Morrell was the first one to
the deck, a bottle of Forty Creek in his hand half empty and spilled down the
front of his shirt. Patterson behind him putting the case of beer in a corner
on the deck followed by guys in lumberjack shirts who picked beers from the
case. They slowly surrounded Mac, his face matching the hue of his hair.
"You finally got some bikes
going here! ‘Bout time someone did somethin'." Morrell's gums were loose and
"You have any music here
Legge? Be good to throw on the radio or something." Mac knew he needed some
guidance to make the party a success.
"I can find something."
"Bring it out here if you
can. Hear some good country."
Legge turned on the radio
and music hummed across the open space. The clinking of bottles and the sounds
of boots on the wood deck were soon lost to the sound of dirt bikes riding at
different intervals along the circuit being born before them.
Faces Legge had seen working
in town and driving trucks were there relaxing in the sun and watching riders
buzzing across the open plain with lethal irresponsibility. Tendrils of youth
within grasp momentarily ringing like bells at a cathedral, the pendulum of
fortune zigzagging, the will of man unearthing treasures long hidden from the
landscape. A group of Canadian geese and Sandhill cranes took issue with the
disturbance of their summer home squawking and croaking until they took flight
south toward Lake Huron and shores of Michigan. A rock shelf revealed itself
along the giant slalom turn down to where riders were drinking beers under the
cluster of mature poplars in the distant corner.
Morrell appeared with the
jug of whiskey and passed it around with snippets of the Sammy Legge legend
coming out in bursts, now taking on significance in their own right, stories
within the story of a walk turned crusade from a contributor of local lore and
custodian of local history. Nods of acceptance to Legge for bringing together a
club of outlaws long past any notion of conformity, rebellion based deep within
the structure of their lives. This act of riding on private property gave them
expression for that exact thing they craved: being apart from the system. Here
they could party without being ticketed, play without the strong arm of
authority, separated from the tourists where they could ride their bikes and
quads. It was a luxury surely they deserved living on an island apart from the
mainland called ‘God's Island.'
Legge walked onto the field
with Morrell following him with the jug hanging loose from his skinny arm
letting the riders avoid them, trusting their agility and reflexes at their own
"Everybody can see it but
"You can't even see it!"
said with the harsh emission of rusted air from charcoal lungs. "You gotta a
goldmine here man! Let these guys pay ya ten or twenty bucks a day to drink and
ride here man. There's nowheres else fer these guys to go! They don't have a
hundred acres like this. You think them guys have land to their name? Where can
they ride? The track in Providence Bay sure, but that's a racecourse. Can't
dolly ‘round there. Wreck the track. ‘Sides it's only open three days a week.
But here they got good level trails with no stones or fallen stuff. His
hands enveloped the entire scene, stumbling forward off balance from the weight
of the jug. "You can sell this!"
When they made it to the cluster of poplars, Morrell had had
enough with the jug and took the available dirt bike off its kickstand. He
gunned it, a line of fine mud now partially covering the cooler.
"He's all right?" Nelson
watched Morrell wobble loosely on the seat, his bum too small for the ripping
backend of the CR250.
"That's a lot of bike for
him, and I hope he doesn't screw up my gears." Then the screech of a chain
grinding and the odd silence before the sound of the muffled scream, the quick
end to Morrell's ride. The black leather merged into the mud on the trail, body
limp except for a hand waving in the air, the arm defiant saying the wipe out
was anything other than his fault.
"That didn't sound good." When he and
Nelson reached Morrell he was missing a chunk out of his upper lip, it
separating when he smiled at them.
"Damn thing just gave out on
me. Heard it go screeeech! Sounded like the chain to me."
"Couldn't be the chain man.
I tightened it yesterday."
"Then something's wrong with
yer transmission McKeen Damn gear went only halfway down between third and fourth.
Thought I mighta been light on the change so I hit her again without the
clutch. Then she screeched like a son of a bitch! Damn, gotta a bleeding nose."
Legge and Nelson looked at each other.
"You're bleeding all right,"
he said. The gouge couldn't be stitched because there was so much missing
tissue. He put his head back to stop the bleeding from his imaginary injured
Back at the deck where the
boys were relaxing Morrell took in the applause with tremendous aplomb, a
raggedy skin-and-bones sodden with filthy denims that emitted fresh smells of
an uncertain origin.
"Take one for the team."
"Let me see that." Melvin
steadied the drunken chin in his hand. "Keep still. That's a nasty gash you
"You mean my nose. Silly
bastard." Melvin turned his head to avoid the halitosis.
"Something like a stick must
have poked you here and took a good size piece of flesh. Hard to tell with so
much damn hair."
"Can't see it?"
"Nah, I can see it."
"There's no hair where
there's no skin."
"You might want to trim that
moustache to minimize the aggravation of the follicles here." Melvin
kept pointing to the same place on the tip of his upper lip.
"Do I need
"It needs at least four
stitches if you had that piece of skin lying out there on the field where you
went down. You madman."
Morrell took the whiskey jug
from Nelson putting the rim to his bloody lips. Only then did he scream out in
pain. Swear words in an array of combinations only prolonged his excruciation.