M.A. DANKO - PARKS REDEMPTION
The loud rumble outside the Speedy Mart made the clerk look nervously out the window. This was a familiar sound; motioning to the other man at the register to make sure his handgun was within reach. Six patched riders sprayed the well-worn gravel as they pulled into the lot. This was the only fill up station for the next twenty-five miles before reaching the town limits. In fact, it was the only building still doing business along this abandoned stretch. The pizza place attached to the Speedy Mart had long since closed and the ramshackle garage a few hundred feet further was closed more than it was open. Two of the riders, Parks and Squire gassed up first then pulled in the exit facing the roadway. Sentinels.
“Grab me another pack.” Squire’s gravelly voice yelled over his shoulder to one of the riders as he was about to enter the bared door of the building. His wiry body jittered as a hacking cough expelled from his lungs, then spat a dark liquid on the ground.
“Damn, these things are gonna kill me!” he grumbled as he took another drag off his Camel. Parks gave him an unsympathetic glance, raising his shoulder in a shrug.
“We all gotta go at some point,” then reached in his vest for his own smoke. Bending his head, cupping a hand against the breeze, he lit his cigarette. Taking a long drag he blew the smoke out watching the marts door as the three rowdy bikers headed back to their rides. Flicking ashes in the wind, he waited for Mohawk, the club president to exit so they could continue.
He had been riding with these guys for over a decade now, never having much of a childhood growing up. His father rode with this same club, and worked as a long- haul truck driver, being gone for days at a time. When he was young, he overheard things, and soon understood what the club was; a gang, and that his father wore their colors, he also learned at an early age, you did not ask about club business around the members. When they were alone his father would tell him to, stay clean and don’t get involved. He would tell him; this is no life for anyone. When he asked why he didn’t just not go and leave the club, his father would just repeat with a sad look. Just don’t ever get involved, you get in an there is only one way out,
He didn’t know then, but he leaned what he meant.
By the time Parks turned sixteen, he hadn’t seen his father home for months. Then the day came when the police came to his school, they told him his mother was found dead from an overdose. He remembered after that Squire and some of the other club members started watching over him. When he turned eighteen Squire brought him in the club as a prospect and as soon as his initiation was over, he began riding with the chapter. That was over ten years ago. A lifetime. These guys and his bike are now the only family he knows, and being on the other side of the law was his way of life. He brought his mind back as the older man next to him spoke.
“Hot damn!” Squire let out a raspy whistle and then a catcall. The other members soon followed as they saw what Squire was hooting at. Parks looked past his smoke to see a red Ford Focus wagon with a pretty blond at the wheel, it was slowing down to enter the station, then hesitating turned her blinker off and passed the entrance. The woman nervously looked at them rolling up her window and sped up as she continued down the long empty stretch towards town. Parks inwardly grinned, thinking the woman made the right choice. The group he was riding with today were bad news. Some club members were decent folks, but not this bunch. He threw his cigarette but to the ground.
“Hey Mohawk,” Squire yelled over the sound of the engines. The large man was just getting back on his bike. “Been a boring ride so far, how ‘bout we have some fun?” he jerked his thumb towards the retreating wagon.
“Game on…” Mohawk nodded and grinned giving the others the signal to move out and headed towards the retreating taillights fading in the distance.
Squire was first out, the roar of the cams was deafening as the others followed leaving a dust cloud acrid with gasoline, oil and dirt. Parks hung back. Something made him hesitate, but only for a moment, then he sped out. The clerk in the store had been looking as the gang left his lot, he knew nothing good would come of this, but living in this area, you knew that you did not get involved in biker club business, and as he turned the door sign to close, was just glad they didn’t hang around his store and cause trouble for him.
The bikes easily caught up to the wagon. At first Mohawk motioned them to fall behind, and then motioned two up on each side to slow her down. All the while, they cat called and made obscene remarks and gestures. They began to crowd the wagon off the road. The more frightened the woman’s face looked, the wilder the calls and the bikers’ antics became. They flanked on both sides and ahead of the vehicle. Parks was coming up on the left side and he glanced in the back. He saw a small girl in a car seat, crying holding a rag doll and a boy, around seven or eight lying down on the seat.
In that moment everything went deathly quiet, and a surreal event happened; time seemed to halt. Parks looked towards Mohawk, his mouth agape, his jaw baring yellowed teeth while his eyes narrowed making him appear like a hideous crazed beast. The others mouthing soundless laughter seemed almost comical. He tried to yell to Mohawk, but nothing escaped his throat, then his eyes were dragged to the boy in the back. He sat up looking directly at him through the car closed window. Huge frightened blue eyes stared at him and felt as if he could see into this child’s soul. Parks felt the fear as the boy pleaded within his mind. ‘Please mister, don’t hurt us.’ At that moment, his conscience took over and he felt an impending doom wash over him, and knew he had to stop the gang, whatever it took. There were children in the car. He had to get up to Mohawk and tell him to back off! His head cleared and the instant he squeezed the throttle, everything went back to normal and he hit the gas and moved forward. The woman was terrified and sped up. One of the bikes cut in front of her trying to scare her into pulling over. She panicked and swerved left, he saw the car coming towards him, but had no time to react as the red wagon crashed full force into his bike.
It all happened at once; he heard the screeching sound as she slammed on her brakes then felt the impact as he was flung from his bike, tumbling through the air, no thoughts other than a calm, I’m going to die. He heard the woman scream a name as the car left the road,
“Dustin…!” he saw the pavement rise, and a glimpse of the wagon flipping, then an intense bright orange flash exploded in his head. Before the blackness engulfed him, he repeated the name she said, Dustin.
