Like so many things in life, growing up in a small town has it’s advantages and it's attendant disadvantages. Being a scooter ridin’, hell raising kid emphasizes these points somewhat. One real advantage is that you know most everybody, one real disadvantage is that most everybody knows you, most especially the local cops.
My buddies and I had a standing agreement designed to help alleviate this particular disadvantage. If we were out riding together and happened to come under the all too scrutinizing eye of the local gendarme, we would split up immediately, thereby allowing all but one of us to escape whatever harassment they had in store for us.
My ride in those days was a truly brutish, but beautiful in it’s own way, POS (piece of shit). Actually, it was an Austrian Puch, which I’d dragged out of a junk pile and treated to a luxurious coat of $1.99 black spray enamel. The exhaust system was a two foot section of inch and a eighth pipe, which was also treated to some of that cool black enamel (of course I planned to have it chromed eventually). My buddy Tubbs had a really cool, dark blue, Honda 250 Dream. We had sawed off the last 3 inches of his exhaust pipes and pulled out the baffles, creating what we thought was yet another righteous outlaw ride. Hell, I’ll readily admit that our bikes were a little louder than the local population was fond of, but we reasoned that they simply didn’t appreciate the sound of real power.
Well, anyway, we were out riding one night late in the summer and things were typically small town boring. We’d done all the usual fun stuff like play the same song 20 times in a row on the juke box at the local Dairy Diner, and running the free replay counter on the pinball machine up to a hundred and fifty without tilting the damn thing. After that, we’d made a couple of trips up to the other end of town to ride through the local college. We’d been certain to follow the time honored tradition of turning the key off and letting our scooters coast in gear while twisting a couple of stiff shots of throttle into our engines. Throwing the switch back on had the almost magical effect of creating a really righteous, flame throwing KABLAM out of our straight pipes, this of course, had to be timed perfectly so as to occur just as we passed behind the sleeping campus cops’ car. Shear poetry in motion. Every time we did that I got the impression that they didn’t think it was as entertaining as we did. Oh well, different strokes for different folks. What we really needed was something new and challenging to do. We decided to take a ride over by Elsie June’s house and see if maybe that wouldn’t stir up some of our creative juices. Elsie June was our beloved English teacher and anytime we were lacking for constructive activity we could just think of her and sure as hell, something would come to mind.
Having surveyed the situation around Elsie June’s house, we realized that it would be possible to enter her yard from a side street, where there was no curb. I could then use the rise going up into her yard as a jump to help me clear her new rose bushes, following which I would land gracefully on the grass on the other side of her yard. From there, I could continue across her neighbors’ lawn and use their driveway to get back out into the street. Tubbs, on the other hand, had about 150 pounds of excess butt. There was no way he could catch enough air on that damn Dream to clear anything, let alone Elsie Junes’ rose bush. Tubbs, was, however, a consummate donut cutter or ‘chuggie man’ as such folks were known back then. Hell, I’d seen him cut a donut on that Dream all the way around a ’59 Chevy, on a paved parking lot and never come close to dropping the bike or touching the car. We decided that Tubbs would exhibit this spectacular talent by cutting a donut around Elsie Junes’ new rose bush.
And so our plan unfolded. We would ride out by the local Pitt Grill and check to see that Terry Don, the cop on duty that night was busy enjoying his usual two-hour dinner. We didn’t really think that TD, as we affectionately called Terry Don, fit into our plans anywhere. We just wanted to make sure he didn’t decide to stop and visit with us for some reason, and thereby cause our parents unnecessary alarm if we happened to be late getting home that night. After making sure TD was busy stuffing his face and flirting with the town’s five-star waitress, Bugger Red, we would ride back by Elsie Junes’ house and treat her to a brief, but dazzling display of biking talent. By then, we would probably be tired and ready to head home and cut some zzzz’s.
