One summer morning driving my motorcycle, I approach the busy intersection of Sloan Avenue and Quakerbridge Road. The light’s green and a massive green Ford is in the left lane presumably goin’ straight, but slow.
I speed up to pass on the right.
The damn driver has decided to make a right turn at the last minute!
I have about 30 feet to stop.
Quick, right hand comes off the throttle and fingers grip both handbrakes hard.
The bike automatically starts to tilt hard to the right and I feel like I’m losin’ it.
Shit! Don’t let me hit her! I think, as I lay my out-of-control cycle down.
Someone watching would see me hit the asphalt in a blur, but I maintain my position on the bike without falling off.
I hear the bike and my blue jeans drag against the road surface as I skid 20 feet toward the Ford’s red taillights, not even a blinker flashing. But my mind is flashing. She’s still into her wide right turn in front of me, as I skim along the road.
My legs and torso are mostly saved by the bike’s front and rear crash bars.
As I come to a stop sideways on the blacktop, I can see through my helmet that she’s unaware of my fall.
Shit, Damn her! How could she not see me? I think.
She hadn’t even looked in her rearview mirror, as I watch her complete the turn and curse louder at her waning image.
Like an embarrassed fool I stand shakily and raise the bike. My turn signal’s bent but that’s the worst of it.
Ignore the rip in my jeans. Hop on. Press the electric start, put it in first, hit the throttle and continue straight.
I know that following her and scaring her with my fist would be meaningless.
Close calls and accidents don’t frighten me, but all I can do is spit out angry bursts of exasperation, and raise my left fist at clueless car drivers.
Rarely, but sometimes — I think twice about riding at all.
Once home I spill the beans to Janet, reluctantly, and only when she spots my torn and bloodied jeans. Oh, she’s heard my complaints about how blind some drivers have been, but hasn’t come down hard on me. I wonder how she keeps her composure, knowing it could have been serious.
This time I hear, “Rod, the bike’s not safe enough,” and “Rod, You have two children now. Don’t you think you should cut down the risks?”
It’s been 8 years since my first Honda. This is my third fall.
She’s never poured guilt on me for riding motorcycles, the long joyrides alone, or times spent cleaning and polishing its chrome, while hardly ever polishing our cars. Never nags to get rid of it. Not once.
But we have one strict policy when it comes to the bike; neither kid will ever ride it.
Not even in our driveway.
An ex-schoolmate of Janet’s had done that with a neighbor’s boy sitting on his lap. Casually and carefully, driving up the short distance, then pushin’ the bike back down this friend’s driveway. But the boy turned the throttle up with a surprise twist and the bike surged ahead and crashed into the porch.
The poor boy had been thrown off, struck his head, and was killed instantly.
An awful, incomprehensible accident that devastated two families.
When alone, I sometimes intone “Inshallah,” at what could have been, and how the Grace of God appears fickle. Oh, I know full well it isn’t that at all. It’s simply a life event without God’s direct interference.
Except I can’t help but think, But for God’s Will that could have been us. Like most bad decisions, theirs had a good deed in mind.
The following spring I sell the Honda CB500 in a private sale.
Maybe now I’ll settle down.
About the Author:
Rodney Richards is a published local author (2012 – Amazon) and teaches three weekly writing courses in creative nonfiction and technical writing. His goal is to write two poems daily, and 1,000 words per day on one or more of his current book projects. He maintains three blogs (Blogger), and his goal is to simply write very, very, well. He is retired and lives in Hamilton Township with his long-suffering wife and volunteers for the Friends of Hamilton Twp. Library and Hamilton Courts.