Events unfolded two days earlier, when Scott Venner and I rode my 1975 Kawasaki H2 to the country house of my friend “Stitches,” for a weekend of filmy purpose and general mayhem. It is considered somewhat “unnatural” (by some) to ride around with a guy on the pillion, unless you are springing him from jail; or headed to the emergency room (leaving a smoking wreck in the ditch); or happen to be a screaming hot woman. But Scott and I were camping buddies, drinking pals, and general Hooligans for years. He didn’t have a motorcycle, and I did. Consequently, when I wanted to cut-up rough for a weekend (sans chiquita), and he wanted to come along, he rode “bitch.” On the Friday of that weekend — the only time during which I had an accident while carrying a pillion rider — we headed up to the party house under the guise of planning the last great moto-debauchery of the season.
Located on the banks of the Upper Delaware (in rural Eastern Pennsylvania), the house was remarkable for a couple of reasons. The first was that it had been built in stages, with the initial phase coinciding with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the final nail being driven home with the defeat of the Confederacy at Appomattox. And the second reason was because the house was haunted (although this story does not deal with that odd fact). The party house was situated on a hillside, surrounded by acres of open fields, dense stands of trees, and stretches of the lazy Delaware River — on a one lane road that saw very little traffic. It was the ideal location for bonfires, an outside bar on the porch, topless water fights, and raging biker parties that went on for days.
We rolled-in just after dusk that Friday night with the expectation of putting a dent in a quart of Irish whiskey, knocking off a couple of six-packs, and mauling a rack of ribs. I had pushed the bike hard, dancing through the death-defying curves of “Hawk’s Nest,” just west of Port Jervis, NY, and ducking speed traps on NYS Route 97. While party planning for a large group of moto-lampreys can be exhausting work, our weekend agenda also included shooting skeet, swimming in the river, and tempting fate with some local pole dancers. Yet as the late, great American novelist John Steinbeck observed, the plans of the best-laid mice and men often go astray.
I was nursing the kind of hangover normally associated with a gunshot wound to the head, when I heard an ominous mumblings coming from the front of the house, at the ungodly hour of sun-up. Scott, a master-builder and a woodworker without parallel, had gone out to the porch to take a piss and noticed a peculiar sag to the living room floor. An hour in the basement led him to conclude that more than five people in any room would collapse the floor and the crack the main support beam that held the whole place together.
“The support frame of this house appears to be held together by dry rot,” said Scott. “The main beam turned to powder in my hand.”
“How bad is it really?” asked Stitches.
“The house should have fallen down the year McKinley was assassinated,” replied Scott. “Don’t drop anything heavier than a sock.”
Now I would have lit a fire in a closet had this good news been about a house of mine, but Scott and Stitches are cut from a very different mold. Using six house jacks that they found in a barn, that weekend’s Saturday was spent building stone support-columns and constructing a new main beam from existing local material. Scott placed levels at various points, and he and Stitches raised the house, one sixteenth of an inch at a time, until it was level throughout. The new composite beam was in place by 2pm that very afternoon, and the columns were holding it up by dusk. Work resumed at the crack of dawn on Sunday with new floor joists (again made from lumber salvaged from an old chicken coup) inserted by 4pm.
There was no drinking... There was no skeet shooting... There was no swimming in the river. There was a lot of sweating, a lot of cursing, and a lot of shoving beams and things into places that had become known hangouts for huge deadly spiders. The collection of stones from an old wall (for the columns) dislodged a number of snakes, several of which rattled. When a spider the size of dinner plate growled and ran across the toe of my boot, my ceaseless screaming got me relegated to the cement mixing detail. “You even suck at this,” noted Scott, when I suggested the cement might mix better in the shade of the garage, where I could work the hoe from the comfort of a beach chair.
The ride home was to be be purely anti-climatic: a welcome 100-plus mile-ride through the cool mountain air, hangover free, and blood purified though 36-hours of hard physical labor that forever left my mind prejudiced against this sort of thing. We had a great dinner on a porch that was now as stable as the Golden Gate Bridge. Scott demonstrated the bedrock-like soundness of the living room floor, by jumping off the couch.