Dustin sat in the chief’s office at the Dade County Sheriff’s Department. He had been working undercover for over five years now and finally he had a definite lead on the club he had been looking for. After six years as a motorcycle cop on the streets of Miami, he finally made detective. From drug and immigration violations to mob and gang violence, he thought he had seen it all, until he entered the world of undercover.
Dustin was a loner, he did his beat, occasionally went to the local bar, had his share of women, but never lost sight of his purpose. Everything he did was calculated to get him to this point in his life.
His Chief knew he was a good cop, and that he was driven by his past, he knew what he was looking for and when they needed another plant, he was asked.
Dustin understood it took a unique personality to go undercover, give up all material possession and any personal attachments. None of that mattered, he had always lived this way, no attachments, no permanent residence; one purpose drove him, and it was now in front of him. The chief warned, and he saw this happen to other detectives, the immersion could become to real, you could not separate the new life from your past, and the phycological effects after were rough. Then there was always the possibility that the people you were infiltrating would learn who you were, and it could be over. He wasn’t worried about this, when his opportunity came, he didn’t ever plan on returning.
Over the last few years, he had infiltrated and helped take down one of the largest gang clubs or One Percenters as they called themselves, in the ‘Sunshine State’. His purpose to go undercover with these clubs, was to observe and learn, be a mole. He had no fear, that emotion left him many years ago and was replaced with a simple desire for revenge. The break he had been working towards finally came, the location of the next bust. Without a second thought he put in his transfer to the Chattanooga, Tennessee undercover division.
Dustin was brought in the station in cuffs, cursing and fighting the officer who led him through the precinct. Another officer came over, but he motioned him away,
“I got this asshole,” and the other cop backed off. Dustin grinned, then spat at the other office in a rebellious gesture. He was pulled roughly down a hall, then when they turned the hall towards the holding cells; the officer faced him.
“Shit man!” He put his hand to his bruised cheek. Dustin looked him in the eye.
“Sorry Doug, had to make a show, you never know who is in this joint, keep the cover.” He held up his cuffed wrists so the officer could unlock them.
“I know, take care man.” He slapped Dustin on the back, then left. Doug, did know, he was one of a few officers that was aware he was undercover. Dustin waited, then turned down the other hall, making sure no one was around, and entered the office. The chief was waiting for him and motioned to sit.
“So, you’re leaving us.” Dustin sat in the chair across the desk and crossed his legs. He took off the ball cap and non-prescription glasses he had been wearing. His ponytail fell down his back. This would be the last time he would wear regular clothes for a long time, maybe even ever. He had to be careful not to have anyone recognize him, especially in the Police Chiefs office. Can’t make mistakes in this line of work. One screw up could be your life. His club affiliation here in Dade still held. He never lost his cover when the bust went down, and even spent three months in jail just to keep it up, and it worked. When released, he convinced the new club president, JR, who he had ridden with over the last three years that he needed to get out of Florida and ride with another club. JR knew the Chattanooga chapter; in fact, he used to ride with them, until things got too hot for him up north. With the invite from his current chapter and solid trading contacts, he felt sure they would let him in.
This would be his last undercover assignment. If this club went down his cover wouldn’t stand after two busts with him in both clubs. Word gets around among. Besides, it would finally be the end.
“Don, you know this is what I have to do.” Dustin leaned forward, rubbing his bearded chin. Chief Don Lamont had been not only his boss but also his best friend for years. Don also knew his past and why he went undercover to bust these scumbag clubs. Closing the folder, he had been looking at before Dustin arrived. It had the targeted chapter and known associates in the drug smuggling and arms dealing business, also photos and records of each member. There were also photos of crime scenes and victims. This club was tied to multiple unexplained disappearances and unexplained deaths in the area, some of the recovered bodies were thought to be members, but many were not.
In the folder was the information of a crime scene and photos of two victims. Dustin knew these well; it was the crash he was in twenty years ago. The case was never officially closed, too much evidence pointed to gang related. When the police arrived at the scene, they found a smoldering vehicle with two bodies burned inside, his mother and baby sister, one dead biker, with no identifying patches or identification and an unconscious young boy that was ejected before the explosion. From the skid marks and the multiple single tire tracks there were more than the one dead biker at the scene. The authorities knew the chapter that ran that area but could never pin anything on them. Until now, years later an informant leaked information about illegal weapons the club was stockpiling and planned to sell to an arms dealer. Informants are not always reliable, there was no information on when or where the trade would occur. That was what he would find out by infiltrating this club. Dustin knew these were the bastards that caused the death of his family, all these years he worked towards the legal path, but now he was so close; his family would finally get their justice, one way or the other. The chiefs voice brought his mind back in focus.
“Just don’t be stupid. Get in there but keep your cool. Get them the information. Let the law handle putting them where they belong.” He shook his head. “You’re not Clint Eastwood, and I can’t get your ass out of trouble from down here.”
“I know Don; I didn’t get this far from being a hot head. Hell, if I get made, not a damn thing you could do, they will take care of me quickly.” He gave a wry smile. However, both men knew the truth in this.
“DEA and TBI are in on this one. It could get rough for you for a while.”
“Learned my lesson last time, already been in touch with my local contact. They know where to find my credentials if I can’t get out of there before it goes down.” He got up, put his hair back under the cap, and put on the glasses. Don came around and embraced his friend.
“I’ll see you in a few months.” Dustin just nodded then left the office. The chief watched his friend leave, feeling this would be the last time.
