(Originally appeared in Mutant Renegade Zine #8, Spring 1998)
The aura of the cool black machine was evident at first glance. I was impressed, initially expecting less. The glimmer in my eye let on that I was interested.
The current owner told me that he just had it painted, bought new tires and put on new breaks, the standard ‘improvement spiel’ that anyone gives when selling an item that they want to make money on. “I was going to try and get $2000 for it,” he said, “but since your brother is such a good friend, you can have it for $1,600″.
I couldn’t tell if he was being honest or if he was trying to pull one over on me. Really, who am I to say how honest my brother’s friends are? I decide to take his word on it. The guy then handed me the keys and told me to take it for a spin.
Trying to look my coolest, I straddled the motorcycle, turned the key, grabbed the clutch and pushed the starter button. Deep within the 700 c.c’s that powered the beast, a low rumble started to resonate. As the bike warmed up I could feel the power that was just waiting to be unleashed. With all eyes on me, I revved the engine, let off the clutch and . . . . . . stalled.
I gave an uneasy smile, pushed the starter, revved the engine a little bit more from a low rumble to a growl, let off the clutch and . . . . . . . stalled. At this point all the coolness that I have ever managed to accumulate in my lifetime started to fade.
“It’s just getting warmed up, it does that sometimes,” the guy trying to sell me the bike said.
I’m not sure if he was serious or if he was trying to help me save some grace in front on my wife and sister-in-law. I started the bike once again and shyly eased it into the street. I was moving. Now all I had to do was make it to the end of the street and back without looking like Pee Wee Herman. I checked the street for billboards. Seeing none I thought I was safe.
The texture and hardness of pavement and how it compares to human flesh is only purely evident when your traveling down a neighborhood street on top of your traveling down a neighborhood street on top of a steel frame supported by two wheels inches off the ground doing 80mph (inadvertently) while rapidly approaching a three-way stop. However, I did find one thing out while skidding to a stop, that the bike did in fact have new brakes. Damn good ones at that.
It took a while for me to get myself back together. It was then that I noticed the truck full of Yolk-o’s in my rearview mirror waiting for me to “get my ass in gear.” (One of my father’s favorite sayings.) With the bike still rumbling beneath me, I let off the clutch, roll on the throttle and did a Pee Wee Herman right then and there sans the billboard.
I barely heard the gaffaughs and insults thrown at me by the laughingtheirassesoff yolk-o’s because I was too busy trying to lift the 500-pound machine that was bleeding gas all over my not so lucky lower left leg. After the Yolk-o’s left, I straightened up the bike and looked behind me to see if anyone else had noticed the mishap (the guy selling the bike, my sister-in-law, my wife), I assumed that they were unaware of my little misadventure and gave the started button yet one more push. I managed to ride around a few blocks, stalling only a couple of more times before I headed back.
As I approached the house, everyone was giving me the “where the hell have you been” look. By now I had regained some of my cool demeanor and slowly coasted the bike into the driveway. I turned off the ignition and said (before anyone else got the chance to say anything). “That was one hell of a ride, nice bike, powerful too.” Everyone smiled. I guess that they figured that I was having the time of my life and that’s why I took so long.
As I started to get off the bike, I noticed that something didn’t look quit right. The end of the left-hand grip was missing. I dropped the bike of the left side. I stared to edge my body in front of the grip trying to hide it. All the while I’m wondering if it was like that already, worrying that it wasn’t and that there was more damage to the bike that I hadn’t noticed yet. Was the gas tank bent, was the fender scratched, was the . . . . I was awakened from my worries by the guy selling the motorcycle.
“So what do you think?” he asked.
“I’ll take it.”
The powerful machine that came into my being that faithful day is now known as Pharaoh Levi and we’ve had many adventures together. My riding ability and knowledge of the motorcycle has greatly improved, and the level of consciousness one obtains while riding on the back roads can never be completely communicated with words, it must also be experienced.