Well, everything went perfectly, according to plan. TD was feeding on a chicken fried steak and flirting with Bugger Red. I made a jump over Elsie June’s bushes that was surely the equal of anything Evel Knievel had ever done, and Tubbs executed one of his best ever, full boogie, flying donuts, all the way around Elsie June’s new rose bush. Man life was great!
Tubbs and I were about ten blocks from Elsie June’s house, headed back downtown to cruise around the courthouse square one last time before splitting up and heading home. Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, a ’63 black and white Chevy, came roaring out of a cloud of dust and tire smoke from a side street. The flashing bubble gum machine on top and the six-foot long whipping antenna on the back tipped us off right away. It was Terry Don, and it appeared he was upset about something. We decided not to take any chances that it might have been something we had done. So we jammed the scoots down a gear and rolled the wick wide open. We made a hard right at the next street and, sure enough, Terry Don made the same right. It was obviously time for us to pull our tried and true ‘split up and haul butt’ tactic.
I ducked into the next street on the left, which I knew was a dead end. I also knew that I could escape out the back of the lot on the end through a gap in the chain link fence which was just wide enough for my trusty old POS. The last thing I saw of Tubbs, he was hanging a hard right and heading for the City Park. I thought I knew what he had in mind. Terry Don decided he would follow Tubbs rather than end up frustrated at the end of the street I was headed down, and so he hung the same hard right Tubbs had taken. Just in case Terry Don was on top of his game, I turned off my lights and ducked up a few alleys on the way home. I couldn’t wait to hear from Tubbs the next day.
I caught up with Tubbs the next day at the Dairy Diner and he slowly moaned and groaned and winced his way through the recounting of his adventure of the night before, while we sipped down a couple of ice cream floats.
“Well Vulture, I ... umm, damn my ass is sore … I headed down to the city park. Ooh…shit” He groaned as he twisted around in the padded booth. “My fuckin’ back aches.” He mumbled as he grimaced in pain. “See I was thinking that I would…..Ohhh shit! I was thinking I would cut down across that field by the park and then across…, uuummmm fuck, across the low water crossing in back of the ball field.” I was trying not to laugh, but it was getting harder and harder. Tubbs slowly went on. “I was gonna go up the side of the overpass cause I knew TD couldn’t follow me….ouuuccchhh….in that damn car.” Well, this was gonna take awhile, but it was too good to miss, so I kept listening. “Well, fuck, I was cutting around behind the Ball Park, oohhhh shhhhiiittt!” I could tell remembering was painful, but I kept listening. “I was cutting around behind the ball park, when the next thing I remember was….ohhhhh … piss…” Oh shit, this was getting good. “The next thing I knew, I was laying flat on my back…. trying to remember how to breath…..wwhheewwww ... shhhhitttt, that hurts, … and I was wondering if the light shining in my eyes was actually that, that, uhhh, mystical passage to the other side you always hear about.” Oh fuck, I was loosing it now, Tubbs wasn’t having near as much fun telling this as I was listening to it. “Quit laughing, you fucker.” He muttered. “It ain’t funny.” Sure as shit was funny to me, I guess we just shared a different perspective on it. “Well go on, damn it, tell me.” I begged. “So I was staring into this light and hoping to all hell that God … didn’t really look as much like TD as the guy I was staring at through the light did.” I was rolling on the floor now, my eyes were watering, and I was beginning to hurt too, but for different reasons than Tubbs. Tubbs was trying to laugh a little too now, but it still wasn’t easy. This was definitely one for the history books. Shit, probably the story of the summer! “Hell,” He continued. “how’d I know them bastards was tired of …ooohhhh…people cutting across the grass and had put up a cable about two feet off the ground?” I was uncontainable at this point. Tubbs was sort of frowning and grinning at the same time. “So finally … uuummm shhhit!” Tubbs continues. “ I make out what this voice was saying, it was Terry Don, and he was saying, … ummm ohhh fuckk…he was saying. “Well, Tubbs, looks like you’ll live, see you tomorrow.”