They met at the Walgreens off Creighton Avenue, the one a mile east of the Fort Wayne Police Department.
Salas noticed her when she walked in through the sliding glass doors. Everyone noticed her. She wasn’t loud like making a lot of noise—but very loud physically. Blond, bouffant hair, eighties-style wavy bangs swept back on her forehead. Lavish lips, red lip smackers. Of course, the attention-getters were her boobs: two cymbals in the high-school band, large, no bra, tucked into a Jerry Garcia T-shirt. Salas was sure it was a large, but it fit like a small. Ten pounds of sugar in a five-pound sack. Short shorts, muscular quads, maybe a high-school volleyball player in the day, black stiletto heels. Fortyish, thought Salas, old enough to know better, young enough to keep trying. Lose twenty pounds, and she could be a model. If Salas lost twenty pounds, well…he would still be Salas.
Salas forgot why he was in the store. Deodorant? Razor? Now it didn’t matter.
He tucked his white V-neck T-shirt into his Wranglers, followed her to aisle eight—bath products, hair gels, creams, shampoo, conditioner—and inched along in her direction. At the last section, before the vitamins, she stopped and grabbed a small bottle. Salas looked over her shoulder; reading the highlighted words, “Warming Gel.” (Yes! Someone was watching over him!)
“Looks fun,” Salas said with a smile, revealing pearly-white caps.
She looked at Salas, first, directly into his eyes, then trailing up and down slowly, from boots to bald head. She liked bald guys. Her eyes met his. “One would hope,” she said. She was also smiling.
“Any way I can be of service, miss, please let me know. We at CVS aim to please,” Salas said, returning the body inspection but focusing on her eyes. It was more difficult than he’d thought.
“We’re at Walgreens, sweetie,” Blondie said, her tongue stretched out. She gave a slow lick of her lips. Salas’s knees buckled.
“My apologies miss. You have me a bit distracted. I’m a big Grateful Dead fan.” Salas reached out and moved a few strands of hair from her cheek to behind her ear.
“I’m Angelina.” She held out her hand as if to shake.
Salas took her outstretched hand, turned it, bent slowly, and lightly kissed the back of her wrist. He stood up again, made deep eye contact, and said, “I’m Brad. Nice to meet you, Angelina.”
Angelina smiled. “Brad and Angelina! How perfect.”
Twenty minutes later, they were in the Fort Wayne Super 8. Twenty-two minutes later, he was out of his boots and jeans, wearing only the white T-shirt. Two hours later, he was back at work. Forty-eight hours later, they were at the Fort Wayne Motel 6. Sex, rest, repeat.
This pattern continued over the next few weeks. Three times per week, two hours per trip, times four weeks equaled twenty-four hours of pure sex. No talking, just down to business, and she still thought his name was Brad.
Today they broke their motel routine, and thank goodness, thought Salas. At nearly $250 a week for hotel rooms, the sex was breaking him. He could have taken Angelina to his place, but it was a shithole, and he knew this relationship, if that’s what this was, would flame out soon. She didn’t know his real name, so why let her know where he lived?
She had texted “Brad” at eleven-thirty: “My place at 1:00! 440 Industrial, 2nd floor.”
Salas arrived at twelve forty-five to scout out the area, a little advance reconnaissance.
He parked a block south, in front of an Ace Hardware—no sense in letting her know the make and model of his car.
The neighborhood was primarily commercial. Parts and supply stores, a Lowe’s, cement plant, an HVAC, a manufacturer of engine parts, and a welding shop that fixed trailers.
Salas walked the block north and found the building marked “440 Industrial.” It was a standard commercial-grade-looking building. The exterior featured grayish metal siding, a double-door entryway into Dan Davis General Contracting, and no windows in the front. The sign on the door said, closed.
Walking to the north side, he turned the corner on 5th and found an entry door with steps leading upstairs. The door was unlocked. He climbed the seventeen steps to the second floor; he had a habit of counting steps. The stairway was barren: no handrail, no windows. A single light bulb hung from the ceiling next to the door at the top of the steps. He knocked lightly, the door sneaking open with each rap. Salas stepped in.
