Posted on May 6, 2009
The heavy motorcycle roared down the little London East End side street. Screeched to a stop. Roared back again. Screeched to a stop. Came back once more, bombing along, at some crazy speed.
Jane Doyle turned over in bed, and looked at the alarm clock.
Half past one in the morning.
What the …?
She was a very attractive young lady. No doubt about that. Just twenty, slim, dramatic black hair, high cheek bones in a classic face. When she wore tight jeans, heads turned all the time. Male heads.
But now, at 1.30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, her thoughts were far from any pleasant sexual awareness.
She was mad.
It had to be him. She recognized the roar of his Kawasaki 900. His beloved Z1-B. But what on earth was he doing belting up and down the street waking up the whole neighborhood?
Idiot! They had conducted a blazing row at six o’clock that evening, and he had stormed out in a typical paddy. She guessed he would have gone to the ‘White Bear’ in Smithfield, London’s old meat market. It was his favorite pub. To drown his sorrows. Had he over indulged again? Probably.
She had better go and investigate…
* * *
He had sat in the White Bear, sulking furiously. The truck drivers there, who knew him well, had bought him rounds, and sympathized with him. They also knew Jane, and knew her temperament. They could imagine those two sparking.
But one or two of the older wiser ones, with families of their own, knew well that behind the spectacular fall out lay a deep mutual loving. They knew the dynamitic division was unlikely to last long, and would doubtless result in an equally pyrotechnic reunion.
But for now it was just a case of humoring Francis. Let him get it out of his system…
“That’s it, I’m finished, I want NOTHING to do with that milk machine EVER again! “
Slug of beer. Sympathetic noises from all around.
“And you know what she said? She said I ought to SLEEP with my bloody bike! Yep! She reckons I ought to take it to bed! Just because it occasionally RAINS a bit an’ she gets a bit damp. Huh! “
He took another slug, in fiery disgust. As if the cold beer rinsing around his mouth could swill away the distaste he felt at weak willed women who couldn’t cope with a spot of rain whilst out on a motorbike in mid-winter London…
It was unfair of course, and, deep down, he knew it. The downpour of that morning, the Niagara Falls that the M2 Motorway had become, could not possibly be reasonably described as having merely rendered the pillion passenger ‘a bit damp’.
Soaked through, past the skin, into unmentionable places, more like it. Jane had actually held up her bra in annoyance, demonstrating the fact that the red coloring dye from her once fluffy mohair sweater had run into her underclothes. And as for the mohair… it had sort of lost its luster, and was pathetically draped over a clothes horse, looking decidedly like a drowned beaver.
He had not been sympathetic, probably partly because he quietly wished he had been driving a car as well. His black leather motorcycle jacket was so soaked through, it had taken on that weird, clammy, moisture-oozing-out of every pore texture. The depressing effect of which can only be fully understood by those who in their lives too have belonged to the clan of the totally suicidally depressed rain sodden frustrated motorcyclists. Especially when it started out so sunny and bright, and the blitheringly imbecilic weather men forecast bright sun, so you only took light leggings and not the full set of heavy duty rain gear…
He was hacked off. Murderous. In no mood to be sympathetic. Even the sight of the lovely Jane, topless in all her firm breasted splendor, holding up her bra in disgust, could not lighten his mood. There she stood, wearing tight leather jeans, soaked, standing in shiny black boots, equally soaked, with wet hair hanging straggly down her face, in the middle of a rapidly expanding pool of water on the carpet; but he failed to see the funny side. He had threatened to go out. Then he had put his sodden gear back on again, then off, then ON again. Finally stormed out, roared off. Knowing full well Jane would be fed up, as she normally always came along to the White Bear sessions…
“What do you do, huh, what do you DO with women like that, HUH? “, Francis was grumbling bitterly.
He had calmed down a bit, and the spurious short term soothing impact of alcohol was already blurring the edges of his sensitivity to reality.
The older wiser drivers knew he was on the mend…
Somebody made a suggestion.
-Buy her a present, mate.-
“A PRESENT? What for? To say ‘thank you’ for yelling at me and being flipping unreasonable? Wish somebody would buy ME presents every time I had a cob on! “
He had left himself wide open, and a chorus of wisecracks split the nicotine saturated air.
He giggled, and started another pint.
The evening wore on.
Jokes flew. Banter bounced back and forth. Stories were told.
Another driver walked in. Pontius. So nicknamed, for his slightly aloof bearing, and his refined accent.
