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Further Adventures of the Borderland Biker -Chapter 26

Be careful what you wish for

By Derrel Whitemyer
3/14/2018


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The explosion was our signal to leave. No sounds of pursuit followed; actually there were no other sounds than Larry and I turning our bikes around and riding on.

The town of Oakley was changing. As the rising sun’s rays touched an Oakley building it would change back into a modern Middleton building. Buildings built in the 1880s would shimmer, their outlines flickering as if seen underwater; then shimmer some more then reappear in a more modern 1920s Art Deco design.

Larry pulled to a stop in front of a two story building at the outskirts of Oakley, soon to become Middleton. We parked the bikes and then walked up some wooden stairs that led to a balcony in the back. The building was still an 1880s Oakley building but not for long.

“Sun’s rays will hit this area soon;” I said, “wonder if we’ll feel the change?”

“We’re about to find out,” answered Larry.

Seconds later our balcony was bathed in morning light. Except for the expected shimmering followed by a shuddering like a dog shaking itself free of water I felt no different. Larry looked the same and so did I. The building however had morphed into a modern two story; the wooden balcony had now become one made of metal. We walked back to the front and down the now steel stairs to a now asphalt street.

“We may have survived the transformation but the Harley Low Rider didn’t,” said Larry at the same time pointing to where a bike I’d read about in a magazine was now parked. “What happened,” I said, looking up and down the street for the Low Rider? Where Larry had parked the Low Rider a Yamaha XSR900 identical to the one I’d recently drooled over in a motorcycle magazine was parked in its place.

“If the things Hilts conjured,” I said, “are changing does that mean he was destroyed in the explosion?”

“I’m betting he’s ok; I’m betting the change is more related to your real wishes.”
 
A Yamaha XSR900 was parked in its place

Speaking of change, Oakley had now completely changed back into Middleton. Cars were on the street. People dressed in modern Twentieth Century apparel were appearing and beginning to flow around us like water around two stones in a stream. Shops were opening. Middleton was awakening.

“Think about what’s happened,” said Larry. “We may feel the same but things have changed.”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at what the Low Rider changed into;” continued Larry, “it changed into what you must’ve have been subconsciously wanting…so be careful what you wish for.”

“Why?”

“Your subconscious desire to get the bike you’d read about in a magazine coupled with the town of Oakley changing back into the town of Middleton must’ve been strong enough to counter your desire to have the Low Rider. Hey, we’ll probably never have an answer until we ask Hilts or Ma n’ Pa…speaking of which…I hope they’re ok.” “What I do know,” I added, while pointing to the Glock 10mm and the giant green sunglasses, “is I must’ve wanted to keep these two things.”

“And don’t forget,” continued Larry, “your desire to change the two highway flares Hilts was holding into the two sticks of dynamite he needed.”

“Luckily,” I laughed, “I wasn’t thinking of bread sticks.”

Speaking of bread sticks, a quick stop for some coffee and eggs at a local café brought no more than a couple of…”You two are new around here”…comments.

When we got to the edge of Middleton I asked, “Should we wait for Hilts?”

Larry had taken back the Vegas 8-Ball and I was on the Yamaha XSR when he said, “He would have wanted us to continue on to our meeting place. He said he and Kate would meet us there. He said to let the giant green sunglasses, our version of the Yellow Brick Road, on the front of our bikes guide us.”


When in doubt let the giant green sunglasses guide you
 
 
For reasons I’d probably never understand the giant green sunglasses had survived even the destruction of the Suzuki M109

For reasons I’d probably never understand the giant green sunglasses had survived the Low Rider’s transformation into the Yamaha XSR and even the destruction of the M109. Larry climbed back aboard the Vegas 8-Ball, “We need to get going. Reasons for why things changed or not changed will have to wait for answers from Hilts.”

Middleton’s main street led us out of town and into the country. Once past the city limits Middleton became something to forget. Middleton, a.k.a. the eerie town of Oakley after sundown, was becoming more and more as the miles rolled by just a mixture of memories.

Twisty valley roads, this was what the 8-Ball and the Yamaha XSR had been made for: easy turns over dips and rises with just enough change in height to manage your speed. Ever wonder how much of the Borderlands blend into our world? How many times have we ridden through the edge of them without being aware? How many times have we ridden along a stretch of unfamiliar road only to find the sounds and colors sharper, our thoughts more enlightening?

Larry and I had nothing to say so I was soon listening to the best of Doo Wop…my ear radio always finding the music that best reflected my mood and surroundings. Tom Petty’s song, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” had a habit of playing on the big sweepers. When we’d crossed the valley and crested the first of some high hills, Larry pulled to a stop and walked to the top of the shoulder. I walked up beside him.

“We’re being followed,” said Larry, pointing to the valley below us then walking over to the edge of the road.

“I hadn’t noticed,” I’d been listening to music and haven’t checked the rear view mirrors for quite awhile.

“His truck’s less than a mile behind,” continued Larry pointing at a close growing closer cloud of dust.

“I see him,” I said, “he’s stopping; he’s getting out and pointing a stick at us. Maybe he’s trying to signal us?”