“I’m in the kitchen!” Angelina called out.
The apartment was clean: no clutter, no clothes or empty beer cans on the furniture. Hardwood floors, a small living room showcasing a Pheasants Forever print above the leather couch: two pheasants taking flight in corn stubble, a yellow lab on their tails.
Salas walked into the next room, a small kitchen with a wooden table, and there she was. Like the Indiana August weather, it was hot and so was she. He couldn’t wait to unleash her bosom and enjoy. Like the previous twelve times, talking wasn’t on the table, but soon Angelina was. Salas hoped the solid oak table really was solid oak.
Angelina wasted no time either. Salas had a barrel chest and massive arms. She pulled his T-shirt over his head. Salas, in his early fifties, could stand to lose some weight, hit the gym more, slow down on the drinking, maybe eat a salad every once in a while, but now wasn’t the time for self-reflection.
As much as he loved Angelina’s bosom, she loved his arms. A former college light-heavyweight wrestler at Nebraska, Salas was still built like one, cauliflower ear and all.
Down to his gray Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs and sporting a major erection, Salas stood to drop his final piece of clothing. Angelina was bare chested, her skirt pulled up and thong panties lying on the floor. They froze when someone yelled up the steps, “Ange, you home?”
“You have a boyfriend?” Salas whispered.
“Shit, please don’t tell me it’s Dan Davis Construction,” Salas said a little louder.
“Shhh, yes, that’s our business!” Angelina rushed to get her shirt.
“Are you shitting me? You brought me to work?” Salas was looking for his pants, his shirt, his boots, his boonie hat. The guy coming up the stairs was on number fifteen if he had the count correct.
“He was supposed to be across town!” Angelina was putting her shirt on.
Dan Davis walked in, baseball hat turned backward, a pencil behind his ear, the eraser facing Salas. Salas had his clothes in his hand, his erection facing the man.
“Ange, what the hell? Who is this son-of-a-bitch? What the hell? Angelina?” Dan Davis stammered.
“Honey, it isn’t what it looks like,” Angelina said in her defense.
“Sir, I had no idea she was married. I sincerely apologize. I’ll just get my stuff and let you two talk it out,” Salas said softly, clutching his clothes, his manhood standing at attention.
“You stay right the fuck there!” Dan Davis pointed at Salas. “I’m gonna knock the shit out of you. I’ll fuck you up for the rest of your Godforsaken life!” Davis, standing taller than Salas and quite a bit heavier, had Salas’s attention.
“I understand, sir, but there’s no reason to fight. We didn’t do anything. It’s my bad. I said I’m sorry. I’ll just be leaving now.” Salas was quickly trying to exit stage right.
“You ain’t goin’ nowhere till I’m done with you, you asshole!” Dan Davis screamed as he started across the kitchen floor.
“I don’t want to fight you. I just want to leave. Now let me be.” Salas was very calm, considering.
“Fuck that! I’m going to kick your ass!” Dan Davis yelled, charging Salas, his arms straight out, like he was going for a standing chokehold.
Salas crossed his right arm over, bent his knees to lower himself—keeping his back straight—and neatly ducked under the outstretched arms of Dan Davis. Wrestling 101, the duck under. Salas kept close to Davis and put him in a bear hug. Wrestling 201, the bear hug. Salas’s chest was to Davis’s back, with both of Davis’s arms trapped under Salas’s.
Salas lifted Davis off the floor. “Now, I said I don’t want to fight,” he repeated in a calm, yet threatening voice.
“Let me go! You let me go, you asshole. Is that…is that…you? You’ve got a fucking boner?! I can feel it on my ass! What the hell is wrong with you, man? You’re fighting me with a boner!” Dan Davis was not at all comfortable in his current position.
“It’s medicated, bro. It has a mind of its own.” Again, Salas remained calm.
“Uuuuggghhhh!” Dan Davis was squirming and kicking, trying to head-butt Salas with the back of his skull.
