it goin,’ man? I’m Dale.” I flashed back the peace sign and shook his hand.
“Goin’ good, man,” I said, not able to think of anything more creative. The atmosphere being such a contrast from my own house, I felt both nervous and incredibly welcome at the same time. Dale’s thick full beard had grown high on his cheeks. He wore dark sunglasses with fat black plastic frames. His long brown hair had been pulled back into a ponytail. Lighting a cigarette, he sat up in his chair, then introduced me to the others.
“This is Scooter on my right, Henry on my left, and those two glassy-eyed chicks are Cindy and Stacy.”
“Fuck you, Dale. You’re fuckin’ hiii’, dude. You ate more brownies than all of us put together,” Cindy said.
“Yeah Dale, take off those dark shades. Let’s see your eyes,” Stacy said. Dale laughed heartily.
Henry and Scooter both had goatees. Henry had long hair like Dale, but Scooter sported shorter hair. His goatee being somewhat scraggly and patchy, I figured him to be about nineteen. Scooter had on blue denim farmer’s overalls and wasn’t wearing a shirt. Cindy, a heavy set girl with a round heavily freckled face and curly red hair matching the colors of her tie-dyed tee shirt, started giggling for no apparent reason. She looked at Dale who kept a straight face, causing Cindy to laugh even harder. Stacy had short black hair, green eyes, and pale white skin. She wore several turquoise bracelets on each arm and a necklace of love beads hung around the neckline of her cotton sundress. She lifted a plate from the table with a single brownie on it and moved it toward me. “Hash brownie?” Stacy asked.
“Stacy, those are strong. Cut it in half,” Nancy said.
“I’ll eat the other half,” said Dale.
“Bogart,” Cindy said, then started laughing again. Everyone stared at me as I bit into the half-brownie.
“Tastes good,” I lied, then smiled.
“Makes doin’ farm chores a whole lot more interesting,” said Scooter.
“How would you know?” Cindy asked, then laughed.
“Speaking of farm chores, I don’t know if Cindy told you, but everyone is expected to pitch in while they’re staying here,” Nancy said.
“Yeah, I know. That’s cool. I want to help,” I said.
“Ok then, tomorrow we’re killing and plucking chickens. It’s not a pleasant thing and none of us enjoy it, but it has to be done. You won’t actually swing the ax. Dale can do that, but he needs someone to hold the chickens while they’re on the chopping block and everybody helps with plucking. You OK with that, Randy?” Nancy asked.
“Yeah, sure, whatever. Like I said, Cindy already told me about the chores and I’m cool with it,” I said.
“Groovy,” Nancy said.
“Gives you a deeper appreciation for the food, too,” said Henry.
“Speaking of Cindy. Where’s she been?” Stacy asked.
“Hangin’ out with Buck,” I said.
“They back together again?” Nancy asked, then looked at me.
“Well, ya, sort of. I’m not sure really. Nancy, you know how Buck is. You can never get a straight answer out of him about anything,” I said. Glancing around the messy kitchen, I saw beyond the dirty plates, flies and clutter. These people lived differently than anybody I’d ever met. They made me feel welcome, treated me like family and I really felt at ease.
“Come with me,” Nancy said, “I’ll show you to your bunk.” Nancy and I walked through the kitchen, then into a medium sized bedroom with four bunk beds. At the far end of the room a thin clothesline spanned the length of the space with several pair of socks, underwear, a couple of white tee shirts, and two blue cotton work shirts. At the end of one of the bunks sat an open canvas backpack overflowing with clothes. Several bottles of shampoo, a plastic soap dish, an army mess kit, some Zig Zag rolling papers and two cans of Bull Durum tobacco, sat on top of a small dresser.
“Officially, this place is a youth hostel, but I don’t charge friends, just ask um’ to help out with chores. You and Scooter will be rooming together. He’s the only other person staying in this room right now,” she said. At that moment I heard hoofs hitting the ground and felt a slight vibration coming through the floorboards. Nancy and I looked out the window to see Darcy riding her horse toward the house at full gallop. She rode the horse bareback and wore nothing but white cotton panties and a tee shirt. Transfixed and drunk with fascination, I watched as living, breathing art rushed toward me. A sudden strange energy surged through me, and butterflies darted inside my stomach. It seemed both fantastic and a little unsettling at the same time. I stood in the large curtain less window, mesmerized, watching her artfully shaped breasts bounce under her pale blue tee shirt with the motion of the horse. Her smooth suntanned golden skin was darker in tone and even more spectacular than I had remembered. She rode gracefully as if she and the horse became one creature. Like a free spirited angel who belonged to no one, she glowed and looked at me as the horse came to a stop.
