If quiet had a volume knob, the silence at breakfast was set to eleven. Goose lifted his head to say something to Dan, caught him staring into open space and asked, “Hey dude, where are you?”
Dan looked up and replied, “I was thinkin’ about the first time we went to Daytona with the Rebels. You remember? It was the night you brawled with Axel over Dixie.”
Goose didn’t respond. He simply got up and went to check the oil in his bike. Dan looked at me as if to ask, What’d I say? I shook my head and looked over my coffee cup, thoughts drifting back to that Daytona trip. I remembered like it was yesterday.
* * *
Axel Roberts was the president of the Rebels, a crew of misfits from around the south. He was a mean, unforgiving son-of-a-bitch who ruled the club with an iron fist. Goose was no different than any of the other guys. He knew his place in the pecking order. If Axel wanted the girl, she was his – no questions asked – no argument.
We were slamming beers at some dive along Highway 1 when Axel took a liking to the server, a hot blonde named Dixie. She kept looking at Goose as Axel pawed at her through the night. The look in her eyes pleaded, “Help me!”
Goose took all he could stand. His character overtook common sense and he stepped between Axel and Dixie, saying, “That’s enough, Axel.” The big biker stepped back and rushed Goose head-on like a bull. The fight raged on until Goose finally got the better of the drunken biker. The leader of the Rebels was done. A couple of the other guys helped him stumble outside to cool off.
Sometime during the melee, Dixie quietly slid out the back door. I followed behind to see if she was okay and found her leaning back against an old Buick, trying to light a cigarette. She looked up as I walked over and asked, “How’s your friend?”
I lit her cigarette and replied, “Oh, he’s okay. Personally, I thought Axel would mop the floors with him, but it seems Goose was… inspired.”
She dug in her purse and pulled out a sheet of paper. She scribbled something and held out the note. “Would you give this to him, please?”
“Sure.” I took the paper from her outstretched hand. She smiled, climbed into that Buick and drove away. I looked down at the paper, saw a phone number and her name with the words, Please call, scribbled underneath.
“Frank!” I heard Dan’s voice behind me. Turning around, I saw his head poking out the back door. “Come on, man. We gotta go. When Axel comes to, he’s going to want to put a bullet in Goose.”
As we walked over to the bikes, Goose was already on his machine ready to ride. Axel was still pretty much out of it. I walked over to my friend and shoved the paper into his shirt pocket and said. “You should give her a call.”
The lights of the roadhouse dimmed in the distance as we sped away. A few miles down the road, Goose veered into a gas station. I watched as he walked over to the pay phone. He read the numbers off the paper and dialed. He leaned his head against the side of the booth and talked with someone on the other end of the line.
I looked at Dan and he looked back at me. “What’s that all about?” I shook my head and replied, “Dixie.”
Goose walked back to where we were parked. “Ya’ll go on. If you don’t see me by Saturday, head back without me.”
I watched the panhead’s red taillight shrink to a small dot before disappearing in the distance. Dan kicked his knuckle to life and we rode back to the campsite. We had to get our stuff out of there before Axel and the rest of the crew returned.
Saturday came and still no sign of Goose. With our gear strapped to the bikes, we headed back to the North Carolina mountains. It was good to be home. Goose showed up three weeks later – a little happier, a little fatter, and a twinkle in his eyes. I didn’t ask and he didn’t offer.
* * *
“Frank!” Goose said. “Where the hell were you?” I pulled myself out of the memory and smiled. “Back in Daytona.” Not wanting to expand on that any farther, I stood and threw on my leather. “Let’s get some wind in our hair!”
Steel horses screamed through the back roads of South Georgia; my oldest friends, Greasy Dan and Goose McAlister lead the way. We were cowboys of the highway and creatures of the night. But this ride was different; we are on our way to say goodbye to an old friend.
Three hours later, we slowed to the speed limit when our bikes rolled past the city limit sign of the tiny north Florida town. Goose seemed to know his way around pretty good. I saw a small white chapel ahead with a few old cars and a few motorcycles backed up to the curb. We backed in by the other bikes and headed towards the church. Goose walked quickly into the chapel and straight to the front where a shiny black casket rested.
Walking up behind him, I placed my hand on his shoulder and looked at Dixie lying there with a peace she never knew. My friend breezed in and out of her life many times since that night in Daytona. Then came the day they crossed paths with Axel. The bullet that struck Dixie was meant for Goose. The bullet that found Axel was right on target.
This is one of my earliest short stories when I started writing again back in 2006. It was somewhat odd that last night I dreamed pretty much this same story. I figured that meant I was supposed to post it here today. Copyright 2011 – All Rights Reserved.