Now redressed, minus the thong—she couldn’t find it—Angelina stepped in and said calmly, softly, “Brad, please let him go. Dan, honey, I’m sorry. We didn’t do anything—this was a mistake. You and I can work this out. Now, Brad is going to let you go. He’ll leave, and we can talk. Okay, honey?”
“Okay, okay, just fuckin’ let me go,” Dan Davis pleaded. “And you, you…Brad, get the hell out of here. Now!” Dan Davis finally quit struggling.
Salas unleashed the bear hug he’d used to hold Dan, backed away, and again picked up his clothes, boots, and hat.
Dan Davis looked at Salas, who was still high and hard. “You son of a bitch!” he screamed, lunging at Salas.
Trying to tackle Salas, Dan Davis came in low like a linebacker. Salas faced him head on and again lowered his body, twisting slightly to the right, and put Dan Davis into a monster headlock. Salas cranked Dan Davis’s head and neck hard, up and back—Salas the cowboy at the National Finals Rodeo, Dan Davis the steer. Davis let out a howl.
“Now, again, Dan, you need to relax. I can really hurt you right now, so just relax and I’ll leave.” Still, Salas remained calm, trying to defuse the man.
Dan Davis, still in a headlock, tried to answer Salas, his words coming out jumbled and gargled as he struggled to breathe, “You pussy! You need Viagra to get a hard-on.”
“Now, I’m being nice, Dan.” Salas squeezed a little tighter. “Let’s not get personal.” He was started to enjoy this headlock.
“Guess when you’re old and bald, your pecker’s the first to go!” Davis said.
“Well, you know what the commercial says: ‘For an erection lasting more than four hours, call Angelina.’” Salas said it, but knew that he shouldn’t have.
Dan Davis was furious. He would have been red regardless of the headlock. His face just mere inches away from another guy’s erection, the erection that was trying to screw his wife. Dan Davis started to reach forward, moving his hand off Salas’s forearms and extending it to Salas’s manhood.
“Don’t do it. Do not do that!” Salas no longer had a calm voice.
Humiliated, saddened, and embarrassed, Dan Davis went to grab Salas’s dick.
Salas lifted and dropped Dan Davis to the floor.
Dan Davis cried out in agony.
“Told you not to do that,” Salas said.
Angelina rushed to her husband’s side. She knelt beside him, stroking his hair, kissing his cheek, her boobs in his face. “It’ll be okay, honey. I called the police. They’ll be here any minute.”
“Are you shitting me?” Salas murmured. He buttoned up his Wranglers and slipped on his white T-shirt. He left the socks and went down the steps, stopped at the bottom, pulled on his Tony Lamas, and walked into the warm Indiana sunshine. He tugged his boonie hat down, got it snug, and slowly headed to his car.
Salas was standing in front of his dark-blue Ford Taurus when a black-and-white Mercury sedan pulled up. Fort Wayne Police was painted on the door, with "We Protect and Serve" decaled on the running board.
“Mike!” the police officer on the passenger side of the car called out to Salas. “What are you doing here? They call in a detective for a domestic dispute?”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about, man,” Salas said, lifting the brim of his hat. “Just here for the hardware.” He pointed to the Ace Hardware store.
“Oh, okay. We’re checking out a marital issue at Dan Davis Construction,” the cop said.
“Need some help? I have the time,” offered Salas.
“No, we got it. See you at the station. Thanks!” The cop at the wheel parked the police car in front of Salas’s. Both officers exited the sedan and headed over to Dan Davis Construction.
Salas watched them turn the corner as he got in his Ford and drove off.
The plan was to ride as far as Omaha, Nebraska, on day one. Spend the night and hit the road the next day.
Albert loved to ride. He had purchased the ’02 Harley-Davidson Road King five years ago with the help of his mother. Well, his mother actually bought him the Harley. It was blue and silver, with original factory pipes and a factory seat. He didn’t get any of the customized add-ons Harley is known for. He had 93,000 miles on the bike.
Albert rode year-round. On bad wintry days, his mother gave him a ride to the school where he worked, but for the most part, he rode every day.