Nancy and I walked back through the kitchen, then out the side door. Darcy stayed on her horse. The animal, a rippling mass of nervous sinew and energy, sensed my unease. He eyed me cautiously, rocked left to right, then let out a series of short whinnies and thunderous grumbles as I approached. “Easy Randy, nice and slow,” Nancy said. I slowed but continued moving toward the horse.
“Let him smell your hand first before you pet him,” Darcy said. His balmy moist breath warmed my hand. Nancy handed me a carrot, and I fed it to him, then stroked his long nose and reddish-brown fur until he settled down. I looked up at Darcy and she smiled. “Hey Randy,” she said.
“Hey. What’s his name?” I asked.
“Dylan. You know, like Bob Dylan?” Darcy said. I continued petting Dylan.
“He likes you. Ever been on a horse, Randy?” Nancy asked.
“Ya, sure, plenty a times,” I lied. It was only twice.
“Come’ on, get on, I’ll take you for a ride,” Darcy said.
Nancy placed a rusty metal folding chair next to Dylan and helped me climb on his back. Darcy’s golden hair brushed across my face. She smelled like a summer night after a rain. She clasped my right hand, then moved it onto her stomach. “Hold on Randy, it’s a long fall. I felt blood rush into my face as I moved my left hand across her smooth stomach and inched closer to her. “If you feel like you’re gonna fall, just squeeze your legs together a little,” Darcy said. The horse started to walk, and I saw Dale and Scooter coming out the side door of the house. “Oh, she’s in her underwear, she must really dig you, man,” Scooter said. I smiled.
Like a surreal dream too good to be true, my head floated from the brownie as the warm summer sun beat down upon us. One of life’s pristine moments never planned, eliciting desire, a shining twinkling speck of time, euphoric and blissful, three creatures casting thoughts, a small blinking triumph of rhythmic bliss, we traveled beyond the bubbling stream. Then Darcy stopped Dylan under the shade of an apple tree. We dismounted then placed our backs against the tree and sat close holding hands. The house in view, we hadn’t traveled far, maybe only a quarter-mile, but we had privacy.
I leaned toward her, pressed my lips upon the softness of her lips as my hand caressed her stomach. Then I moved it up under her shirt toward her breasts. We stayed locked in each other’s gaze, and kissed for several minutes before she spoke. “Randy, I’ve got something to tell you. I don’t know how to say this exactly, but well here goes. Maybe I should have told you this before. I’m kinda’ seeing somebody. We probably shouldn’t be doing this. I mean, I don’t want to hurt you. I didn’t really mean for this to happen.”
“No, we’re meant to be with each other. There’s something special between us. Something that only comes along once in a lifetime. Darcy, I’ve been wanting to tell you . . . I think I love you.”
“That’s sweet, but I think it would be better if we stayed just friends.” She smiled with light concern.
I buried my face in my hands. Darcy’s words hit hard and felt like a jagged hot knife plunging into me.
The next day Scooter woke me up at 6:00 am. The smell of cooking pork sausage permeated the house. After breakfast, I followed Dale and Scooter out to the barn. Dale picked up an ax, and Scooter and I carried several cages filled with chickens from the barn. Nancy, Darcy, Cindy and Stacy had set up chairs in a circle around a large metal vat of hot water. A somber mood hung in the air like a ghost, and no one spoke.
Scooter opened a cage and grabbed the first chicken, a white rooster. Holding it tightly, he turned it sideways and placed its head on a blood stained tree truck. Dale drove the ax down, lopping the bird’s head off. The chicken’s body convulsed and blood sprayed from its neck. “You gotta’ hold um’ tight, Randy, or they’ll run all over the place,” said Scooter.
Scooter left to feed the other animals, and I took over his job. The first chicken got away from me and ran headless toward the girls, freaking them out, but I soon got the hang of it. Nancy placed the plucked chickens on a canvas tarp spread over a picnic table. Dale and I got into a rhythm, and we had killed two dozen chickens before we finally spoke. “Dale, what do you like most about living here?” I asked.
“The freedom, man. We’re not slaves, dude, to the man, money or society, ya know?

“There next to Buck’s Norton was a Honda, a 1964 305 Superhawk CB 72”

July 30, 2008

My Hippie Uncle who Lived in the Cellar – Part 5

July 30, 2008

“Cool, I can dig it.” Bob handed me the ice cold can of Knickerbocker beer. I had once previously tried beer with kids my age but it had been warm beer. Standing there in the hot sun with Buck and his friends on my half birthday was different somehow. After ripping the metal tab from the can, I dropped it into the opening just like Bob did with his, then took a long swig and felt the cold beer run down my throat. “Light my Fire,” another Doors song, blasted from the stereo. Eddie turned it up louder. Cindy started dancing.
