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The International Writers Magazine
Ride to Live

Red Saturday
Josh Bensen

It’s one of those Saturday mornings where I am perfectly content on be woken up by the white hot light of the sun blasting through my cracked window shades. Sleep is great but I am roused by the sun itself.

Throwing back the covers and sliding my lazy ass to the side of the bed I reach to my alarm clock and flick it to OFF.
I stumble awkwardly into the kitchen.
I twist the stovetop dial on and spray a pan down with some generic cooking stuff as I look outside, my eyes finally adjusting to the light. It was gorgeous, the pure perfection of a "good summer day." White clouds, as stereotypically puffy as marshmallows, dotted the clean blue sky as rays of light blasted through them.
As I cracked the first eggs, I heard the distinct sound of my "Jamaican Time" ringtone that is used specifically for riding buddies. A smile reaches each ear as I walk back into my messy room and grab my phone.
However, "Mmmm, yeah?" is all I can muster up in response.
"Get suited you bum," the voice was young, excited, and way too loud for my morning ears. "I’ll be there in 20."
"Joe…I hate you." I say, trying to stay grumpy but catching his contagious enthusiasm. "Make it 15."

I stretch and drop the phone onto the bed. I return to breakfast. A dash of pepper, flip, drop some toast, poor a glass of OJ and in minutes I’m full.
By the time I brush my teeth and squeeze into my black and red leather, I hear the thunderous roar of exhaust coming down my street. I smack the garage door’s button and it slowly rises. As if in some B-rated movie, Joe is waiting on the other side trying for a dramatic intro. Being his only audience, I figured there was only one way to greet him.
I raise my fist and give him the middle finger.
"Surprised you were even up," he says jokingly after taking off his helmet. "And I love you too."

The next few minutes are spent bickering over which roads to rail and age-old shit-talking. The twisty roads are plentiful, even nearby, making it a toss-up of which compass direction we’ll take rather than any specific route.

The radio in the garage, previously spitting the docile country tunes my father enjoys, chirps up with the news, weather, and time. It’s only 9am and we’re ready to go. Tuning the radio to a rock station we get lucky and a loud, fast tune tears out of the speakers. The screeching guitar solo fires up, fueling the excited flame within us. The solo ends and returns to the screaming voice of the chorus as I wheel my motorcycle out next to Joe’s. Saddling up, we leave the driveway.
"We look like freakin’ twins dude," Joe shouted over our thundering exhaust notes cruising down the block. "Should have thought that one through."
"Chicks dig twins," I reply squeezing the front brake for the stop sign as the engines quiet in anticipation.

He was right to an extent. My suit was mostly black with red, his was mostly red with black. I had a black bike, his was red and black. Speeding down a back road out of town we were comets, brightly streaking across the vision of onlookers and stargazers.

For the next few hours we slowly empty our gas tanks, pinning gears just to drop back down through the powerband to arc through the constant twists and turns. Our rides are tilted nearly sideways, dragging knees and sending pebbles into the sky.

Passing cars and trunks, there isn’t a soul capable of keeping up. Speed limits are useless, law enforcement knows not to bother, and kids in the lawns of the few farms we pass jump and wave as we zoom by. Triple digits blink on and off of my speedometer, but I don’t notice.
"Woooo!" I hear Joe yell each time we come to the occasional stop sign. "Yeah man!"

All I can do is nod my head. We are doing what we love and we are good at it. No one sees this side of us, except a precious few. We don’t sit at gas stations for hours and pretend; we fill up and are gone in minutes to return to this. A smile fills my helmet as I feel the wind is my wingman and Joe my rearguard for the day.
This is our sport, this is our life.

"Nice day," I said in great understatement while we sat outside the BP, sipping energy drinks and wolfing crappy gas station hotdogs. The sides of our tires are shredded, bugs plaster our suits and helmets, and the smell of farm and country lingers in my nostrils.
"And to think people call us crazy," Joe said laughing and coughing on the processed meat and cheap ketchup. "We’re not trying to kill ourselves, we’re trying to live!"

The smile I’ve had all day just gets bigger as I shake my head at Joe’s motto, an answer to those who disagree. I swear he’s said it every day since he got his first puck down and scraped a knee into this life.
We throw away our trash, the tinfoil and aluminum flashing in the setting sunlight. The motorcycles fire up and purr in readiness for more action. But now it’s time to go home, you would have to be crazy to rail in the dark of night. Pulling out onto main, we cruise steadily at the speed limit.

As we drive back through town on our respective ways home, I didn’t see the car blow the stop sign until it was too late. As the leader I struck first, even at 30 mph the impact sent me flying over the roof, skidding and bumping down the street like a rag doll.
I hear a second loud thump and crush, only assuming that can be Joe following like usual. I hit the curb and fling up and over, a series of cracks and a gasping pain in my chest explode. Broken, is the last thought I have before my helmet strikes a tree.

"These kids are trying to kill themselves," a man, dressed in white and surrounded by light, says as I blink my eyes, returning to the real world. The tight but flexible suit I had on all day is cut and torn in the corner.
Even naked I still look like the suit, a crumpled pile of black and red. Instead of the helmet, I have a clear plastic mask, it’s barely helping me breathe.
"That left lung is punctured through by the rib," the man in white says again. "Put him under, we have work to do."
I feel a prick in my arm, hopefully a needle and not an exploding tendon or another broken bone. It doesn’t matter though, a cooling feeling is rushing through me now. My eyes close against the bright lights, I’m back on the road with Joe. We’re scraping knees, the sun is bright, our lines are perfect.

That old smile replaces the bloody grimace on the outside, the man in white and all his friends are busy. I don’t realize any of that, there’s only one thing I can think of now.
"We’re not trying to kill ourselves, we’re trying to live!"

© Josh Benson May 2007
vervius at

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