1. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Winner, popsprocket & Pauly Pen Feathers! Short Story Contest (124) Theme: The Secret

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, Dec 23, 2012.

    Always nice to see two winners. Very well done. The first to send me a possible next theme will be the winner so get typing - Lemex

    popsprocket
    Gods of Mayhem
    (718 words)

    Something special would happen at around the speed that it took to paint your brains across the asphalt in a lightning instant. The world blurred into a kaleidoscope until all that was left was you and your bike and the road. Even thundering engines that could deafen the fainthearted would settle into a rhythmic hum that was just short of symphonic perfection.

    It was like our own little secret. It was something that could be learned, but that could never be told. If you didn’t ride then you didn’t understand: you could never understand.

    Open roads that ran for miles without end. These were our Elysian Fields, and here, we were gods. We were the gods of speed and the gods of the road and the gods of perfection. A quick glance at my mirror was all I needed to see that the other gods were still chewing up pavement there with me. A combination of concentration and euphoria was mixed on the faces of each and every one of them. This is what it meant to defy death, and the result was well worth the risk.

    With the throttle wide open you could simply let your anguish leak out through your fingertips, let it slip through the bike and onto the road where it could be left in your wake, never to be seen again.

    That’s why whenever we rode through a town I could simply smile and keep riding. It didn’t matter what other people thought of us, because we knew something that they did not. The reaction was always instant; occurring as soon as roaring engines reached the ears of Sunday strollers. Mothers would pull their children closer as their daughters looked on with excited eyes. Fathers would feign indifference while their sons looked on with envy. The truth was that at least some of these people wanted to know. They wanted to be able to understand; most lacked the courage to wrap their knuckles around a grip and find out. There would always be that inkling of an idea that made them sigh wistfully as we flew by at speeds to make the devil weep, but none of them had the heart to climb aboard and lay their lives on the line for that slice of a perfect moment.

    I had pitied them, at one time, but now I had come to appreciate the fact that the mysteries of the open road were not so easily surrendered to the uninitiated.

    Blue and red lights flashed in my mirror and I smiled as I pulled the small column of bikers over. The police were of the uninitiated. Motorbike cops never bothered with us, it was always the ones in those cages they called cruisers that liked to remind us to “keep riding” and to “keep our trouble out of their town”. It was like they all shared some kind of inane script. This cop wanted the exact same thing. There was no point in explaining that we only rode for the freedom, none of them ever believed that. Instead, I smiled politely as I submitted my licence for scrutiny.

    A small boy and his mother watched on as the cop collected everyone’s papers. An exultant look lit up her face as though we horrid bikers were getting our comeuppance, but the boy gazed at the sight in awe. Black paint and shining chrome reflected in his tiny eyes and I could feel it like a wave of heat emanating out from him. One day he would understand this secret of ours. One day it would be him that rode his pain and hate away.

    The disappointed cop returned, unable to find any outstanding warrants on the bad men disturbing the peace of his town. A final warning to keep riding was all he left us with before climbing into his cage and fleeing in the opposite direction.

    With a sly wink for the kid, I threw my leg over the bike and kicked it into life. The woman responded as though suddenly struck by the sight of something terrible and ungodly, pulling the little boy along behind her before he could be corrupted by we gods of mayhem. I smiled at the insult, though. Because this was our little secret that she would never know.
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Pauly Pen Feathers
    Eldorado
    [2519 words]

    Debbie was reluctant to scale the chain-link fence guarding the back of Ted's Junkyard. The fence was rusty, not barbed, but broken in places, and a misplaced grip could easily result in a trip to the hospital for a painful Tetanus shot. Or an ill fated fall might turn an ankle, or worse, making an already tough two mile trek back to town almost impossible. But we had come all this way for a reason, and neither of us was going to let a rusty old fence stop us. And I wasn't going to tell her about Grumpy, either. The old German shepherd whose job it was to protect the yard was half deaf, and he limped from a broken leg he suffered long ago. The once vigorous animal was run over by the drunken yard keeper while moving iron on his fork lift truck. Ted was down-right ornery and too cheap to take Grumpy to the veterinarian and allowed his leg set badly. No, Grumpy would be quiet tonight, no reason to make Debbie any more nervous than she already was. Ted was old, too, because he drank a lot. He was only in his fifties but he could easily pass for seventy. By the time we made our way into the yard he would be tucked away in his trailer home, fast asleep on the couch. An empty bottle of vodka would lay by his side while an old porno movie played out on the Betamax. Ted liked to start his mornings by “gettin' right” with a half pint of cheap vodka, and continued drinking throughout the day, and into the night. As far back as I could remember Ted owned the Junkyard, and drank. He always had a half pint tucked in his shirt pocket.