All the festivities and noise must have been bugging old neighbor Larry, because he came charging out of his house like a raging bull yelling and screaming. With binoculars around his neck, he stormed toward us. Doris followed him. “You fuckin’ hippies better turn down that crazy music right now . . . I’ll call the cops,” Larry hollered. He must have been so out of his gourd angry that he forgot to take the binoculars off before he left the house. When Larry finally made it to our lawn, he was winded. We were all caught off guard by Larry’s aggressive behavior, and there was a moment of jaw-dropping silence as he caught his breath.
Larry was tall and lanky. He was seventy-eight, but appeared to be slightly older, and was developing a hunch on his back. The skin on his face looked like worn wrinkled leather from a lifetime of work as a roofer. Doris had blue eyes and a wrinkled face. Her short, grey hair was laced with blue and white tints. Larry yelled, “Randy, you’re not old enough to be drinkin’. You’re mother’s gonna’ hear about this.” Eddie turned off the music, but Larry continued screaming at the top of his lungs. “This was a quiet neighborhood before you damn hippies showed up…And another thing, I‘ve already called the FBI on you acid freaks…Told them about all the devil-worship goin’ on over here.”
“Dude, mellow out,” Bob said.
“Larry, enough, it’s time to go back to the house,” Doris said. Larry’s enraged state caused his face to turn bright red, and I could see veins bulging on the sides of his head.
“Doris. Don’t you understand that these are draft-dodging communist pot heads?” Larry said.
“Larry, stop, please. Let’s go back to the house,” said Doris.
“An another thing . . . ” At that moment Larry grew pale.
“Larry! What’s wrong? Oh god, no! Larry!” Doris said as she grabbed Larry’s arm.
Larry fell to the ground, clutching his chest. As he fell, Doris tried to catch him. She was on the ground cradling his head and screaming hysterically. Cindy and Eddie rushed over and kelt down next to Larry. Buck hobbled over as quickly as he could and stood at Larry’s feet.
Cindy put her ear next to Larry’s mouth. “He’s not breathing!” she said. Doris continued to scream. Buck turned to me and said, “Randy, call for an ambulance and doctor RIGHT NOW! RUN!!”
I bolted into the house and dialed zero.
“Operator,” a distant voice said.
“Larry he’s, he’s, not breathing, he’s old. He’s got a bad heart. We need an ambulance and doctor right away! Hurry!.”
“Address?”
“Thirteen Pine street.”
“The ambulance and doctor will arrive shortly,” said the operator. “What’s Larry’s last name and who am I speaking with?”
“Randy, Randy Andrews. Larry’s my neighbor. His last name is Livermore. Thirteen Pine street. Hurry!” I yelled.
Dropping the phone, I sprinted back out to the front yard. “The doctor an’ ambulance are on their way,” I yelled. Doris was talking to Larry who was still unconscious. Streams of tears ran down her face, and she cradled him like a child as she spoke.
“Come back, Larry, I need you… Please Larry, don‘t leave me.” The ambulance arrived in five minutes but it seemed like an eternity as we looked at Larry’s pale lifeless face. The crew dashed out, then hurried Larry into the ambulance. At that moment the doctor arrived in a lime-green 1967 Chevy Impala station wagon with a red flashing light on top. The wagon came to a screeching halt in front of our house.
A balding, slightly overweight man in his fifties carrying a black bag barreled out of the car, then jumped into the ambulance. Eddie and I helped Doris climb in, and she sat near the door while the doctor worked on Larry. Bob slammed the doors, and we watched as the ambulance sped away; then without speaking the four of us stood listening to the siren until we could hear it no longer.
The doctor’s car was parked cockeyed in the road, but it was still running and the driver’s side door was open. Eddie drove it to the side of the road and shut the motor off.
Smoke poured up from the charcoal grill; the hamburgers and hot dogs were burnt black. Buck threw them away, and we all sat down on the pinic table. “Bummer,” he said.
“I feel bad for his wife. . .Seems like a nice lady,” Eddie said.
“Ya, but that guy was a dick,” Bob said.
“That’s horrible,” said Cindy.
“No, I feel bad about what happened an’ everything . . . and I hope he makes it, you know? . . . But what was that dude’s trip, man? . . . I mean he said he called the FBI on us? And told them about devil worship?” Bob said then, let out a quick laugh and continued. “I mean, what the fuck was that all about, man? Randy, have you and Buck been sacrificing goats over here or something? … Buck, you got somthin’ you want to tell us, man?” Bob laughed. “I mean, what gives?” Eddie and Buck laughed; it brought a little relief to the tense mood.