That evening he packed a few belongings along with two handguns and his vest with his colors and club name patched on it, Steele. Then he threw a hundred-dollar bill in the envelope for the house cleaner and closed the door to his weekly rented room. Firing up the engine to his Chevy truck, he headed north.
A shard of light penetrated the darkness. Parks tried to focus, but couldn’t. He breathed in and listened. Not a sound.
“What the hell happened? Where am I?” He heard his own voice vibrating in his head. “Mohawk, Squire, you guys around?”
No answer. “Someone turns on a damn light!” Only the dust particles danced in the pinpoint of light. Then he heard footsteps. Boots on concrete.
“Yea man, we have all kinds of junk bikes. We also have better bikes up front. We can even give you a thirty-day return on better ones. This is the boneyard back here. You buildin’ your ride?” A man with a squeaky voice was coming closer.
“Seems that way, and I don’t need a return.” The other voice had an even tone and an annoyed edge to it. He recognized the tone. This person didn’t want any conversation, but just needed to take care of his business. Suddenly the stream of light brightened but he still could not focus.
“So, man, can I help you…” The squeaky voice was cut short.
“I’ve got it from here. You can go back up front.” It was not a suggestion; it was a statement.” Cold silence.
“Sure man, just come up when you see what you want, I’ll price it.” Footsteps retreating. Only one set. The Boots were still in the room. He was close; he had to see him. Parks spoke up,
“Hey man! Where am I and why can’t I move?” Only silence. “Hey asshole, I’m talking to you!” he heard him walking around, Harley Boots. Then a familiar sound. He flipped the kickstand on a bike, and then rocked it. What was going on, where was he that someone was on a bike? He heard the man with the squeaky voice come back in again.
“See anything you like buddy?”
Parks fought back the urge to retort to this ignorant man calling him ‘buddy’. Not worth it, not now he thought.
“This one and the one over there, these seem in pretty good shape. Why are these back here with the other parts bikes?”
“Bad karma man; owner died while riding one of them, the other one we just couldn’t get rid of up front, something about a biker’s code… one biker came in and told me....” The man cut him short again.
“They clear title?”
“Clear as you can get, owners not coming back for them!” The man gave a snort.
Parks listened then yelled,
“Hey, you two, what and who died on the bike. Talk to me!” The Boots stopped talking,
“What did you say?”
“Said the owners…”
“No after that?”
“Nothing man, must be the rats.” He snickered. The men were moving again, closer.
“Get me the keys to these two.”
“Man, they’ve been here for years, they ain’t gonna start…” the man glared at him, “Ok, ok, your time.” He only could hear one set of steps retreating.
The Boots were right next to him. He couldn’t move or see. Was he paralyzed, was there gauze on his eyes? Why would no one answer him? He tried to remember, what was the last thing he did? Where were his buddies? He saw the bright light again. Milky, dusty. Then like a flash, he remembered. The last image was of a boy in the back seat of a car. He looked right into his big blue eyes. He was scared. Then he was flung from his bike as the pavement came up to meet him. The woman screamed as the car left the road, flipped, then the explosion.
“Oh shit!” he didn’t feel panicked. In fact, he realized he didn’t feel anything. He was paralyzed or on some very heavy sedation. Ever since his mom died from an overdose, he never touched any form of drugs, but whatever they gave him was making him hallucinate. He heard the squeaky voiced man come back in.
“Here ya go man. Good luck.” There was that silence again.
“Ok, I’ll be back up front.”
He heard the Boots sit back on a bike seat, insert the key and turn it. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. If he was in a coma, then what the hell were bikes doing in his hospital room. And if he was dead… was this his hell?
His thought ended as he felt lifted, and then a heavy weight landed on him. Like a sensation of it. Someone was kicking at him, pulling on him. Again, almost like…a memory. Then he coughed, once, twice… loudly. He could see in his fuzzy vision more dust flying around. He sensed the pulling again, and coughed. Then a deep hum began within him, and he seemed to…vibrate deep in his chest.
He could barely think the rumbling he sensed was so deep. Then his shoulders were being twisted. Right, then left and finally he was kicked one more time and leaned over again, and the weight was gone. The Boots voice seemed to be talking to himself.
“I think you’ll do fine for my purpose.” The sound of steps became faint as he walked away. Silence enveloped all around him and he once again saw the hazy stream of light, almost as if his eyes had a film over them.
The man in the boots walked up through the warehouse, out of the dimly lit ‘boneyard’ through the next section of bikes in all stages of dismantle. They were categorized by manufacturer; the next room had shelves of parts that led to a well-lit front showroom displaying newer bikes. Some were in rough shape, but all of these were drivable. He wasn't interested in any of them. He found the one he needed. An untraceable machine that the owner was sure not to come after. He went to the counter where the squeaky man sat puffing on a cigarette; he was talking to a toothless coworker and looked up as he approached, grinding out the butt.
“What’s the price on the black street bike in back?” his voice was even and unemotional.
“Oh yea, she’s a beauty, good bike...”
“A few minutes ago, you were telling me it wouldn’t start and had a dead man’s curse on it, so don’t try to fuck me over on the price. I know exactly what it’s worth. I also know that a biker would never ride a dead club member’s bike. Therefore, that narrows your buyers down. What is the price?” The man’s cold look in his eyes set the other man to rethink on how much he was going to ask for the bike.
“O.k., o.k. that bike has been here for years...can’t even get anyone to take it for parts. Let’s say seven hundred.”
