One Last Ride
A Heretics Motorcycle Club Short Story #2
One Last Ride
I rode that night hard and fast while the moon sailed high over the horizon, casting its ghost white brilliance upon the desert landscape. The air felt cool as it whipped across my face, tangling in my longish hair. Riding low, it felt like hell hounds were chasing after my soul. The need to travel without a sound was great. How do you remain noiseless on a Harley HOG, a big one? Not possible with the full throttle roar
The signpost up ahead said Diablo next exit.
I came barreling out of the desert into the small dusty town of Diablo. It reminded me of other ramshackle villages I had ridden through. The main freeway passed it by, leaving access to it on a decrepit highway. Diablo is one of those forgotten places with the population dwindling each year and will soon become a ghost town. One stop light, a gas station, grocery store, defunct theater and an all night diner made up the business district.
Ten or twelve bikes parked in front of the diner, ranging from Harleys to Kawasakis and BMWs. I pulled into an open slot, taking great care not to touch any of the bikes. Motorcycle savvy folks know not to mess with a biker’s sled unless you were looking for trouble. I positioned my HOG across the street so the front faced the road. You never know when you might need a fast getaway.
The interior of the cafe looks typical of the old Route 66 eateries from the fifties. A counter ran the length of one wall, while booths lined the other. Between the two were a line of checkerboard tables. The bikers sat at several tables near the back.
“Well, well, Tango. Look what walked in. A Loner.”
The man referred to as Tango wore all black. His eyes looked hard, calculating, with a soulless emptiness in their depth. He carried a knife in each boot, one strapped to each calf and thigh. He also had a large bone handled knife tucked into the back of his pants with only the hilt visible. Across his chest he wore a bandolier.
He had a face as harsh and hard as his body. A man no one in their right mind would dare cross. Every ounce of him screamed dangerous rebel. He wore a black vest known as a cut or Kutte. The back had the Heretics on the top rocker. A rocker to non-bikers can best be described as similar to a banner. Below that, a logo with a skull and a crucifix running through it. The bottom rocker had Diablo, and Sonoran Dessert, Arizona indicating their territory. The front of his vest had a number of patches including a 1%’er which meant the Heretics were an outlaw motorcycle club. A 22 patch meant he’d spent time in prison, followed by a P patch indicating he’s the club’s president. There was an HFFH patch which meant Heretics Forever Forever Heretics. The remaining patches included GBNF, gone but not forgotten for club brothers who have died, and a sword to show battle readiness.
In all, this guy came across as bad news.
I am worse.
My ride to the border came as a last ditch attempt to avoid capture and either a death penalty or life in prison sentence. For a guy like me where freedom meant everything, a life sentence is worse than hell.
I straddled a chair and set my helmet facing them. My Kutte had a 1%er, and a teardrop to indicate I had killed. I also wore a 22, a 69 to show I’d performed cunnilingus with an audience, and broken wings meaning I had crashed my HOG. It also identified me as an expert rider with many miles. I also had a 666 patch for the mark of the beast.
Fully armed with two knives in each boot, I had a knife strapped to each thigh, a knife on each hip, and a large knife tucked into the back of my pants. A 30.6 Colt 45 was holstered on each side, one in the back and a bandolier across my chest. Additionally, I had spiked chains and brass knuckles.
“Give me a beer.” I told the waitress. “And one for the bikers.”
Trying to escape a murder charge weighed heavily on my mind. I needed to cross the border, but not before I killed the son of a bitch that raped my mother. Sarah Grimes, the only person who ever loved me, died from the sexual assault. Spike Donaldson killed her. He took her dignity, humanity, and violated her ruthlessly in front of the children in her care. Rumors I heard had him hiding in Diablo. In small towns, everyone eventually comes to the diner. I had a newspaper photo of him on my phone. Just have to stay ahead of the law and wait him out. Piece of cake. Before long, Spike was going to be sorry he had messed with David “Ironhead” Grimes.
I nodded at the bikers in a show of respect. Tango nodded back.
“What’s your handle, Loner?”
“Ironhead. You?” I nodded thanks to the waitress who delivered my beer.
“Tango. Crip on my right. Red on my left.”
“Heretics Motorcycle Club? Outlaws?” I took a long swig. It was ice cold and went down nicely, soothing my parched throat.
“So they say.”
I nodded thoughtfully. Might be useful to associate with them. I noticed the striking raven haired girl sitting next to two other women.
“What’s your business in Diablo?” Tango tilted his chair back onto the rear legs.
“Lookin’ for Spike Donaldson. Know him?”
“Might. Mean sucker. What’s your interest?” He eyed me up and down. “Armed to the hilt, I see.”