“Ah, Larry’s alright,” I said. He used to let us play football in his yard. Sometimes Doris would even bring out lemonade and snacks for us. They’re good people. I think Larry’s just gotten a little senile these last few years, that’s all,” I said.
“Gettin’ old must be kind of a drag,” Eddie said.
“Beats the alternative. Dig?” said Buck.
“Ya, well like I said, man. I hope the cranky old dude makes it,” Bob said.
Eddie and Bob walked over to Bob‘s microbus and sparked up a joint. I stayed at the picnic table with Cindy and Buck. “Today didn’t turn out exactly the way it was supposed to, but then again it never does,” Buck said. “C’mon, I’ve got something to show you.” I followed Buck and Cindy into the garage.
Under a paint stained canvas tarp there was something next to Buck’s motorcycle. Something that wasn’t there before. “Well, seeing as it’s your half birthday, I’ve got a surprise for you,” Buck said. He walked over to the object and placed his hands on the tarp. “Close your eyes. This is supposed to be a surprise,” he said. Before I closed my eyes, I could tell by the expression on Cindy’s face that it was something really special. Cindy stood behind me, covering my eyes with her hands so I wouldn’t peek. They kept me in suspense for the longest thirty seconds of my life. I heard the tarp rustle. Then Buck gave Cindy the signal and she pulled her hands off my eyes.
There next to Buck’s Norton was a Honda, a 1964 305 Superhawk CB 72. It had an English-style parallel twin cylinder engine that was canted forward like a Norton. The chromed spoke wheels and trim glistened. I could see my reflection in the shiny black gas tank. Buck, Eddie and Bob must have been polishing it the entire time I was at the registry, I thought. Speechless for several seconds, I stood basking in a euphoric wave of magical energy. “Whoa,! A sixty four Superhawk! In mint shape too, but, I don’t understand . . . you’ve already got a commando. Why do you need two motorcycles?”
“I don’t,” Buck said. “It’s yours.”
“Mine? Really? No way,” I said.
“Way, it’s yours, really, happy half-birthday,” Buck said.
“Whoa! Thanks but, I don’t know what to say. I mean, how much did it cost?” Buck and Cindy both had wide smiles as they watched me come to grips with the idea that the Honda was actually mine.
“Randy, you never ask how much a gift costs. Just start it up,” Buck said. I walked over to the bike, threw my leg over and climbed on. While wrapping my hands around the rubber handlebar-grips, I glanced at the speedometer. The numbers went up to one hundred and twenty miles per hour.
“Whoa! Speedo goes to one twenty . . . I knew the 305 was fast, but one twenty?”
“Top speed is 105, but keep it under seventy, will ya’? You don’t want to deal with the shit I’m goin’ through,” Buck said. After working the clutch, I extended the choke, then turned out the kickstart. Using all my weight, I pushed down on the starter. The engine turned over a couple of times then died. Two kicks and the raspy two cylinder engine came to life. Black smoke shot out of the exhaust.
A few seconds later I pushed the choke back in, then twisted the throttle. The engine snarled like a caged wildcat. I felt my heart beating faster every time I revved it up. Wanting to feel the wind in my hair, I couldn’t wait to take her on the open road.
Buck told me to shut the bike off. “I know you’re chompin’ at the bit to ride, but I need to get you a helmet that fits. Go over some safety bullshit, have you ride the bike up and down the street first, so I can teach you the basics.”
“Cool, but what’s Mom gonna’ say?”
“Pheeww, that’s another thing we have to talk about. Listen, your mom can never know about this. You can never get in an accident, understand? That sounds weird coming from me, I know, but she’d never forgive me.”
“I understand.”
“Randy, I mean it! You really have to be a man about this. Only ride the bike when she’s at work, and cover it up with the tarp after you’re done riding.”
“Cool, I get it… What if she lifts up the tarp?”
“She won’t. She never comes in here, and even if she does, I’ll just tell her it’s mine. You just be man enough to keep your part of the bargain, and I’ll take care of it from my end. Dig?”
“Dig. Thanks again, man.” I said.
With blood-shot eyes, Eddie and Bob emerged from the smoke-filled bus. Wearing smiles, they both walked into the garage. “You’re the man, Randy,” Bob said. Then he started singing “Bornnn’ to be wi..i..ild’.”
“Look just like Dennis Hopper from a distance,” Eddie said.
