Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Drifter

I could see into the steely blue eyes of the road worn biker, seated on my left, twisting his beer bottle endlessly in circles on the bar. I sensed that he had a story. There was something about him that made me curious, something that drew me to him.
He caught my curious gaze in the mirror, our eyes locked for an instant, he looked away.
In that moment, I felt a stabbing pain and an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I dropped a handful of quarters into the jukebox, while I kept a watchful eye on the biker at the bar.

It surprised me, the affect he had on women in the bar. His body appeared to be strong although he was no longer a young man. His long hair pulled back into a tight ponytail and his beard were flecked with gray. He gripped the beer bottle tightly with hands that appeared large for a man his size. I’d figure five-nine, five-ten maybe a hundred and seventy pounds tops. It wasn’t the way he looked it was those lifeless gray blue eyes that drew you in.

As Waylon sang “Only the Wolf Survives” he motioned to the bartender for another beer, never uttering a word. Reaching for my glass as I settled on my stool, I searched his ruggedly handsome reflection, for answers to the questions that were running wildly threw my mind.

Even the way he lit up a smoke said he was angry. It oozed out of him like the smell of bad whiskey. Then it came to me and I began to wonder who she was and why she mattered so much! Had she cheated, lied and broken his heart? Whatever it was, it had left its mark. This outlaw was torn, scarred and still bleeding. I wondered if he’d been the fool. Had he been lucky enough to have had the real thing? Had she loved him completely in spite of himself? Watching him now I sensed that he needed for someone to know, as if he needed to admit the truth, even if he couldn’t change it. There it was, it had to be, he’d pushed her too hard and pushed her away. He’d left her too often alone. He chose his lifestyle. Loud bikes, fast women, late nights and strip clubs. He had made his choice. He lit another cigarette and glanced at me, not in any particular way, just a look. I nodded my head and he did the same. I noticed his hand trembled ever so slightly. Most likely from too many days on the road, living on beer and fast food and a taste here and there.

Even now I can’t explain what it was, there was something that went past the tough exterior, past the tattoo’s and colors. I just knew there was more to this one percenter, I could feel it. An old ballad played sadly in the background. He pushed the stool aside choosing to stand. Extending my hand, I heard myself say “they call me Major, what’s your name”? I asked. As he took my hand I could feel the raw power in his grip. In that instant I knew instinctively that he had lost by his own stubborn will, a part of himself that he could never regain. “What was her name”, I asked him quietly? “Doesn’t matter, he said the words catching in his throat. He hung his head. When he looked up again it was as if someone else was in his place. His face had completely changed his jaw wasn’t clenched. He appeared softer somehow, less fierce. Even those steely blue eyes seemed to sparkle. He was light years away from this smoky old barroom. I knew where ever he was, that she was with him. I could feel the softness of her presence. I watched in awe as the metamorphosis engulfed him. Hell, for a minute there I thought I saw him smiling. I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for him. I understood that he wasn’t the kind of man that would beg, even if it was for his own life. I bought him another beer; we drank in silence, while the jukebox played on. The pain reappeared turning out the light in his eyes. Shrouded in darkness once again…

There it was, I now had all the answers and I was damn sorry that I did. He drained his beer, lit another cigarette laying his money on the bar. Carefully in practiced motion done thousands of times he zipped his leather jacket, snapping his cutoff, then pulled the heavy black gloves from his pocket as he headed for the back door. He never looked back. A moment later I heard his bike roar to life. I listened to that sound until it was gone…….

Six Shooter Sally