Redwood Nine: Season 02 Ch. 13byRoyceConnors©
Ch.13 Knots and Bows
The putt-putt sound echoed around the compound, as the small bike idled. Two dozen faces were smiling, as they watched Wayne Unser get last minute instructions on operating the controls. The helmet made him look like an astronaut, the clear bubble windscreen protecting his face. He pulled in the clutch and tapped the shifter into first and felt the connection. His face showed the remnants of fear and doubt, as he looked down the lane way and took a deep breath and exhaled.
"Do, or die, right?"
"No worries, Wayne, you'll do it perfectly."
Wayne slowly eased out the clutch like he was told, feeling it engage and gave the throttle a little gas. The bike moved forward and he let the clutch out all the way. He took a long time to bring his feet up, but eventually put them on the pegs and shifted into second gear. The bike went along easily and Wayne began riding towards the gate, staying close to the fence, so he had lots of room to turn around. He slowed and rounded the corner, leaning as he should, then gave it a bit of throttle and shifted into third gear, passing everyone on the picnic tables and into the back lot. He downshifted and turned to come back to the garage, getting waves from the guys to go around again.
The smile on Wayne's face was priceless, his fears and doubts overcome and the sheer pleasure of riding taking over. He sped up to thirty MPH and then turned and sped past everyone again, slowing to go into the back lot and turn around the pylons to come back to the shop. He slowed to a stop and looked at the guys, clearly beside himself with his new-found pleasures. He forgot to put it in neutral and it jumped forward and stalled, making him lose control and dropped it on its side. The guys went to him and helped him up and stood the bike up again.
"You okay, Wayne?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm alright."
"You were excellent at riding, Wayne. Just forgot to put it in neutral."
"Yeah? Did alright, did I?"
"Fucking yeah, you did alright. That shows me you have what it takes to ride. Like Piney said, just remember neutral, or keep the clutch in and hit the kill switch first."
"Yeah. Guess I was a bit excited and forgot."
"Happens to all of us, at one time or another."
The guys patted his back and congratulated him on his inaugural ride, Lenny handing him a beer, after he took the helmet off. JT held the bike, as Piney shouted out for the next one to try riding. Moon jumped off the picnic table and marched over quickly, making sure no one beat him there. He took the helmet and put it on, then let Lenny do up the strap properly. He sat on the bike and waited for JT to explain everything to him. Once they went through a dry run, Moon said he was ready to try riding. He turned the key and pointed out it was in neutral and then pressed the start button, bringing the 250 cc. to life again.
They stood back, as he gave the throttle a few twists and then eased out on the clutch. The bike lurched forward and stalled, making Moon struggle to keep the bike up. JT explained about a little bit of gas being needed and Moon said he understood. He started it up again and went through the procedures, before letting the clutch out and giving it some gas. The bike went forward and continued going, making Moon grin excitedly. He was so happy staying up, he revved the engine to its peak as he went down the lane. The guys yelled for him to shift gears, but he couldn't hear them. The excitement must have confused him and caused him to forget other things and found himself heading for the fence at the end.
They heard the clutch go in and the engine decrease in revs, but no brake light came on, as Moon went straight into the fence. The bike fell to its side, while Moon was slammed against the fence and bounced back. Whether Fate had decided for him to be spared, or sheer luck was the cause, he just missed the spinning tire and chain when he hit the ground. He held his shoulder, as he lay on the ground and the guys came running up.
"Moon, you okay, man?"
"Yeah, I think so. My shoulder hurts mostly, but I don't think it's broken."
They helped him up, while Lenny stood the bike up. Moon gave himself a once over to see what other damage he sustained. He rotated his shoulder, finding a sore spot and winced, knowing his riding day was over.
"How's the bike? Did I wreck it?"
"Nah, for a piece of shit, it holds together pretty good. I think they make them like this, because they know people will drop them all the time. Wreck this and get a real bike when you know how to ride good enough."
"Are you sure, Otto? I know a bunch of the others want to try it too."
"Let me see if it's okay, then."