“Vengeance. He brutalized, raped, and killed a woman in front of children under the age of six. An innocent civilian, that never hurt a fly.” My voice came out raspy as though filled with desert dust.
“We don’t cotton to murdering women especially innocents.” A woman with a name patch spoke quietly. The patch identified her as Bertha.
“I’m looking for justice, 1%er style.” I looked at them. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something different about this biker club. Made the hair on my neck stand up and my throat go dry. “You in?”
“We pass.” Tango stood in a fluid motion, the rest followed suit. As they walked past me, one of them set a slip of paper on my table. I watched them saunter out. I could swear I saw a faint glow around them. Must be the long hours in the saddle giving me hallucinations.
I waited until they left before looking at the slip of paper The script was crudely written. “189 Avenue D. Third building on left. Satan’s Hounds. Spike Donaldson, Enforcer. Scar right cheek. 666 dog tattoo on forehead.”
The Heretics weren’t interested in getting involved, but didn’t mind giving out pertinent information. I sat contemplating my next move. The beer sure tasted good. I ordered a second one with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.
My food came out quickly and grill top hot. There’s nothing like tomato soup and grilled cheese as comfort food. As much as I tried to savor my meal, I found myself scarfing it down with long droughts of beer.
While eating, my thoughts turned to the Heretics. They willingly gave me information on Spike’s whereabouts, or was it a set up? Could they be associates of Satan’s Hounds? Either way, I needed to check it out. My other option is to hang around until he showed his filthy mug. I couldn’t afford to loiter for days, not with the authorities on my tail. I had no desire to face the death penalty or life in prison. I needed to get across the border where I could disappear.
I stood and tossed some bills for a tip onto the table before making my way to the cashier. The older woman stiffened as though I scared her. I smiled my cheekiest at her and pulled out my wallet.
“What’ll I owe you, Sugar,” I growled.
“Ah..um…ninety for fourteen beers, a cheese sandwich and tomato soup.”
“Fair enough.” I held the bills out. “I don’t bite, unless you want me to.” My voice rumbled deep in my chest as I watched in amusement as her face reddened.
Once outside I straddled my HOG and stared at the diner window. An old cashier, a college-age waitress, and a cook in back. This place is easy pickings for a thief. I dug a pack of smokes and a lighter out. Still contemplating the dining establishment, I shook out a cig and lighted it. That first drag always tasted satisfying.
I kick started my Harley and roared off down the road in search of Avenue D. It didn’t take long. The building looked like a worn down warehouse. It had a faded logo and club colors on the front. The steel roll down gates served as the main entrance with a regular metal door to the side.
After eleven that night activity still stirred inside. Earsplitting heavy metal music blared. From the sounds emanating from within, a pool game was in full swing. I could hear raucous voices as the players tried to top each other with stories about rides and misdeeds. I could hear the clunking of beer bottles and drunken laughter.
All I had to do is hide my HOG, keep out of sight, and hope he is not only in there but the last one to leave. I found a good perch next to a dumpster. The lighting gave me a perfect view, yet kept my features hidden. Anyone seeing me would think I’m another derelict sleeping off a drunk.
By three in the morning, most had left. Only two remained. I hoped Spike was one of them. Soon, a heavily muscled man stumbled out and climbed onto his sled. It took him several attempts to get the engine going. During this time I was able to keenly study him. From the lighted entrance, I could see he wore his Kutte askew. How he managed to zip it crooked I’ll never understand, but he accomplished it. He wore a bandana around his neck, and a Stetson like an actor in an old spaghetti western. His belly hung over his chaps. John Wayne, he isn’t. The man appeared as nothing more than a sloppy drunkard.
Fifteen minutes after the alcoholic biker left, the man I stalked came out. Spike stood in the entry bobbing his head to what I assumed was music playing over ear buds. A cig dangled between two fingers. He slowly lifted the cancer stick to his lips and took a long, drag as though savoring the tobacco after an immensely satisfying meal.
“Go on, enjoy it you SOB. It’s gonna be your last in this life,” I muttered as I studied him for strengths and weaknesses. He appeared to favor his left leg slightly. That could work in my favor. My biggest problem is his armament. Spike wore weapons like a normal man did clothing, not that I fit that category any better. Knife for knife, chain for chain, and gun for gun, we were equally matched.
I felt juiced and ready to rumble. After tonight the punk will never hurt another woman again. I quietly rose to a crouch. I rubbed the brass knuckles as I considered the best way to tackle the beast. He had at least seventy-five pounds of fat over me. While he jiggled like a bowl of jelly, I brimmed with all muscle.
