Freedom

The old one was dressed in casual attire, and was on his way to the bus stop when he spied a bright orange motor scooter puttering down the road towards him. He stopped and marveled at the sight of the rider and the scooter. The rider was twice the size of the old one in both girth and weight.

“You know,” the old one said, “If that fat man can ride a scooter, so can I,” and it was then that the old one decided to buy one.

The old one called a friend of his and asked him for a ride downtown to the motor scooter store his friend agreed and on a Friday in May, they made the trip to the shop. The Motor scooter shop, bursting at the seams, filled from wall to wall with motor scooters all kinds all sizes and all colors. Some were very expensive and others were very inexpensive. Since the old, one had not ridden a motorcycle in a very long time he looked at the inexpensive ones and picked out a shiny red and black one. He picked out a white helmet with two red racing stripes that ran from the front to the back and a storage box mounted on the back of the scooter.

He gave the scooter store a deposit, told them he would return in a few days, finish paying, and pick up his new scooter. The day finally came, he had his friend take him to the license bureau, where he took the written test, and once he had the license in his hand, they once more made the journey to the scooter store. He wrote a check and paid off the balance, he looked around and saw the chain locks so as an afterthought he bought one to secure his soon to be pride and joy from all of those who might want to take it away from him.

The old one walked outside and stood beside the scooter admiring it. The salesman came out and described all the buttons and switches and gadgets to him; the horn button, the light switch, the kill switch, the start button, and then pointed out a few other useful items, like the under seat storage compartment, and the ever useful kick starter in the event the battery died.

The old one thanked him and then with a lump in his throat secured the white helmet with the two red stripes upon his head. He mounted the scooter and brought it upright swept the kickstand up and into place, squeezed the brake lever and started the motor.

The old one looked both ways twisted the throttle and rode the scooter across the narrow street and into a parking lot; he made a wide right turn and brought it to a stop. He remembered riding his bicycle and the scooter was close to that although he didn’t have to peddle this one.

Once you’re in motion it is easy to ride just point the handlebars where you want to go and you go there.

The old one told his friend he was ready to go back to his apartment. He said he would follow his friend, so off they went the old one following his friend’s car. He looked at the speed limit sign and then looked at his speedometer and brought his speed up to 25 on the dial, he noticed he was falling farther and farther behind his friend’s car. He looked at the speedometer again sure enough it read 25 and then he noticed the white numbers represented kilometer per hour and the yellow ones were the mile per hour reading, yes, he was doing 25 but 25 kilometer per hour, he was actually running about 15 miles per hour. The old one rolled on the throttle, and picked up speed to 30 miles per hour and soon caught up with the car.

The ride back was ok the roads were ok except for Edgewater and Cove which were rough as a cob and the traffic was light, he turned into his driveway and just about ran off into the grass, then he rode down the driveway and disappeared into the garage. He parked in his assigned space and walked slowly to his apartment.

The old one entered his apartment, hung up his keys, and put his helmet on the end table, he sat down, and he had a knot the size of a basketball in his stomach he was sick, well not sick, but anxious. At that moment, he realized had he bought a Harley it would probably be sitting in the garage and never ridden again. The scooter was all he needed right now to learn how to ride.

The old one remembered as a young man his father had another older boy scare him half to death taking him on a ride through the woods on his Triumph Bonneville. The old one made up his mind that he would ride the scooter, and he would enjoy it, even if it killed him.

The old one picked up his helmet and trotted to the garage, he started his scooter and out the into the world he drove, first to the park and then back to his apartment, then to the cul-de-sac where he went round and round before coming back to his house where he rested and enjoyed the adrenaline rush.

Every day the roads were clear and the weather was nice he would venture out 3 or 4 times a day and each time he went out he rode farther and longer. He had his scooter now for 14 days and half of those days he couldn’t ride but the others he took full advantage of, and the miles added up to 300 and today it has been one month since he first rode it and the miles now total over 600. However, this isn’t the end of the story no sir’ee it isn’t.

About a week ago he went out ride he strapped on his helmet climbed astride the scooter and started it. Now he did something different, normally he would back out and then head for the garage door, but today he looked to his right the car that parked in that spot was gone. He cut the handlebars to the right gave the scooter some throttle walked the scooter around in a tight right turn, he began to lose his balance he straightened the handlebars and tried to pull the scooter upright and before he could accomplish this simple task he collided with a steel column. The left handlebar hit the column and was violently jerked out of his hands in the process of trying to hold on he inadvertently twisted the throttle a little more and drove the scooter harder into the column.

The scooter and the old one plunged downward toward the ground the old one hit the ground with a thump and bounced off the concrete. While trying to clear his head he heard the scooter’s motor running so he frantically hunted for the handlebar and the kill switch, he found it and turned the scooter motor off.

The motor stopped and the pain began his arm hurt and so did his foot he soon realized his foot was under the scooter, he pushed the scooter up and extricated his foot and leg. The old one wallowed around on the hard concrete floor as an old boar hog wallows around in the mud. He gradually got to his feet and off the ground.

