“You lost?” The guy behind the counter at the hardware store asked. He wore overalls without a shirt underneath, the jean material stretching over his protruding stomach.
Lost? Maybe slowly finding my way.
He looked me over, his eyes stopping on the tattoo on my good shoulder. The skull symbol of the Beach Bastards. “I don’t want no trouble,” The man said, holding up his hands like I was robbing him.
“Put your hands down, man. I’m not looking for trouble today,” I said.
“Don’t look like you’re avoiding trouble,” he said pointing to my freshly stitched up injury.
“That ain’t none of your concern, but I meant it when I said I wasn’t looking for trouble.”
I had trouble. Plenty of it in the form of a pink haired girl with so much attitude it made me crazy.
Crazy fucking hard.
The man nodded. “Been a while since The Bastards have been through these parts. I just want to let you know that nothing’s changed. I’m still waving my white flag. I’m still inactive.”
“Inactive?” I asked. He turned around and pointed to the huge wolf symbol on his back, clearly recognizable to me as the symbol of the WOLF WARRIORS even though parts of it were covered up with the straps from his overalls. Chop had started a fight with the Warriors years ago about gun running from Miami, I didn’t know the specifics of the fight, all I knew is that Chop said we were at war so we were at war, and I’d put my share of WOLF WARRIORS to ground.
“They called me Bones back in the day, but now I just go by Ted.” The man turned back around.
“You don’t have anything to worry about. I’m kind of between MC’s myself at the moment,” I joked, pulling at the collar of the shirt I was going to take off the second I got back in the truck, because while wearing my cut used to be like wrapping myself in soft leather, the simple tank felt like it was strangling me.
Ted nodded, visibly relaxing when he finally got it through his head that what I wasn’t looking to stir up a decades old war between old men over something I didn’t give a shit about.
“What can I do you for?” he asked with a smile, flipping off Biker Bones and flipping on Toolman Ted.
I looked around the small store but didn’t see anything I could use at first glance in the tiny three shelves of auto parts. “I don’t suppose you got a bike section in here. I’m in need of some parts.” I glanced out the door and spotted Thia in the store across the street, filling a red basket.
Ted shook his head. “Ain’t got no bike parts on the shelves but I might be able to do you one better.” He ducked under the counter and walked over to a door that was covered with keys on little hooks. I didn’t even realize it was a door until he turned the knob and opened it. Ted stepped aside and waved me over. I almost fell over after seeing what was on the other side.
It was a graveyard.
A bike graveyard.
“The Mrs. don’t want me to have nothing to do with bikes since I left the Warriors, so she made me move all this from the house. She thinks I threw it all away.” Hundreds of feet of bikes in different stages of rust and rot. Parts hung from the ceiling and off the walls. A small footpath had been cleared on the floor but other than that it was pieces and parts stacked on top of one another.
“I’m not a solider anymore, but I never lost my love of the machine that made me want to ride in the first place,” Ted said, slapping me on the back. Rival MC or not, Ted, the guy from the hardware store that dressed like he was applying for one of those BIG FAT REDNECK shows, was probably the only person on the earth who understood what I was going through.
“This room makes my fucking dick hard, Ted,” I said with a straight face.
Ted laughed and walked back over to the counter. “Sort through and find what you need. We’ll sort out price when I see what you come out with.”
It only took me fifteen minutes to find what I needed in Ted’s bike junkyard. I paid him and said my good-byes.
I dumped the parts in the bed of the truck and wiped my greasy palms off on my jeans. I looked around for Thia, but didn’t spot her through the glass doors of the store. I took one step in that direction when a shrill scream pierced the air.
I reached inside the cab of the truck and grabbed my guns, running top speed toward the scream.
“Get your hands off me, Buck!” I shouted. I thrashed wildly, kicking and punching him anywhere I thought I could do damage on his freakishly giant frame. My little arms and legs were no match for the Sasquatch who’d hoisted me across his shoulders like a sack of dry cement, but I thought maybe, at the very least, I could get him to stop and listen to me. “Let me down!” I ordered again.