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RoosterBoots 03-05-2010 03:47 PM

The Pilgrimage - Part 2
 
(From "The Incredibly Normal Adventures of RoosterBoots")


Part 2 – The Promised Land!

Before long, the Tombigbee faded away. Its harsh gray road morphed into modern black asphalt. We passed houses and churches, and people waved at us. Old people, older than me!

What was this strange land? No one was throwing bottles at us, screaming “dirty hippies” or hiding their daughters. Were these people on drugs? Could I get some?

Soon we had our answer. Where the road came to a “T”, merchants were busily enticing bikers to stop and buy new exhaust systems. It was a trap. I saw it immediately. One of the oldest scams in the book, and it works like this.

First, the merchant pitches a tent or parks a giant trailer on the side of the road at a gas station. Then he makes his three teenage daughters put on bikinis and sit around in chairs beside the entrance. A giant sign is suspended over the tent,

Five Minutes in Tent
Alone with Your Choice of Girl !!

Free With Fillup
or
Pair of Rush Slip On Mufflers

Air Conditioned!

The girls would sit there and squirm enticingly. The pull of their siren’s song was too much for some of the lads that day. I watched as one poor wretch after another bought three point two gallons of gas and went into the tent! Oh, it was horrible. I tried to warn them.

“Fools!” I yelled. “Perdition awaits!” But they had little schooling in life and would not listen. I know not what final price they paid for that moment’s pleasure or for a pair of zip-up motorcycle boots, but NGK spark plugs were going for $4 apiece!

OK, so the air conditioned tent was one of Roo’s fantasies, but the vendor prices guaranteed any unwary soul a genuine screwing.

I stuffed my right hand deep into my front pants pocket and held on tight to my wallet. I walked around the gas station like that, using my cane to help steady a bum left hip. In retrospect, the cane also imparted a sort of up-and-down action to the right hip, my right hand making contretemps in my pocket. When I made eye contact with two or three women shoppers they squealed and abruptly drove off.

Mark ran up to announce that he’d found the Perfect Leather Saddle Bag, for less than $200.00! I showed him an NGK spark plug.

“Is that a good price?” he asked.

“We need to move on,” I answered.

So we mounted our machines and headed into Sturgis proper. We passed parking space after parking space, following Mark. He had been here before and knew the best places to go. It was ten thirty in the morning and the streets were starting to fill up with bikes.

Four blocks later, Sturgis lay behind us. Mark pulled into a driveway whose perimeter was outlined in yellow plastic “DO NOT CROSS” tape. Driving around the tape, he led the three of us across a meticulously cut lawn.

I figured we’d be the first biker gang ejected from Sturgis.

He drove around a second tape perimeter and we were suddenly back on the road into town, this time with me in the lead. I’d had enough. Spotting a parking space up ahead, I stopped. Mark and Miz Roo stopped, also. I backed into a space on the curb, next to a Gold Wing. Mark and Miz Roo backed up also, parking in the middle of a driveway. A few minutes later, we sorted out who was gonna park where, rearranged the bikes, and unblocked the nice people’s driveway.

Unpacking the bikes showed us that we’d brought far too much stuff. I had brought walking shoes, ice water, a hat, an umbrella, a high-strength security lock with a six foot cable, a knapsack, a toolkit, and a change of underwear, fresh socks and a towel. I was wearing a work shirt, some white pants, and a white t-shirt with my “RoosterBoots” avatar on the back.

I packed away most of that junk, took off the work shirt, grabbed the cane and settled in for some walkin’. White shirt, white pants, black belt. I caught my reflection in a shop window. I looked like Hannibal Lecter in lockdown.

I’m sure we passed several motorcycles and a couple of t-shirt vendors, but my memory is blurry up to the point where I stood directly in front of a scantily clad mannequin with a hypnotically modified chest line. She was wearing the left half of a bikini top. The contents of the other half had spilled out and were staring right at my nose.

I am flesh and blood. I stopped dead in my tracks, still holding onto my wallet and limping. “Good God,” I remarked.

In the distance, I heard a familiar voice say, “Stop that! You’re disgusting!”

Miz Roo scuttled up and tried to get around me without actually looking at the graceful curves of the now-exposed hard plastic funbags. She held her right hand up against the side of her face to hide the vision. At first I thought she was being blinded by the sun. My mind had slowed to a crawl.

Eventually, she pulled me far enough down the sidewalk that I could no longer focus on the details. My head cleared. I could hear again. I could see again. I could see another old guy stopped in front of the mannequin, staring. Drooling.

Soon we ended up near the East part of Sturgis. They have a biker goods emporium there, sort of an indoor vendor mall. I negotiated for a set of four star-shaped conchos to help hold my saddlebag straps in place. Miz Roo had found the “Bad Ass Helmet” counter and was trying on different chrome nazi helmets in front of the mirror. And of course, they had t-shirts.

There are only two kinds of t-shirts sold at Sturgis South. The first kind tells everybody that you’ve just been to a bike show in a town they’ve never heard of (in black and pink). And then there’s the kind that only girl bikers wear, announcing to the world how much you like vibration (also in black and pink).

Mark ran up to announce that he’d found the Perfect Leather Saddle Bag, for less than $180.00! By the time I caught back up with him, he was bargaining for the Perfect Leather Chaps.

We were tired and thirsty. Across the street lay the “Ice and Fire” restaurant. It was time for food.


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