by The Lorax
The four friends rode up to the old cabin in the
Pennsylvania woods. In a different time this place could have passed for
a trading post on an impoverished Indian reservation. Now it was just a
watering hole for locals and two-wheeled explorers.
The bikes grumbled low and loud, announcing their arrival. The four
arrived and positioned their bikes as if they had changed their minds
and were readying to leave. They killed the engines and walked the
motorcycles backward toward the porch. Positioning them next to an old
Knucklehead, they created a row of expensive dominos. After the wind and
roar of engines was gone, the silence was shocking. A whippoorwill sang
itís mournful song nearby. They could hear the muffled sound of the
jukebox inside the bar and the smacking of cueball against eightball.
They gave one last glance to make sure the bikes were steady. The
matching Aztec Orange Heritage and Hugger looked as comfortable together
as the couple that rode them. The red Electra-Glide and black Heritage
Softail expressed the individuality of their riders. The Knucklehead was
just venerable and stoic.
As they stepped through the front door of the Minisink Inn, they
immediately noticed the drop in temperature. The dark, grungy woodwork
created a dismal but cozy feeling. A hand-painted, jumbled menu on the
wall behind the cluttered bar had among it's offerings Minisink Burgers
and Fish N' Chips.
On the large support beam in the middle of the place, they spotted
flyers advertising motorcycle events and a local garlic festival. Most
were outdated and sported torn edges. The jukebox against the wall, next
to the pool table, was being fed quarters by fellows in denim and
leather. On it leaned an aged, thin man with a long white beard and
ponytail. His body had the sinewy, tanned look of an long-time biker who
spent many hours in bars and on hardtails. Bikes that demanded
maintenance and oil and deep knowledge of their idiosyncrasies. This had
to be the Knucklehead's rider. The place was filled with people like
that. They would arrive as the day progressed. It was still lunch time.
Folks like this, the location and the food is what made the Inn so
attractive to the two couples. No pretense. Just good food and earthy
people. A low rumble of conversation and heady laughter filled the small
room that smelled faintly of sweat, road dirt, grease and booze.
Scanning the floor for an empty table, they spotted one near the beer
cooler, made their way through the gauntlet and sat down. It had been a
good day. A perfectly sunny one, great for riding. Not too hot. They
werenít sweaty and the bikes didnít overheat. Life was good, for now.
The women were new riders. One was still wet behind the ears and the
other had almost two years in the saddle. The men were seasoned
veterans. These guys were more comfortable on a bike than with any other
vehicle. One of the main goals of the trip was to help the fledgling
gain some street smarts. This was to be accomplished by forcing her to
leap onto the street, headlight first. It would have been a frightening
proposition for her, had she been alone. But the three others became her
guardians, making the fledgling confident and secure.
The arrival at the bar was the culmination of a day that brought its
share of excitement. The adventure at the Flea Market, about 45 minutes
earlier, could have been a disaster both physically and psychologically
for the new rider. The never-ending Pocono Mountain weekend traffic made
it impossible for a rider without confidence to pull out, cut off
tourists, dare the beasts in their cages. She froze. But the gutsy
Heritage rider made it easy. Without a delay, he pulled the big bike
right into the road and stopped. Using his bike fearlessly, he became a
Harley-Davidson road block. The others took front and back and the
inexperienced, frightened student traveled in a "bubble" of safety as
traffic had no choice but wait.. It's a basic survival technique. Stay
to the middle of the pack.
Later the three waited patiently as the fledgling struggled to turn
around after missing a last minute signal for a side-road excursion.
Missing the turn landed her in a ditch alongside the intersection. The
patience of her friends, the low seat of her bike and the strength of
her thighs helped the newbie pull the bike out of the ditch, turn the
wheel, let it roll back down into the hole, push it out again until she
finally faced a direction in which she could pull forward and out. A bit
grumpy from that ordeal, she found her mood wouldn't improve as she
followed her husband up the little road. It proved to be narrow, twisty
and steep. The pavement was cracked and riddled with potholes and
sprinkled with loose gravel. The new rider endured and then the foursome
headed for even more trouble.
That last trial of the dayís trilogy was an unexpected encounter with
Interstate 80, a two-lane speedway where the 18-wheelers flew like
demons out of Hell and the entrance ramp allowed no room to merge with
the non-stop race. The scared rider bit her lip and twisted her wrist,
cursing. In seconds the roaring Harley was blasting down the crowded
highway, inches from a semi's bumper, and the Minisink was only minutes
away. Now it was time to relive the days adventures and celebrate itís
The waitress, who doubled as bartender, appeared at the
table and took the orders. She had the seasoned look of a woman who'd
been through many trials and heartaches. Still, the smile on her
time-worn face was friendly and inviting. They all decided on burgers.
The men ordered Yuengling. Cheap, cold and better than Bud. The women,
sticking with caution, asked for iced-tea. While one beer didnít affect
the menís ability to handle their bikes (so they said), the women, as a
rule, never drank while riding.
She wasnít aware of it then, but soon the Hugger rider would have a
better reason not to consume alcohol. Within the next few weeks she
would be carrying the young coupleís first child. Her husband was
advancing nicely in his profession. He was recently promoted to a vice
president position in the accounting firm. They reminisced about when
her husband spent night after night studying to get his accounting
license. His new position landed him an office in the World Trade
The conversation turned to that lofty office and its amazing view. That
was the first time the fledgling and her mate heard about how all the
offices had views because the center of the building was filled with
many elevator shafts. Their friend told of his 100-floor daily hike,
joking that he had to get exercise somehow. His long hours allowed no
time at the gym.
There were questions whether he could see the airplanes go by and the
conversation turned silly as they discussed the what-ifs of a possible
collision with the building. They laughed as they compared that
possibility with the traffic-tower collision in the movie Airplane.
Then, the smiles faded a little, the laughter became a bit uneasy. It
was agreed that a collision was really ridiculous because the Towers
were way too visible. Besides, they werenít really that close to any
flight paths. The Towers were even designed to withstand the impact of a
plane, according to the experts.
During their frivolous discussion of an airplane crashing into the
buildings, someone jokingly asked, "Oh man, what the hell would you do
if you saw it coming?" The Hugger's husband replied, laughing, "Put your
head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye."
They were prophets that day.
In loving memory of Michael "Buddy" Zinzi, D.O.D., 9/11/01
Thanks for the confidence. I will never forget.
Renee Aun, All Rights Reserved
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