“I will give you five hundred and pick it up tomorrow. Take it or I’ll find something else.” His expression never changed. Then added, “somewhere else.”
“Man…your ripping me off…” The man turned and headed for the door.
“Hey, alright, just get it by tomorrow…or no deal!” For the first time the man grinned and gave a short laugh.
“You drive a hard bargain; I’ll be back noon tomorrow for pick up.” Just before he walked out the door he turned saying, “And I expect that nothing will be missing off of the bike, it will be exactly as I just saw it.” Then he left.
Parks felt like he was suffocating from the silence all around him. He thought he heard a muffled voice or a sound of a tool dropping from a distance. He heard a few bikes passing the outside of wherever he was. Then clear and close, he heard a voice,
“Hey you, over there.” A deep gruff voice cut clearly through the silence. Parks had not heard anyone walk in this time.
“What? Who’s there?” A deep laughter, then sputtering cough.
“Finally, he wakes up. Took you longer than some of the others. Not that time has any meaning here.” Another voice chimed in.
“Damn straight on that. Day or night, week, month, all the same.” This voice had the same rattle raspy sound. The first voice again,
“So, what’s your story?” Parks couldn’t move his head or even focus on the voices, but his hearing seemed fine.
“First where am I, and why can’t I move or see you? I remember an accident, then this.” The second voice chuckled, and he heard the other snicker.
“Names Gutter, and that over there is Low Ball. Better get ready for this man, hate to tell you but your dead. You’re in a warehouse with the rest of us who rode and died. They call this section the ‘boneyard’ because riders come and strip our parts…” he was going on, but Parks stopped listening after the words... your dead.
“Dead! Shit, then how the hell am I talking to you? Is this a hallucination? And what do you mean strip parts?”
“Man, ain’t no hallucination, probably Hell, at least for our type. Best me and Low Ball over there can figure is we transferred into our bikes when the ‘Ol Grim Reaper came to call.
“What? I don’t believe in that crap.”
“Suite yourself, I felt the same way when I woke up here. Couldn’t cope with what was. We aren’t the smartest, but we have been here a long time, no telling how long…no meaning here. I saw you pulled in. Like I say, time has no meaning, but we tried to wake you many times, but you wouldn’t. Funny no one even attempted to take your parts. Every time that dude squeaky would send someone back here to the boneyard, people wouldn’t even come near you. Until the dude in the Boots today.”
Parks was now convinced that he was on a bad psychotic trip; or maybe he was in a coma and the drugs were causing these voices in his head. He had seen many of his buddies take bad trips. Maybe this was one, but he felt the need to talk…even if it was only in his mind.
“I still think I am in a coma and this is a bad hallucination from the drugs.”
“Yea, you keep thinkin that. You’ll come around. We all had to.” Gutter said.
“Ok, let’s say it’s not, how many of us are in here? And why?”
Well there are three now with you. Used to have a few others, but they were bought or like the chopper over there, they was completely stripped. Guess he couldn’t take no more. Just stopped talking one day. His frame just lays over there.” The voice lowered. “Low Ball over there can’t see nothing. They took his lights, blind as a bat now.”
“I can still hear you asshole!” Low Ball yelled.
“So, is that why I can’t see, they stripped my lights?” Gutter gave snort of laughter.
“Don’t think so, probably just the years of dust and grime on the headlight. Not like they care about cleaning us.” Then Low Ball added,
“And besides, not one part has been removed from you. They come, they look, and a few have even started to remove something. Then they stop, get all squirrely and leave.” He paused then spoke.
“Yea, we nick named you…ghost. We heard squeaky telling one feller that you bit it right on your bike. We figured you’d be like us, but after so long you never spoke. We figured you were just scrap.” Parks now was trying to remember details from the day of the accident.
“So, you two or three, you died on your bikes?”
“Hell no! Nowhere near my bike when the asshole rammed his knife in my gut.” Low Ball then chimed in.
“Yea and I woke up here after a really bad party night,” he laughed, “with a rival club’ old lady! Worth every minute!”
Parks was still trying to process everything. “So why only a few of us, plenty of bikers die?”
“Hell, as far as we can figure… we were loners, just us and our bikes. They were our family. Just couldn’t leave ‘em even after we bit it. Not a sole gave a crap about us. There are probably others in other salvage yards. We just ended up here at Mors Town Salvage. Hell, I used to come here when I needed parts!”
“Now we’re just, junk.” One of these days we’ll all be like ‘ol Chopper over there.” Footsteps sounded and the two men up front came in. the one they were calling Squeaky was talking.
“That uppity ass. I’ll fix it so he gets a few miles from the bike, then he can enjoy the piece of crap he bought. Try to jip me!” The other man spoke.
“I don’t know man. That dude looked serious about not messing with this bike. Looks like the type that would come after you.”
“Bullshit, he’s an uppity ass.” The man spit his chew and it splattered on Parks. “Probably a weekend warrior. I didn’t see no patches. Get over here and help me.” Parks was being lifted again. He sensed something metal on him. He didn’t like this little wimpy man touching his bike, or him. He couldn’t move but he had to try something. With all his strength, he coughed …hard… then again. He was dropped back fast but still leaning on his stand.
“What the hell!” The squeaky man yelled. Parks heard the other man,
“SHIT...you’re on your own man…I’m outa here! That thing’s possessed!” He felt the metal object hit him hard, and then both men left cursing. Laughter erupted from the other two bikes.
“Damn good show man! None of us has ever been able to get anyone’s attention! Can’t even hear us yell, let alone start our engines. Maybe you are a ghost!”
