The old man dreamed about when he was a boy and his father had taken him to a steep dirt hill where men on motorcycles tried to be the first to ride to the top of that hill. The dream changed and he was a young man riding a fast motorcycle with a beautiful girl on the back. The old man very much liked the dream and smiled as he slept.
Just after dawn the sound of another motorcycle, the neighbor’s motorcycle, woke the old man.
Getting out of bed, he cursed the neighbor and his noisy bike. He knew the machine. It was a Harley Sportster on which the boy had replaced the stock exhaust with straight drag pipes. “Kid, you didn’t get more horsepower; you just got more noise,” the old man said to himself as he put on his clothes.
Dressed, he rode his own Harley to meet old friends at the café for an early breakfast. Twice a month it was their habit.
The men talked about not sleeping as well as they used to, the funerals they had just attended, their aches and pains and other maladies. As their favorite waitress sauntered up to the table to take their orders there was the usual banter filled with sexual innuendoes. When she left, one of the men who had complained about prostate trouble said he was glad she didn’t take them seriously. He also said he was relieved to be out of the game. Another bragged that his plumbing still worked perfectly and kidded that all the ladies loved him.
Afterward the old man thought he would work off the heavy breakfast with some time at the gym.
The smell of the locker room reminded him of how the locker room smelled when he was in high school. While one of the young men wrapped his hands before shoving them into boxing gloves, the old man flashed back to when he used to tape his ankles before a football game. He wondered if all locker rooms smelled the same.
On the exercise floor he picked a treadmill next to a beautiful young woman in her late 30’s. She was blonde, and wore tight black shorts and an emerald green spandex top. They had seen each other before and greeted one another with friendly conversation. After talking for a few minutes, as he adjusted the speed and the incline of the treadmill, she put on her headphones and listened to her music.
Finished, she nodded goodbye and joined the others that were taking the yoga class in a separate room. The old man continued walking for a while and then found the bicep and shoulder machines, which were well placed to watch the yoga class through a glass wall.
After a Jacuzzi, a steam, a shave and a shower, the old man dressed and returned to the parking lot and his motorcycle.
On the way home, the changeable season rewarded him with a little rain. It wasn’t a heavy storm, but there was enough drizzle to hit his face, run off the sides of his helmet… there was enough to taste. The taste reminded him of the trip to Mexico when he was forced to hole up in a cheap hotel as a tropical storm blew in from the Caribbean.
Today, for a few seconds, the rain was cold and took him back to a winter motorcycle ride down the north side of the Siskiyou into Ashland. Black ice had been terrifying. “Riding in the rain makes me sleepy. Riding in the cold wakes me up,” he thought.
At home he put the bike in the garage, wiped it down, went in the house and while in the kitchen he cut up several apples into pieces that would fit into the juicer. One glass of fresh apple juice with a little dash of cinnamon was a real treat. He sat at the kitchen table, drank it and thought about the fast motorcycle he had in college and the girl who loved speed. When they rode in the mountains she would hold tight on the curves and in the straights she would slide up and whisper in his ear, “Faster, faster.”
She was beautiful and sexy, with a slim body and long, straight blonde hair. As she walked it was as though she was dancing. Thinking about her, he was reminded of the woman at the gym in the emerald green top.
He finished the apple juice and decided to call a lady friend for dinner.
The lady friend accepted and asked if she should wear a dress or pants. Would he be picking her up in his truck or his motorcycle? She was game for either. She was game for most anything. Younger than he by several years but not really young, he always thought of her as the youngest women he had ever met.
He told her, “I think the rain is over and we’ll have a beautiful night. I’ll pick you up on the bike and we’ll go for a nice dinner and then a little ride. You’d better wear your jeans.”
So far it had been a very full day and the old man looked forward to a very full night. Sitting on the edge of the bed the old man considered taking a nap—or maybe he would just lie down and rest.
The window was open and the wind brought a shiver. He pulled up the quilt and thought about his friends and how they were all getting older. He thought about the woman at the gym and her emerald green spandex top. He remembered playing football in high school and his blonde girlfriend in college. He thought about his motorcycles, the fast ones he had as a kid and the more comfortable ones he owned as an adult. He was glad he had discovered motorcycles. They had kept him alert, kept his balance sharp and they had kept him young.
Before nodding off, his last conscious thought was about the first time he had been on a motorcycle. One of the older kids in school had given him a ride home. He tried to remember the boy’s name, but he was now asleep and dreaming. In his dream the woman he was taking to dinner was wearing a black nightie as they slipped into bed.