Before anyone said anything, Chico was on it and started it up. The engine ran smoothly and the guys cleared a path for him. Chico revved it up and popped the clutch, doing a wheelie and riding down the lane to the clubhouse, waving as he passed the crowd and turned around again and rode back standing up, still doing a wheelie. He dropped it down and skidded to a stop, looking at Moon.
"Works just fine, amigo."
"How do you do that?"
"Easy. You say it all the time about being in harmony with things. I'm in harmony with the bike. We're like one, you know? I can feel it in me, like it's a part of me."
Moon looked at him and realized his own teachings were being taught back to him. He thought of his ride and realized his disconnection to everything that was happening.
"I guess I need to practise what I preach. I didn't even know what was going on really. I was just enjoying the fact I was riding it."
"That's why distracted riders, end up as dead riders. There's no place for it when you're out there on the roads. You hit a bump in your bus, no sweat. You hit the same bump on a bike and you're hanging on for dear life. The road is a very different world you have to live in, when you ride a bike everywhere."
"I think I'll consider this my lesson and count my blessings it wasn't worse."
Spirit came and stood with him, making sure he was okay and then walked back to the others to share his experience. Chico rode up to the group and asked who wanted to go next. Despite Moon's experience, Phoenix was eager to take his turn. Chico gave him the helmet and did it up for him, then went through his version of how to ride. Phoenix started it up and with assurance in his moves, he let the clutch out and took off. He rode past the guys still walking up and turned at the gate, coming back past them, shifting gears and braking, as he went into the back lot. He made two more laps and the smile when he stopped, said it all. Phoenix was a natural born rider.
Marlene came up to him and congratulated him, her kiss showing more affection than most would have thought. Phoenix put his arm around her and held her to him, making JT think she was growing closer to him and she with him. Despite the two decades difference between them, there was as much love being shown between them, as any other couple there.
Suzy came out and said she wanted to try it and JT made sure she was well prepared for what would happen and readied her to ride. Suzy went through all the instructions and boldly took control of the bike, starting off easily and taking it easy down the lane. She turned and continued shifting up to third and into the back lot. She did three laps and stopped beside JT and shut it off. The joy and happiness in her eyes was speaking everything she was feeling. It was more than the thrill of riding it, it was the happiness in knowing she shared something as equally as important to JT, as she was and knew what it was he loved about it.
"I can see why you feel like you do about riding, Baby. That was awesome. I think I know that feeling of freedom you talk about. I'm still all shaky inside."
JT hugged her and helped take the helmet off, so he could kiss her. He pulled away and looked at her.
"My little biker baby. Maybe you can go riding with me sometime out at the farm. We'll bring the bike there and everyone can take turns."
Suzy got off the bike and hugged JT tightly, almost squeezing the air from his lungs.
"I love you, love you, love you, JT Teller."
"I love you, Suzanne Simpson. I really do."
They decided to take a rest and get the barbeque started, while several joints started going around. Wayne declined offers several times to try it, but happily drank his beer, as he talked with everyone, enjoying the chance to hang around with people that enjoyed his company. JT came over and clinked beer bottles in salute.
"Come walk with me Wayne. I want to talk to you about some things."
The pair walked away aimlessly and JT waited until they were out of earshot, before talking.
"I wanted to ask you about your dad. How's he doing?"
"Shit, JT. The lady they got coming every day to take care of him, is costing me a fortune and I got no choice, he needs her. The dialysis is going to cost me more I'm told. Seems he needs to be moved up to twice a week soon. His kidneys ain't doing nothing anymore."
"Shit, Wayne, that's a bummer man. I'm sorry to hear that. No way you can get any help from the government to pay for any of it?"
"You kidding? As far as they're concerned, he served his purpose for them and now they throw him aside like he ain't worth anything to them. I got a great woman, named Della, helping me run the business, so that keeps that money coming in."
"That just sucks, dude. I mean, what the hell are we paying taxes and shit for? If you can't work, they let you die in misery? That isn't right, not in anybody's book, Wayne."
"Sure as shit ain't right in mine."
"You know, I was talking to the guys about something and I want to run it by you and see what you think about it."
"Sure, what you got?"
"Well, after you told us before about it, we were thinking of a way to help you out some how."
