Redwood Nine Ch. 11byRoyceConnors©
Chapter 11 Travellin' Men
It was well after two a.m., when the quiet of the night was disturbed by the low rumble. It grew louder and louder, then vanished all together, as Chico cut the engine out on the road and coasted into the parking lot and up to his unit. He helped Marietta off the back and then got off himself. He untied her suitcase that they used as a makeshift seat and walked to the door. Chico listened to hear if Otto was asleep, or awake and heard no noise. He tried the handle and Otto had left it unlocked for him. As stealthy as they could be, they crept in and closed the door, looking to see if Otto woke up. Chico was hoping the long ride had exhausted him and he was out like a light.
Marietta changed in the bathroom and brought her clothes out, dressed now in a cotton nightie. Chico just undressed at the end of the bed, leaving his boxers on and was waiting for her in bed, holding the sheets open for her to get in. She looked at him and fought against the thoughts of rape still consuming her mind, her body still feeling the violation and came to the bed. Chico's face showed all the compassion she needed to see, to allow her to lay with him. Chico let her have her way and stayed still, only allowing their sides touching, to be the only contact.
The hot air in the room, held the suspense around them, then Marietta reached with her hand for Chico's and felt the acceptance of it in his. After a deep exhaustive sigh, Marietta turned to Chico and lay her head on his chest, putting her arm around him and felt the solace of comfort in his presence. She felt his arms slowly wrapping around her and holding her to him, the love that they gave, made the world disappear and all that was wrong in it, too. She held back the need for tears, as they only added to the pain anyway. Every salty drop stung her lips and brought back the moment of pain, when Joe backhanded her face so many times, she lost count.
She lay her leg over his and felt the warmth of it against the bruises left by brutal fingers. She felt it ease the ache of mental and physical hurt, feeling the love from Chico, coming from every part of him. She turned her face and with as much pressure as her swollen lips would allow, she tenderly kissed Chico's chest and lay her head back down, closing her eyes and knowing somewhere deep inside her, things were going to be okay.
Neither of them saw Otto looking at them, then he closed his eyes, smiling to himself that Chico would have a story to tell about the woman in bed with him. Chico let out a long sigh of his own, releasing the tension and stress of reliving the act he had just committed. He held Marietta a little tighter and closed his eyes, hoping sleep came quick and deep.
Keith was laying in bed, the sun beaming in on his leg. The gash required seven stitches to close, but luckily, the shin bone was only badly bruised, with a small hairline fracture that would heal okay, the doctor said, but may come back to haunt him later in life. He was able to ride, but walking would require a cane or crutches for a few weeks. Keith remembered laughing at the doctor, when he asked about coming for a follow up visit, then remembered he would be coming back down and scheduled a tentative appointment for two weeks time. Lenny woke up and looked over at Keith staring out the window.
"Hey, how's the leg, man?"
"Hey, Lenny. Morning to you. The leg's no bad, aches to shite, though. Bloody pounding going on all the time, so it is. It's settled down some now. Christ, just my fucking luck, yeah. One little rock, led to me hitting the bigger rock. That trail is bloody dangerous. I get where Chico is coming from, keeping it secret and all, but it needs to be easier to ride than that."
"Yeah, I agree. JT talked to Chico already about it, so next time we're down, we're bringing some tools, so we can make it safer to get in, but still keep it hidden. I almost hit that same rock you did. It just jumps out at you."
"Aye, and bit me a good one as well."
Keith and Lenny lit up cigarettes, while next door, JT and Piney were doing much the same, lying in their beds and talking over everything. So many things happened that needed talked about and decided on. The presence of other clubs that acted hostile towards them, meant a need to protect themselves and that meant the carrying of guns as well. With the danger of what they were getting into becoming greater and greater, JT was realizing more and more, as he told Piney, he had no idea that this was happening out there.