The Harley cruised best at sixty-five miles an hour. At seventy and over, it burned a little oil. When he rode it below sixty, he felt he needed to downshift. Albert liked back roads when he traveled, no interstates. Something about riding with a semi-trailer tire right next to his head at seventy-five miles an hour gave him nightmares, so it was always back roads.
The trip from Auburn, Indiana, to Sturgis, South Dakota, was around 1,100 miles, about 1,300 when riding off the interstate. Riding looks easy to a lot of folks, but the long distances are physically taxing.
At five foot six, Albert struggled to hold the bike up at stoplights—had to be on his tippy toes—and then it was a precarious balancing act. Harley could lower bikes to accommodate shorter riders, but Albert couldn’t afford to have that done. Being an avid weightlifter helped a little. Though he never entered any powerlifting competitions, his personal bests would have placed him in the top five at the Indiana powerlifting championships last fall. More than once since he’d gotten the Harley, he’d had to dead-lift the bike off its side—once while riding home in a snowstorm and another time after his foot slipped on some oil when he was stopped at a traffic light.
On the Harley’s five-gallon tank, with forty miles per gallon, he could get at least 180 to 200 miles between stops. So, for the trip to Omaha, he planned for three stops and nearly nine hours on the road.
Albert gathered his tent, sleeping bag, roll-up mattress, and folding chair and strapped them to the Road King. All were bungee corded tight on the backseat and on the rear bags. The saddlebags held his rain gear, extra clothes, a towel, toiletries, and shaving kit. Albert was traveling light: only one extra pair of pants for the week, four T-shirts, his leather jacket, and a couple changes of underwear. He could wear them inside out to double up.
Last week he had ridden to the Fort Wayne Harley dealer and dreamed about getting a new bike. He really wanted a GPS navigation system. It was a pain to stop and look at maps, and the GPS on his cell phone ate up the battery when he used it. But the new Harleys were out of his price range, and his mother wasn’t much help anymore.
Albert had ten days; Friday and Saturday to get there, Sunday through Thursday to be at Sturgis, home by late Saturday of the next week, rest on Sunday and back to work early Monday morning.
This was his fifth road trip to Sturgis; the big vacation he budgeted for all year. Albert always used his earned vacation days for trips on his Harley. It was an expensive trip, which was why he camped out and saved his money year-round. It was $250 just for the camping spot, but that fee included tickets to the concerts every night. Once there, he ate very little because the food was so expensive. Drinking wasn’t an option, though he did pack his own bottle of Jack Daniels, along with some beef jerky and breakfast bars that he had collected or stolen from work. Being the night janitor at a school gave Albert access to the left overs.
Riding six hundred to seven hundred miles a day is tough—that’s more than eleven hours of riding, with little time to rest or stretch the legs. Two years ago, Albert did a nine-hundred-mile ride in one day, staying just ahead of a storm through Nebraska and Missouri. He liked to get up really early and hit the road when the sun was just coming up. He hated riding at night, and dusk was kind of scary with all the deer wandering around. Albert had seen a motorcyclist hit a deer once. Neither one lived.
This year was promising to be the biggest year in the history of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Last year was kind of slow, with an attendance of around 350,000. This year, for the rally’s seventy-fifth anniversary, the organizers had estimated an attendance of about a million. Albert couldn’t figure out how they could estimate the number of attendees or who sat and counted them.
He had come across Sturgis by accident. Actually, Sturgis was the only thing he’d ever thanked his father for. Albert was eight or nine when his father took the family on vacation to Mount Rushmore in Rapid City, South Dakota: just Mother, Father, and Albert packed into the two-door Chevy Monte Carlo. Father was a chain smoker, three or four packs of Pall Malls a day. Albert would lie on the floor of the backseat with a blanket over his face to get away from the smoke. Whenever he’d ask Father to open the window, he’d always yell back, “Makes too much damn noise. Quit your bellyaching.”