Parks thought, maybe I am.
What Gutter said was true; he had no idea how long he was here or even where here was. He just had plenty of time to think, His mother had been a drug addict and his father rode with the club, abusive and a drunk. Now he thought; how ironic I ended up worse than both of them!
He was beginning to believe he really was in hell. Stuck for eternity in a dark warehouse unable to move or even see with only a couple of old bikers. This was karma and his hell.
He figured it was morning or sometime during the day, the dust light beam was coming through. That was his only indication of time, then the sound he recognized, the Boots were come towards him. This time he heard new voice with him chuckle,
“The other guys gave me some story about the bike you wanted started on its own.” He laughed. “I gave them a couple days off, maybe even forever. So, this is the gem you want eh?” The man gave a sarcastic laugh. Tony told me you offered five hundred.
“That is my price.” Boots said coolly.
“Sounds good to me. No bring backs and no complaints, got it? Boots replied,
“Not planning on coming back.”
“I’ll get the bay door open. Pull your truck around the side and we’ll get it loaded.” The voices stopped, and the footsteps left.
“Hey, Gutter…Low Ball? Looks like I’m getting outta here.” He heard low Ball,
“Yea man, good luck with the hard ass dude. Keep him strait.” He waited for Gutter, but he didn’t answer.
“Gutter, you there?”
“Yea, yea, I’m here where the hell else am I gonna be? Hey just gotta say one thing… maybe we are here... well ya know, maybe we are here to make amends. Right a wrong, maybe you’re getting your chance.”
“Yea, maybe. If I can, I will. Keep your parts together!” Gutter gave a choked sound then,
“Yea, get the hell outa here will ya!” Then silence. He was loaded up on a bike trailer and before they took off someone took a cloth and wiped his lights clean. The bright sunlight almost blinded him, but finally he could see. What he saw shocked him. He was looking into the eyes of the boy from the car that had asked for his help. He could never forget them. The boy was a man now, the one he was calling Boots. Christ how long was he in the warehouse. His mind raced. How could any of this be? And why? The man finished strapping him on and spoke his thoughts.
“Ok, now it begins.” Parks had a bad feeling.
He was out of the warehouse; he had to accept that his conscious or whatever, was now in his bike. Geeze like a creepy Stephen King movie! At least he could see, his vision was focused straight forward, he could see the road again and he was outdoors. Something was familiar about the road they were on, when he realized where he was and they turned into the trailer park, his mind froze. Boots came around and began unloading him.
Why here, of all places, he thought.
Dustin unlocked the straps saying, “Now buddy, we will get you ready for our final job.” Parks had to get this dudes attention.
“Hey. Hey man!” he yelled. The person he was calling Boots stopped, looked up.
“Yea you, listen, don’t get freaked out but I’m the bike talking to you.” The man just stood there. “I know sounds crazy, I don’t know why either, but I am in this damn bike!” The man took a step back, and then backed him off the trailer. Parks thought, he didn’t hear me this time. Damn!
“So, with you I’ll work my way into the club, and then when it all goes down you get to rest too, this will be my last bust.” At this point Parks new that Boots didn’t hear him, he was just talking aloud. Damn, the kid ended up an undercover cop and was planning on taking down his old club. He would have to find another way to communicate. He tried to cough and start his engine, but it didn’t work this time. Dustin pushed him up the drive path next to the trailer, facing out, and facing a place he knew very well. It was where he used to live with his mother. His father never even showed up at his mother’s funeral. He abandoned him. The club never mentioned him and when he first asked, Mohawk said, forget him boy. Then over time, he found out, after his mother’s death that they found his father dead in the next county. Rival gang they said. After that, the club members were the only family he had.
Now sitting outside, staring at a memory from his past he tried to forget. Why the hell was all happening? Maybe he was here to protect Boots. These guys would kill him if they find out his identity. He couldn’t protect the boy’s family that day on the road, but maybe he can protect the man he has become.
Over the next couple months, he was ridden to the club and back, and a few times to a remote area where he overheard conversations with Boots and the supposed dealers, which he figured were with the DEA. Then one afternoon he saw a familiar sight. A couple of the new club members and Mohawks son, from years ago, now showing age pulled in the drive. Squire walked over from his place down the street and joined them. Damn they looked old now, he thought. They all got off their bikes and as he remembered, left one outside before the others went inside. The dude left to guard was about to touch him.
“Back off probee!” and he let a rumble out. The kid removed his hands, backed up, and looked around. Hey, it worked this time, Parks thought. He remembered in the warehouse he didn’t want the guy to touch him and he started the engine. Now this kid was messing with him. He could turn his engine on with anger. The probee looked around wide-eyed then went back over to his own bike but kept an eye on him. He wished he could just start and ride over to him. Scare the crap out of him. Punk.
The men stayed in the trailer all afternoon and finally came out at dusk. His rider that he had been calling Boots and Mohawks son, Cappy came out last.
“So, Steele, we ride in the morning, we all set to meet your contact.”
“Everything’s set.” Squire was suspiciously looking his bike over. “How long you have your bike, looks like it has seen rough times?” Dustin thought this was a strange question. He had to keep his head; he didn’t want to raise suspicion. He sidestepped with his answer.
“Been riding a long time, don’t worry ‘bout my bike. It can handle it.” Cappy and the others finally left, except for Squire.
“Where did you get this bike?” He was now at the rear of the bike. Dustin knew that this man new something, he recognized his bike. Dustin silently cursed his slip up for not repainting over the original custom paint.