“Larry pushed us apart, “That’s no stick!”
 
Both the Vegas 8-Ball and the Yamaha XSR900 felt at home through the rolling hills.
 
We both hit the ground the same time an angry bee flew through the space where we’d been standing. A second later the faraway crack of a high powered rifle sounded. “Crawl left twenty feet then shoot at the truck;” said Larry as he began crawling right, “then get on your bike and keep going for at least a mile. Find some cover where you can pull off the road and out of sight then wait for me.”

“What are you,” I said at the same time I began crawling left, “going to do?”

“Don’t worry about me. Shoot as quickly as you can then get out of here.”

When I’d crawled an estimated twenty feet I looked to the right where Larry was hunkered down behind the shoulder of the road. The road’s dirt shoulder made a small barricade, small enough to hide behind if you didn’t stand up.

If I’d thought too long about it I wouldn’t have had the courage to do it. A second later I was looking over the edge of the shoulder and firing the 10mm at the truck as fast as I could pull the trigger. My first five shots missed sending up little fountains of dirt. My next five found the truck’s side panel. When I rolled to the side to get an ammo clip from my pocket another angry bee flew by where my head had been. Larry motioned for me to get going then stood up and fired.

Larry’s shots were more measured than mine had been, each one paced to allow time to recover from the recoil. The jumping of Larry’s shirt was followed by the crack of a rifle. The next shot would get him. I decided to stay.

My 10mm reloaded, I stood up and carefully aimed. The shooter was in a prone position under the truck and hidden from Larry’s line of sight. His legs however were visible to me. I got lucky on my second shot and hit him in the thigh. There followed some distant cursing…then silence. Larry walked over. He had a bullet hole, more punched than torn, through the left side of his shirt.

“We’ll wait a few minutes then go down to be sure…and thank you for deciding to stay.” We waited more than a few minutes than rode back down the hill to where the truck was parked. Our shooter had quit cursing and except for a 10mm entry hole in his upper leg and a larger exit hole on the opposite side and a growing puddle of blood beneath him he looked like he’d just gone to sleep.

“Through and through, bled out;” said Larry as he looked closer at the shooter’s wound, “hit the femoral. Didn’t suffer much; most likely unconscious and in shock when he died. Realizing he wasn’t going to make it the shooter must’ve just said, Oh shit, stretched out under the truck, closed his eyes and taken the big sleep.” “Wasn’t the ‘The Big Sleep’ one of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe mystery novels?”

“Yup, one of my favorites; but this guy was no private eye from 1930s Los Angeles. This guy was someone’s hired shooter sent to get us; probably a bounty hunter.” “Hired shooter?”

Larry had to say yup again, “Yup, and lucky for us an impatient one. Had he not been in a hurry and waited and then taken his shot when we were more in the open and without cover we’d be the ones taking the big sleep.”

Larry walked around to the other side of the truck, reached down and picked up the shooter’s rifle.

“Savage, bolt action 308 Winchester, polymer stock, with a telescopic sight; makes a great sniper rifle.”

Larry then looked back across the valley, “If they sent one shooter they’d have sent others. We need to get going.”

Thoughts of us being targets out in the open made me hurry to where my bike was parked.

“Don’t panic;” said Larry as he got on the Vegas and started its engine, “they’re at least a mile away. I can see them now…looks like a sedan.”

“Them?”

“Yup,” answered Larry, “driver and another riding shotgun. There may even be a third person in the back seat. Someone doesn’t want us to get to where we’re going.” Riding shotgun meant the guy riding in the front passenger seat probably did have a shotgun and bounty meant something other than a brand of paper towels. I’d forgotten Larry had superior eyesight.

“Shouldn’t we take the rifle? What if they decide to use it to shoot at us?”

“I’m hoping they will,” laughed Larry. “I jammed up the barrel so it’ll explode when they fire it.”

We headed back into the hills. It was hard not to panic. Larry’s pace was on the edge. Thankfully the Yamaha was a better cornering bike than I was a rider and could pay the cover charge on my lack of talent. As it was I was at my limit keeping Larry in sight and only because he’d slowed enough to keep me in sight. Take a Reg Pridmore riding class at Laguna Seca Raceway, follow an instructor around the track and you’ll have a sense of what I mean. Your lap times will never be as fast as when you were following him. We’d only ridden a few miles into the hills when Larry turned onto a hard packed dirt road leading to a grove of trees in the center of a field about fifty yards away. I followed, slow enough to keep from falling but fast enough to hopefully make it to the shelter of the trees before the car behind us caught up. The car had been reeling us in and by the sound of its engine they were less than a minute behind. Memories of being chased by Raggedy Man came to my mind.

Larry stopped about twenty feet before the trees.

“Why are we stopping?”

“I want them to see us before we ride behind the trees.”

We didn’t have to wait. Twenty seconds later they’d seen us and were slowing to park. Getting out of the car their movements looked deliberate, confident, too confident, as if they knew the chase was over.

“Go!”

No other urging was required as both Larry and I accelerated behind trees. “What now?”