With the setting sun at our backs, we mounted the mighty Kawasaki H2 (a two-stroke 750 street bike, for those who are not yet old), and started back. Scott was a great passenger, riding far back against the padded sissy bar and delighted to lean into each curve as far as necessary. I don’t believe he ever held on, and occasionally fell asleep. It was dark enough to see the headlight on the road as we crested High Point State Park, on NJS Route 23, and the beginnings of night on the eastern side of this 1800-foot ridge gave us concern for whitetail deer, which are the equivalent of rats on stilts.
We were passing through the little town of Septic Springs, NJ (not the community’s real name), when a pick-up truck entered the road from the right, and simply shoved us to the left, hooking the right side of the bike’s crash frame on the cab’s step. The truck hit the bike hard enough to bend the crash frame, but I didn’t drop it. I was screaming... Scott was screaming... And the Kawasaki was screaming. The driver of the truck, an asshole named “Billie Bilebucket,” (not his real name but amazingly close enough) continued on his way, with a car in pursuit. The car’s driver was a newly retired New Jersey State Trooper, who got the vehicle’s plate number and turned it over to a cop from Septic Springs, New Jersey.
I found all this out when I stopped to file a hit and run report at the police station, about 20 minutes later. This was the first time I spent an hour in a police station without the cops referring to me as “the alleged defendant,” and spitting in my tin cup.
We carefully checked out the bike in the police garage, and was astonished to find not one thing amiss, other then the bent crash frame. It was the crash frame that had kept the truck from hitting the handlebars.
No one was more surprised than me to hear from the Septic Springs municipal court that I was expected to appear as a witness against one “William Bucketbile,” who’d been arrested on a hit and run motor vehicle charge. I was thrilled to get my say against this shithead, who had plowed into me and kept going. My thought was that I might be allowed to throw the switch after they strapped him into the electric chair.
I met with the cops and the prosecutor beforehand. They had gotten the truck’s license plate number from the retired New Jersey State Trooper, who had since moved to Florida. Then they went to check out Bucketbile’s truck, which had damage to the cab step on the left side. The prosecutor, a dung beetle of a man (aren’t they always), hissed with delight as I told my side of things with real passion; emphasizing the fact that I was going slower than the speed limit, that I saw the truck and yielded to the larger vehicle, that I screamed for mercy when the other vehicle relentlessly plowed into my Kawasaki, that I uttered a prayer at the second of impact and that I thought of my mother as the bike started the death wobble for which it was famous.
“Were you on your way home from church when this heinous act occurred?” asked the parasitic prosecutor on the community payroll.
“Yes,” I said. “And both of us had planned to donate an organ as soon as we hooked up with our respective girlfriends.”
“Had you been drinking?” asked the prosecutor.
Drawing myself up to my full height, and looking down my nose at this offensive creature, I said, “I do not drink when I am fully engaged in the restoration of historical structures.”
The scene in the courtroom was like a painting from the early 1800’s, with notables looking profound as they gathered to sign a landmark document that no high school student today would ever remember.
The judge was the Honorable Harrison C. Hedger, a barrister whose collective wisdom had caused his nose to turn bright scarlet years before. The attorney for the defense was resting in a large wicker basket, and would emerge only when the bailiff played a flute. The cops, three detectives and a uniformed flatfoot, stood with quiet confidence, hoping for the opportunity to subdue the defendant with a hail of gunfire.
The defendant and the star of the show — William “Billie” Bucketbile — was a bull of a human, whose brain had been replaced with three pounds of that blue gel that’s often used in coolers instead of ice. He was the kind of person who terrorized the local trailer park (where he lived in a lean-to) and bullied lesser males in a bar that served the kind of beer that is already two-thirds piss when it comes out of the tap.
The charge was read with gusto, though I noticed the court clerk, the bailiff, and many in attendance, had resignation in their eyes, as “Billie” Bucketbile was a frequent customer at these proceedings. The defendant pleaded “not guilty,” and I was called to the stand.
I must say it was a rather refreshing change to be able to tell my story and look over at the judge, the prosecutor, and the cops as the supporting cast. Usually, these folks are chasing me with pitchforks and torches, demanding a lie detector test and a DNA reading. I left nothing out in my official account — including the sparks that flew when the two vehicles contacted... And how the bike leaned so far to the left a micro-second after the impact, that my eyelashes dusted the highway’s white line. I even shed a tear at the part where I thought my friend of many years, behind me on the pillion, must also meet his maker at the hands of Bucketbile.