“Club member, I needed a ride, he needed money for medical bills. Couldn’t ride any longer.” He waited for more, but the older man just raised an eyebrow and tilted his head. “Familiar bike, custom.” He then turned and walked away.
Parks had been listening intently to the conversation. Something was not right, and he had the feeling Squire recognized his old bike, or him now. He just couldn’t get used to this. His bike was a custom street bike. His father had put a lot of extra work in it for him. Although Boots had given it a few additions, it was still unique. If Squire found out it was the bike his father had given him so many years ago and that Boots had lied, it would not go well. He needed a way to communicate.
Dustin came back out of the trailer and got on the bike heading to the clubhouse. “Let’s go, don’t want to let them out of my site for too long. Besides I need a few beers.”
Dustin was inside, sitting at the bar with Mohawk talking about riding with JR’s club down in Miami and the dealers that they were meeting to buy the weapons they had stock-piled in the warehouse. Cappy, Dog, Squire, and a couple others were outside the club standing near the bikes.
“It’s wrong; I’m telling you I don’t care if he has JR’s ok. He is hiding something. That bike he is riding.” He pointed to Parks. “I know that bike. I am sure it belonged to one of our fallen, Parks.”
“Old man, Parks bike was destroyed when he bit it years ago. There are a lot of custom bikes out there. Mohawk said it was hauled off to scrap along with the burnt-out wagon. Probably crushed.”
“Yea, besides no club member would ride a dead brother’s bike.” The person with Dog on his patch chimed in, then took a drag on his cigarette and flicked it in Parks direction.
“Exactly my point jackass!” Squire gave a wheezing cough and spit. “I’m not sure he is one of us, or any other club member. I just got a feeling. I watched him as he was moving in the trailer, no personal stuff. He kept moving the little bit of furniture around in there.”
Cappy was listening and now spoke up, getting annoyed at Squires whining, “He checked out. Rode for three years with JR’s chapter down in Dade. He got caught in the bust, spent a few months in jail. You know Mohawk would never let someone in the club he wasn't sure about. Besides we will see if he is worthy of our colors after the exchange in a couple nights.” Squire shook his head. “Don’t like it, I just think…” Cappy looked at him and with an even tone said,
“Just remember what happened when Parks ‘ol man was found out. Or when we thought he was a narc. Big bloody mess.” Squire looked at Cappy.
“Shit, that is never to be talked about asshole!” The younger man laughed. “What…the fact you started the idea that Parks father was a mole? That set very badly with Mohawk, I remember I was just about Parks age. I remember I wasn’t pampered like him. I grew up in the club. Saw and heard every nasty detail. Heard you and Mohawk talking about offing a member.” Squire got up.
“You’re a piece of shit, you don't know nothing! He split, left the club and his woman and kid.” Cappy laughed.
“I overheard you and Mohawk accusing him and he was denying everything, I heard the ruckus, then one shot rang out. I looked out from my hiding spot and saw the body lying in a pool of blood.” Cappy took a drag on his cigarette. Squire was shaking with anger. “Seems I remember you were kinda sweet on his old lady. That the reason you set that rumor up? You knew you could never have her with him around.” Squire had enough, he lunged at the man who was twenty years his junior. Cappy easily sidestepped his punch and landed one to Squires jaw and he crumpled to the ground.
Standing over him, Cappy dropped the still lit butt on him.
“Yea, we don’t talk about that, or how your guilt made you take that useless Parks into the club.” He stood for a moment looking with disgust at the old man at his feet. “So be careful what rumors you start this time old man. Cause Mohawk can’t help you again. I’m club President now.”
With that, Squire turned and headed towards his bike. Cappy hesitated before entering the bar, standing at the door he turned to Dog,
“Not that I believe what the old man says, but let’s not take any chances.” He looked over at Dustin who was talking to a member at the bar. “Search his house. If he’s lying about anything, find out.” Dog nodded, then left.
Parks was furious, Squire, the man who took him in, all his life he thought was his father’s friend, set him up, and caused his death. He wanted his mother. Now that he realized what happened he also remembered how his mother would never let Squire in the house, always told him to leave her the hell alone. Now he wondered if his mother really did take her own life or if Squire had something to do with that too. If he could do something he would, he wished he could run the son of a bitch over. Squire was the reason that his rider's mom and sister died all those years ago. If Squire hadn’t started Mohawk on the chase to harass the blond woman, then Boots would not be getting revenge by taking down clubs. In addition, he probably wouldn’t have ended up in a motorcycle for eternity! The only thing he could do was listen and try to figure a way to warn Boots.
Squire waited, then looked around and made sure no one else was still outside. He went over to the left side of the black bike and squatted down, resting on his heels by the soft tail. He put his fingers under the edge and ran them slowly towards the front. Then stopped.
“Shit!” Parks had forgotten the engraving his father had put on his bike! He had told him one day when he was old enough to ride the bike would be his and he engraved ‘Parker’ on the inside fender. Squire must have known about this, and if he found the name, he would know it was the same bike. Boots would be made; he would know he wasn’t one of them. He coughed hard and his engine rumbled setting Squire back on his ass.
“What the hell!” The older biker exploded. He looked around again, then saw Cappy coming out onto the porch with Dustin. He got up headed to the back of the club before they saw him. Dustin glanced over towards the row of bikes and narrowed his eyes. He felt something was amiss, and just caught a glimpse of Squire’s back heading around the building. Cappy waited to speak until two members entered, then lit a cigarette.
“Everything set for tomorrow night. Billy’s got the truck and we’ll have six members with you.” He faced Cappy again.