Stealthily I stepped forward. Spike never heard me approach until I stopped directly in front of him. A quick jab to his solar plexus had him doubled over. I clasped my hands together and brought the brass down hard on the back of his head. He rolled to his side. His feet lashed out and connected with my shin. I danced away like a prize fighter and struck him in the side as he struggled to his knees. I saw a flash of steel as he threw his knife. The blade entered my chest, directly into my heart. The pain seared my flesh like a fire hot steel rod. I stumbled, clawing at the metal. Blood flowed freely between my fingers. Cold took over as shock set in. I saw a glowing light. It gradually enveloped me. Everything faded into white.
I awakened sometime later. Everything seemed dark and cold, so very cold, like being encased in a block of ice. The surface I lay on felt hard. I reached out and touched the sides. Metal. I lifted my hand above me and ran my fingers over more metal. I lay inside a metal box. Voices drifted through the end where my feet were. The door opened and two hands pulled me out.
“That’s him.” The female voice sounded calm, yet tense. “He came into the diner asking about Spike Donaldson.”
My eyes opened a sliver and no further. She was studying me. I tried to speak but couldn’t open my mouth. To my surprise my hands wouldn’t move either. Paralysis, I thought. Where am I? Why couldn’t I move? Speak? Why could I see?
“He had no identification on him when they brought him in. Too bad Donaldson died also. He might have been able to name this guy. Well, thanks, Karen.” The man wore hospital scrubs. He reached out and started pushing me back into the hole.
I must be in hell. My thoughts rambled nonsensically. I always knew I’d end up there. I had hoped to out run that particular ending one more time.
“Jerry, if I may,” Karen grasped his arm. “I’d like to say a prayer for him first.”
“Sure. Call me when you’re done.”
She watched him exit the room. “David Grimes, or Ironhead, I know you can still hear me. Your soul hasn’t departed yet. Hear the braying hounds?”
I listened intently. In the distance, growing louder by the second I heard the hell hounds bellowing their haunting howl. The sound frightened me.
“They’re very close. Time is not on your side, my friend. You must choose. Heaven or Hell.”
“Heaven will not take me,” I thought.
“Repent and you’ll be welcomed in. The choice is yours.”
“Sure, why not? I’ve nothing to lose.”
“Just your soul and eternal damnation. The choice is yours. Heaven or Hell.”
The moonlight cast an eerie shadow upon the desert. I leaned forward, keeping my body low to give my HOG more aerodynamics, allowing me to ride faster. The hounds were on my tail. My spirit, always on the run from one misdeed to the next. I wronged everyone that ever cared about me except my mother, Sarah Grimes. I never did her dirty, but I broke her heart with every crime.
I had to get to Diablo, Arizona and commit one last deed. Spike Donaldson had to die for what he did to my mother. At her funeral I vowed he would regret ever laying his filthy hands on her.
I hit Diablo before I knew it. The main drag was dark except for one building. Diablo Diner shone with a white light emanating from its store front windows. Blindingly bright, it reminded me of a beacon. Like a lighthouse it called weary travelers to come inside and rest awhile.
I pulled in and stopped next to a dozen cycles. Deja vu hit me. Where have I seen these same sleds? As I walked past them I noticed the Beemer parked next to the Victory. The Victory sat beside the Yamaha. I searched my memory and dredged up the exact line up including a Digger, a Harley, an Indian, and a Pasta Rocket.
The bikers sat at the back of the diner. I recognized them immediately. The Heretics, an outlaw motorcycle club. The President is called Tango. Crip sat on his right and Red on his left. I nodded at them as I straddled a seat at the next table and ordered a round of beers and a meal from my childhood. Tomato soup and grilled cheese.
“Handle’s Ironhead. Looking for Spike Donaldson. Know him?”
“Heard of him. Mean sucker. What’s your interest?” Tango eyed me up and down. “Armed to the hilt, I see.”
I explained what I wanted. I knew their answer before they gave it. I sat savoring my beer as I contemplated the biker club. Who are they? Why did I seem to know them? The feeling of being here talking with them bothered me. I felt trapped, and I didn’t like it.
As they passed by on their way out, a slip of paper drifted to my table top, an address written on it. I ate my meal quickly and headed straight to the building. It puzzled me how I knew everything in detail minutes before it happened.
Spike appeared in the entry just as I pictured him. A cig dangled between two fingers. He slowly lifted the cancer stick to his lips and took a long drag. He wore weapons that matched mine.
Silently I stepped forward. Spike never heard me approach until I was directly in front of him. I clasped my hands together and brought the brass knuckles down hard on the back of his head. In my mind I saw him throw his knife at me. Before he could do so, I slipped my knife into his chest and yanked upward. I failed to see his pistol until I heard the shot. He slumped to the ground and gurgled one last breath. I felt the searing pain as the bullet ripped into my chest seconds before a white mist enveloped me and my vision faded.