    The back of the yard was nestled up against the West side of the Federal Game Reserve, and the thick forest made the clear night much darker than Debbie liked. She was scared, but I managed to coax her along with a few tender kisses on her soft and lovely cheek. Looking back on that night I think I must have been crazy. I certainly was crazy about Debbie. She was a tall, lanky Swede with long blond hair, Caribbean sea-blue eyes, and legs that seemed to go on for ever. But she was just fifteen, and I was twenty-one. What the hell was I doing? If what happened that night so many years ago happened today, I would be tossed in jail in an instant. But on this chilly November night in the Bicentennial year of our Nation, I wasn't giving consequences a second thought.

    I was athletic and Debbie was on the High School cheerleading squad so getting up and over the fence was easy. Debbie climbed up first, and I went up after, handing her my backpack filled with all the supplies we would need to execute our plan perfectly: a six-pack of Budweiser, a small bag of pot, my trusty chamber pipe, and a transistor radio. This autumn night would be cold, so the sleeping bag I tied to the bottom of my backpack was essential. Now it was just a matter of finding the right place, the perfect spot for a night of beer drinking, a little pot smoking, and if she didn't change her mind, loving. “What are we looking for” Debbie asked. “Something comfortable, and far from the old man's trailer” I whispered. “Shhhh, come this way.”

    We made our way through rows of old rusted cars and trucks. Junk motors, bumpers, and hubcaps littered the ground. The smell of oil and grease hung in the cool night air like a thinly crafted veil. Our clothes and hair seemed to absorb it as we made our way toward our destination. A mile away I heard old Grumpy barking from the trailer at something, or maybe nothing at all. I didn't care. We were safe. Nobody in their right mind would be out here in this dark shambles of a place. It was like a battlefield of mechanical solders long ago dead. If you allowed yourself, you could almost imagine their spirits speaking softly to one another telling their stories of glory days long gone. My old Ford was buried here, but I hoped I wouldn't see it. It would be too depressing. Being twenty-one with no ride was depressing enough, but seeing my car smashed to hell would have ruined the night. I remembered how lucky I was to have walked away from that horrible wreck and snapped myself into a better mood.

    Walking a little further we came to the South-West corner of the yard, the farthest point from old Ted's trailer. When we found what we were looking for we would be secluded, and wouldn't have a care in the world. It was easier to see now that the moon was coming up in the Eastern sky. Debbie and I, walking arm in arm glanced at each other and smiled.

    When I first laid eyes on it, it looked like a black hole in the moonlit night, but I immediately knew when I made out the shape of the tailfins on the backside that this was the one; a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado. My heart felt like it jumped into my throat as I huffed, “over here” and led Debbie by the hand. This was perfect. It was near to the back of the yard, and far enough from Ted's trailer house that I was sure we would never be discovered. We made our way stealthfully being carful not to trip over the old junk that peppered the ground. The Cadillac was immense, and I knew it would be roomy inside. We approached the car and tried the door. It was locked. “I'll try the other door”, I said. It too, was locked. Debbie looked like she would start to cry as she whined, “what do we do now?” “Don't worry, baby” I said, “we might be in luck.”

    Moving around to the front of the car, I reached under the hood, popped the latch, and raised it up. The key was resting on top of the air filter right where Willie said it would be.

    Willie was my brother. He's dead, now. He was killed in a motorcycle crash out on Mill Road not far from where I wrecked my car. He was one year ahead of me in High School and used to work for Ted over summer breaks. He told me Ted kept the keys to all the old wrecks under their hoods, on top of the air cleaner. He told me a lot more about old Ted, too. He told me quite a bit more than I really wanted to know. But Willie trusted me. He knew I wasn't the type to run my mouth.

    He told me about Ted's rather large collection of pornographic movies. And one night when he and Ted were drinking vodka and watching porn, Ted offered Willie fifty dollars to perform, how shall I say, a quiet little indiscretion for him. Willie said he was up and out of the door in about two seconds flat. He never went back.

    But on that night I wasn't thinking about Willie, nor was I thinking about old Ted and his addiction to porn and vodka, or his affection for High School boys. All I was thinking, as I grabbed the key off the air cleaner was, “How convenient! We're in.”

    I found out a few years later the old car was junked only because of a blown motor. The rest of the car was in fine shape considering it was nineteen years old and spent most of it's time in the rain, wind, and hot summer sun. I put the key in the lock and gave it a turn. It opened. I slipped the key into my pocket.

    Debbie and I climbed in the back, and settled in. I spread out my sleeping bag, popped a couple of bottles of beer and fired up the pipe. Debbie and I snuggled, kissed, talked, and got high. Being curled up in the back of a 57 Cadillac and finding an “Oldies” station on the transistor radio made us feel like we'd been transported to a time long ago in this magical, mystical, time machine. Later, Debbie would tell me that it was the most romantic night of her life. So maybe we were both a little crazy.

