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There’s No Place Like Home

The Wicked One Returns to the Longbranch Saloon

By the Wicked Bitch
12/4/2023


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Yesterday, I roamed to the Arkansas Confederation of Clubs chili cookoff. I loaded my truck down with chili and pastries and cornbread and headed to the Longbranch Saloon in Little Rock. It has been the heart of Arkansas bikerdom since Moby Dick was a minnow…

Even though biker bars come and go, the Longbranch remains the staple, the home place where our memories are seeped into the darkened walls that are stained with photos and momentos of those who have joined the forever chapter for perhaps forty or fifty years now… a bar wallpapered with brothers and sisters who now forever preside over the clacking pool balls from a blurry photograph.



The Longbranch is the place where we always congregate to discuss the memories after our marryin’ and buryin’ and pool tournaments and of course, the chili cookoff, the night before Little Rock’s Toy Hill run… the largest toy run in the state.

So, I loaded up and went… the same as I did my very first Christmas as a brand new biker… twenty five years ago… and as my eyes adjusted to the dark smoky pool hall I saw that many of the same people were playing pool and standing at the bar, who were there over two decades ago the first time my eyes took in the room. Of course, I saw the ones who weren’t there anymore, too.



Even though my move from Iowa to Arkansas was several months ago, and even though I been back in my hometown in Arkansas since early summer… my soul didn’t truly feel the click of Dorothy’s heels until I stomped the dust off my riding boots, walked past the row of Harleys, and stood in the doorway of the LongBranch.



People I haven’t seen in seven years hugged me. I made my way through the building and the hugs and the familiar smells, remembering the times I walked through the door so many times, so many men, so many minutes, so many memories before, like the time I rode in wearing a fur coat and heels… the times I rode up with tears streaming down my face… the times I carried my drunk out the front door… the times in rain, pain and mud, the fear and the courage, the chill and the heat, the music and the laughter and the beer. I put my prodigal chili, my restitution for my absence for far too long, on the tables with the other entries in the chili contest. I would not win… I did not care… I was home.

The current bartender.
The current bartender.



I spent the day in nostalgic stupor. While I was sitting there watching people fooling around at a table full of patches with men who wore patches the first time I came to that old bar, 25 years ago.

I watched the VnVMC members walking around who were literally at the Dermott, Arkansas Crawdad festival in 1999…. When I rode up on a Road King with one of their friends, a man long gone, the old biker who taught me to ride and died in my arms. Those of his friends who are either lucky enough or cursed enough to still be livin’ were all there last night, the same old men who were around the campfire my very first ride on a motorcycle ever, one hot muggy crawfishy Arkansas night that changed my soul and the course of my life irrevocably forever.

I felt like Dorothy once more, reunited with the Tin Man and the scarecrow and the lion who lead her on a grand adventure like none she ever dreamed before… over a rainbow of colors, indeed! I watched the 1%ers and the church folks and the other clubs in the Confederation hug and smile and fellowship together.



Plus, there was this precious little lady bug of a girl selling tickets and being a little doll. I smiled as I watched her innocent smile, and figured to myself she was someone’s ol’ lady in a mom ‘n pop probably. She made a little crack like about she was being voluntold to sell tickets… She goes ‘if anyone knows how I got roped into this let me know cuz I don't know how I got here.’ I laughed at her little joke, and I said ‘its ok baby girl. I been sitting at this table since my booboos were up where yours are, and I still don't know how I got here either.

--The Wicked Bitch


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Reader Comments


I always LOVE reading anything Amy writes!!! She has a talent for taking you there inside. That bartender though… lol. Seriously though, great article!

Jenna
Sheridan , AR
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Editor Response Thanks. She does have a touch with the written word.
--Bandit
I’ve known this “Wicked Bitch” longer than anyone commenting on here and she is no less fantastic as she was when we were 5. Proud of this woman is an understatement. She is back home as am I in our hometown and for that I am thankful.

I love reading and feeling, smelling and tasting her writing. Thank you Amy for a glimpse into a world I know nothing about. Although our adult lives have been so very different, it’s something about home that we will always be the same.

Love you sweet girl??

Season

Season Nichols
Monticello, AR
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Great article Amy. i am so glad your home again.

TERRI L Williams
Leesburg, FL
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Amy,

I only rode on a bike once (wore a denim mini skirt and my high-top white sneakers) from The Bronx to Closter, NJ. I burned my calf on the exhaust pipe, & this young man’s Mother was aghast, that he maimed me on my first ride! She showed more distress than her 19-year-old son had the capability to embrace.

I love your writing style. Hearing ‘One hot, muggy, crawfishy night’ & I was ‘Voluntold’ made me a reader of yours, ad infinitum

If this is not in English, it’s because I’m Mrs. Magoo & the format for responses does not allow you to increase the text box. ????

Rock on, Biker-Bitch!

SusitheJ

Susan Hansen
Littlestown, PA
Monday, December 4, 2023
Editor Response You made Amy's day.
--Bandit
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