Carpenter John: 1

Part 2 is here.

When I ride, I like to ride alone—unless there’s a woman involved. Over the decades I’ve become wary of the RUBs and other associated newbies who took up riding last month—or last year. Down south I would ride sweep on the shop’s local runs for newbies. In fact, I liked to be bringing up the rear. It was safer there.

I was never happy with what I saw during those rides. Although I probably could have made my excuses, I toughed it out and had a few laughs along the way at the ineptitude of many of the riders who had bought their sparkly new motorcycles from the store.

Yeah, I’m an independent.

*

I watched the bike merge into traffic. His ride was loaded with a tent, a sleeping bag and probably more camping gear in the saddlebags. He must have been coming from a campground just a few miles to the south. When he waved on his way past, I checked the time: 1100. I had already been on the road for five hours.

His plate said he was out of Montana. Nice riding country.

Another fifteen minutes and I pulled in behind him at the gas pumps. During pleasantries I discovered that he was headed down the road another 130 miles. We were going to the same place.

Perhaps I was confused by his leathers. They were well-worn, not new by any stretch. He wore a beanie, with plenty of faded stickers plain to see. His boots were well-scuffed too. A red bandana was around his neck. He used it to cover his face when he was riding. Sometimes that can be a giveaway, but this time I didn’t think so.

When I pulled out he was just walking in to pay.

When he passed on the four-lane, I was paying more attention. His riding stuck out like a sore thumb. He pulled ahead, but he remained in the number one lane, first on one side of it, and then on the other, back and forth. I remember thinking that’s not right. In fact, I know it isn’t.

Then he slowed down.

Wary now, I eased over a bit, just off of the left side of my lane position. I didn’t want him suddenly pulling over and running me off the road. He wandered back and forth, then ahead, then behind, still in the number one lane. What the hell, I was thinking.

He’s wandering. He’s weaving. He doesn’t know where his position should be. He can’t hold steady speed. I didn’t have to tell  myself twice to get the hell out because I know all the signs. I twisted the wick and moved on. Rapidly.

I never saw him again for another two hours or so.

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