Travis quickly folded the thick envelope and shoved it in his back pocket. Today his shop assignment called for investigating the stock room of the dealership and writing down the part numbers from empty bins to be cross-referenced in the computer. Travis hated the job preferring to be in the back spinning wrenches, even if it was on new bikes. In the solitude of the stock room he pulled out the envelope and fanned through the money. Two grand, more than enough. He could cut a dusty trail, but Candy's voiced cooed from the other side of the wall.
Travis shoved the money back into his pocket and listened intently. Candy wasn't shy about sharing the details of his lovemaking. Fortunately, it appeared he was quite capable in that department. The sound of heavy soled boots put him back into motion.
Sam entered the stockroom, smiled and offered to buy lunch at a truck stop a couple miles farther outside of the city. Travis nodded and handed in his paper work. The sun was hot and welcoming on Travis's skin as the Shovelhead powered along beside Sam's Dyna. The stop was busy with trucks but Sam slithered around them effortlessly and they parked the bikes outside the large glass windows overlooking the parking lot.
A friendly waitress met them at the table with fresh coffee and massive menus. Sam flirted with her as he ordered the special. It sounded decent enough and Travis ordered the same.
"Did it pay well?" Sam's words cut through the noisy diner. Travis shrugged him off but Sam wasn't going to let him go that easy. Sam was well aware of what was in the truck and what was going on, even though Travis didn't. He warned him of the dangers. Warned him that it wasn't a way of life to be getting into blind. Many would have thought nothing of shooting Travis and yanking his dieing body out of the cab leaving him bleeding out on the side of the road.
As the waitress set down their clubhouse sandwiches Sam told him to take his money and leave. Travis coyly skirted the issue talking about the fresh air and warm sunshine. Sam snapped him back to the conversation by saying he knew he spent the night at Candy's.
Travis stacked the last of the boxes of t-shirts as Tom approached. His eyes shot around the room as he spoke to Travis. Another delivery, another run up state, another envelope of money for tomorrow if Travis was interested. Travis thought about the thick envelope in his back pocket. Another run or two wouldn't hurt. Then he could ride out of here and Candy's life like he was never there.
Barbara, the cougar from the bar welcomed Travis home with a big hug and a kiss. She didn't ask where he was last night, why he hadn't returned to her bed. None of that mattered only that he was there now. She had prepared a full home cooked meal but Travis could tell in her eyes that he was to he the dessert. He suggested he shower but she wouldn't hear of it.
The midnight streets were quiet by the time Barbara was finally satisfied. Travis slipped out from under the covers to the warm rush of a shower. Clean and dressed in a pair of workout shorts he picked up at Wal-mart he sat outside on her deck drinking a cold beer. He thought about running away. Leaving this all behind him like he had when she ripped his heart out.
The money was good at the dealership and he spent most days working on bikes. The odd trip with the payout of a thick envelope only sweetened the deal. He thought about Barbara and Candy and how he fit into their lives. One was looking for a boy toy, the other to replace the dad that had disappeared from her life years before. Travis peered into the darkness looking for a sign as what to do. Only the soft chirping of a cricket answered back.
Travis slipped behind the wheel of the sedan. Worn and weathered its best years were behind it, but it started right away. Travis looked around the inside. Everything seemed to be in place. He cast a cautious look across the deserted parking lot. It would be another hour before workers would start coming into the dealership. He thought about opening the trunk. He let out a loud sigh before clicking the ignition off and pulling the parking brake lever. Inside the trunk he found nothing. Travis shoved the spare tire and jack out of the way and checked under the carpet only to find another spare tire deflated of its air. Travis circled the car a couple of times before looking under it. Everything seemed in place. He wondered about the secrecy of his mission. The car didn't appear to hold anything and the shape of the car didn't hint of any great value. Travis slipped behind the wheel again, glanced into the rising sun and started the car.
Traffic on the freeway was lighter at this time of the morning and moved at a brisk pace. The sedan lobbed along on worn shocks. Travis took comfort in the thought that he would make good time; make it for the early bus back to the dealership. Travis pulled off the highway and made his way into a comfortable gas station. He would refuel on beef jerky and Red Bull for the last push to the rest area. Travis picked up on the sweet smell of antifreeze as soon as he stepped out of the store. A tell tale creeping lime green line behind the car told him that plans had changed.