Once up, he limped around, moved his arms, rotated his head around, and twisted his back, just to see if anything was broken. Thankfully, nothing was broken and his foot only bruised, and he had two small areas of road rash. That’s biker talk for when you fall off your scooter and the pavement eats the skin off the body. The old one had two places with seven small cuts that were bleeding.

He leaned over and picked up the scooter pulled it away from the column, now the old one didn’t notice that he had damaged his pride and joy he didn’t see the cracked and broken plastic. It would take him a week to notice the damage, but that is a different story as well.

He mounted the scooter, started it, and rode it into the sunlight. He rode down to the park then made a right turn on West Boulevard, and another right onto Detroit, and he rode through the center of Lakewood. He rode bravely through the traffic and made his turn on West Clifton before heading back to his apartment. You see he had promised himself that he would learn to ride, he would enjoy it, and this fall was part of riding.

He parked the scooter and made his way back to his apartment, once inside the apartment, he stood in front of the large mirror that hung in the hall to gaze at his road rash. He turned to the side to get a better look at it when he noticed a gray patch on his white shirt; he turned and looked as best he could at his back. What he saw made him laugh while he was wallowing around or sweeping the concrete floor with his clothes. He was now covered in the gray dust and dirt from head to heel and the backs of both arms. He shook his head and laughed again. He had ridden through Lakewood looking like this.

The old one sat back and recollected. The scooter had brought him freedom in a way he never could have imagined, even when the weather made it impossible to ride, his freedom was less than one hundred feet away from his door; however, if push came to shove he would ride it through any weather or situation to keep his freedom alive.

The next step in the evolution of riding was a fully-fledged Motorcycle he had his eye on a Harley Davidson

October 8, 2011 false hope

The old one sat alone writing in his journal, when the rumblings of a Harley Davidson motorcycle passed by his window. “It’s time, I should be the one riding that machine,” he said. He shut off his computer and coffee urn, dressed in his everyday casual attire, for a day of window-shopping, he collected his helmet and coat and his sunglasses and left the sanctuary of his apartment.

He mounted his trusty scooter and made his way towards the bank, and after transferring money to his checking account, he began his trek to the Harley Davidson Showroom. He pulled his scooter into a parking place in front of the building and now filled with desire he walked in the front door. To his right were the motorcycles and more of them to his left and beyond them were the accessories, shoes, and boots, leather jackets, and helmets, all with the Harley logo imprinted on them. He looked at the cycles with desire in his eyes, and lust in his heart.

Those magical machines all painted and polished the chrome shining as if the sun had embedded its rays within them. The old one looked at them he sought out the used ones, the ones he knew he could afford. He looked at them, inspected them, he sat on them, he started them, the salesman was very helpful in pointing out the make and model and the mileage and any special extras that had been added to them by their previous owners or what they had done to them. The more the old one looked the newer and newer the cycles became and with each new cycle, the price rose even higher. He looked at the salesperson and said “This cycle is six thousand and a brand new one is seven let’s look at some new ones,” and the process began anew.

Four hours had passed and when he was through looking and everything that needed saying said, the old had settled on a motorcycle that cost fourteen thousand dollars, double what he could afford to pay. The Dealership ran his credit and requested a loan. After several minutes, the answer came back, he needed a co-signer, someone other than him to guarantee payment if the old one could not or would not make the payment. It seems the old one did not have bad credit, the old one had a lack of credit he had no credit history and without history there would be no loan.

The old one thought for a moment and remembered he had talked to the branch manager at his bank and they said they loaned money on Harleys and only Harleys. He collected his things and the salesperson printed out sales receipt for him to take to his bank the old one rode off into the day searching for a loan to make his dream come true.

The old one rode his scooter to his bank parked it and with paperwork in hand, he walked into the bank. He looked into the first cubicle, and it was then he saw a vision of loveliness the old one stared, he stared at Christina, her close-cropped blond hair and her beautiful eyes. The only way to describe the color of her eyes was to mix equal parts azure blue and luscious blue of the periwinkle. He stared at her sensuous ruby red lips, and as his eyes traveled downward, he stared shamelessly at the skin exposed by the plunging neckline of her floral print dress that culminated at a point between her bosoms. The dress displayed for all to witness her bountiful cleavage.

His stare broken by her soft melodic voice as she approached him, he tried to slow his heart rate and compose himself, she stood next to him he smelled her perfume. He was entranced, and for the briefest of moments, the Harley Davidson took a back seat to his mission. He looked down trying to cover his shameless behavior, afraid to look her in the eyes, and in a very soft voice, he said offering her the paperwork, “Can you give me some money.”

“I will let Amera take care of the paperwork she will help you,” She said.

He stammered and said he came to see the…

She interrupted and said, “To see the master.”

He quipped, “I am not submissive, but I did come to see the person in charge.” She and Amera laughed and he just stood there and let out a little laugh as well.

He followed Amera to her cubicle, and sat down across from her at her desk. She was pretty he asked her if she was of Lebanese decent, she said Middle Eastern decent. He made small talk while she filled out the application and explained the workings of the loan procedure to him. She told him she would be the contact person, she would administrate the loan, and if he had any question to call her.