“Yea, all set, contact should be at the warehouse at ten with the cash.” He paused, “merchandise ready?”
“We got it…just want no surprises.” He was looking intently at Dustin.
“No surprises, everything is going as planned, these guys dealt with me in Dade. Quick exchange. No traces, they are invisible.”
“Good.” He took a long drag. Dustin wanted to get back to the trailer. He didn’t like the way Squire was acting. He had all his personal stuff well hidden, but he still didn’t like the feeling he was getting. It was close to bust time, and this club was going down. The DEA would be there tomorrow night. The only exchange would be the club member’s freedom for jail time. He wanted as many there as possible and then the DEA would raid the clubhouse and the back warehouse. It would be a small satisfaction for what this chapter did to his family.
“I’m heading out man.” Dustin said. Cappy put his arm around his shoulder.
“What’s your hurry, next round’s on me, or two. Nerves seem to be on edge.” His grip was tighter than needed and Dustin felt this was more than a request. He did not want him leaving. However, he could not raise any suspicion at this point.
“Hey man, as long as you’re buying - I’m drinking.” The two men went back into the club.
Parks heard the conversation and knew something was not right. He never liked Cappy, he was a punk. Mohawks son. He always went sniffing around Carly, he didn’t like him then, and he sure as hell didn’t trust him now. He saw Squire leave after he spooked him. Then he saw Dog sneak out the side, he didn’t take his bike, he left in Cappy’s truck. Pretty fast. He had a bad feeling that they may be getting nervous. He needed to get Boots attention; he needed to get back to the trailer. What could he do? He coughed but it only gave his engine a rumble. Damn! He coughed again and this time nothing. Ok what now he thought. He had to get the members out here, give Boots a reason to leave. With as much strength and concentration, he coughed repeatedly and suddenly he sprang forward. In his path was the row of parked bikes, one after another they fell like dominos causing a deafening crashing sound. Before the last bike hit the ground, the people inside were running out the door.
Cappy and Dustin were almost last out. Dustin looked directly at his bike, and for a moment, he thought he heard a voice in his head say. “Get back to the trailer…now.” Then as he watched, His bike flashed its lights twice, and then just lay down.
The event ended the night as everyone undid the mangle of metal and rubber. A couple bikes that weren’t in the mess took off down the road in chase of a rival gang they thought had caused the bikes to fall. Dustin saw his opportunity to go and took it following the others out. He road for a couple miles then turned off and headed back towards the trailer park.
“Thanks Buddy, for getting me out of there.” Dustin said aloud to his bike. “I guess now I’m crazy. I’m talking to my bike. Geez, I tell you one thing after this bust, no more for me. If I survive, I’m retiring to Naples!” He hit the throttle and headed towards the trailer park.
Parks recognized the truck as it passed them just before they turned onto the road. It was Dog. Now he knew something was wrong. From across the drive, Squire also watched as Dog left, he watched as he tried to get into the house, finally giving up and left. Squire parked his bike a few tralors down, then crept around back making sure no one saw him. he picked the lock to Dustin’s place and entered, for a moment he stood looking, he had searched the place when this dude first moved in, Squire didn’t trust anyone, and he didn’t like this guy. Something just was wrong. He didn’t find anything odd the first time he looked except he had nothing personal. Not even anything with his name on it. That was odd. This guy had no past? Tonight, he searched more intensely trying not to displace anything. He checked all the places that he thought someone might be hiding things then, he remembered where he had hidden the drugs after he had given Parks mother an overdose. She had refused his attention after he had gotten rid of the no-good husband, not meaning to kill her, he just wanted to have his way with her and mixed too many pills with the alcohol. Going over to the vent in the floor, he pulled it up, and reached into the right. Nothing, then to the left. Nothing. Then went to the next one. Nothing. He was about to leave when he noticed a wood box sitting on top of the vent in the bedroom, opening this one, he reached in and felt an envelope. He took his phone and took snap shots of its contents. There were photos of the club members, names, dates, addresses the badge.
“Shit! I knew he was a mole.” He carefully put everything back, and re-locked the door, and headed back to the club. He wasn’t planning on seeing or giving this information to the pansy ass Cappy, he was going straight to Mohawk.
Dustin’s anxiety was increasing. Tomorrow night was the take down, and there were too many red flags going up in his mind. He had been sloppy on a couple things. Maybe Don had been right when he told him this assignment was to personal for him to take. However, he had waited too long, and this was the reason he became a cop. He made it his life passion to stop innocent people from getting hurt or dying because of criminals, or in his own case, a biker club. Reaching his trailer, his anxiety increased, someone had been or was inside, unholstering his gun he swept each room. No one, then he went into his room and slid the crate on the vent aside. After the last bust he learned that he should always keep his badge hidden somewhere that he could tell the DEA where it was. The last bust got him unconscious and, in the ER, before he ever made it to the jailhouse and word finally got to Don, who came to verify who he was. He opened the vent where he had his files hidden. Nothing was missing. He was just being paranoid, and this was not like him at all. He told himself to relax; it would all be over soon and went outside for air and just sit on his bike in the moonlight. Lighting a cigarette, speaking to no one. However, Parks was listening.
