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Old 02-26-2010, 12:32 PM   #1
RoosterBoots
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Default RoosterBoots Meets the Hells Angels

(From "The Incredibly Normal Adventures of Roosterboots")

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away, I owned a Honda CB750.

"Baby" was uncomfortable to ride for more than an hour. Her seat was hard and unforgiving, and the pegs made my legs bend back at an awkward angle. My legs would cramp and then I'd have to get off and walk around a bit. But Baby was the biggest thing I had ever owned and I cherished that bike.

She was beauty incarnate, capable of speeds in excess of 120 mph. Her frame-mounted fairing absorbed the wind so that the faster I went, the more stable Baby became.

I was in the Navy, stationed in North Carolina. Orders came through early that summer. It was time to move, this time to Florida. My wife and I had two weeks to be there. I decided to pack a duffel bag and go down to Florida house-hunting on Baby.

June 19, 1982. Two hours before dawn, I turned the key and pressed the Start button. Contact! The seat vibrated as four carburetors kicked their pistons awake. I tightened my chinstrap, blew my beloved a kiss “goodbye” and advanced the throttle.

Into the darkness. Into the unknown. Into the arms of danger.

Fifty feet later, I manually switched fuel tanks from “OFF” to “NORMAL”. Once again, we were on our way.

Darkness has a way of focusing your attention when you’re alone with your machine. That ticking noise, for example. How come I never heard THAT before? Was that a clank?

The rain fell. Sub-Tropical Storm One glanced off the outer banks at Hatteras as I drove into its wind and rain. I was ready for it, though. I was ready for anything.

I had cotton clothing. I had a bright yellow two-piece PVC rain suit. I had a .45 auto in a Bianchi shoulder holster.

The sun came out and I got hot. The rain suit came off and went into the duffel bag. The .45 came off and went into the left-hand glove box.

The South Carolina state line greeted us with fireworks stores of every description. The The Inner Roosterboots screamed “Stop…STOP!” But we had places to go and daylight was burning.

Charleston rose ahead of us at seventy miles an hour. I glanced at the fuel meter. It was low…time for gas. Just ahead, a pump farm. Easy access. We banked right and peeled onto the off ramp. Downshift…whine. Downshift…whine. Sliding through the parking lot, coasting now, engine humming, under the metal awning, Pump Number Four, touch the brakes, and the forks dip in a steed’s salute as we gently halt.

Kickstand down. Relax. Swing off the saddle and finally, finally let go of the controls. Time to choose the octane.

Behind me, pointed slightly downhill, Baby crept forward gently into the arms of gravity until finally…

Ka…LICK!

I knew that sound. A kickstand snapping into place! I turned and watched the slow-motion horror show as Baby slid downhill and leaned past the point of no return. I had no choice.

Holding the gas nozzle in one hand, I dropped to the ground like a ball player sliding into home base. I aimed my legs straight. I knew it would hurt.

Baby’s engine came to rest squarely on top of my right calf. It was hot and I was right…it hurt like hell. I was pinned against the asphalt by Baby’s transmission. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Looking up, I saw a friendly face with thick-rimmed glasses. In his fifties, he had pulled up in a Winnebago about six seconds earlier.

“Can I help?” he asked.

“Sure,” I answered. Interesting question.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked. One finger pressed the glasses back onto the bridge of his nose.

I considered this for a moment. “You could…uh…pull the bike off my legs,” I suggested.

“OK.” He leaned over and looked at the rear wheel. Then the saddle, then the front wheel. “How?”

“Grab the handlebars,” I spoke, slowly, “and pull.”

A few seconds later, I was free. I thanked the gentleman and popped Baby up onto her center stand. A check of her left side showed a slight scrape on the fairing, nothing more. We’d gotten lucky.

I started to pump gas and pondered what would have happened if…****!

Over there. By the cashier’s kiosk. DAMN!

Five of ‘em. Black leather. Black t-shirts. Black Betties. Hell’s Angels, sure ‘nuff. They looked just like ZZ Top, and they were standing directly between me and the kiosk!

And they were looking at me! And laughing. And pointing.

Ohmygodi’mgonnaDIE!

I pumped slowly, buying time. I measured the distance between my left hand and the glove box holding my .45 automatic. Gas sloshed. I focused on the pump spigot, concentrating on keeping it in the little fill hole, looking at nothing else. Time! Time! I needed more time!

Too soon, the tank was full. I’d have to go pay now. I had no choice.

I looked up and planned my route. My heart sang! The Hell’s Angels were gone! They had left! I was going to LIVE! The air smelled sweet and the birds chirped!