Where he sat in Amera’s cubicle he could look through the glass and see Christina and he would glance over every once in a while to watch her as she moved around in her office, he thought she was floating she moved with the fluid grace of a dancer. With each stolen glance, his heart pounded in his chest and with each pounding beat, he knew he was more alive then, than he had been at any other time in his life.

The old one thanked Amera for all she had done and as he approached Christina’s cubicle she raised from her seat, met him at the door of her cubicle and there they stood the two of them. Her co-workers, the confines of the building safely surrounded her, and she was comfortable in her surroundings. The old one stood there too basking in her beauty, her beautiful smile, and rejoicing to the sound of her melodic voice. Then he asked when he got his motorcycle would she like to go for a ride. She smiled, and then winked, and said only if you have a helmet for me to wear. He responded that he would make sure he would have one for her.

After the old one arrived home, he thought about his day, he had had a wonderful day, looking at motorcycles and dreaming of the day that he would ride one. He could not forget his trip to the bank that trip made his day complete. Moreover, he knew, Amera would call him and he would find out the fate of the loan.

It was not too late; fate has a funny way of bringing together the right time, the right place, and the right people, and in bringing dreams to fruition. The old one would cross his fingers and he would wait for either the underwriters or fate to intervene with his dream.

It was late on Saturday afternoon when she called. The underwriters had made their decision and the answer was no. Both banks, the one Harley Davidson uses and the one, the old one, used based their decisions on the same thing, the lack of credit history. The old one was saddened and somewhat relieved he really could not afford a 225-dollar payment. However, next year would be different he would have saved more money for a down payment and he would have caught the silver ring, he would be would be armed with history, credit history that is. Not all is lost, fate, as the old one knew it was not ready to appear. Maybe next year fate would smile upon him.

In Cleveland, it is said, “the sun boycotts the city from November to April;” it turned out March 7, 2012 was a very special day the sun not only shined down upon the city, but also warmed it to a balmy cloudless 60 plus degrees,

I could not waste a beautiful day like this I climbed aboard my scooter, made my way to Harley Davidson Sales, and began searching for a real motorcycle. I looked at the new ones and almost decided on a new Switchback.

Troy, who was helping me, said, “There are some really nice ones in the back.”

I entered the room, that’s when I saw it, there it was, the one for me, a black 2002 Road King with a faring. I climbed aboard and sat in the seat, Troy held it steady while informing me of all the modification the previous owner had made like the Edelbrock 1550 kit, the heads, and cams, and the Mikuni 45 mm carburetor, and the dual Rinehart pipes.

I picked up my feet, rested them on the floorboards, reached out to grasp the grips. I sucked in a big breath and slowly let it out, it was, as if I had ordered this machine just the way I wanted it. The ride height, the reach to the pedals and the reach to the handlebars, fit me like the proverbial glove. Before I knew what I was saying, I said, “Troy, run my credit and if HD approves, I will buy it.”

Troy and I walked back up to the showroom, and I sat alone at a table waiting news of my fate, time stood still, well at least for me it did. I don’t think time has ever passed this slowly, well maybe it has, but those are other memories and stories to tell some other time.

Memories of that first ride flooded over me, and I resolved that I would conquer that old fear before this day was over.

She handed me a slip of paper with the FLHR VIN and mileage on it. “Call your insurance company, have them put it on your insurance, and come to my office, we will complete the paperwork and get you on your way,” she said.

I looked at Troy he was smiling and its funny I had a smile on my face as well. I spent the next hour or so in Stephanie’s office completing the paperwork.

I walked outside to the curb, and that’s where it sat. I climbed aboard pulled it upright, swept the jiffy stand into its nesting place turned on the switch, fiddled around for a few minutes, found neutral, pushed the switch to run and started it. I took in a deep breath and swallowed hard.

I pushed the shift lever down hard and engaged first gear, then slowly let the clutch out and rolled out of the parking lot to the highway. I sat there, it seemed an eternity before the traffic cleared, and I rolled on the throttle, let the clutch out, and joined the rest of the world on the highway.

I rode the Road King into my world, now the first week I must admit was not the most stellar of occasions. I heard there were two kinds of people; the first was the kind who laid their motorcycle down sometime in their riding careers and admitted it. The second kind was the ones who lied about laying one down. Count me in the first group with laying it down seven times in the first week. It’s funny though, every time I laid it over on the bars I either was stopped or just beginning to move. You know, that clutch, throttle, picking up you feet thing can be tricky at times.

I admit I didn’t ride the tires off it I rode solo some 1500 miles or so, although they were 1500 exciting and sometimes scary miles. The fear from the past that once terrorized me is now nothing but a minor recollection.

Last week, I joined the Harley Owners Group and in April, I will join the local HOG Chapter I look forward to putting thousands of miles on it this year. Do I have a lot to learn, a lot to explore, a lot of riders to meet, you bet I do, and it is something I look forward too,

The only experience I ever looked too more, was the birth of my daughter. I hope my Road King will bring me as much joy to me as she is.