    The night was still young and getting colder, but my sleeping bag was filled with goose down and would keep us warm. So with our clothes tossed to the floorboard, and the transistor radio softly offering “Only You” by The Platters, Debbie and I slipped into the bag and zippered up.

    It seemed like hours had passed. I looked up, and out of the back window. The light of the still rising full moon gently forced its way through the steam soaked glass. Moonlight shone faintly in Debbie's eyes and it made her look like something divine. She was quiet now. I didn't think I could ever stop kissing her soft, lovely face and neck. And that was it. That was the moment I fell in love for life. And it was the moment I finally confessed, and whispered into my darling's ear, “It was my first time, too.”

    There was another first for Debbie and me that night, but we would have to wait nine months and go through a lot of hell from her parents, and mine, before he arrived. He would be the first of our five children. We would name him Willie.

    As the years went by we grew close as a family, and Sunday dinners became a tradition for us all. My family, and Debbie's, sat down together once a month for dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Clausen's. They had a large, very comfortable house that offered a Thanksgiving Day kind of atmosphere all year round. The folks enjoyed very much spending time with each other, with us, and with their grandchildren, and we often had long and very interesting conversation. This particular Sunday Grandpa Clausen seemed a little more talkative than usual. He never liked to talk about the past, but something about Grandpa seemed different. This day, Grandpa talked a lot!

    #

    When our Willie was about three years old I went back to Ted's Junkyard and bought the old Cadillac. I had it towed home and over the years I made it my pet project and restored it very close to its original condition. When Willie was growing up he would love to help me work on the car. He was quite the little helper, too. He loved handing daddy the right wrench, or fetching a screwdriver. He asked what seemed like an endless array of questions. “What's this, Daddy” or “How does that work”. He didn't know it then, but he was developing what would become a life-long passion.

    I had the car for maybe a year when one day Grandma and Grandpa Clausen stopped by unannounced for a short visit. I was in the garage with Willie working on it when Grandpa walked in. He abruptly stopped short in his tracks and looked, no; he stared at the car. He had a look on his face that said he lost the ability to breath. He scared the hell out of me. I thought the old guy was having a heart attract. “That's my car”, he whispered. “What?” “That's my car”, he answered, and called Grandma to come out back and have a look.

    It was his car, alright. It really was! He bought it new in 1957 when he was just twenty-one, right about the time he started dating Grandma. She was just a tender little fifteen year old girl back then. Boy, kids started out young in those days!

    #

    Grandpa talked about a lot of things that Sunday afternoon, and he talked about that old car, too. He told us how he and Grandma used to love going for rides way out in the country, late into the night. He told us about hitting a rock in the road one rainy night about twenty miles outside of town. The rock flew up and hit the oil tank putting a hole in it the size of a quarter causing all of the oil to drain out. That's how the motor seized up, and that's why they had to spend the rain-soaked night, all alone, way out in the country, in his car. That was the last time Grandpa and Grandma would spend in the old Cadillac, or so they thought.

    Soon, Grandpa began to get tired. I could tell his conversation was coming to an end. But before it he stopped talking, Grandpa, with a broad smile on his face looked up at his daughter and said, “Yes honey, your mother and I had some very good times in that old Eldorado.” Grandma seemed to wiggle just a little, kind of a nervous little wiggle in her chair. Then she gave Grandpa a loving little nudge with her elbow and said, “You hush, now”. It didn't really mean a whole lot to me, then, but looking at my wife I thought I noticed a faint blush trickle across her cheek.

    Last year my beautiful wife and I were so happy to give Willie the birthday present he'd been dreaming of his whole life. He turned thirty-five, and we gave him the car we had worked on, and enjoyed for so many years. He loved that old car. And he loved spending time giving Grandpa and Grandpa Clausen long rides out into the country. They loved it too, especially Grandpa. He always insisted on riding in the back with Grandma. Looking into the rear view mirror Willie noticed how happy they both looked. Also, at times, he noticed Grandpa would have a little twinkle in his eye. Willie thought it seemed almost like Grandpa was contemplating some sort of funny little secret; a secret that only he and Grandma shared together. Or perhaps it was a secret, maybe one of many, that might in some strange way be shared with that old Eldorado, too. I can't say, for sure.

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention. Back in the day when my son was a young man, maybe around twenty-one, or so, I used to let him borrow the old car on Saturday nights. He loved to take his girlfriend on rides way out into the country, late into the night. And perhaps one day he'll pass that old 57 on to his son Willie Jr. Junior is fifteen now, and he loves working on daddy's, and grandpa's, and great grandpa's old Cadillac.

    One day, after spending the afternoon polishing the car, Junior looked up to me and said, “You know, Grandpa, there's just something very special about this old Eldorado.” Junior, I thought to myself with a smile, “I know what you mean, grandson. I sure do know what you mean.”
     

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