This one will also skip past the details about everyone else’s reaction to my father’s death. It is all about me dammit!
It turns out that my knuckles weren’t really hurt all that bad, just horribly bloody. Also the entire problem with my car turned out to be that the alternator worked while the car was running, but it didn’t do anything towards charging the battery (some diode was bad). I was also barely on the upside of the E mark on the gas gauge when I jumped out of the car and ran down to the bottom of the amphitheatre. Lucky the car didn’t roll away, I never set the emergency brake. That was all in the past though.
I was now a man. I had come to terms with everything, or so I thought, and I was ready to move on. What better way to prove that you are now a responsible adult than to buy a motorcycle? I started off slow, I got one of those “enduro” bikes that are both street legal and capable of mountain climbing. Problem was that it was only a 250cc thing, and I was riding it on the I-5 on my way to work. If a Big Rig passed me it would nearly knock me over. I needed an upgrade. I settled on something that looked much like this. Mine was a tad more beat up, other than that, the color is only slightly off, mine was more orange. The rest looks just like I remember.
I don’t remember the precise amount that I paid for that little bike, I do know that it was somewhere between $200 and $600. I didn’t buy it because I really liked it, I bought it because it was what was in my price range and it got a hell of a lot better gas mileage than the car I was driving. That thing ran like a champ.
Have you ever been a boy in his late teens burdened by the fact that you recently killed your father? Add to that a shiny new (quite used) motorcycle and see what zaniness ensues. Good times.
It was probably about the fourth day that I had the motorcycle when I decided to see if it could actually reach the max speed on the dial. I was actually wearing a helmet (possibly the wisest choice I had made in months). I hit the straight stretch right in front of my school and gunned the engine. The straight stretch ran only about a half a mile, and the speedometer went to either 105 or 115 (can’t remember), but I never reached max speed. I had to slow for the upcoming corner. I had it down to only 90 or so as I flew around the corner, noticing that there was a cop car pulling out of the disused weigh station to follow me. Just fucking great.
I could have run, probably should have, but I didn’t want this whole thing to end in tragedy, so I just slowed down to the 55MPH speed limit and hoped beyond hope that he wasn’t going to pull me over. The cop’s lights came on and all I could think was “fuck”, seemed such a fitting word at the time. In addition to not having any insurance on the motorcycle, I also didn’t have a license to be on it in the first place. This was certainly not going to go well.
The first words that came out of the cop’s mouth were, “do you know how fast you were going?” I may be stupid, but I was not about to let on, I wanted to know how fast he thought I was going, I just stared at him blankly. “I clocked you at 79 coming out of that corner!” He screamed.
My first thought was, Sweet, he didn’t catch me on the straight stretch. My first words were, “I’m sorry.”
I don’t know what I was trying to accomplish when I said it, but it doesn’t really matter. He took my license, expired insurance card (which didn’t cover motorcycles anyway), and went back to his car. The tickets that he issued me were: Operating a vehicle without a license, Operating a vehicle without insurance, speeding, and reckless endangerment ( the last one was not actually heard by the court since no one could figure out who I was recklessly endangering, since it was only me on the road). Those tickets were a hefty fine, but I never stopped riding the motorcycle, never got the motorcycle license either. Yes, I was a bit stubborn.
From bad to, well, more bad.
I was driving the corvette along one day, getting more and more nervous about why the cop behind me hadn’t pulled off onto one of the side roads. Of course the lights came on, of course I got pulled over. What was the offense this time? It had nothing to do with my driving, it did, however, feature the same cop that questioned me after my father’s death. For reasons that I don’t even want to know, the cop knew that I was only sixteen years old, yet the registration for the corvette said that I was 18 (why did he remember me so clearly?). He just wanted me to straighten it all out with the DMV, so he said, yet he gave me another ticket for not having insurance (it would have cost me $277 a month to insure that corvette in 1990, of course I was only 16).
When you are a teen, if you happen to live 15 miles or so out of town, you don’t really follow all of the rules. I got insurance only long enough to show the paper to the court, then quickly cancelled it. Got me out of the ticket, kept my license from being suspended. Yet, that cop seemed to have an eye out for me, and not in a good way.
All I wanted to do was go to school, then to work, then back home. I didn’t need any of the crap that mr. uniform was throwing at me. Mr. uniform was pretty good at finding me though. A couple of weeks later I was dropping off my middle brother at the bus station, in a car that no cop had ever seen. It was on a deserted street, it was the middle of the night, I got pulled over for having a dim license plate light. The light wasn’t burnt out, it was just “dim”. Guess who tapped on the window.
If you guessed it was that same cop you would be wrong. It was a totally different cop, though I think they shared the same brain. Result: driving without insurance ticket. If I would have had even a dollar to my name I would have fought that charge. A “dim license plate light” is not enough to warrant pulling someone over. Had I mowed down a street full of children that would have been something, but, seriously, a dim license plate light? That was when my driver’s license was suspended.
Not surprisingly, that is also about the point that I started to really hate cops (what a bizarre coincidence).
Shortly after that point my life picked up the handbasket, then started looking for things to ad to it on my trip to hell.