A long night run home. Always pleasant…the magic of the Texas sky, the cool air, the powerful machine responding to the whims of my soul and fractional, precision inputs to the controls, and a warm and willing woman waiting at the end of my ride. There’s not a whole lot more I need.
130 miles out…and the GPS popped a low fuel warning, a common condition on this thirsty beast, vastly exacerbated by my aggressive throttle hand. I don’t ride this machine to be particularly constrained.
One fifth of my range is beyond the reserve on the big cruiser, and I hadn’t hit that yet, so stations came and went as I enjoyed the night and made some time toward home.
I stretch the fuel for many reasons. Mileage can vary significantly depending on weather, fuel quality, and speeds, and lacking a gauge, hitting reserve is often the first clue on how much range I actually have. In most parts of the country, that still leaves enough fuel to reach a station. In this case pushing a little further would make the “distance to home” readily achievable in one stop, and more importantly, for some reason the time just didn’t seem right. Over the years I’ve learned enough not to question those feelings.
Thirty miles later the big machine went lean. I reached down and flipped it to reserve and she immediately resumed her normal beat. I passed one more station and a few miles later, pulled into a lonely pool of light on the Texas prairie.
There were a few cars about, but I noticed no obvious movement as I pulled up to a pump. As is customary for me it was on my left. I stuck my card in the slot and fueled the big cruiser. Ahhh…last stop.
Despite my love for the ride, there is some satisfaction in knowing I can make it home without further stops. The warm, curvy lover waiting for me there has more than a little impact on that.
The ride and the woman. Passions run strong through my soul. I’ve no interest in moderating that.
As I hung up the hose I noticed a flash of motion to my right and before I completely grocked what was happening, a most dangerous thing appeared out of the night and latched on to my right leg.
Yep, accosted. Grabbed around the thigh in a bear hug by a pint-sized little black-haired gal. She buried her face in my jeans and hung on with a strength that surprised me. She couldn’t have been more than three feet tall.
I dropped the bike on it’s stand, leaned into it, and raised my right leg, complete with attachment, and then scooped her off and into the crook of my right arm.
I must admit in my surprise and before I understood what had a grip on me that I had a bit of that, “GAH! GET IT OFF!” reaction happening, but sweeping her up was mostly to protect her. First, a lonely gas-station parking lot is no place for a kid this size to be running around, but more importantly, to keep her away from the scalding pipes and massive hot engine on the big cruiser. High speed runs get them hot enough to burn through jeans, and I could hear them ticking as they were just starting to cool. I shudder to think the size and severity of the burns those could inflict on a small child that stumbled into them.
She had tears on her face, but readily looked up into mine.
“What’s wrong sweetie?”
Deadpan serious, she sniffles and says, “Werewolves.”
“Ah.” I winked at her. “I’ve got ya covered.”
This was the point Frantic Mom ™ shows up. The girl’s face lights up and she leans away and reaches for Frantic Mom. I handed her off.
Frantic Mom was already scolding, “Girl! What are you doing running off like that?”
Still deadpan serious, “Mom. There were werewolves!”
Frantic Mom has a mixed range of strong emotions crossing her face. Fear. Relief. Worry. Chagrin. Wariness. Weariness. I let ’em run, offering a small smile and no explanation for the situation. None should be needed. It was werewolves after all.
Frantic Mom shortly manages a brief apology and mumbles something about the girl seeing a movie she wasn’t supposed to.
I just chuckled, “Well, werewolves ARE serious business.”
That got me a small smile, from both of them.
As they headed for their car I could hear Frantic Mom saying something about, “Stranger danger.”
Just as serious as her previous statements, the little gal says, “But Moooom! Didn’t you see? He was a biker! Monsters are scared of him!”
And they were gone…into the night. I wasn’t quite ready to follow.
I moved the bike off the pumps and grabbed a drink. Suddenly melancholy, I relaxed on a picnic table just on the edge of the pool of light. Leaning back, I stretched my legs, breathed deeply, and pondered.
A lot could have gone wrong tonight. Instead a lot went right…as it should. As I expect.
“He was a biker.”
I stared out at the night and hoped her trust would never be betrayed.
“Monsters are scared of him.”
There are monsters in the dark…I’ve met them, up close and personal.
Werewolves are the least of them.
Monsters and men. It can be hard sometimes…to tell the difference.
I’ll see you on the road.