Furio pushed the kickstand down on his custom chopper, swung his leg over the backseat, stood and stretched. His back creaked and popped in protest. It’s been a long ride. He unzipped his leather jacket, letting the cool fall air wash over his damp T-shirt. He eyed his dust covered bike. Even with the layer of grime, the orange and red flames looked almost alive as they snaked across his midnight blue gas tank. It was a damn fine machine, a testament to American pride, all chrome and fury.
He’d been on the road for weeks, stopping every evening in a new town. He was born with a nomadic heart, but that wasn’t the reason for this quest. He was searching and tonight his hunt brought him to Chanute, Kansas. Time was running out.
He stopped at the door of the convenience store, knocked the dust off his boots before he strolled inside and made a beeline for the refrigerated units in the back, plucking a 32 oz. Miller from the rack. Brain Grenade, just what the doctor ordered.
He set the bottle on the counter and dug out his wallet as the kid behind the counter stared at him with wide eyes. At six foot five and two hundred forty pounds, he tended to have that effect on people. He pushed his sunglasses up on his forehead and gave the kid a wink, let them drop back to the bridge of his nose.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to bite you,” Furio said, handing over a sawbuck. His voice carried the deep rumble of thunder riding on a storm cloud in the spring.
“Sorry,” the kid said, averting his eyes. “I didn’t mean to stare.”
“Don’t sweat it.” Furio shrugged his massive shoulders. “Do you know if there’s a biker friendly bar around these parts?”
“There’s always a few Hogs in front of Dagwood’s, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a friendly bar.”
“Sounds like my kind of place.” Furio grinned, causing the kid to turn away again. “Where’s it at?”
“Just head east on Highway 39. You can’t miss it. It’s only like ten minutes from here,” he replied, counting out the change.
Furio spun the cap of the bottle and turned it up. Air bubbles quickly replaced the golden fluid. He sat the bottle on the counter and wiped the stray splashes of beer from his salt and pepper beard with the back of his hand.
“Thanks for the info, kid,” he said, pushing the door open with his boot.
Furio zipped up, straddled the bike and hit the ignition. The bike roared to life beneath him. He let the clutch out just enough to urge the bike forward until he faced the direction of the highway. He rolled the throttle full open and dumped the clutch. The back tire broke free, sending a shower of gravel out in front of him. He slid sideways all the way onto the blacktop of Highway 39. He switched gears, righting the bike, and sped away from the setting sun.The kid was right, you can’t miss this place.
Dagwood’s crawled into view. It was an old wooden building, bleached grey by the weather. The roof was a patchwork of different colored shingles, some of which had come loose and curled up under the weight of the harsh Kansas summer. A handful of bikes lined the wooden porch at the front of the little dive.
Furio backed his bike into an empty spot closest to the exit. You can never be too careful these days.
He dismounted in a fluid motion that belied his size, he removed his sunglasses and hung them from his throttle cable. The sun was all but a memory for the day and he was sure he wouldn’t need them inside.
The battered door of the bar had once been painted red, but weather and more than a little abuse had left it pocked and peeling exposing the brittle dry rotted wood beneath. Furio stood just inside the doorway, letting his eyes adjust to the dimly lit, smoke filled room. The jukebox in the corner had the volume turned low, but he could still make out the song The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash.
The hairs on your arm will stand up at the terror in each
Sip and each sup will you partake of that last offered cup
Or disappear into the potter's ground
When the man comes around
Furio walked to the bar, the boards creaking beneath his feet from their enormous load. He took an empty stool near the taps in the middle.
“What can I do you for?” the bartender asked curtly.
“I’ll take Miller High Life, draft.” Furio pointed at the appropriate tap. “And perhaps some information.”
“What kind of information?” he didn’t move to get Furio’s beer.
“I’m looking for a man,” Furio began.
“Sorry, fella, but this isn’t that kind of bar.” The bartenders scowled.
“You’re a funny guy.” Furio paused to crack his neck. “A regular fucking comedian. Now, how about that beer?”
“Coming right up,” the bartender grabbed a mug from beneath the counter and filled it with golden liquid, seemingly unaffected by Furio’s growing ire.