It probably didn’t do him justice. Pontius was all right. Couldn’t help his speech. Or his slightly aristocratic looks. Not a bad bloke, really.
Bit of a wheeler dealer. Always flogging some weird commodity, to augment his long distance truck driving income.
Tonight was no exception.
After the welcomes, he announced: “Anybody want to buy… ” But he was drowned out by the loud collective groan. He assumed a suitably pained expression, and waited until the chorus of catcalls and whistles had died down. Then, with the air of an entertainer, he left the room, to return moments later with quite the largest female Teddy Bear Frank had ever seen.
It was quite a giant of a Teddy Bear…
Although it adopted the classic ‘sitting cuddly bear’ pose, with arms stretched forward in a ‘love me, cuddle me’ supplication, this could not disguise the fact that this bear, standing erect, would be nearly five feet tall. It truly was a bear of a Bear…
Pontius seemed immensely proud of his Teddy, and appeared to find there to be nothing incongruous about trying to sell a giant Teddy Bear in a bar full of tough truckers. Quite unmoved by the delighted heckling of his audience, he proceeded with his sales pitch, praising the Bear’s anatomy, texture, and softness. The Bear apparently came from a long distinguished line of Bears, and possessed an impeccable ancestry.
A pedigree Bear in fact.
Pontius even demonstrated a passionate bear hug, with a smile of rapture as he squeezed Miss Bear tightly, and Miss Bear draped her formidable paws over his shoulders in a reciprocal gesture of eternal love and affection.
The truckers went wild. The sight of Pontius, eyes half closed, a distant faraway smile illuminating his craggy features, smooching it voluptuously with a furry broad, was too much for even the most restrained drinkers. The smoke filled atmosphere reverberated with witticisms and crudities, and even the stoic White Bear landlord rolled his eyes to the heavens. Then he shrugged, grinned, and went on with the interminable ritual polishing of the glasses. The jukebox was now blaring away wildly with ‘Lovely Rita’. Soon Miss Bear was being asked to dance.
She didn’t decline, and on the dance floor she was soon shaking and rolling with the best of them.
“Lovely Rita, Meter MAAAAID… ” belted the jukebox.
Beer flowed freely. Francis drank too much. He always regretted it the next morning. Kept trying to give it up. Kept failing. There came a point where he just kept guzzling. Two pints. Three. Four.
“That’s it! I’ve had enough! “
-Ah, go on! Have another!-
“No thanks! “
-Be a devil! Last one!-
Another pint would mysteriously appear in front of him.
He would resolve not to drink it.
Equally mysteriously the glass would end up empty.
Thoughts… Subtle thoughts. Like:
“I’m over the limit ANYWAY! “
“Oh, hell… “
It was going to be several more years before stories of roadside carnage wrought by drink, and TV advertisements highlighting the anguish of relatives of drink-drive victims, were to finally penetrate his thick brain in a meaningful manner…
“That’z id! I’m (hic!) fi-fi-finished! “
-Ah go on, one more!-
“NO! BU-BU-BUGGER ORF! “
-Have a chaser. A brandy, eh?-
Mysteriously, a double brandy would appear in front of him. He would resolve not to drink it.
Equally mysteriously, the glass would end up empty.
Six and a bit…
Ridiculous, his tired brain would say. This is stupid, and you know it. You better take a taxi.
His eyes focused slowly on the Bear. Somehow or another, he had ended up with the Bear sitting beside him. And he had his arms wrapped around the Bear, and one giant paw was resting trustingly on his shoulder…
How had that happened?
Then the idea came to him.
Jane would like the Bear. She was in to cuddly things.
“How mu-mu-MUCH (hic!) for LU-LUVVELY RITA ‘ere (burp!)??
“PISS ORF! “
“Stuff you…! “
“I’ll give you… HANG ON… How am I gonna get ‘er home? I’m on me blinking bike! “
A startling thought had registered.
-Easy! On the pillion!-
Great gales of laughter.
“Don’t be si-si-silly. How’s I going to get this lump home on the pi-pi-(hic!)-pillion!? “
Somehow he had found himself straddling the bike, surrounded by two dozen truckers, with Rita Bear on the pillion. It was ridiculous. Rita was simply too big. Partly because of her ample size, and partly because of the dropped handlebars, which put him in a slightly crouched racing position behind the big black fairing, Rita’s face peered over the top of his crash helmet.
