As you can tell, I’m still having fun ideating about the cover. Let me know what you think of it, and/or the book so far!
For those who haven’t already read them, you can find links to the previous chapters here:
By the time we got back to his place, Pamela was already sitting in Weed’s garage. Under the harsh fluorescent lights she looked even worse than I’d remembered.
“There’s no sense starting on her just yet,” Weed said, “Let’s get the KZ up and running so you can get around, then we’ll worry about her.”
He was right, and I knew it. Still, it was hard to drop off all the parts for her and then move on to the bike without doing at least a little work on my first love.
Out at the shed, Weed pulled the left side cover off the KZ so we could disconnect the old voltage regulator.
“The original ones are notorious for burning out,” he explained to me.
A few wires and a couple screws later, and the new one was in place. Swapping out the gas tanks wasn’t much more work. After loosening the fuel line clamp and disconnecting the low fuel light sending unit the tank pulled right off the rubber grommets that held it in place. The new tank went on just as easily and even looked a little better. After filling it up with some fresh gas, Weed handed me the key. All it took was one kick and the bike fired right up, this time sounding like it should.
“Damn,” Weed said, “Now I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t keep it for myself.”
I glanced around at the other two motorcycles and three dirtbikes Weed had stashed in the shed. “I think you’ll be alright.”
Throwing my leg over the seat I realized how much bigger it was than the dirt bikes I’d been used to riding. Not only was it taller, but with the four cylinder engine shoved inside it’s frame, the bike was wider too. The end result was that my feet could touch the ground, but only if I was on my toes.
Everything about it felt a little weird, a little large and a little unstable, but I wasn’t going to let Weed see my uncertainty; He’d never let me hear the end of it. Feigning confidence, I shifted my weight to my right foot to hold the bike up while pushing the kickstand back with my left foot. Without the kickstand supporting the weight of the bike, I felt even less stable so I did the only thing I could think of; I pulled in the clutch, shifted into first and then let out on the clutch as I gave it a little gas. A moving bike is easier to balance than a stopped one so it seemed like the best idea, until the clutch engaged and jerked the bike forward with a lot more power than I expected. The bike shot out of the shed with me holding on for dear life.
Rain the night before had turned the backyard into a swamp so the tires slipped back and forth, spraying mud everywhere and giving me no chance to steer the 500 lb beast as I headed for the 6 foot privacy fence separating Weed’s yard from the neighbor’s. I started to panic so I did the only thing I could think of; I yanked the handlebars and leaned as far as I could to the left. The rear tire kicked out and turned the bike sideways, causing it to lay down with my left leg trapped underneath. Momentum caused us to continue sliding another twenty feet towards the fence before we finally came to rest.
Weed wasted no time running over to me and hitting the kill switch on the bike before I could even gather my thoughts.
“That was awesome!” he screamed, still jumping up and down beside me.
“Says, you,” I replied.
Finally calming himself a little, Weed helped lift the bike off my leg so I could get out from underneath it. Every inch of me was covered in mud so it was hard to truly tell, but as I stood up it didn’t feel like anything was injured but my pride.
“We might need to adjust the clutch cable,” Weed said with a shit-eating grin.
“You think?” I replied, trying to maintain an air of anger towards him, though in reality the brief ride was more exciting than I could have imagined.
Throwing my leg back over the bike, I started it up again, and to my surprise it didn’t seem to be any worse for the wear.
“You sure you want to get back on?”
“Hell Yeah,” I replied.
Weed pulled out a couple wrenches, putting a little more play in the clutch cable.
“That should help,” he said, shoving the wrenches back into one of his pockets.
This time I eased out on the clutch, barely giving it any gas. Even going slow, it was hard to steer the bike in the mud but eventually I was able to get out to the driveway in front of the house where we could check out the bike completely. Besides a loose hose clamp and air filter and a lot of mud, the bike seemed perfectly fine.
“Your mom is going to kill you and me both if you go home like that,” Weed’s mom said as she stepped out the front door. “You get yourself inside and cleaned up.”
“She’s right you know,” Weed said. “You get cleaned up; I’ve got this.”
I ran inside, kicking off my shoes as I entered the door. Weed’s mom already had one of his old pairs of jeans, a sweatshirt and belt waiting for me so, wasting as little time as possible, I rushed to the closest bathroom. It had to be one of the quickest showers I’d ever taken, because I couldn’t wait to get back to the bike.
Though the shower seemed to take no time, Weed still managed to get the bike cleaned up quicker than I’d gotten myself cleaned up, but I made it back out in time to help tighten a few of the things that had gotten knocked loose during my debut ride.
“You sure you’re ready to try her on the road?” Weed asked, with the overprotectiveness of a parent, though I don’t know if he was more worried about me or the bike.
“I’ve got this,” I replied, “especially now that the clutch is set right and the tires will be on some proper pavement.”
“Maybe I should…” he started to say, but I kicked the bike to life and couldn’t hear the rest over the sound of the revving engine.
“Fine,” he yelled over the noise, “at least wear this.”
I’m not sure where the helmet came from but I’d never seen one quite like it. It was a full face helmet that had been painted flat black and had a gloss black skull with a mohawk on the back that was only visible from certain angles. It wasn’t exactly my style but I couldn’t turn it down.
“You don’t need your noggin taken any more abuse,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said as I slipped it on. The helmet actually fit pretty well and wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I expected. With the helmet on and the bike running I knew he wouldn’t be able to hear a word I said, so I just nodded, then kicked the bike into gear and let out on the clutch. The tires did much better on the pavement then they did in the mud, and while it may not have the power of a full liter bike, it definitely had enough get-up-and-go for me.
After everything that had happened the night before, it felt great to get out on the bike, not really heading anywhere in particular, just going wherever the road took me. I followed some country roads out of town and past row after row of corn, trying to find the most winding roads I could to really get a feel for the bike. Eventually, though, I knew I had to turn around so I could slip the bike behind the garage before mom got out of bed. Sooner or later I would have to tell her about the bike, but I was hoping for a little more time to come up with a good reason, other than wrecking Pamela.
There were several ways I could have gotten back home but with my mind focussed on hiding the bike from mom, I naturally went the way I knew best, right past Shawna’s house. Matt’s Corvette was sitting out front, with him leaned against the hood as if he was in the middle of a photo shoot. Shawna was right in front of him, with a smile on her face and a look in her eyes that I’d never seen before. A look that I would have given anything to be directed at me.
As she leaned in to kiss him, I twisted the throttle, pulling up the front wheel for a second as the bike propelled me out of there before I could witness something I’d rather not. The engine’s roar probably caught their attention, but I didn’t care. With the helmet on there was no way they could have known it was me. And it really didn’t matter anyway; I just wanted out of there. The faster the bike went, the easier it was for me to forget what I’d just seen.
By the time I looked down at the speedometer I was approaching triple digits so I left off the throttle and let the bike settle back down to the legal speed as I finished making my way home. Half a block from my house I killed the engine and coasted the rest of the way to the driveway. Pushing the bike around the garage wasn’t too bad but even though I’d only just got it, covering it up with a tarp and knowing I couldn’t get back on it until the next morning was awful.