Twenty hours in the car. The family drove straight through, with Father smoking even more to stay awake. They didn’t call ahead for a hotel. “It’s the first week in August,” Father had said. “Who the hell goes to South Dakota anyways?”
When they drove through Sioux Falls, Mother commented on the number of motorcycles on the highway and challenged Albert to count the bikes they passed.
From Sioux Falls to Murdo, South Dakota, Albert counted more than 350 bikes. When they stopped for fuel in Murdo, he counted 112 motorcycles at the gas station. He loved them all: shiny two-wheelers, some with windshields some without, all colors. He especially loved the ones with flames on the gas tanks. Father hated them all.
Father, all five foot three of him, would yell at the bikers from the car, with his windows rolled up, but at the gas pumps he didn’t say a word—he just cussed them out under his breath. He didn’t like that they took up all the room on the road, that they traveled in groups and were hard to pass. He hated that the bikes were so loud and that the bikers wore leather and looked like thugs. Father said they were all crooks and gang bangers and did drugs.
They arrived in Rapid City at five in the afternoon. They stopped at the Foothills Inn, then the Ramada, then the Best Western—all no vacancies.
Father was livid. Why the hell were all these damn bikers there? It was South Dakota, for God’s sake. People who live in South Dakota don’t want to be in South Dakota, so why was everyone here? Father yelled at the traffic, yelled at mother, yelled at Albert.
The family slept in the car that night, in a Walmart parking lot. At least Father had rolled down the window. It was a hot, muggy night, and no one slept very well. Albert remembered washing up in the restroom of Walmart and peeing next to the car at night. That was fun.
The next day, the family drove to Mount Rushmore by Keystone, South Dakota. Albert was excited to see what he had read about in school. On the way there, Mother quizzed him on the people whose faces were carved into the rock. Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. Father—well, all he could do was cuss about the traffic.
Bikers were everywhere. As Father drove up a really steep hill, he had to slow down time after time as bikers stopped on the shoulder, parked their bikes, and took pictures.
Finally, as they neared the entrance to the national monument, they realized the line was hundreds of bikes long. Father was honking his horn while bikers flipped him off and hollered at him. Deciding to bypass the line, he pulled out and sped forward. He then turned on his right blinker and tried to cut in by the entrance.
A state patrolman pulled Father over. He took him to his patrol car and talked to him for what seemed like an hour as they sat in the smoldering heat. The officer brought father back to the car. Father looked so small compared to the patrolman, his head barely to the officer’s shoulder.
Father got into the Monte Carlo, and then they drove off down the hill. He was cussing the officer for the white piece of paper he had in his hand. Father tossed the paper on the floor and said he was never going to pay the fine and wasn’t ever coming back to this shitty state. They never got to see Mount Rushmore and never got to take any pictures.
Leaving Mount Rushmore, they went down steep highways to Hill City. The landscape was gorgeous, with green trees and green grass and curvy roads. Albert watched the bikers in front of the car lean into curves, the tailpipes of the bikes just missing the asphalt.
Bikers with ladies on the backseat, all dressed in leather—leather boots, leather jackets, leather chaps—bandanas, and dark sunglasses. They all looked like they were having so much fun. Albert told his parents that they should get a motorcycle. Mother said it was a great idea, and Father told Albert to shut up. He said everyone on motorcycles dies in a fiery crash, and it was stupid to even think of it.
Father stopped for gas at a Mobil station that was crowded with bikers. He sat in the car with Mother and Albert, waiting in line. Albert waved through the window at all the bikers getting gas and parking their bikes; the bikers waved back and smiled. Father grew more impatient, smoking, cussing, and yelling out the window for them to move their damn bikes so he could get gas. Most of the bikers paid him no attention. Father honked his horn as a burly biker finished filling his tank and started to walk into the station, leaving his bike parked in front of the gas pump. “Move that damn thing so I can get gas!” Father yelled.
The biker smiled, went back to his bike, and rolled it out of the way. He approached the passenger side of the car and told Albert’s mother through the window, “Sorry, ma’am. I should have moved it first.” The biker reached through the window and handed Albert a black bandana with yellow flames and said, “Here you go, little fella.”