With much fiddling about, Rita’s lovely legs ended up draped around his thighs. The big soft padded Bear soles jutted forwards, fluffy Bear toes in the air, as if caught in the midst of a braking action. Rita’s huge paws kind of clasped his leathered shoulders.
Somebody produced a rope.
Rita was securely tied around her ample waist, and around Francis’ middle. His thoughts: “This ain’t gonna work… “
It was decided a trial blast was called for.
A screaming blatter up and down the road, and then once round Smithfield Meat market, discovered a problem.
The slipstream was tending to push Rita backwards, so that her toes were ending up moving steadily upwards, her ankles now level with his ears. At the same time her entire upper torso was moving backwards, arms revolving upwards into the air, her paws leaving his shoulders and reaching for the sky. Whilst all the time she wore her adoring expression:
“Come cuddle me! ”
He screeched to a rubber squandering stop outside the ‘White Bear’. Ordered the readjustment. The problem was fixed by raising the rope up to just under his armpits.
Now, when he roared around, Rita stayed put.
Good! The first problem was solved. But how about the weather? It had stopped raining, but that was no guarantee it wouldn’t start again on the forty minute journey home. Oh well, he would just have to take a chance. It wouldn’t be the first time…
With much waving and cheering, the merry band of truckers bid him goodbye, and he was off on the trip back to surprise the lovely Jane.
Round the corner onto the main road.
The Kawasaki roared, and he accelerated briskly. The lights ahead changed to red, and he slowed to a stop.
The engine ticking over quietly now, he waited patiently for the lights to change.
A taxi pulled up alongside him. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the driver’s window being wound down. He waited for a comment, but continued looking straight ahead. Eventually he could stand the suspense no longer.
Slowly he turned to stare the driver straight in the eye.
There was a silence. Francis was tempted to say: “Well!? “, but didn’t. The cab driver, possibly wary of this grim black leathered figure, was studying the spectacle carefully, with alert eyes, from which however all trace of amusement was carefully erased. It was only as the lights changed to green, that a quiet “Mister, I like your girl friend “, was heard a split second before the four cylinder boom of the Kawasaki propelled rider and pillion away in a puff of exhaust smoke.
Francis grinned quietly to himself, and concentrated on his driving. He never seemed to feel the effects of alcohol once he was on the bike, but he was cautious about the effects on his reactions. The roads were wet and greasy, and now was no time to come spilling off. He hoped as always that the lights would be with him, but it was not to be. Soon he was braking again, slowing to a stop.
Cars pulled up beside and behind him, and windows were wound down all around.
A heavy Cockney voice bellowed: “Hey Tarzan, yer missus could do with a shave… “
He heard delighted chuckling from an old Avenger full of young folk who had obviously also been celebrating Saturday night. Some female was giggling in a high pitched soprano. “He’s having bondage on a motorbike! ” For some reason, she thought that was hysterically funny.
Another driver was leaning a long way out of his window, addressing Rita in a theatrical voice: “Oi, missus, you’ve got no bleedin’ helmet! “
Slowly Francis turned and looked at the actor, who was by now grinning from ear to ear, aware that he commanded an audience. In the background the soprano was still giggling hysterically, fascinated it seemed by the rope and the uses to which it was being put.
The actor was obviously expecting a reaction.
Francis looked him steadily in the eye: “Watch it mate. That’s me sister you’re talking to… “
The actor creased up, and the cockney was in mid sentence, when an angry tooting came from behind. An angry driver was thumping his horn, shouting out the window something about the light not getting any greener…
A mile or two later, the lights turned to red outside a pub cum discotheque which was just emptying out. A mob of heaving, panting, gesticulating folk poured off the pavement and surrounded the bike. Any short lived alarm he felt soon disappeared. They were harmless… just very drunk…
A quite well dressed intelligent looking fellow in a blazer flopped against the handle bars, struggling to get the words out:
“Mi-mi-mi-mister, she-she-she… “
He was pointing desperately at Rita.
“Sheez god no cloooothes on! “
With that amazingly astute observation, he fell over backwards, to be caught in the nick of time by his friends. With that the rest of the party goers held hands, formed a moving circle, and started to sing:
“If you go down to the woods today…
you’re in for a big surprise,
if you go down to the woods today,
you’d better go in disguise.
For every bear that ever there was,
will gather there for certain because,
today’s the day the teddy bears have… “
the wails reached a crescendo…
“…their PIC….NIC…!! “
With that salutation, the throng opened, and he was able to roar off again. Not for far.