Then I explained how through sheer might and determination, I defied gravity and centrifugal force, and bent the bike to my will. I detailed how the sweat from my brow turned to steam when it hit the cool night air, after I forced the machine to an upright halt on the shoulder. Such was my testimony that an elderly woman in the crowd fainted, and a much younger, prettier one flashed her tits at me. (I am so glad it wasn’t the other way around.) It was one of my finer moments, and one of more effective ones, or so I thought. The cops were so convinced of a conviction, that they calmly loaded their weapons in anticipation of delivering the verdict themselves.
And then the attorney for the defense uncoiled in the basket, and slowly rose, spreading the scaled hood that is the badge of cobras everywhere. He questioned the defendant in the same tone of voice his ancestor presented the apple to Eve in the garden.
“It couldn’t have been me,” said Billie Bucketbile.... “I was out bow hunting with “Gutless Joe Spencert.”
“Gutless” Joe Spencert was called to the stand next. His testimony included a details on how he and Billie Bucketbile been out bow hunting that day, and didn’t get back in until way after dark, owing to the fact that they had walked so far out into the woods, it took hours for them to return.
“This is New Jersey,” said the prosecutor. “The whole place isn’t as large as a golf course in Texas. You’d be able to walk to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in that time.”
The prosecutor then asked “Gutless” Joe Spencert if he recalled filing a complaint against Billie Bucketbile the week before, when the defendant beat the shit out of him at his own son’s fifth birthday party.
“Gutless” Joe explained that Billie had been dancing with Spencert’s wife, and accidently got his hand stuck on her ass. When “Gutless Joe” went to help, the hand suddenly broke free, but lodged in his eye. It was all a simple misunderstanding.
When questioned as to the damage on his truck and a deposition from the state trooper revealing his plate number, Bucketbile testified that he always left the truck open, with the keys over the visor, so his friends could use the vehicle in an emergency. Bucketbile claimed he was as surprised as anybody regarding the damage and the summons to these proceedings, for that matter.
“I have to learn not to be so trusting and generous, your honor,” said Bucketbile.
In the final analysis, the charges against William “Billie” Bucketbile were dropped, as no one, including myself, could place him in the cab of the truck at 9:45pm that night in 1976, on New Jersey State Route 23. I thought of pursuing other options, such as a civil suit, but the damage to the bike didn’t warrant it. And “Billie” Bucketbile was from the school of thought (originating from sperm left half-dead from discount birth control methods) that justified slitting tires, burning out the family trailer, and hiding with a bat in the shadows. My only satisfaction in this is that guys like him get older and slower sooner or later, and the next hyena in line usually puts an end to the old reign of terror with a new one.
Next Monday... “When The Legal System Worked For Me.”
Riepe To Address
NJSBMW RIDERS On March 14th, 2012
NJSBMW RIDERS On March 14th, 2012
Jack Riepe will be the guest speaker at the New Jersey Shore BMW Riders monthly dinner on March 14th, 2012, at 6pm. Held at Schneider’s German-American Restaurant in Avon, NJ, the subject of Riepe’s presentation will be “How Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder... For So Many Things.” The guest speaker has promised not to savage BMW “R” bikes in his presentation, nor to imply their riders are aptly depicted in prehistoric cave paintings.
Riepe Will Celebrate his 50th Birthday
With This Moto-Group,
And Reveal Details Of His Life...
Never Before Discussed!
With This Moto-Group,
And Reveal Details Of His Life...
Never Before Discussed!
The details of this event, complete with pictures, will constitute the basis of one of the author's upcoming columns in the BMW MOA's "Owners News." Therefore, those women who have promised to lift up their shirts when Riepe is speaking are urged to do so earlier, behind his truck, in the parking lot.
Dignitaries From Other Clubs Are Welcome...
Subject to Search!
Subject to Search!
None of the speaker's former wives will be admitted within pistol range of the podium... And no one with a Russian accent will have access to the speaker. German accents and "R" Bike Riders may be suspect too.
Schneider’s German-American Restaurant
801 Main Street
Avon - By - The - Sea, NJ 07717
March 14th, 6pm
801 Main Street
Avon - By - The - Sea, NJ 07717
March 14th, 6pm
© Copyright Jack Riepe 2012
All rights reserved
I don't think I could ride with a Pillion, too much responsibility for me
are you sure the Judge didn't recognize you. He may have said you were sitting on the wrong side
Riding the Wet Coast
When I was 19-years-old, and the pillion was a 21-year-old brunette named Roxanne, my skill set improved dramatically.