The cashier inside had pointed him to the absorb-all to clean his mess. Under the hood the river of green still ran from behind the water pump. Travis thought about leaving, catching a bus back to the dealership, getting his bike and riding away. They would know he didn't make the drop. When he didn’t arrive the phone call would beat him back. Travis wondered what to do. He picked up the phone. Tom’s screaming from the other end of the line drew the attention of passer-by. Tom snarled that he would handle it and that Travis was not to leave the car under no circumstances. Travis leaned against the cool brick exterior of the gas station and waited.
The rumble of Harleys on the off ramp brought Travis back to the here and now. Three sharp bikes followed by a nameless tow truck entered the parking lot. Before Travis could cross the hot pavement the truck was backed into the car and flurry of activity was securing it.
"You Travis?" asked the gangly one on a Frisco chopper. Travis nodded. The stranger barked at Travis about following orders, about staying on task. Travis pondered about asking for a ride but kept it to himself as the back of the sedan lifted high into the sky. The pump action of a shotgun brought everyone to a halt.
Gunfire echoed through out the parking lot as Travis spun catching the man behind him with a solid elbow. Travis followed to the ground. He could see the biker who was yelling at him on the ground blood gushing from a hole in his shoulder. Travis squirmed across the asphalt and helped the biker into the tow truck. The Frisco Chopper roared to life under Travis's heavy boot. The other two return a couple more shots before mounting their steeds. As quickly as it started, the tow truck with the car sped out of the parking lot with the three bikes in chase. As Travis leaned into the corner of the on ramp and bullet shattered the lone mirror on the bars. On the freeway the Heritage sped forward beside the tow truck and yelled through the window.
Travis looked at the other to his right. A .35 stared back coldly as the bikes hurdled down the freeway. Travis dropped his eyes to see a red stain growing larger on the side of the man's shirt. Travis turned his attention back to the Heritage and tow truck in front of him. With a nod from the rider the tombstone taillight lit up and puff of white smoke as the bike shuddered sideways. Travis twisted the throttle and followed the bike off the freeway onto a two-lane heading back into the hills.
The three men pulled the bikes to a stop in a small trove of trees. Before Travis had the kickstand down the .35 was shoved into the back of his head. The man on the Heritage pushed the gun man back yelling that if it hadn't been for Travis their friend Deak would be dead onside of a gas station on the side of the highway.
"It's his fault.” barked the gunman. Travis moved cautiously about the bikes his heart still pounding ferociously in his chest. Finally the man lowered his gun. Travis kept his guard up knowing that the powder keg situation could explode at any moment. The man from the Heritage checked his friend over; confident that he could still ride he turned his attention to Travis. "Why the fuck did you stop? That wasn't part of the plan."
Travis locked his eyes onto the man's and dismissed him about the car breaking down. Travis focused on the hate in the man's eyes. "Is your friend going to make it?" Travis words of concern eased the hammer off of the situation. The man said it was too difficult to know but he did know that they had to keep moving. Travis extended his hand but was met with nothing.
The three bikes traveled farther into the hills before turn back north. The rigid frame of the Frisco hopped and shuttered across the broken pavement. Travis longed to be on his Shovelhead with its Progressive shocks to soak up the abuse. After a while the two bikes in front of him slowed and turned onto a soft dirt road leading to a sun bleached white house over looking the black ribbon of asphalt that separated it from the nothingness. They rode right past the house and into an awaiting barn. The haggard old farmer closed the doors behind them before giving big hugs to the two men on the bikes. Travis was greeted with a firm handshake before being led into the house. Heritage and the old man help the gunman into a back bedroom. The old woman disappeared into the room briefly before hurriedly gathering a few things in the kitchen. Travis sat in the living room near the window that over looked the road. Traffic was nonexistent as it had been for the ride there. The old man and other re-emerged from the room after the yelps of agony died down.
"I'm Brett." It was the first real introduction Travis had received. Travis smiled and extended his hand once more this time to be met with a solid handshake. He mentioned how the man laying in the bed was Tramp and that the phone call he had gotten was that Deak was going to be ok. If it hadn’t been for Travis they all might not have gotten out alive. Brett thanked him for riding Deak's bike and for watching their backs when the shit hit the fan. Travis smiled and looked back towards the road. The dealership, the Shovelhead, Candy and Barbara all seemed so far away. He wondered if he would ever see them again. As the sun settled from the sky the men settled onto the front porch. They took solace in the expanse of the prairie, comfort in the fact that they would see another day.
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