"I just wanted to start a club to ride around with the guys, Piney, not get into gun battles with other gangs over territory. I figured making these runs would be easy, just go down, load up and come back to drop it off. What if we're coming back and they come up behind us and want to let us know we're on their turf. Do we act friendly? Give them the dirty looks and give them the finger and just keep riding? Pull out guns and battle it out on the road like we saw them do before? Maybe do nothing and they waste us? We need to talk this out more, before we end up in over our heads. I just wanted to get money for the club, so we could build something for ourselves, we could be proud of. I had no intention of getting us into something this far outside the law. We're not talking a night or two visiting with Unser, shooting the shit about old days, we're talking Stockton, or somewhere else and long time, hard time, Piney."
Piney took the last drag off his cigarette and put it out, then looked at JT.
"JT, ain't nothing we can do about things here. We can talk all day, until that fucking rooster starts crowing again tomorrow morning, but the fact remains, my friend, just get this over with now. We're in it all the way already, shit, I can smell the stuff under my bed. No matter where we are, as long as we got this shit on us, we have trouble. Now get us home and we can talk this out then. Right now, I'm real fucking hungry. I could even handle those burritos."
JT made a face at the mention of eating that kind of food for breakfast. He was willing to wait it out, until a place served something he was familiar with and knew the ingredients. Piney laughed and agreed he would wait as well, then they got up and got ready.
Otto got out of bed very quietly and did what he had to, before getting dressed and sneaking out of the room. Chico stirred, hearing the click of the door and then the shutting of it. He rolled his head over and saw Otto had left him alone with Marietta, then turned his head back to look at her. The clock said it was nine forty three, so they had close to six hours sleep. She was still laying on his chest, never leaving him throughout the night. His arm felt like it was asleep, but he didn't want to disturb her from sleeping as long as she could. He tried to look at her face better, to see how she looked in the daylight. Even from the bad angle he was at, he could see the swelling and discolouration on her cheek and mouth, the blackened eye clearly defining the damage inflicted to her.
Chico felt her stir and awaken, as her hand moved from his chest and pushed the hair away from her eyes. She looked up at him and saw the look in his eyes he held for her. The instance of worry left her and she began smiling, until the pain hit. The trauma of last night was back to her, but Chico calmed her and held her, letting her know it was over and it was time to heal, inside and out. He leaned forward and kissed her head, then she laid it on his chest and caressed it as well.
Chico was happy she wasn't completely damaged mentally by it and knew it would only take time and love to heal the damage done. He wanted nothing more, than to have that moment last forever, but he knew he had to talk to JT and the others about her and make up an explanation about her injuries. Marietta's refusal to testify against them or bring any attention to herself, anymore than what had already happened, gave Chico the idea to blame it entirely on someone else, who would forever remain unknown. The ones who were guilty had been dealt with and nothing tied Chico to it. Marietta would back him on anything he said and he knew it, just by the way she held onto him.
She had smelled him when he came back to her last night, the stench of gasoline on his clothes. Chico had told her about the rider running out of gas and she bought that story, based on her belief in him, but riding to this motel and going past the diner, even from a distance, she knew that was what was lighting up the night sky, along with a multitude of flashing red lights. She decided never to question him about it, convincing herself, that a just vengeance was done in her honour and she owed it to the man who did it for her.
She got up and showered, taking the time to wash away the troubles in her soul, watching them all spin in the water, as it went down the drain. When she finished drying off and dressing, she came out brushing her wavy, black mane, the tips reaching to her waist. She was about to pull it back and bunch it up, then Chico stopped her and begged with his eyes for her to leave it down. She smiled and let her hair fall down, her dark, brown eyes dancing with a sign of happiness in them, as she looked at Chico admiring her.
Chico touched her hair gently, arranging it how he felt it should look to him. He finished and stood back a few steps and looked at her with great admiration in his eyes, as he looked at her from head to toe. Marietta showed great relief in her spirit, as she saw the look in Chico's eyes, telling her she was beautiful. She laid the good cheek against his chest and hugged him, making Chico happy in his heart, which translated to his noted smile.
"Baby, I got to see JT now. You can stay in here, or go for a little walk, but stay close, okay."
"Si, Chico. I'll just stay here, till you come back."