Bob, Eddie, Buck and Cindy walked over to the picnic table, then started drinking beer again. Buck fired up the charcoal grill. I was still in the garage sitting in the overstuffed chair looking at my motorcycle. This should have been the happiest day of my life but I couldn’t get the image of Larry’s lifeless face out of my mind. I started to think about my father’s suicide, and wondered what his face looked like as death claimed his soul in that sleazy Jersey motel.
A police car pulled in front of our house. The doctor was in the front passenger seat. Exiting the police-cruiser, he walked toward his car. As Eddie and I walked out to meet him, the cop stayed in his car but eyed us suspiciously. “You left your car runnin’. I moved it for you. . . . Hope that’s OK?” Eddie asked.
“No, . . . I mean Yes, that’s fine. Thanks,” said the doctor.
“How’s Larry?” I asked.
“Are you a relative?” asked the doctor.
“Uh, no. . . . I’m his neighbor,” I said. “I called for the ambulance.” The doctor looked directly at me and paused for a couple of seconds. “And his godson,” I lied.
“Oh.. . . . Well in that case, young man, Larry’s condition is critical. He needs to see a heart specialist in Boston . . . but

Buck’s Stereo was on the picnic table blasting “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors.

July 27, 2008

My Hippie Uncle who Lived in the Cellar – Part 4

July 27, 2008

Then she started laughing almost uncontrollably as she covered herself up. The outrageous stunt only lasted for a second, but judging by how fast their shades went down, I think the Livermores experienced the wild scenic splendor of Darcy’s magic mountains. At that moment the powerful, delightful image was permanently seared into my sixteen year old brain. Funny thing about it was, I didn’t see any tan lines. She must have spent the first part of the summer going to nude beaches, I thought. After witnessing first hand what type of exhibitionism she was capable of, the idea of her going to a nude beach on a regular basis didn’t seem all that far out.
Darcy’s shocking, drug-induced display of nudity caused Buck and Cindy to start laughing. I joined in, but my laughter was more of a tension release. All this pleasure and excitement had happened in such a short period of time that it was a colossal shock to my young system. I remember feeling confused with empathy toward the Livermores. They weren’t bad people. A little nosy, yeah, but not bad people. Deciding there was nothing I could do to change what had just happened, I chuckled. Then the three of us stood in the garage and laughed for several minutes. We stopped a least three times for a few seconds but one of us would start cracking up again and the cycle would continue.
“I have a feeling I’m gonna catch some shit for this when your mom get home,” Buck said. Darcy giggled, then looked glassy eyed at Buck.
“Sorry, Buck.”
“Ah, whatever. Don‘t worry about it.”
“Darcy, how much of that stuff did you take?” Cindy asked.
“Just one hit of acid that Eddie gave me.” Her sweet, rich voice was intoxicating and somehow made the idea of tripping out during the middle of the day seem like a reasonable thing to do. Darcy started dancing again. The longer she danced, the more audacious and sexual her movements became. She was touching herself seductively, lifting her breasts and stroking her hips, and dancing with twisting snakelike movements. “Come on people now, let’s celebrate the summer. I feel so peaceful, you know?”
Darcy put her arms around me, then kissed me on the cheek. I could feel myself blushing as the blood rushed into my face, and the fact that I was blushing only seemed to encourage her. She moved closer to me, then wrapped one of her long legs around my leg. Was she kissing me because she genuinely liked me or was she kissing me because she had temparaily left the planet? Either way, I liked having her next to me. I didn’t realize it at that moment, but what fascinated me about her went way beyond her stunning physicality. It was her bold, untamed spirit that enchanted me the most.
Suddenly, Cindy threw the equivalent of ice water, a whole bucket-full, on both of us, ending what was the greatest moment in my life. “Darcy, I think it’s time for us to get going now.”
The original plan was that Cindy would spend the afternoon and maybe part of the evening visiting with Buck, then drive his Volkswagen home. I guess Buck figured he wouldn’t need it until his hip was heeled. Buck was decent like that, helping people out when he could. I had a feeling he and Cindy were going to get back together. I was hoping they would. Buck needed something good to happen for a change after all he’d been through.
Buck reached into his pocket and handed the Volkswagen keys to Cindy. It was a 1962 blue Karmann Ghia. A really cool car. It was parked in a vacant field next to our house behind a six foot cedar fence. As I stood at the garage entrance just under the open door, I watched the two girls walking away until they disappeared behind the wooden fence. A few seconds later I heard the Volkswagen’s engine start. After two quick honks of the unmistakable VW horn, I listened to the sound of the engine until it was too far away to hear, wondering if I would see Darcy again.
