Raising Hell

The motorcycle had seen better days and it had been sitting in the rain, under a tarp, for over a decade. The seat was torn and the foam rubber padding that once supported the vinyl was exposed. The yellow material was moldy and decayed. The bike had been tipped over occasionally, but never laid down. The signal lights were held in place with some baling wire and the electrical system was shot. The headlight had to be hot-wired before it would cooperate, and the brake light seldom illuminated. It ran fine the last time he started it, but that was months ago. He couldn’t remember the last time he rode but he suspected a quick jaunt would ease his troubled mind. He was stressed out and he desperately needed to vent his frustrations.

Zane came upon the Honda from a Craigslist ad, but that was ten years ago. As it turns out, the Shimeks had a left-over Isuzu Trooper that had been scuttled for parts and stitched back together like Frankenstein’s monster. After some clever negotiations, Zane made a deal. It was an ‘even swap’ they agreed as the two men exchanged pink slips. The ecstatic pair parted ways knowing they had both just made the deal of a lifetime! The Honda was a customized beauty when it first arrived at the Shimek household! The fuel tank and side fairings were doused in black lacquer that seemed a mile deep. The trim and tank were tastily adorned with obnoxious crimson red flames! It was dripping with chrome, and the Honda came complete with auxiliary driving lights and an aftermarket windshield! The machine was immaculate in all respects meaning he had low miles and brand-new tires!  The shaft drive was a huge advantage for a biker on a budget, meaning Zane would never contend with a rusting drive-chain. The Honda Shadow was virtually maintenance-free and that suited Zane just fine. To his delight, the previous owner had made some significant modifications to the engine. The factory installed components were engineered for fuel efficiency, but the installation of an aftermarket camshaft breathed new life into the cycle. The horsepower was significantly increased, and because of this the Honda required high octane fuel.

It was ten o’clock in the morning on a Friday and the weather was optimal for motorcycling. The Honda was parked on the walkway that lay adjacent to Aiden’s front door. The cycle was sandwiched in between the Isuzu and Aiden’s living room window. Parked directly behind the Honda was Elise’s Ninja which would need to be moved if he had any intensions of extricating his motorcycle from the parking area. Zane rarely felt the urge to ride, and the prospect of removing the tarp from Elise’s Ninja in an effort to roll it out of the way seemed like too much of a hassle. Having said that, the keys had somehow found their way into the aging biker’s hand. He didn’t know how they got there; they just did. “I might as well see if the battery has any juice,” Zane thought as he absent mindedly inserted the key into its receptacle. Upon twisting the key a smattering of color-coded warnings illuminated. The oil light beamed red for example, while the neutral light was green. Zane was curbing his enthusiasm as he reached down towards the left side of the fuel tank. He felt around for the fuel cut-off valve and rotated the petcock’s small lever into the ‘reserve’ setting. He pulled down the choke mechanism and crossed his fingers. “It’s the moment of truth,” he declared as he focused all of his energy onto the push-button starter switch located near the handle grip. The starter motor spun the engine, and the big V-Twin caught fire, meaning it started right up. The machine came equipped with an aftermarket exhaust system and the customized muffler did little to stifle the pulsating loping growl that was produced by the reciprocating pistons. The loud exhaust reverberated from Aiden’s windowpane and bounced back up against the Trooper. It was a symphony of mechanized divinity Zane reasoned as he contemplated whether or not the flat rear tire would hold air long enough to take a ride? He suspected he picked up a nail. Whatever the reason, it took about a day and a half before the slow leak rendered the meaty tire useless. Prompted by the music of the loping engine, he decided to rummage through the deck box in order to procure a bicycle pump. He had to kill the engine at this time because the hot exhaust would make it impossible to fasten the air chuck to the valve without getting burned. He managed to get the tire inflated which encouraged him to add some additional fuel. He had just enough gasoline to mow the lawn a couple of times; he could do that, or he could use the fuel to feed his thirsty beast? There was less than a gallon of the 92-octane fuel remaining in his red plastic can and it was allocated for the lawn mower. He forgot about the lawn!  Zane gingerly wrestled with the funnel as the distinct odor of fresh gasoline permeated the confined space. He sealed the tank and restarted the engine. The Honda roared back to life as Zane’s blood pressure increased! He was acutely aware of his accelerated heart rate and his mouth began to water! It was time to move Elise’s Ninja out of the way because it was nearly time to ride! The only remaining preparation was to gently remove a collection of spider-webs that had accumulated between the inoperable turn signals and the passenger seat!