“We wait for them to get closer.”

The grove was tiny with maybe six trees in a cluster; the largest in the center. Larry and I had parked out bikes behind the largest.

“Both of them are carrying shotguns.”

“Hopefully they’ll stay close together.”

Our shooters weren’t following our wishes. The driver had already started walking to the left; the passenger, to the right. We were being flanked. And just when things couldn’t get any worse the rear door of the car opened and a third shooter got out and leaned against the trunk. He was holding the rifle with the barrel Larry had hopefully plugged. “How many bullets do you have left?”

“Counting the one in the chamber, four.”

“I’ve got three.”

I’d already crawled into position to take out the shooter approaching on the right. Larry was doing the same to take out the shooter on the left. Neither of us had to tell the other to wait until our targets got as close as possible before firing. Neither of us had to tell the other we needed to take them out before they could fire back. Three or four rounds of buckshot plowing through this tiny grove of trees would end this shootout in their favor quickly.

At about forty yards away, I was hoping he’d come as close as thirty, my shooter raised his shotgun. I fired and missed. He fired; luckily he rushed his shot shredding the leaves above my head. I fired again. He was in the process of working his shotgun’s pump action for a second shot when he fell backwards. Two seconds later what had happened to me was punctuated by the crack of Larry’s 10mm followed by a short cry, and then silence. Larry had taken down the driver.

“Stay down in the brush,” Larry yelled at the same time he stood up to make a perfect target for the man standing beside the car with the rifle.

I watched as the man at the car brought his rifle to the ready, lined up the crosshairs on Larry and fired.

The result was immediate. The round fired through the jammed barrel not only blew apart the firing chamber but detonated rounds in the magazine. What had once been the right side of the shooter’s face was gone. He twisted to look at me with his one good eye then back to look at Larry. Larry was already running towards the car.

“Who,” Larry was yelling the question even before he reached the shooter, “sent you?” In high school science class there’s a picture on the cover of the anatomy text showing a grimacing human head without skin. You all remember it. Imagine it on a body looking up at you, smiling with all its exposed blood vessels and tendons, and then giving you the finger before it died.

“Tilt his head back.”

Larry and I had arrived at the body about the same time and were looking down at it. “Hurry, tilt his head back. I need to look at his teeth.”

Somehow my stomach gave me permission to let me tilt the shooter’s head back. Larry pried upon the mouth.

“He’s from outside the Borderlands; look at his dental work.

We laid the body back down on the ground, stood up and together walked to the car. Larry opened the front passenger door, opened the glove compartment and took out the registration.

“Curly Stewart, 33 Acorn Street, Pacific Grove, California; check the other shooters for identification.”

The other two shooters had taken the ‘Big Sleep’ and were past caring I’d taken their wallets and was checking their driver’s licenses.

“Larry and Moe,” I said after walking back to the car. “And don’t say what were both thinking about their last names. They’re the three Stewarts, not Stooges…….”

Neither of us hurried to the grove of trees where our bikes were parked. Neither of us picked up the two shotguns and we’d already checked the car for any 10mm ammo. “Let’s recap what we know,” said Larry as he climbed aboard the Vegas 8-Ball. “The shooters, most likely bounty hunters, were from outside the Borderlands.” “And they knew where to look for us,” added Larry.

“We must’ve reeeeleeee pissed some people off.”

“Ya think…,” Larry was already riding back to the paved road. “We need to get to our rendezvous with Hilts and Kate and report what’s happened.”

Our ride, led by our giant green sunglasses, to where we were to meet with Hilts and Kate was almost relaxing. Both the Vegas 8-Ball and the Yamaha XSR were built to ride country roads but not at an ‘Isle of Mann Race’ pace…at least not by me. Passing through grassland and rolling hills washed away most of my dark memories…most of them.

On occasion Larry would stop at the crest of a hill and look back over the road we’d been traveling. He’d scan for pursuit then he’d scan again.

“If someone’s following us they’re doing it electronically, maybe by a bug planted on one of our bikes.”

But to be sure Larry and I looked over our bikes, taking our time, even checking inside wiring harnesses…nothing.

“I’m pretty sure we’re clean;” Larry continued, “we’ll check again when we meet up with Hilts and Kate.”

As evening approached I began to recognize some of the landscape. We were on the same road leading to Kate’s Café. Kate’s Café, known as Spanky’s Café, straddled the Borderlands. Half of it was in the Borderlands, half of it was in our world. The ability to cross over was limited to a very few. For the majority of folks that entered from our world there was no knowledge the café was an entry into the Borderlands. For the majority of folks that entered from the Borderlands there was no knowledge the café was an entry in our world. The password was actually simple, so simple no one would have guessed. You needed only say. “Thank you, thankyouverymuch”…to the café’s singer…
 
The password to get from our world into the Borderlands was to simply say, “Thank you, thankyouverymuch”…to Spanky’s Café’s singer

CHAPTER 27 Coming soon

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Reader Comments


Interesting stuff. Keep it up.

Bob Johnson
Long Beach, CA
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Editor Response You made Derrel's day.
--Bandit

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