“You got a name?”
“Everybody’s got a name,” he quipped, sliding the beer to Furio.
“Yeah, but what’s yours?”
“Folks around these parts just call me Mack.”
“So Mack, this guy would’ve been coming through here about a week ago, maybe less. Answers to Zanna,” Furio began again.
“Hey buddy, I hate to burst your bubble, but we get a lot of people in and out of here. Unless he’s a regular, I’m thinking your shit out of luck.”
“No, this guy is a drifter. He can’t stand to be in one place too long, but if he’s been here I bet you’d remember him.” Furio let out a long sigh.
“Fine, since you seem hell bent on busting my balls about your boyfriend, I’ll humor you. Let’s get this over with, so I can get back to work,” Mack said in a put out voice. “What does he look like?”
Furio stood, towering over the bartender, held his hand palm down against his chest. “He’s about this high, has black hair, lamb chop sideburns, a braided goatee and a tattoo of the man in the moon on the side of neck.”
The bartender stiffened at the mention of the tattoo. “Is this Zanna a friend of your?”
Furio could barely contain his excitement. “He’s been here! How long ago. Did he say he would come back?”
“Bear, Johnny, Clint.” Mack waved at a group of biker’s playing pool in the back of the bar. “This is the asshole buddy of that freak from the other night.”
A dozen bikers wearing patches sporting the logo of the Devil Dawgs, M.C. on their jackets answered the bartender’s call. Several of them pulled pistols seemingly from out of the air, they materialized so fast. The others pulled knives from boots and sleeves.
“Whoa!” Furio held his ham sized hands in front of him. “I just said I was looking for him, I never claimed to be his friend.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t deny it until the brother’s got involved,” the irate bartender countered, ducking under the bar and coming up with a shotgun leveled at Furio’s chest.
“Look, he took something from me. I’m just trying to get it back. I’ve got no beef with any of you.” Furio moved his hands above his head to show he meant no harm.
“What a coincidence,” Mack paused, whistled appreciatively. “He took something from us too. My bet is that you’re our ticket to get it back.”
“Oh, no.” Furio shook his head. “How many?”
“You asked if he said he’d come back. You knew he did. That first night, he was all smiles and free beers for everyone in the bar.” Mack let the barrel of the shotgun rest on the bar. His eyes grew vacant as recounted the encounter.
“How many?” Furio repeated.
“The second night, he began to show us stuff. Weird stuff. Shit like I ain’t never seen before, man. The way he moved stuff around and made things disappear. He was like that fella from the TV only better, because we were all right here, we could see with our own eyes what he was doing and I’m telling you right now he didn’t have any hidden cables to help him pull it off. He still had that wonderful smile and was ready with the free beer between stunts.”
“How many?” Furio asked again, his voice growing louder.
“The third night, he dropped the bomb on us. He made his proposition. He kept that god awful smile the whole time he laid it out for us. Hell, I thought he was joking at first, but then…when I realized he wasn’t--”
“How fucking many?” Furio roared, causing the crowd to take a step back.
“He said that they weren’t tricks,” Mack continued undeterred, apparently lost in his own private hell. “He said it was real magic. Big bad voodoo magic, that’s what ol’ Hawk called it. He said he would show us how to do it, make us like him. We could do anything we wanted. All we had to do was make a gesture of good faith to prove our commitment, to prove we were worthy.”
Furio’s right hand shot out, grabbed Mack by the front of the shirt, and dragged him over the bar with blinding speed. “How many?” Furio held Mack at eye level, his feet dangling a good foot from the floor.
The air came alive as the other bikers cocked their pistols, pointed them at Furio.
“Two,” Mack muttered. “He said if we gave him two he would show us wonders beyond our wildest dreams. He would make us gods.”
Furio lowered him to the floor, ran his gaze over the frightened faces of the others. They sickened him. “Do you even realize what you’ve done?”
I realize what I’ve done. I’ve just given you a teaser. Sorry folks, I can’t print any more of this because this is the first part of a short story I finished last week. But by what you’ve read so far, does this sound like something you would be interested in reading more about?
Labels: Bikers, Born to be Wild, Shorts