Father got out of the driver’s side and yelled across the hood of the car, “Damn right you should have, you big asshole! All of you are assholes!”
It got really quiet—like all the bikers shut off their engines at once. The big biker had on black boots, jeans with a tear at the knee, a black T-shirt, a black leather vest, and a black bandana, like a pirate would wear. No sleeves on the shirt, just these huge hairy arms covered with black tattoos. The biker looked left and right, hung his head down, and walked toward Father. “Do you have a problem, sir?” he said.
“Just tired of your shit,” Father replied.
“You’re not a nice person,” the biker said.
“Yeah, well, you can kiss my ass. Get out of my way!” Father yelled up at the biker.
The big man reached out with both arms, grabbed Father by the throat, picked him up, and walked with the man’s feet dangling in the air over to the trash can. The biker lifted him even higher off the ground and placed him in the receptacle feetfirst then said, “This is where you belong.”
The biker then headed back to the Monte Carlo, looked into the window, and said, “Sorry, ma’am. Sorry that you and your fine son to have to live with that man.” And then he walked away.
Father scrambled out of the trash can, as bottles, cans, and wrappers fell onto the pavement, and ran to the car. He got into the driver’s seat, turned the ignition key, and drove off. They headed south to Custer, South Dakota, and drove back to Indiana. Albert’s mother tried to talk to father but he backhanded her across the face and told her to shut the f-up. No one spoke the entire way.
Now, as Albert rode his Harley, he remembered the biker’s face, so calm and steady as he picked Father up by the throat and put him in his place.
After the family vacation to South Dakota, Father became even more verbally abusive toward his wife and son. It was then that Albert knew that someday he had to become a biker. And ever since he was little, he dreamed of putting Father in his place forever.
Kevin and Matt
Austin, Minnesota, was the home of SPAM (3.8 cans of SPAM are eaten per second in the USA), the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and the home of Kevin Buckles.
“Matty!” yelled Kevin. “Yougotyourbagspacked? Youreadytoroll?” Kevin always spoke very fast, running his words together. He slept maybe five hours a day.
When everyone in high school was playing football, wrestling, or chasing girls, Kevin was working. At five foot four, he was too small for football, even too light to wrestle, and too shy for girls. He learned how to weld in junior high; by high school he was working on cars and creating and manufacturing parts for trailers, feed wagons, farm implements, and heavy machinery. By the time college rolled around, Kevin was making six figures manufacturing parts for a combine company.
When most young men were finding a wife and having kids, Kevin sold a trailer hitch he had designed to a national manufacturer, and became an extremely wealthy twenty-eight-year-old.
He took that money and purchased a hundred housing rental units from Austin to Worthington. Now, in his mid-forties, as the hundred units each averaged $1,000 a month in rental income, he, as he liked to say, “made a good living.”
In 2013, Kevin went to his first Sturgis rally with five friends in a rental RV. They drove the five hundred miles to see Toby Keith. More than 400,000 bikers were in attendance; Kevin was mesmerized with the bikes, the people, the excitement. Just like Kevin, the rally never slept.
In 2014, he made the trip on a bike, a 2014 Ducati. A crotch rocket capable of speeds well over 180 miles an hour. Kevin was disappointed—the Sturgis biker crowd, well, they just weren’t into a Ducati. No compliments; no one asked how fast it would go, or how fast he had ridden it. He felt like an outsider who wasn’t welcome or part of the crowd. It didn’t help that he wore bright-red leather pants, a red jacket, and a red helmet with a black facemask. One guy actually said, “You look like a douche.”
Plus, he stayed in downtown Rapid City. It was busy, but it wasn’t Sturgis. The historic Hotel Alex Johnson might have housed dignitaries and former presidents, but bikers stayed at the campgrounds in Sturgis: the Chip, Glencoe, the Broken Spoke. Kevin vowed to visit them all.
In 2015, he would start with the Buffalo Chip Campground. This year would be different for Kevin and for his nephew, Matt.