“I spent my entire life trying to figure out why things happen like they do. I was so full of hate and anger as a boy for these outlaw gangs taking my mom and sister from me. I wanted revenge and wanted to kill them all. Then I realized that would make me no better than the men I hated. So, I took the slow route, the legal way. Funny, I’ve fallen into the lifestyle and realized that most of these guys are just like me. Then there are the ones who aren’t. The one I saw that day out the window. His eyes burned into my mind forever. Only regret he died that day also, I would have enjoyed seeing him go down.” He ground out the butt and went back inside. Parks sat in the drive in the dark. The boy he saw that day…now the man who is his rider, never knew he tried to stop what happened. This weighed on his heart, or whatever part it was in the bike now. Didn’t matter, he was doing his sentence, and after tomorrow’s bust was over, he would probably end up at the salvage for eternity having his parts stripped until there is nothing of his soul left.
The next night Dustin got everything for the bust. If things went wrong, he had told the contact at the DEA where to find his information in the trailer. He put on his colors, loaded and strapped his handguns on, and headed out the door. This time not bothering to lock it. He got on his bike and said,
“Sorry old boy, but this will probably be your last ride; maybe mine too.” He put on his gloves and hit the throttle.
Arriving at the clubhouse, he noticed there were double the number of bikes out front, a red flag went up in his mind. A few of the members nodded to him. He thought that everyone was on edge tonight, hopefully, because of the arms exchange. Little did they know this was probably the last ride they would be on for a while, when the bust went down. The riders he had files on had a long list of felonies and a couple even had blood on their records. He went in and saw Mohawk at the bar with Squire, they just stared at him. Cappy and Dog came up and took him to the back.
“Everything ready? You seem nervous.”
“Not at all, like I said they just want the merchandise, clean quick.” However, he was nervous; it was close to being over for him. Something didn't feel right; Cappy seemed too calm tonight.
“Good, then you and Dog take the truck with the weapons; we will follow on the bikes. And we also have some scouts out there already, you know just in case something else is going on.” Dustin didn’t like this, he had planned on when it went down, riding his bike out of there. He couldn’t change the plan, or it would raise suspicion. He nodded.
“Ok, let’s get this done.”
Parks was on his stand outside at the end of the row of bikes. He knew there were far more bikes than normal tonight. There were a couple members leaning on their bikes, and then Mohawk came out and motioned to them.
“Dog will bring him out towards the truck. We take care of him before he even gets to the dump location. Goose ride his bike, that way we can ditch the bike and his body in the ravine. Probably torch it so it looks like an accident. Don’t need his cop buddies asking any questions. They will be pissed enough when they see an empty warehouse.”
Parks had to do something. Boots had been found out. They knew about everything, cover was blown. They planned to get rid of him. He had to think, he had to stop them. He couldn’t let Boots get in the truck. Cappy and Dog came outside, Dustin followed. He yelled in his mind, “You’ve been made man, get out!” Then tried to start his engine. Mohawk motioned to Goose to go get on Dustin’s bike. When the man came over and touched him, his engine roared, and he yelled again. “Get out, they know you’re a cop!” Dustin heard the voice clear in his mind, the same voice he thought he heard when he was in the bike warehouse. He and Dog looked over to where Parks had started his engine on his own. Dog’s eyes widened and he looked both ways. Parks knew he had heard him this time. At that moment Parks saw Dog take his gun out and start to aim at Dustin. Parks lurched forward, at the same time dumping his gas as he headed straight for Dog, Cappy and the clubhouse. Cappy pulled his gun and fired, as the bullet hit Parks gas tank, it exploded and the trail of gas he had let loose sent a line strait to the other bikes and they each exploded sending the clubhouse and all near in flames.
Dustin was knocked off his feet but when he got up his bike was right next to him. Then he watched as his bike, on its own, headed straight toward the truck where Mohawk and Squire were headed. Dustin heard clearly in his mind,
“Sorry Kid, I tried to stop them that day, but I will stop them today.” A huge explosion lit the area as the bike rammed into the truck’s gas tank. Then everything went black.
EPILOG- the choice
Parks finished gassing his bike and pulled near the exit where Squire was already waiting, smoking a cigarette. He kicked down the stand and stretched his back. A strange feeling was beginning to creep in his head. A hum, or more like a rumble and he had the feeling of Deja Vue. Not that he believed in anything like that, but the feeling was intense. His head snapped up as a voice in his head yelled…look to your left. Without hesitation, he looked left and saw the red Ford Focus wagon passing the station. At that moment, the air became almost electric and everything slowed down. With crystal clarity, he saw the blonde woman behind the wheel, her hair was slowly covering her face from a wind that did not seem to exist. Through the open window and in slow motion she reached up to push it behind her ears. A bee flew past his head so slowly he could see the wings move. Reaching up he realized that his movements were normal. Then he saw him. The boy in the back seat, and it all came flooding back. This time he was sitting up looking out the open window. blue eyes locked with his own, and he spoke to his mind in a clear voice. Please mister, don’t let them hurt us. Parks nodded and answered in his mind.
This time, I’ll stop it, I promise. He tossed the cigarette he had been about to light in the air and as quick as it hit the ground, everything sped up to normal. Squire began to turn his head towards the passing car.
“Hey man, give me a smoke.” Parks said loudly to distract Squire from seeing the woman in the wagon. Squire bent down to his bags, grabbed his half empty pack of Camels, and threw them at Parks. When he looked back up, he only saw red taillights heading down the road, then leaned back on his bike and grunted.
“Damn. Mohawk’s takin so long; think I’ll grab a nap.” Parks smiled to himself watching the taillights disappear down the road.
“Good idea.” He started his engine and Squire looked over.
“You in a hurry?” Parks turned his bike in the opposite direction they were originally heading. “Where you goin’?” Parks looked at Squire remembering everything, and knew where he was not going, and headed down the road alone.
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