Wayne was warming up to it already, just knowing the source of the idea and its intent. They stood down by the gate and leaned up against it, each lighting up a cigarette.
"What if we put on some kind of charity event to raise money? We were trying to think of a way to get people to throw a buck or two, maybe even five or ten, into a pot to help pay for your dad. We raffle off a few prizes and people at least get something for their money. We could do free oil changes and stuff like that and maybe raffle off a car, or something."
"No shit, JT? Where would you guys get a car to give away? Don't know too many people willing to give something away for free these days, specially a new car."
"It doesn't have to be a new one. What if we build a car?"
"Build one? You don't think that's more expensive?"
"Not the way we can do it. Clay has two cars that he just got from Jake. One is a sweet Caddy Eldorado convertible. We could make it a custom job, with cool paint and some chrome goodies on it. Put in a new sound system and put that up for a raffle. Way less than new, but something a lot of people would want to have."
"Yeah. Yeah. I see where you're going with it. I like this, JT, I like it a lot."
"I figure we should be able to raise quite a few thousand dollars in total, if we do it right."
"Got any ideas on that?"
"Make it as much fun to do, as we can. If we can get some other people in town to help out, it could really take off. We have good people in this town, Wayne and I know they haven't lost what Charming's spirit is all about."
"You're right, JT. People do still have some heart here. I'll do whatever I can to get this going and talk to folks downtown, see what they're willing to do. If this works out, I owe you big time for it."
"Wayne, you don't owe us for it, man. This is us helping out a friend in need. It's about the people of Charming helping out one of their own. This could happen to anyone and they'd be in the same position as you and your dad."
Wayne looked at JT with an open admiration and deep respect for him. Any reservations as to his choice of lifestyle were dismissed, after weighing them against the strength of character he was showing him. Of everyone he had known since school and after, no one had ever shown such a side of them self to him. He knew he was never one of the 'In' crowd, or even on any popularity lists, but JT and even Piney, had shown him some recognition and let him hang around with them and the others. Now, over a dozen years later, it was still JT and Piney letting him hang around and showing him recognition as a friend.
"You're the best guy I ever knew, JT. Ever since we were in school, you didn't mind me hanging around with you guys and treated me decent, like."
"We always wondered why you never wanted to join in with us."
"I was just happy to be hanging out, didn't want to push my luck."
"Shit, Wayne, you missed out, buddy."
"Yeah, I'm sure I did. I wasn't keen on getting the same response, like I got from Roger Hesslington."
"Wow, that name's a blast from the past. I tangled with him when Piney and I were in Kennedy Junior High. Him and two buddies were kicking the shit out of me, because I gave Roger a new look when he smiled. They were paying me back, when Piney stepped in and we kicked the shit out of the three of them. Never came near us again."
"Could have used you guys a few years later. Roger laid a beating on me, for asking to join them one night for some fun. I was real sweet on this one girl, Karen Livingston, remember her?"
"Yeah, blonde, tightest ass you ever saw, real pretty too."
"Oh yeah. I remember her. She was quite popular with the jocks, wasn't she?"
"Yeah, I guess. Never even looked at me once. I was hoping to get a chance to talk with her, when Roger and his buddy, Mike Bennet decided she was off limits and let me know in no uncertain terms to back off."
"No argument there. My dad shit a brick, when he seen me walking in all bloodied and bruised up. Missing a couple of teeth still, but the beating left its mark on me. Never felt like trusting no one after that."
"Yeah, no doubt, but we never did anything like that to you."
"I know, but I was scared to mess up what I had and was happy to have that."
"That's a total bummer, man. I had no idea, no one did."
"I know, but that's cool. I got to see lots of fun happening and felt like I was a part of it."
JT looked at Wayne, feeling the sadness hit him, knowing what Wayne had gone through and suffered from. He slung his arm over Wayne's shoulder and hugged him.
"You're our friend, Wayne. From here on in, I don't want you standing off to the side, watching fun happen. I want you to enjoy it with us."
They were coming close to the tables packed with the women sitting around talking and smiling, all looking towards them.
"Fucking right, really, Wayne. Hey, let me ask you something."
"What's that, JT?"