To start, Kevin went to his local Harley dealer and purchased the best, most expensive bike they had—a 2015 Ultra Classic Screamin’ Eagle package—and then added extra chrome and engine enhancements. He was the ultimate customer for a salesman working on commission.
The Ultra, with its 110-CVO twin-cooled, twin-cam engine, was the result of Harley-Davidson’s Rushmore project. Kevin didn’t know what the Rushmore project was, but he liked the sound of it. What pleased him the most was the 3-D touch-screen GPS system, heated seats, Typhoon Maroon paint, and the four six-hundred-watt, bi-amped, three-way speakers.
Kevin then got into the RV market and purchased a 2015 Chariot Freightliner Coronado. The forty-five-foot RV offered 360 square feet of living space and was powered by a 515-horsepower Detroit diesel. With a thirty-foot trailer in tow, and his RV and trailer all in Harley black and orange, he definitely stood out as he drove down the highway.
Matt, at 26 years old, was his favorite and only nephew. He was also the opposite of Kevin. At six feet tall, 220 pounds, he was all-state in football, state champion in wrestling, and got all the girls. Matt had spent a few years wrestling at the University of Minnesota under Jay Robinson, but injuries eventually left him back at home in Austin.
Kevin hired Matt to work in his shop, help take care of the rental properties, and train Kevin in exercise, weightlifting, and self-defense. Matt was overpaid and underworked, but both Matt and Kevin understood this.
“Matt! I’m going to Skip’s to get some booze. Be back in an hour. Get your bike ready!” Kevin yelled, with an emphasis on “getting ready.” Matt moved at his own pace, which was slow and deliberate—again, the exact opposite of Kevin.
A dive bar that also offered package liquor, Skip’s was about thirty minutes from Kevin’s acreage. Skip and Kevin were high-school buddies from the late ’80s, and Kevin was actually an investor in the bar. When times were tough for Skip, Kevin had bought the building and rented it back to Skip at a much lower monthly payment than Skip’s mortgage payment.
Skip survived the economic downturn and decided to just keep renting the building from Kevin. He liked his landlord, and the landlord kept improving the building far beyond what Skip would have done on his own. And Kevin even plowed the snow.
“Skip! Stella, please!” Kevin announced as he entered the bar. It was 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday, and the bar was empty except for one patron, his head down, a glass in hand. “Hope you’re having a wonderful day!” Kevin said to the guy at the bar, his voice high-pitched and piercing.
Skip delivered the beer in a Stella challis, filled to the brim. “Got your order ready, Kevin. That’s a lot of booze!”
“Yep, headed to Sturgis,” Kevin said, just as the beer hit his lips. “Gonna be a riot. Can’t wait to get there!” His voice sounded like the cackle of a chicken. “We are gonna partayyy!”
The patron at the end of the bar, with bed head hair, a shirt in dire need of washing and blue jeans worn to black, raised his head. “You know, this was a nice peaceful bar until you came in,” he said. “Why don’t you shut the fuck up?”
“Relax, my friend. No need to get upset. Hey, buy this man a drink for me, Skip.”
“I ain’t your friend, and I don’t want no drink from some short, little sawed-off pissant like you,” the man said.
“Goodness, are we having a bad day?” Kevin said in a singsongy, mocking tone. “Does someone need a hug?” He laughed at that one—a long, loud laugh like Woody Woodpecker’s: “Hahahahaha, hahahahaha, hahahahaha, hehhhhh.”
“Relax, sir. I don’t want any trouble. Let me buy you the drink,” Skip intervened, as he stood in front of the patron.
“Shut up,” the man said, as he stood and walked over to Kevin, who was standing now as well.
The man reached out as if he were going to stick his finger in Kevin’s nose. Kevin grabbed the man’s hand and wrist and twisted it back and up, bending the elbow, locking the wrist, and locking the elbow at severe right angles. The man bent over in pain, trying to relieve the pressure of the wrist and arm lock. Kevin was now behind the man, twisting the wrist and elbow lock upward. The man screamed in pain while tapping his right shoulder.
Skip stood motionless.