Marietta lifted her face to him and Chico kissed all the areas he knew wouldn't hurt. His smile assured her peace of mind to be alone in the room, as he walked out the door and up to JT and Piney's room. He knocked on the door and JT answered it, dressed to go, Piney the same and Otto sitting on the bed next to him, smoking a cigarette.
"Chico, made it back okay. Fun night with Marietta?"
JT's smile faded, as he saw the look on Chico's face, that something wasn't right and bad news was forthcoming.
"Some shit happened last night, man. Bad shit. Some dude in Bakersfield jumped Marietta, after work. He beat her bad, man, real bad and he raped her too."
Chico saw the shock hit their faces, as he explained all he came up with for a cover story, even explaining about the gas smell on him. They sat in awe of hearing it happen and then Chico explained about Marietta being down in the room.
"Shit, Chico. I saw you guys come in last night and didn't want to disturb you. Fuck, man, I wish I'd known."
"It's cool, Otto. Nothing you could do, man. I couldn't even do anything. She doesn't want the cops involved and just wants to forget it happened. I told her she could live with me up in Charming, at the motel for now and find her some work. I don't know what else to do, JT? I can't leave her here all alone."
JT saw the desperation on Chico's face, trying to understand everything that happened and now how to deal with it. JT knew immediately, that there was no way to get Marietta back with them on the bikes. They had to come up with a way to get the pot back to Oakland and get Marietta back as well. JT knew he would be doing exactly the same thing, if it was Suzy.
"We need to make a call. We need Wally down here pronto and help us with this. Either him, or Jake will be here even faster. I'm leaning towards calling Jake. I know he'll say nothing, until we're back and that's all I want at this point, is everyone back in Charming and whole. I got some money I can give to the guy at the desk, if he'll let me use the phone to call long distance, won't he, Chico?"
"I'll go with you, JT, make sure he does."
JT and Chico left and went up to the office and Chico persuaded the clerk to let JT use the phone and slapped a five dollar bill on the counter to cover it. The clerk gave JT the go ahead to make as long a call as he wanted. JT dialled the number he knew Jake would most likely be at and he picked up on the second ring. JT sighed in relief and began explaining what had happened and that they were okay, but needed him to come and transport someone back. True to his word, Jake never asked any more questions than he needed to and said he was on his way and to stay put. JT hung up with a great relief off his shoulders, knowing things were in progress to resolve the issues. JT and Chico thanked the clerk, who nodded and smiled, as he tucked the five note in his shirt pocket.
The rest of the guys were milling around a picnic table outside the office waiting for JT and Chico to come out. Chico was hit with so many questions at once, wanting to know why the change in plans was happening. Chico calmed them down and began explaining Marietta's plight and circumstances and the need to call Jake to come get her and her things. The ride was still going as planned, just Chico's share of the haul would need to be carried by the others, while he went with Jake and Marietta to her motel room to get the rest of her things. They would be less than an hour or so behind, so they would ride slower and let them catch up and ride back in a pack. If they made it as far as the diner, they were to pull over and gas up and wait for them. Chico never flinched or showed any reaction, at the mention of the diner, going along with everything like normal.
Chico went back to his room and brought Marietta out to meet them, now under better circumstances than before. Marietta was very shy and withdrawn, knowing the guys knew about her violations. JT was first to introduce himself to her and held out his hand to her. Marietta looked at it, waiting for her to take and looked in JT's eyes. His eyes held a warmth and friendliness that she could see and slowly took his hand.
"Very nice to meet you, Marietta. Chico explained what happened and I want you to know, you'll be safe with us. We're not going to let anything happen to you, I promise."
Marietta could see the compassion in his eyes and heard it in his voice, as she squeezed her hand tighter around JT's, accepting his kindness. One after the other, the guys introduced themselves and did their best to assure Marietta, they would help her get settled in Charming and get the girls to show her around. By the time they finished, Marietta was smiling with real happiness, helping to drive the fear and apprehension she was feeling, far from her thoughts.
