The first weekend in August was a busy one in Missoula, a regular three-ring circus. In one ring they had the annual Testicle Festival going on which is reliably a lewd and raucous affair, and in the second ring they had the Ski Town Rugby Tournament hosted by the hometown Missoula Maggots, and if you know anything about rugby guys you know they’re partial to heavy drinking and spontaneous public scrums. In the third ring was the annual Hell’s Angels national rally which drew an estimated 400 members and their entourage to the locale, and they’re not what you’d call exactly a bunch of shrinking violets.
Having hordes of ball biters, Maggots and Angels—potentially an explosively volatile mix—converging on your community would in most places be the type of crisis that would have local law enforcement hitting the Maalox and calling out the National Guard. Not so in Missoula. Sure, there were worries, but local authorities marshaled the whole circus admirably with a preparedness, judgment and restraint that other similarly besieged communities—Hollister comes to mind—just can’t seem to get the hang of. The weekend passed peaceably and everyone had a ball. Or several.
So while it seems only natural to give credit for that happy outcome to the hardworking local authorities of Missoula, that would be hasty. The real credit, we know now, should go to the customs and immigration officials at the Denver International Airport. Let me explain.
On July 14, just two weeks before the Angels were due to arrive in Missoula, an unassuming 59-year-old grandfather named Bill Singleton attempted to slip into the country by a most devious means: He got on a plane at Heathrow Airport in London and flew to Denver. Ostensibly, Bill was a window washer and Harley enthusiast from England who’d spent the previous year lining up sponsorships for a solo charity ride from Montana to Alaska in support of the National Deaf Children’s Society. To cover his unlikely story he’d taken the precaution of fathering a deaf daughter many years earlier, and she’d then helped in the ruse by marrying a deaf man and then giving birth to a deaf daughter. How diabolical can you get?
The immigration officers in Denver—ever alert for terrorists and other creepy undesirables—weren’t falling for it. In a dazzling bit of detective work, they noticed that Bill had a beard and looked sorta like a biker. They also knew that he was bound for the state of Montana, the very state in which the Hell’s Angels would be holding their well-publicized national rally in a couple of weeks. Ergo, Bill was a Hell’s Angel. And considering the lengths to which he’d gone to conceal that fact, Bill must be a very dangerous Angel, indeed—some kind of hush-hush assassin provocateur, obviously. Their suspicions were confirmed when Bill denied ever having had any association whatsoever with the club. That’s precisely what they’d expected the monster to claim. The absolute proof of Bill’s nefarious identity was then discovered in a thoroughgoing search that produced… his wallet. And on his wallet was the image of a wolf’s head. The Denver dicks knew that the wolf’s head is a principal gang symbol of the Angels—a gang symbol so abominable and secretive that the Hell’s Angels themselves don’t even know about it.
Check and mate, you’d think. But now the dicks were on the scent and began to dig even deeper to discover just how villainous Bill was, and they turned up a criminal conviction. That’s right. It seems that our supposedly benign window-washing grandfather who supposedly cares so much about the plight of the deaf had had a few too many and gotten into a shoving match with a constable in 1970. It was a conviction that less vigilant dicks had failed to uncover in 2007 when Bill and his wife had come to the U.S. without incident and attended Sturgis.
They put Bill in a room where they grilled him for five hours while he acted all innocent and incredulous and heartbroken just like they figured the slippery bastard would. Then they perp walked him under armed escort to the next plane leaving for Heathrow. On the plane he was seated alone in a row, the better to keep a close watch on him, lest he try to light his shoe or whatever.
That was a close call, for sure. There’s no telling what horrors might have actually gone down in Missoula had the Denver authorities not thwarted the sinister schemes of Bill Singleton.
Well done, Denver. Well done.
It’s all right here in the diaries.