"When was the last time you got laid?"
"Pretty simple question to understand, Wayne."
"I know the question, just trying to figure the why."
"I know what I'm going to say to you will come across as the weirdest, most fucked up sounding thing you've ever heard, but check this out."
JT began explaining about the commune and the gift of free love. Wayne sat spellbound by what he heard. As incredulous as it all sounded, JT looked as straight up as ever, making him decide to believe him. JT could still see the doubts being harboured in him and called Suzy over. Suzy dashed to JT's side and held on to him, as she looked at Wayne.
"Baby, I was just explaining free love to Wayne and he still doesn't believe me. You tell him and maybe he'll believe you."
"I believe you, JT. It's just hard to imagine."
"Well, imagine this, Officer Unser."
"You can call me Wayne, when I ain't wearing the badge, Sweetie."
Suzy explained everything she could about free love to Wayne and saw how he was perking up to the idea that he had an outside chance of doing it.
"So, what do you think of that, Wayne?"
"Sounds like you guys have it made in the shade out there."
"How would you like to join us and enjoy what Suzy just explained to you?"
Wayne took a look of complete shock, trying to believe what he heard was real.
"Yes I am, Wayne. Completely serious."
"Any girl I ask, you're saying?"
"No, all the girls, is what I'm saying. Once you've been in the circle, you'll think you died and went to heaven."
Wayne chuckled in disbelief, yet knew the words spoken were true. He looked at Suzy, getting a smile and nod of acknowledgement.
"I'm in. I'd have to be insane, not to go for something like that."
"My thoughts exactly, Wayne. So what do you say we get a fresh beer and check out what's cooking on the barbeque. Something sure smells delicious."
"Yeah, I was catching a whiff of that and wondering what it was, myself."
JT and Suzy walked with Wayne over to the crowd around the barbeque, then JT went in and got a couple more beers from the fridge. Piney came in and went up to JT, as he opened the beers with a church key attached to the side of the fridge.
"So, how's it going with Wayne?"
"He's all for the idea and says he'll talk to people downtown to see if they'll help out. The more we can raffle off, the more money we raise for him."
"This is a great idea, JT. With Wayne on our side and the folks in town joining in, how can people hate us?"
"I don't think people ever hated us, just not into the lifestyle we have. When they don't see a threat to their way of living, they're not scared of us anymore."
"Yeah, guess we come across as scary guys to them."
"Anything out of the norm, is scary to them. They like their nice, quiet, sedate little lives. They don't want to have the big, bad world out there moving in."
"Then maybe we should keep it from moving in?"
"No way you can stop progress, Piney. Come on, let's get some grub before it's all gone."
They walked back out and JT handed Wayne his beer, as he munched on his burger. Wayne looked totally in his glory, enjoying the food and drink, the music and the people. He was excitedly talking about his experience to three of the girls and they were showing their interest in him.
The compound was locked up, as the sun faded in the sky, a line of cars, including Wayne's, headed out to Calaveras and an experience Wayne would never forget. The caravan stopped at the farm and Wayne was looking around at where they lived and what they had done. Once they got inside, Wayne never had a chance to ask a question, before numerous feminine hands were undressing him. The guys watched a stunned and surprised Wayne being led upstairs, then a cacophony of giggling started and soon died down, letting them know the girls were naked as well and engaged in their brand of loving. The guys knew Wayne would never leave the room, until the girls made sure he was spent of every drop of his seed and left feeling sated inside and out. They knew he would also be given the gift of love and fill his heart with their kindness, further solidifying their relationship with him.
By the end of the month of November, on a Thanksgiving weekend, the townspeople gathered for the raffle in the Kennedy Jr. High school grounds. The mayor, Justin Pembroke, took the podium first and introduced himself well, it being election time next week and all, associating himself with anything to gain much needed votes. He thanked JT and his club, letting them know this was their doing and thanked everyone for participating and helping out, although it sounded like he was choking on the club's name, as he said it. He said a few words about the reason for it happening and then welcomed Wayne to speak further about it. His heartfelt speech brought a few tears, as well as an increase in sympathetic understanding, that any one of them could be faced with something like this themselves.