The need for food had everyone asking Chico where they could get some good food to eat. Marietta said she could cook breakfast in the efficiency unit, if they brought food back. There were many wishes of thanks and gratitude by the guys to her, making her feel closer to them. Chico had Marietta stay in the unit for now and enjoy the peace and quiet, while they went to the local grocers to get food for them all. JT had Piney and Keith stay behind to guard her, making Chico feel relieved and proud, he and his companion were treated with such accord and respect.
Chico led them out of the motel and along the main strip, to the area where the local growers gathered to sell their produce. They parked on the side of the street and walked through the stalls and wagons lining the dirt aisles, still offering a good selection to choose from. The guys weren't sure of what they were looking at sometimes, some of the local foods never making it out of the area. Chico started making suggestions of what Marietta could make, out of what was available and began doing the shopping. Lenny's eyes always seemed to spot the prettiest women and pointed them out to Otto and JT, as they walked along. Many had warm, friendly smiles to give to them, showing their interest in them.
They gathered enough for a good breakfast feast and headed back to their bikes. Walking up the aisle of carts, they spotted a group of bikers stopped in front of them, looking them over. They were patched members of a group, but no idea who yet.
Eyes met one another as they approached, a look of caution in every one. The leader of the group spoke out, ending the stalemate between them. JT could only guess at his weight, but it was close to three hundred pounds easily.
"Nice bikes. Saw them as we rode in. Didn't recognize them and wondered who they belonged to. Name's El Roca, I'm president of the Aztecs, this is part of our club with me."
JT approached him and held his hand out as he introduced himself. The giant man took it and held it firmly, making it a possession, instead of a greeting. JT didn't flinch at the insult and instead, accepted it and left his hand there as he talked.
"How you doing, El Roca? I'm JT, I'm president of the Sons of Anarchy and this is a couple of my guys. We're based out of Charming, up by Stockton, what about you?"
"Hey JT, Stockton, shit man, long way from home. What brings you down to my territory?"
"My buddy, Chico here. Came down to get his girlfriend and bring her up there with him finally. He said we should check the place out, it was real friendly and the people were great, so was the food. Heading back up later today."
"Yeah, nice place to visit, JT. So, no other plans for here?"
JT looked at El Roca, as he let his hand go and wondered what he meant. The Chicano president knew he didn't from his expression, so he asked again another way.
"Just want to know if we'll be seeing more of each other in the future?"
"Who knows, El Roca? We may come back in the winter and warm up in the nice weather you guys get here. Maybe you can let us know of some nice areas to ride in, pretty country from what I've seen so far."
JT was laying the compliments on thick, knowing El Roca was pressing him for info on any trade, that might be going on behind their backs.
"Yeah, okay, JT. Maybe see you in the winter then, tell you some nice roads to ride on. Any sooner, you're gonna make me wonder why and I'll be looking for an answer. Adios, amigos."
He never waited for an answer and ordered his guys to start up and move out, eyes looking back and forth at each other as they passed. Once the sight and sound of them faded, their friendly warning still hung over them. JT knew the best thing was to make themselves scarce and draw as little attention to themselves as they could. They started up and headed back to the motel, keeping a sharp eye out for any bikers of any kind. Chico was watching too, but his knowledge of the area told him to watch out for much more than just bikers.
They pulled into the motel lot and headed down to their rooms, relieved to see Piney and Keith relaxing with Marietta on the picnic table they had pulled closer to the unit. They parked and brought the food inside, letting Marietta unpack it and laughed, as she shooed them out of her small kitchen to get started. She hugged Chico with great love and affection, then with the most delicate of touches, kissed Chico and shooed him out as well. He smiled broadly and walked out to the other guys, as they heard pans and other things coming out to get started.
Otto came out with a joint and lit it up, taking a good haul and passed it to Lenny. JT told Piney and Keith about the Aztecs and their warning to not be seen around here for a long time. JT turned to Chico and asked him to come up with a new route to come down, so they would avoid any chance meetings with the Aztecs. Chico knew of some routes and would get a map and make sure which way was best. JT was curious about the Aztec leader and asked him about his name.
"Chico, what does El Roca mean?"