I heard Karen’s voice as I slowly awakened to find myself back in the sterile room. I lay upon what I now knew as a type of gurney and I had a tag on my toe. “You’re not learning, Ironhead. You have to choose Heaven or Hell.”
“I’ll try,” I croaked.
“This is your last chance,” she whispered.
“What kind of weird Hitchcock or Twilight Zone episode is this?”
“Neither. This is Purgatory, my friend. The cross road or holding place between Heaven or Hell. You have one last chance to choose to earn redemption.”
“I said I’d try,” I groused.
Once again, I found myself racing through the desert with the sounds of the hell hounds close behind. Up ahead, Diablo, Arizona a town bypassed when the freeway was built. Population one hundred fifty. Enjoying a brief rest at the all night diner was an outlaw motorcycle club known as The Heretics, and the home of Satan’s Hounds with Spike Donaldson.
I entered the cafe after noticing the line up of sleds in front. The Heretics sat in the back just like before. And once again they elected not to join me but left me with an address.
Spike stood smoking a cig just as I knew he would. He sucked the stick down to a nub before tossing it to the ground. Quietly I walked forward until I was directly in front of him. I wanted to kill him, feel his life drain from his body. Instead, I stood glaring at him.
“What you want?” He growled.
He grabbed his chain and swung it around my torso. I heard the hell hounds come running.
“You ain’t worth the effort,” I grunted as he swung me around and stabbed my side with a knife. Once again, I was enveloped by a brilliant white glow and my vision began to fade, but not before I saw the hounds tear into him and heard his shrieks of pain and fear.
“You’re awake.” The voice sounded sweet like honey.
I opened my eyes and squinted at the lady sitting in the chair next to my bed. “Who are you?”
“Karen.” She leaned forward and kissed me. She wore a white t-shirt under a leather jacket. She tied her raven hair in a ponytail. “How are you feeling?”
“Do I know you?” I rasped.
“I’m your old lady.” Her laugh sounded like the tinkling of bells.
“I don’t have a wife.”
“Yes you do.” She poured a glass of water and held it out to me. “Sip it slow and easy.”
“I’m a lone rider.”
“Honey, as Bertha says, we’re all lone riders on this journey we call life. Sometimes we meet up and ride together. You and me? We been riding together since your mother died. That nasty Spike almost murdered you. We caught up to you just as you rolled away from him when he shot you.”
“The rest of the Heretics.” She set the glass back down. “Rest now. Heal. In time your memories will come back, that’s what the doctor said. In time.” She smoothed the blanket and plumped my pillow. “Funny how those black dogs attacked him but left you alone. I’m sure glad they did. Now rest.”
The sun beat mercilessly upon the pavement turning the asphalt into a soft tar pitch. I pulled my bandana out and wiped the sweat from my face. I sat on my HOG and watched the desert landscape as we rode away from Diablo and the doctor’s clinic. I wore my usual white wife beater shirt, black jeans, boots, leather chaps, jacket and red bandana. The back of my leather Kutte bore a skull and cross bones buried under a giant white and silver crucifix. The sleeves had a red stripe with a white cross. I carried no knives, pistols, or chains. Weapons were of no consequence to me. My only armament was a worn bible I kept nestled in one of the hidden pockets inside my jacket.
Ahead of me rode Tango, Crip, and Red. Behind me I could hear the rest of the Heretics roaring up the road. Including me, we totaled twelve. I looked over the barren desert. Something about this place looked familiar. Have I been here before? I didn’t remember ever riding down this highway or the town of Diablo. I shook my head, wondering if my mind was still fuzzy from being shot.
We were riding down a long road. Our mission is to find lost souls, the abandoned, the abused, sick, dying and those in dire need of rescuing.
I sucked in a lungful of air and exhaled. The air felt clean and tasted good. I roared off down the road. It was a glorious day to be alive and running the roads with my friends on the trail called One Last Ride.
Copyright © Traylor Grant 2018 All rights reserved.
The right of Traylor Grant to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. First published in brcpanthology Songs of the Gilded Pen vol. 1 Thrillers e-book and paperback editions. Second publication by Traylor Grant .
Grant, Traylor (2018-03-31). One Last Ride. Traylor Grant. e-book Edition.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
One Last Ride is a work of fiction. Names, characters, motorcycle clubs, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, motorcycle clubs, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Photos used under licensing through Most Photos, photographer Suriva Silsaksom.
Beautiful narration of experience of a fuzzy mind.