He became more eager by the minute! His eyes became slightly dilated as they glazed over, and the anticipation produced tiny droplets of perspiration around the base of his neck. He contemplated the best potential route because he needed to feel the wind beat against his chest. He needed to feel the vibration of the straining steel as he pushed the Honda to his absolute limits and beyond! The Honda Shadow was engineered for gentle cruising, but Zane tended to beat the machine as if it were a mechanized punching bag. He straddled the bike and carefully backed out from its parking space. Zane then pointed the front tire towards his destination an embarked upon a small crusade to ease his troubled mind.

The voyage led through some twisty curves and long soothing straightaways which brought him to a posh country club known as ‘Persimmon golf course.’ The presence of privileged elites always got Zane’s dander up because financial strife caused him to resent the affluent golfers. In his mind they were nothing more than glorified zombies living off the backs of their ancestor’s labor! Zane was in a hateful mood, and because of this he intended to ruin the serenity that the peaceful golfers were enjoying. There was a whole flock of them that day; it must have been a tournament. Zane knew it would piss them off, so he downshifted and twisted his grip causing the Honda to be throttled up to maximum capacity! He negotiated the twisty country lanes at a blistering pace and dove into the sharp curves with an aggressive fervor! The steep lean angle caused the foot pegs to strike the asphalt creating an outrageous shower of amber sparks! He banked and leaned and shifted his weight, while hitting his apex and keeping his line! Zane was feeling excessively belligerent, so he intentionally downshifted even though it wasn’t necessary. He rev-matched the raging engine to merge the screaming cogs with the rotating crankshaft! Upon doing so, the thundering rumble from the aftermarket Cobra pipes resonated from off the adjacent McMansions and reverberated the obnoxious sound waves back across the peaceful lane and onto the golf course! The angry flock of golfers stopped what they were doing in order to offer up quick scoffs while aggressively shaking their putters like enchanted scepters meant to throw bitter curses at him! Zane reveled in the carnage.

An authentic biker would agree that riding is sweeter with some music, and Zane was in the mood for some Beastie Boys. The song entitled Sabotage was blasting in the backdrop of his tattered mind as his relentless free-fall into madness intensified! He could hear the belligerent music in his head as if he were standing front row at a live concert! With an unsettling savage yawp he belted out the words, “LISTEN ALL OF Y’ALL, IT’S SABOTAGE!” The relentless pounding of the electric music fueled his latent desires to kill and win. “LISTEN ALL OF Y’ALL, IT’S SABOTAGE!” Zane felt like raging, so he let his mind run wild as he delighted in some wicked imagery! He thought of bouncing the Honda over the curb and across the sidewalk! He imagined doing burnouts in the sand traps after carving out random figure eights and donuts into the posh lawn! In total punk rock fashion, he imagined dismounting his steed in order to facilitate his need to beat the living snot out the ungrateful ‘wealthy pricks!’  Zane was feeling like a god; an old testament malevolent god who would rain down boiling piss upon the unsuspecting golfers as they scrambled to find cover in the relative safety of the pretentious golf carts!  Again, he considered defaming the luscious green lawn that made up the sprawling golf course. From origins unknown, a voice suddenly warned “They’d press charges like a little bitch!” The nefarious voice went on to suggest, “It would be worth it though!” It was a moot point however, because by this time the golf course was little more than a blip in his rear-view mirror. The blistering speed was enough to catapult him from the scene before his reptilian mind had a chance to indulge.            

He found himself at a four way stop. He could continue on his current trajectory which would lead to some soothing twisties, but instead the frenzied biker craved a high-speed burn! He was at a crossroads, so he headed south. He dumped the clutch and the Honda lurched forwards and leaned left. If the turn signal worked he wouldn’t have used it because Zane was peculiar in that regard.

He found himself on a path which led to some rural country highways that bisected lush meadows and family-owned farms. It was a narrow two-lane black top that begged to be ridden hard, and so he did! He accelerated like a scalded dog while coming upon a slow-moving pick-up which he immediately overtook as if they were standing still! By now the wind was crashing into his officially sanctioned Harley-Davidson jacket that he inherited from John. Zane promised to invite John’s energy on a ride sometime, but John’s ghost didn’t make an appearance on this occasion. Instead Zane was exercising his own demons! He was hell bent for leather and he ignored the speedometer’s input! Like a galloping thunderclap the man and machine roared through the picturesque countryside. It was a beautiful equinox day, and the early autumn sun was shining down. Zane was oblivious to the glorious serenity that was enveloping him from all fronts because his mind was laser focused upon the distant horizon! The wind was slamming against his chest and his heart was beating like a drum!

…to be continued

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