I was born a Bastard.
A soldier, in the lawless army of the Beach Bastards Motorcycle Club. Groomed to one day take the gavel from my old man.
Duty came before my conscience, before family, before everything.
I didn’t choose the life, it chose me, and living it came with knowing, and accepting, that every morning I got up to take a piss, could be my very last day above ground.
Or, depending on my orders…someone else’s last.
Being a biker, a Bastard, wasn’t just in my blood. I didn’t just live it.
I breathed it.
I drank it.
I fucking loved it.
It was everything.
Until it wasn’t.
I don’t remember the exact moment it happened, maybe after my first kill, maybe on the day I was patched in, but it happened. Motor oil, leather, violence, and a penchant for laying down enemies of the club, replaced the blood in my veins.
I became more biker than man.
And I was proud.
I never thought of it as a problem, but I also never thought there would come a day when I wouldn’t be a Beach Bastard anymore.
But it came.
And I wasn’t.
On the day I laid down my cut and walked out the door of the MC, I’d turned my own hourglass and set the expiration on my life.
Once a Bastard, you were always a Bastard.
Or you were dead.
They’d come for me. But the fucked up thing was that it wasn’t the thought of my brothers trying to put me to ground that bothered me most, it was the uncertainty.
I knew everything about being a biker.
I didn’t know shit about being a man.
I’ve been tortured and on the verge of death, violated for the amusement of my captors. Through it all I’d never lost that edge that kept me alive. That fight. The thing inside that makes your heart beat so fast it feels like it’s going to beat its way right through your chest, and tells you that no matter the situation, you’ll not only get the fuck out of it, but that you’re going to burn every motherfucker alive who tried to take you down.
I’ve been beaten, but I’d never been broken.
Ten years old…
I don’t know where it all went wrong.
I never understood that saying. Because looking back on my life I can pinpoint the exact day, the exact hour, when it all changed and took a turn that no one could have predicted.
Three weeks away from my eleventh birthday, I had just ridden my little red bicycle the three miles to the Stop-n-Go. Dad wanted me to drop off a crate of oranges so I’d tied them to a skateboard and tied a rope from the front wheels to the seat of my bike with a rope I’d found in my dad’s old boat. “Will you watch the counter, Cindy?” Emma May asked, swaying her hips from side to side, she shimmied her way over to the door, clutching her little square purse in her hand. “I’m just going to pop next door to the salon for a bit. No one will probably even come in,” she added, leaning over the counter she opened the antique cash register using a series of button pushes and a slam of her fist on a spot at the bottom. She removed some cash and smiled back at me, pushing through the glass door that chimed when she opened it and again when it swung shut.
Emma May was right. She’d asked me to watch the store before and no one had ever come in.
Until that day.
It’s not like I was eager to get home. Mom had started acting weird. Cleaning the floors for hours until the wood lost its shine. Talking to herself in the kitchen. Anytime I asked her about it, she acted like she didn’t know what I was talking about. Dad told me that it would be okay and to just stay out of her way and give her some space.
I did what he said and stayed away as much as possible, most of the time not getting home until just after the sun set.
Watching the store was a good reason as any to prolong going home.
After an hour I got fidgety. I straightened the wall of cigarettes behind the register, turned the hot dogs on the rollers that didn’t work, and tried to read a magazine, but I didn’t understand what ‘Seventeen Positions to Make Him Ache’ even meant.
If someone was aching why didn’t they just go see a doctor? Or a dentist? That’s where I went when I had a toothache.
I’d given up on magazines and was leaning back on an old bar stool that creaked every time I swiveled on it. With my feet up on the counter, I turned the channel dial on the little black and white TV that was propped up on a phone book sitting on the corner of the counter. The only two channels that came in was some western one and the weather channel. Both pictures were fuzzy and the only sound coming out of the speakers was the sound of static and white noise. I tried to turn the entire thing off but nothing was working, if anything I’d only managed to make it louder. It became so loud that I didn’t hear the motorcycles pull in the parking lot or the chime of the door bells against the glass.
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