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Bikernet Fiction: The Party to End All Parties

The Detroit Club House Launch

By the East Coast Clubber and K. Randall Ball

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Invited were friends and members of Detroit Federation of MC Clubs. Inner city Detroit was beyond rough in the late ‘60s. A war zone of concrete and corrugated steel empty warehouses with interspersed with functioning businesses. The dirty pothole strewn streets, cluttered with debris, were dotted with greasy spoon restaurants and dive bars.

Every building was wrapped with chain link fence and razor wire. It wasn’t rare to see burning abandoned cars or dumped refrigerators in the middle of cracked, tar-patched streets. The name Pothole City fit.

This particular club house operated for years on the east side. The original rental agreement turned out to be bogus and the building’s ownership uncertain. No rent was paid for years, and no funds used for improvements. We formed a kitty for a new clubhouse and saved for just the right building.

The location, dumpy and surreal, exploded with hard-driving activity at night, while surrounding warehouses and businesses remained locked down tight.

No neighbors hung out to witness or complain about the noise, gunshots, racing motorcycles, or screams. On hot, steamy, summer nights only a handful of businesses remained open, like gas stations, fast food joints, and liquor stores with service attendants locked and sheltered behind bullet proof Plexiglas booths with service slits to exchange funds for goods.

Zombies roamed the streets with whiskey bottles or wine. A “Snake Plissken/Escape from New York” zone, bikers bounced from one clubhouse to the next checking the action, ducking the violence, looking for a fight, searching for broads, or drugs.

A new group ventured into our territory, members of the Hells Our Home visited from who knows ….One of the members, high-as-a-kite offered to show class. “I’ll park my Shovelhead on the roof of your garage,” he boasted.

“Bullshit,” one of our members said.

“I’ll bet a hundred clams,” he snapped and staggered backwards, stumbling over galvanized trashcans.

“You got it, sucka,” our brother said sealing the deal, the bet, and the daredevil challenge.

His brothers set up a makeshift ramp with sheets of plywood and a wooden extension ladder. This was nightfall on day-two of the party. Every wild man bounced off the walls, awake for two days on booze, weed, and acid. No one was entirely coherent. The night after day two was notorious for the violent edge. Mental junctures reached the unhinged stage. Anything could happen and usually did.

As the crowd became aware of the daredevil attempt, a clamoring buzz filled the compound with hecklers, helpers, and critics. The tall, bearded character in greasy denims from Hells Home was determined.

The driveway paralleled a dilapidated wooden fence alongside our clapboard pad from the street passing the house to the garage out back. Two strips of concrete kept tires out of the surrounding mud and weeds.

The brothers lined up the ramp and attempted to hold it together as the sheets of plywood slipped and slithered toward the pavement. We had no tools or fasteners to attach the pieces together. The $100 bet turned into an Evel Knievel circus.

A few calmer heads tried to talk Hells Pilot out of the attempt, to no avail. Mentally gone, he pounded his chest and pointed at the roof crest like Moses about to part the seas once more. A higher authority had his back, literally. The rest of the gung-ho crowd hollered for the pilot to go for it.

He cranked up his ragtag stripped down Shovelhead bagger and bounced out of the street onto the cracked driveway, roaring toward the ramp. It sputtered, roared, smoked, and the pilot bounced in his sprung seat, bumping over cracked concrete as the drunk grabbed for the next gear. The cluttered driveway, scattered with old parts and overloaded trash cans, was lined with screaming onlookers watching intently as he hit the plywood-covered ladder ramp and rocketed the old 74 up toward the pitched shingle roof.

The awed crowd stopped screaming as he crested the roofline successfully, but suddenly a gunshot-like crack and flash of light split the night. The mad pilot never checked his landing spot or the myriad of phone lines, and power poles peppering the alleys. Suddenly, in a flash of high-voltage explosive sparks, he disappeared.

As he triumphantly crested the rooftop he encountered the power line to the club house, tearing it loose from our power box, and launched him over the top of the roof, down the backside crashing into the dirt alley below.

The brothers scrambled to jerk the ramp down and stash the evidence. They figured the toasted pilot lay dead in the alley. They scrambled to clean up the scene of the crime. No back gate access to the alley, so no one ran to Hells Pilot aid. We were stunned; suddenly, in a moment of panic we sobered. What the hell happened?

Moments later, we heard someone kicking a motorcycle over, and damn if it didn’t start. A roar came from the startled crowd as he fired up his Shovel and rode it around the block and back to the party.

He limped through the front gate and up the drive to the Clubhouse, the bike running fine. His front wheel was smashed, twisted, and flat. It still rolled and hopped along. The crowd went crazy congratulating the madman.

The Hells Pilot survived with just a few scratches. Another wild night in Detroit.

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