My alarm rang at 7:00 a.m. I hadn’t slept all that well. Tossing and turning most of the night, I couldn’t get Darcy and the previous day’s events out of my mind. Buck was starting the Norton rebuild, and asked me to help him. Walking outside, I glanced over at the Livermore’s house noticing their shades were still drawn. I wasn’t surprised, though, after the previous day’s shock-fest.
Entering the open garage, I saw Buck sitting in a ripped overstuffed chair that had been in our garage for as long as I could remember. Motorcycle parts were strewn about the space on old wooden tables and metal folding chairs, wherever there was room. The heavier parts were on the floor, some on top of cardboard, others on the concrete. A Norton commando service manual with grease stains on it was folded open on top of a rusty metal milk-crate.
The garage smelled of grease and oil mixed with cigarette smoke and fresh-brewed coffee. Buck had one of those stainless steel percolators plugged into an extension cord. The percolator was sitting atop a milk-crate right next to his chair, so he didn’t have to walk back to the house or even stand up to get a cup of Java. He handed me a coffee cup that said “BSA Motorcycles” on the side. Under that was a drawing of a guy riding a Goldstar 500. It was one of my favorite motorcycles at the time. “Was startin’ to wonder if you were gonna’ show,” Buck said.
“Na…I’m psyched about the rebuild, but last night I didn’t sleep all that great for some reason.”
“Too much excitement yesterday?” I said nothing. “Yea, you’ve got Darcy on your mind. Listen, don’t think about her too much. She’s twenty and your only sixteen. Darcy’s Cindy’s friend, but she’s a free-spirited party girl who sometimes teases guys when she’s wasted. I think she has a boyfriend, anyway.” Listening to Buck’s words, I felt my heart sink and my mood darken.
Buck and I continued dismantling the Norton, but my mind was still filled with thoughts of Darcy. I knew Buck had my best interests at heart, but deep down I really didn’t believe what he was telling me. The connection I felt with Darcy seemed real. I kept wondering if she thought of me on the drive home. I hoped so, but I wasn’t sure. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to see her again.
“How long have Cindy and Darcy known each other?”
“A couple of years. They were roommates in college. Hand me a ratchet and the thirteen mm socket.” I handed Buck the socket. Then he gave me a set of leather gloves to wear so I wouldn’t cut myself, and I pulled the gas tank from the frame. The tank was stubborn at first, but it finally broke free.
“So, do they live near each other now?”
“They live in the same house…Darcy’s sister’s house. Actually it’s a small farm. They’ve got it set up so friends who are traveling through will have a place to stay. It’s a pretty cool place. They’re almost totally self sufficient. They grow all their own food.”
Buck and I had been working on the Norton all week, putting in an average of ten hours a day. Everything was done, except for the gas tank and side covers. They were at Eddie’s brother’s auto shop, being repainted. There were a few scratches on the frame, but Buck skillfully covered them with black touch up paint. He used one of his small art brushes.
Friday, July 18th 1970, the day I’d been waiting for finally arrived, a day even more special than my birthday. It was my half birthday. I was sixteen and a half, old enough to get my learners permit. For months, I’d been studying for the test and needed a ride downtown, to the registry of motor vehicles. Mom was working a double shift at the hospital and couldn’t give me a ride until the next week. Cindy had come to visit Buck. She agreed to give me a ride downtown, then pick me up after the test was over.
Cindy and I got into Buck’s Karmann Ghia. After sparking up a cigarette, she rolled down the window. She wore faded blue denim cut off shorts with frayed edges. White threads that varied in length were resting on her tanned thighs. The sun had heated the white, cracked, vinyl seats and I felt the warmth through my jeans. I wondered how Cindy could stand the hot vinyl against her bare skin. She had nice legs. I noticed a little stubble starting to grow on her shins. She must have only shaved them a couple of times a week, I thought. When she caught me looking at her legs, I quickly averted my eyes and stared out the front windshield. Cindy turned the key, and we headed downtown. After a few awkward seconds, I began spewing out a bunch of meaningless small talk. I was working up the nerve to ask her about Darcy. “Big day…nervous?” Cindy asked.
“Na, I’ve been studying for weeks…I just wanna’ get it over with.”
“I dig that.”
“Thanks for the ride.”
“Oh, glad to do it. You’re a nice guy.”
“Thanks.” She hadn’t mentioned Darcy, and I began to rethink the idea of asking Cindy about her. I’d probably just embarrass myself anyway, I thought. Then Cindy said something that filled me with the energy of hope.
“Darcy thinks you’re a nice guy.”