My friend Scott had the reflexes of a panther. He took to the pillion like it was nothing.
I once saw a judge reschedule jail time for a likely scofflaw so he could celebrate his birthday.
Thanks for reading and for writing in.
Jack, a great story about the courtroom experience....I liked how you built up to it.
However, I hope to have better luck ensuring Fat Cow who hit me recently not only gets the book thrown at her unseeing ass but anything else the judge can pile on.
The charge of "careless driving" calls for a mandatory court appearance and I plan to be there to see justice take place. Also to make sure some slimy ADA doesn't let her plead out to some lesser charge.
Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner
So no daring historic rebuilding while imbibing on moonshine that might have been squirrelled away in the floorboards of that old place? Always wondered how they pile roundishly flat stones into solid foundations.
Glad your expertise and progress resulted in two living defendants. Sorry the slime got away with it. But am a true believer in karma. :)
No dirt riding as of yet. Many things keeping me off the bikes lately. Maybe things will calm down soon. And want to get that leaky bucket off of my back patio!!
And damn you for dealing birthday dinner so late. I don't think I can make the plans for time off in a week!
Nicey done Jack. I particularly liked "deer" referenced as "rats on stilts"! I've only hit one, but have dodged dozens. As to the judicial system being flawed a third of a century ago ... well ... it just goes to show things have been sliding downhill in that arena ever since. Some of my state trooper buddies can't wait to retire to get out of the BS. Anyway ... I digress ... thanks for the blog! Tis always a great read. Doc Rogers
that it must be your metaphysical 50th birthday. May your math skills resurface as quickly as your conscience allows.And may the Muse that guides you take heed of those Orange cones that get so close on occasion.
I have decided to be fifty-yuears-old until there is a distinct advantage to being older.
Dear Doc Rogers:
Thanks for reading Twisted Roads and for your encouraging note today. I endeavor to entertain with stories from my far ands recent past, and always enjoy hearing from satisfied readers.
Dear Steel Cupcake (Lori):
The characteristics of the local shale in that part of Pennsylvania virtually guaranteed two flat sides to every rock. These were easy to stack and cement together. Yet in New England, where field stone is a lot more common, farm walls are artistic wonders of semi-round rocks being fitted together.
I still predict that you too will get a little "in the dirt" two wheeler after finding the heavy expedition quality of your GS too precious to risk taking jumps in the gravel.
Sorry you can't make my presentation on the New Jersey shore next week... It will be most notable for the caliber of the attendees as opposed to anything I can say.
Thanks for rewading my tripe and for writing in.
Hope you get out to ride again soon.
Dear Charlie6 (Dom):
I suspect you are going to have a lot more success than I did when your "defendant" comes to court. For one thing, there is no doubt as to her identity. For another, the damage to your rig is substantial.
And judging from her performance at ther scene of the accident, it seems to me that she was probably bullshitting on the phone at the point of impact too.
My guess is that you are going to get a lot of editorial mileage out of this incident — and hopefully — a good deal of satisfaction.
Respectfully, "the plans of the best-laid mice and men often go astray." was actually from the pen of Robert Burns "To a Mouse"
"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley"
I still love your stories though.
I knew somebody said it, but was unaware Robert Burns has problems with mice. "Aft agley" is a good expression though, and I will try and use it more often around the house.
Thank you for your kind note of correction, and encouragement. My mother used to just whack me with a rolled newspaper.
Happy 5oth Birthday!!!
I counted also and its like Jack said, this is his 50th
and that makes June my 52nd. I'm good with it...stop being a troublemaker.)
How nice to hear from you again... Thank you for the birthday sentiment. I am delivering a moto presentation next week, at the Jersey Shore, titled "Riding With The SnowQueen." Can you make it? You'd add a lot to it.
And by the way, did you like the box "Big Jim's Insanely Delicious Cookies" that you won? I sent it to the address I've had forever... The one by the paper plant.
PS To SnowQueen:
By the way, my calculations make you 51 and a half. You still got some time.
And why are you still drifting in and out like vapor? Zap me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big Jim is waiting to hear how you liked his cookies. So am I.
Ihor says your sense of warped reality is a symptom of early Alzheimers. By the way, he is standing over my shoulder, dictating this.
A real cliffhanger as always! Jack, I love your tales!
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