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Ruby caught the ball and faltered briefly, bouncing for balance with one foot, then slid back onto her pinion seat.
"You knock over ma' horse, I'm gonna knock you over, woman!" Kevin yelled from the garage. He was helping Artie put some padding on the back of his saddlebags. Artie didn't want to mess up his paint job by throwing the saddlebags bareback on his bike.
Ruby threw the baseball back at me. I caught it with my helmet. Didn't even have to tilt my hog over.
The helmet law had just become effective in California, courtesy of Pete Wilson. We wore the helmets, but only after we'd placed stickers on the back that read: "Fuck Pete Wilson."
"Let's go, let's go!" I said to the guys, impatiently, "I wanna get moving!"
"We're waiting on Ron and Dean," Artie mumbled, without looking up.
I tossed the ball back at Ruby. A bad throw. She stretched her right arm out to find it, tiptoeing out of her seat and nearly knocking the bike over again. The ball flew past her, into the street.
"Goddamit!" Kevin yelled. "I swear I'm gonna kill both a' you mothafucka's!"
Ruby and I locked eyes and giggled like conspiring children.
None of us were allowed to bring women along for these weekend rides. Kevin brought Ruby, but that was because he wore Hessian colors and we felt privileged to have him tag along, and besides, he had a habit of doing whatever he wanted to do anyway.
Ron and Dean pulled into the driveway. They both rode Vulcans, but they were friends, so we overlooked it.
"Bout time!" I said, getting off my bike to greet them.
We slapped hands, and patted each other's shoulders.
"Whassup! Whassup!" I was saying.
"Not much, man," Ron replied. "Wha's goin' on here?"
"Waitin' on Artie, as usual," I said, turning to Artie. "Hurry up, you slow fuck!"
"I got it, I got it" Artie said. "You ain't been waitin' on me, anyways! These two motherfucker's jus' got here."
Kevin was putting on his helmet, so we all followed suit. Meanwhile, Artie was closing the garage door and strapping his saddlebags on his rear fender.
I fired up my engine, and started a chorus of sweet music for the whole neighborhood to hear. The rumbling boom-boom-boom of a Harley can be the most deafening noise a person can hear, but to a rider, it may as well be an angel's harp.
One by one, we got them all going. The road was looking at us, as we headed off the driveway, past the corner traffic light and onto the highway. A band of brothers for the weekend; fair weather riders to be sure, most of us, but feeling like conquering heroes on the road to fortune and glory.
There's no sensation like having the strength of a thousand cubic centimeters between your legs, more than making up for any shortcomings you might possibly have in the area. There's nothing like it. Some might prefer the more speed efficient crotch-rockets, but they just make you go fast, and get from point A to point B quicker. If you wanna ride, and really feel it and enjoy the scenery and your company, you ride a hog. You let the roar of your engine and the bumps on the road become one with your kidneys and buttocks.
For several years we would go out almost every weekend. Sometimes less riders, sometimes more. Up to twelve of us on one occasion. Often just two or three. But it was always great fun. Even when we ran into trouble, it was always fun.
I miss those days, and the sense of freedom they provided me with. I miss my friends, and the camaraderie between us; the sense of brotherhood. Can't quite replace that later on.