“Really?”
“Yea, she asked about you . . . wanted to know if you felt like hanging out sometime.”
“Ya . . . I’d dig that.” I was trying to mask my excitement, but judging by the smirk on Cindy’s face, my efforts must not have been all that convincing. I was busting with vivacity inside and all my wildest dreams seemed possible now.
“You should come up to the house sometime . . . There’s an open door for friends and traveling strangers . . . and plenty of places to crash, too.”
“Wow . . . sounds like a groovy place.”
“Yea, it is . . . Darcy’s sister owns it. Her only rules are that people respect each other and everybody is expected to pitch in when work needs to be done.”
Cindy dropped me off in the registry parking lot and told me to call the house when I needed I ride back. Said she’d just be hanging out in the cellar with Buck. After shutting the passenger door, I leaned in through the small window opening and said, “I’m glad you and Buck are hangin’ out again. Really, I hope you two get back together.”
“Thanks, Randy.”
As I walked into the building, I saw two large Massachusetts registry cops wearing black spit-shined combat boots. Their stony facial expressions made them look slightly constipated. With high and tight haircuts and impeccably ironed uniforms full of starch, they eyed me suspiciously. Must be my long hair, I thought.
I was in line for twenty minutes. A woman who looked to be in her sixties motioned me over. As I approached, the aroma of her rancid perfume drifted through the open space at the bottom of the “Plexiglas” divider. The pungent odor was making me nauseous, and I felt like gagging. She had jet black hair that looked like it had been dyed recently. Some of the dye had stained her deeply wrinkled skin just under the hairline. Like the bride of Frankenstein, her huge bouffant-hairdo added one foot to her height. Dark penciled lines replaced her eyebrows. She wore several sloppily applied layers of red lipstick. The filter-end of a long thin cigarette, burning in an ashtray next to her, was stained red. Like a clown, she was both comical and intimidating at the same time.
She handed me a test, and told me to take a seat in a small classroom. There were several rows of oak desks, and I was the only one in the room. After I sat in the front row, one of the registry cops walked in and barked, “You’ve got thirty minutes.” He eyed me warily, but I ignored him and dove into the test. He sat down, watched me for several minutes, then got up and started talking to the woman with the bouffant hairdo, who apparently was on a cigarette-break.
Finishing the test with five minutes to spare, I handed it to the cop. We both walked back into the classroom, and I had to sign a sworn statement indicating that I was in fact a United States citizen who hadn’t renounced citizenship. On a separate form I signed another sworn statement indicating that I was not a user of, nor had I ever been a user of, marijuana or any other illegal drug.
After correcting my test, he signed my learner’s permit and handed it to me. “Congratulations, young man, you’ve passed both the auto and motorcycle sections. No night driving, and no riding double on motorcycles until you get your licence.”
Cindy picked me up in the registry parking lot. Jumping into the passenger seat, I smiled broadly and showed her the permit. “Far out. Congrats’, Randy.”
“Thanks.”
“Wanna’ drive home? Buck won’t mind. I don’t think so anyway, as long as you don’t crash his car.” Cindy giggled…”Ever driven a standard?”
“No,” I said. I felt nervous, but didn’t want Cindy to know it.
“Come on. I’ll teach you. It‘s easy,” she said.
“Ok, cool.”
We switched seats. I pressed down the clutch and put the VW in reverse. “Now, rev the engine and let the clutch out,” Cindy said. I must have revved the engine a little too much and let the clutch out a little too fast because the Volkswagen lurched backward and headed right for an empty police car. Panicking, I jammed both feet down on the clutch and brake at the same time but my foot slipped off the clutch. The VW jolted to a stop about an inch from the left fender of the police car.
As I restarted the engine, Cindy noticed a registry cop standing on the stone front steps. Looking up, I saw the same cop who had previously endorsed my learner’s permit. He was glaring at us scornfully. “Ok, we’re being watched by the man. This is not good. Maybe we should do this in an empty parking lot first,” Cindy said. While Cindy and I switched seats again, I saw the cop shake his head and walk back into the building.
Cindy drove to an empty A&P parking lot, and we traded seats yet again. The A&P had been out of business for almost a year. Both the sign on the building as well as the sign near the road had been pelted with rocks. Beer cans and trash littered the space, and wild grass poked through the cracked asphalt.
Thirty minutes, five restarts and a few ground gears later, I was ready for the road. Cindy’s patient coaching had paid off. I’m not exactly sure why she felt so obligated to help me that day. I guess it was because Buck was injured and my mother worked so many hours at the hospital. How kind she was to me. Maybe she felt badly that my father had left me and my sister, six years earlier, then drank himself to death in Atlantic City after a gambling binge. Buck had previously mentioned my father to Cindy, the day she and Darcy came to the house. Judging by how she was treating me, he must have told her the whole story, I thought.