Inside the kiosk I lingered by the air conditioning. I took a moment to stretch one final time, tossed three dollars on the counter, and pushed the door open into the…****!

Over there…ZZ Top…all five of ‘em.

Standing in a circle.

Around BABY!

Well, I told myself, there are worse places to die than Charleston. There’s…ohhh Damn! I can’t think of any. Well, the sun was out and the air smelled sweet and I was gonna die as the damn birds chirped.

Maybe I could bluff my way past the leader (Billy Gibbons). Maybe I could get my hands onto the .45 before they knew what was going on. I’d go out in a blaze of glory and take most of the Hell’s Angels with me.

It was a long walk from the kiosk to Baby. The bikers shifted positions, flanking me. I’d seen this maneuver before. I took two more steps toward the leader, then feinted left and shifted right toward Baby’s front tire.

The Hell’s Angels were momentarily off-balance. But they were experienced street hoods. They recovered quickly and surrounded me at the pump. Baby was four feet away. I’d never reach the pistol in time. Half the gang behind me, I couldn’t move back. I had no choice.

I’d have to fight.

The leader stepped forward out of the pack. His eyes blazed with bigotry and fire and poison. “This your HONDA?” he asked, dripping out the last word with well-practiced sarcasm.

I glanced at the glove box one final time. No chance. Too far away.

I looked him straight in the eyes, this hulking, unwashed, bearded executioner. In my best Opie Taylor voice, I squeaked, “Yes…”

His left hand shot out toward me like a bolt of lightning. It grabbed my right elbow and pulled me forward. My feet struggled to keep up, to keep standing.

His face opened into a rictus of gums and yellowing teeth. His right hand stiffened into the classic karate “knife” position and plunged at my midsection, but off-center. It gripped my right hand…hard.

Then he shook it. Up. Down. Up and down.

He started laughing. Laughter all around me. The entire band was laughing. My right hand was crushed. My leg was burned. They were laughing.

The leader laughed up a tiny droplet of spittle onto his beard. It stayed right there and glistened as he shook my hand up and down, up and down.

“We just wanted to meet an honest-to-God Honda rider who did what you just did. Hurts, don’t it?” Up and down. Up and down. “We thought that the only fools on the planet who would sacrifice their bodies for their bikes rode Harleys!"

They turned and fired up their big, black American monstrosities. Budda-budda-budda. They pulled out into traffic and in a second, the entire group was out of sight.

“Yeah,” I said quietly. “You BETTER run. I’ll kick your asses!”
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Old 02-27-2010, 02:20 PM   #2
mscuddy
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Great story. I use to have a bunch of Cushman motor scooters, and my favorite of then all was a 1959 Super Eagle with the Truckster Clutch, (manual) and a 22 tooth counter shaft sprocket. That combo made the Eagle capable of 55-60 mph on the freeway, and I use to ride it to work, all the way from Burbank to LAX, in the summer months.

One time I was gassing up in Culver City, when the sound of thunder engulfed the Chevron staiton I was in, and soon I was surrounded by about 10 Hells Angeles, all giving me the mad dog look of "should we kill it, or set it on fire?"

Well if you never have seen a Cushman Super Eagle, it looks like a scaled down Harley, complete with a tank shifter, and a foot clutch. After I finished gassing up, I went back into the staiton to get my change, and wouldn't you know it, when I came back out, there they were, all circled around the Cushman, pointing at things, and laughing.

I smiled the best I could under the circumstances, and didn't even think of the .380 Colt hammerless in the inside pocket of my jacket, since they'd just probably take it away from me, and stuff it up my ass. So I kind of squeezed between the Angles and pulled the kick starter up, and gave it a big boot. The Cushman started up, and since I built a megaphone for it, sounded bad to the bone (for a big lawnmower).

The Angeles just stood there, and gave me the best stare they could, and with a flourish, allowed me to ride through them, out to Washington Blvd. and make my way to work at LAX. After about 10 minutes, the pack caught up to me, and we all rode down Sepulveda Blvd together, a big pack of loud, 'merican built motorsickles.

At the corner of Sepulveda and Manchester, the leader pulled up next to me, slapped me on the back (hard) and shoved a business card in my top pocket.

I've still got the card, and it reads "Bob Goldman, President South Bay chapter, Hells Angeles. Penciled in was a personal note "give me a call, I want to buy your bike, name your price." with a phone number.

I thought that was pretty cool. I ended up selling the Super Eagle and a military Eagle to Mel at Jammer Cycles in Glendale. He's still got 'em.
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