On the far corner of the cross roads ahead of him, he saw a Policeman staring intently in his direction. Although addled with alcohol, his brain told him that the chance of a Policeman NOT being interested in the center piece of all that commotion was NOT very good…
even WITHOUT his furry passenger.
Approaching the cross roads he saw the copper step off the kerb, and he waited no longer.
A smart left turn saw him heading off the wrong way, but at least he could pretend he couldn’t see the arm shooting up stiff and straight. He roared off, not before he was aware, out of the corner of his eye, of the Old Tinribs making several running steps.
He wondered how that would sound on the Police Radio.
“Unit seventy six request pursuit of motorcycle heading west on Stratford Road, with one male and one Teddy Bear! Over… “
By now the alcohol was really making him feel desperately tired. He passed up the Romford Road without too much trouble, and half a dozen witticisms.
“What a honey! “
“Look at those hips! “
“Gawd, she is UGLY! “
A hurried left into Woodgrange Road, and all he had to do now was turn right up Capel Road.
Wrong! He’d gone too far. Back again. Wrong again!
Oh, shoot. Where the dickens was his house! Why did they all look the bloody same?
41 Latimer Road. He repeated it to himself a few times. Yes, that was where he lived.
41 Latimer Road, Forest Gate.
It was raining again. That was the problem. His goggles were spattered.
“Oh God, I’m tired… “
Ah. THERE it is.
He normally got off his bike, opened the gate, and then drove the bike up the short path.
“I’ll just give the gate a lil’ NUDGE with the front wheel, an’… “
He giggled to himself at the splendid labor saving idea.
He wouldn’t have to get off that way.
With a blast of throttle the Kawasaki bumped up the kerb.
Another blast, heading straight for the gate…
The gate disappeared out of his way, and this pleased him no end. Another idea crossed his befuddled brain as he was still moving forward.
He would give the front door a ‘bump’ as well with the front wheel, and fetch the lovely Jane down.
Jane hurried down the stairs to investigate, aware that the approaching heavy motorbike sounds had by now slowed down. He had found it…
Then she froze.
BWAMMM! BWAMMM! BWAMMMM!!!!
BWAMMM! BWAMM! BWAMMMM!!!
Jane lept back up the stairs in momentary stunned amazement, as the front door slammed open. A large motorcycle burst in, and collided spectacularly with the bottom of the stairs. It keeled over against the wall, and the engine stalled. The rider, giggling hysterically, slowly rolled off, and ended up face down on the floor, gasping and spluttering for breath, in between fits of giggles.
Slowly, the giggles subsided. He seemed to wriggle a bit, and make himself comfortable.
Some incoherent mumbling came forth from the slumped figure.
I gotta prez… prez… prezzie for you… uz called…
The incoherent mumbling lapsed into silence, punctuated by the odd outburst.
” Rita… prezzie… Pontius… heh-heh… waz gooood… ”
There was a snore. Then a half giggle. Then another snore. A shuffling to get comfortable. Another snore.
Jane stared. Out the front door, with the smashed Yale lock, at the front gate; which lay, smashed, on its side.
Beyond that, the lights had gone on in the houses opposite, and startled faces were appearing at the windows.
Her gaze traveled back to the spectacle on the floor, now snoring ever more regularly. Her man, the love of her life, with a huge Teddy Bear grinning idiotically at him, paws resting affectionately on his shoulders. Still tied to him with a dirt old piece of rope.
She walked over to the bike and switched off the ignition. The bike looked all right. Built like a tank, that thing. The same couldn’t be said for the wallpaper, the gate, and the front door…
A voice drifted in. It was their immediate neighbor, Maureen, in night clothes, craning over the little low wall, looking in with amazement and shock registered on her face.
“Is he all right? “, she inquired solicitously.
Jane looked down on the slumped body, now snoring peacefully.
“Yes, he’s all right… “, she said quietly.
She shuffled past the debacle to the front door, and pushed it gently to, noticing the splintered wood in the door frame where the Yale fitting had been almost twisted right out. She shut the door as best she could, and picked her way carefully back.
At the bottom of the stairs she hesitated, and then, with a silent little shrug, she climbed the stairs and went back to bed.
He could sleep with his bloody bike, she thought.
She always reckoned he should take it to bed…
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on May 21, 2009, 4:56 pm