As I drove past the house, I saw Eddie Swartz, Bob Dugan and Buck standing on the front lawn, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Buck’s stereo was on the picnic table blasting “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors. Bob saw me driving and flashed me the peace sign, then yelled, “Whoooo, all right Randy!”
After parking Buck’s car back in the field, Cindy and I walked over to Buck and Eddie who were standing in front of a charcoal grill cooking burgers and hot dogs. “Randy, Congratulations man!” Eddie said.
Bob walked toward me with two beers in his hand. “Hey Buck, Ok if Randy has one beer to celebrate?”
Buck laughed, smiled wryly and said, “Whatever, Randy, just don’t get shit-faced. Your mother will never forgive me.”

My Hippie Uncle who Lived in the Cellar – Part 3

July 27, 2008

hugging him, then looked at him and said, “It’s good to see you Buck, really. I was worried, very worried.” Buck just nodded, too choked up to speak.
My attention shifted to the other girl as she stepped out of the bus. She stood there, softy overflowing with sensual energy, the kind only a woman her age could possess. Like a fine wine at its peak, she would never be more beautiful than she was on that day. Feeling her warm energy flooding into me as she stood in the sun, I was like putty in the palm of her hand without even knowing her. Her hair looked to be as soft as silk. It flowed gently onto the smooth contours of her bare shoulders and framed the supple features of her face. Her eyes were deep blue, like a tropical ocean.
Cindy saw me staring. I must have looked foolish standing there in the driveway, all red faced and besotted, not saying anything. “Randy, this is Darcy,” my friend from college, said Cindy. Darcy smiled warmly.
“How’s it goin?” I blurted.
“He’s Buck’s nephew,” Cindy added.
“Goin’ good. Goin’ good,” Darcy said as she put her hands over her head and started dancing around in the driveway. “Rode my horse all morning. I feel so peaceful, I’m in such harmony, you know?” She wore ripped faded jeans and a tie dyed halter-top. She moved like a snake when she danced. Fascinated by her uninhibited free spirit, I watched her dancing in the sun, wondering if she was thinking of me at that moment.
“Randy, snap out of it, man!” Bob’s words sounded harsh, pulling me away from my floating inner mind. Bob and Eddie were laughing, and Cindy let out a quick giggle. Standing on the trailer, Bob took the slack out of the tie-down straps attached to Buck’s motorcycle. “Randy, give me a hand, will ya?” he said.
After jumping up on the trailer, I saw the damage to Buck’s motorcycle. Most of the metal that had come into contact with the road was on the left side of the bike. The gas tank and side cover were badly scraped and dented. The rear brake, foot peg, and hand clutch were all mangled beyond repair, and the front headlight was shattered. “Looks bad, but none of it’s structural,” Bob said.
“Think Buck can fix it?” I asked.
“Oh yea, no sweat. He was gonna’ rebuild the engine anyway. Just picked up most of the parts for him today. High compression pistons, racing carbs. A hot cam. Everything but the Dunstall exhaust. Ordered it, though. Should be here in a week or so.”
“Cool. How fast do you think it will be when it’s finished?”
“With these parts? Top end should be upwards of one-thirty.”
Cindy, Eddie, and Darcy took Buck’s paintings out of the bus and carried them into the cellar while Bob and I backed the bike down the trailer ramp. Even in its damaged state, the Norton, 750 cc, Commando with the original black paint accented by gold pinstripes, was a work of art. It had a Rickman frame, clip on handlebars and rear set pegs, a real café bike set up for high speed corner junkies like Buck.
Eddie and Darcy stacked Buck’s paintings in the cellar as Bob and I muscled the bike into the garage. Bob and Eddie climbed back into the bus. As Bob turned the key, the radio came on and I remember hearing the beginning of “Teach your Children Well,” by Crosby Stills and Nash. The bus’s air cooled engine sputtered to life. Before they split, Eddie sparked up a joint, inhaled deeply, and flashed me the peace sign.
As we walked back into the garage, I noticed the Livermores peering at us through their living-room window. It was hard for me to say for sure at that moment because of the distance, but I thought old Larry was using binoculars. Turns out I was right because Darcy had also spotted the geriatric peeping duo and decided to really give them something to gawk at. Before I knew it, she was turning toward their house, lifting up her tie-dyed halter-top and exposing her stunning breasts to them. “Whoo,” she yelled.