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Village Whack Job...
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Hot. The kind of hot where your shoes get soupy, and your underwear get... Well never mind those. The sting of summer on my skin, like a good friend giving me the business. I was just ten years old. And I was small for my age. I was small but fearless. I mean nothing scared me. In the back of a near collapsing garage behind an abandoned house I was hoping it would be cooler in the shade. It wasn't really but at least the sun wasn't burning me.

The garage was crowded with shadows and musty smells. Crammed full of old junk, furniture mostly. An old wringer washer, a bent up ironing board, some stuff I didn't recognize and can't remember today. Having nothing better to do I poked around in that junk just to see what I could find. Back in a corner, heaped over with old buckets, and rags and god only knows what else I spied a set of handle bars. Pulling and tugging I moved enough junk to see that it was a motor bike of some sort and thought I had to be the luckiest kid in the world.

Well I piled all that junk back on top of it, I didn't want someone else to come along and find it. I jumped on my Schwinn and pedaled like mad all the way home. Seven blocks north and fourteen blocks east. Course at that age north and east meant nothing to me. Pouring sweat, and drawing huge gasping breaths I all but threw my once beloved Schwinn down the basement steps. That bike had been my most prized possession. My trusty steed. Now, now that I had found a motorcycle...not so much.

Stopping just long enough to guzzle just enough water to give me some respectable cramps from the outside spigot I set off again at a run. Seven blocks south, 14 blocks west. My PF Flyers slapping the pavement, and the sun slapping my bare shoulders and back. Even then I wore my hair long. Bleached almost white by the sun It hung heavy with sweat and hot against my neck. My hair lifted slightly as I ran the hot sticky air felt cool on my neck.

Pounding down the sidewalks I ran, as hard as a ten year old boy on an epic mission can. Dreams of dare devil stunts, of speed, of roaring engine and gleaming spokes flashing through my head I ran. Back to that falling down garage full of unwanted junk. My gut in a knot fearing the worst, just knowing someone had come while I was taking my bike home and found my treasure and taken it away.

Thundering into the garage at full speed I came pretty close to ending it all right then and there. I all but impaled myself on a broken shovel handle when I tripped over some anonymous yet no less malicious hunk of junk bent on the murder of an adventurous kid who knew nothing of caution. Tearing thought the junk and dust I dug it out.

I didn't know what kind of bike it was. I didn't know how to ride it or how to start it even. But as soon as I got it clear of junk and far enough away from the wall I jumped right on it. Making Vroom Vroom sounds and twisting the throttle like a retard. All set to ride it home, ride it to the park, ride it, ride it RIDE IT! If I could just get it started.

All of that had to wait though. Because the first thing I had to do was get it out of that garage full of junk. Cursing under my breath, then immediately giggling at myself and the use o the "bad word" I set to work. It probably took me about an hour, though it felt like an entire day of hoisting, pushing, grunting lifting and dragging to clear a path just wide enough to wheel that magnificent hunk of **** out of there and into the sunlight.

The only gleaming chrome on it turned out to be the foil wrapper from a piece of chewing gum. It had more rust on it than any thing else. My hopes and dreams seamed to dim a bit. But I started pushing. And pushing. Seven blocks north fourteen blocks east. It creaked and squeaked and sometimes didn't want to go. The front tire was almost flat and every so often it would make the bike try to turn or fall over.

I had found in the garage that I could reach what I though of as its "pedals" but I couldn't reach the ground on it. When ever it would sway away from me it took every ounce of strength I had to keep it from falling over. There were a few times that if not for someone's hedges I would surely have dropped it. But I kept pushing, and I kept dreaming of races, and of how envious all the other kids would be.

I pushed, and I sweated, and I grinned all the way home. Seven blocks north, fourteen blocks east. I was dirty, I was itchy, I was sun burnt. I had blisters on my hands and feet, and I was happier than I had ever been in all my ten years.

I got home, in the back yard and I parked it, leaned it against a cherry tree really because it didn't have a kickstand and I couldn't seem to get the center stand to stay down. There in the dirt, because we had no grass. Bicycle parts strewn around and stained with fallen cherries the ground hard to walk on if you were bare foot because of all the cherry pits I just stood there in the shade of that enormous cherry tree and stared at it. After a few minutes I started wiping at it trying to get the dirt and dust off. I got a bucket of water and a dirty old rag and started cleaning it up as best a dreamy headed ten year old could.

To tell you the truth that piss poor washing would have been all that thing would have gotten if not for an amused neighbor. That guy with the beard who always smelled like cold medicine and seemed to always have a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He showed me how to get the rust off the wheels with a wire brush. I put air in the dry rotted tires with my bicycle pump.

He tinkered with it and muttered unintelligibly while I washed and wire brushed it and just generally got in his way. He showed me the kick start lever and told me what it was for. Showed me the clutch lever and brake lever. He took the tank off of it and we walked three blocks to a gas station And I spent my entire life savings to fill it with gas.

He reinstalled the tank and I kicked that thing until the sun went down and mom called me in for the night. I was dust dirt and grease from head to toe, there was a brownish blackish ring an inch wide around the tub after my bath. And under my finger nails was still black.

I woke the next morning to the usual sounds of the neighborhood. North east side of Cleveland Ohio 1982. Barking dogs, police sirens, ratty old cars screaming kids. The occasional gunshot. The smell of fermenting cherries mixed with the stink of one of the worst neighborhoods in one of the dirtiest cities in the country. A hand full of generic cereal and a Dixie cup of Kool-Aid for breakfast I fly out the back door to "work on" my motorcycle some more. It was yellow, or at lest had been at one time. And had a number plate on the handle bars. The number was almost completely worn off. I grabbed an old spray paint can from beside the collapsed chain link fence at the back of the yard and repainted the number. 16. That magical age I couldn't wait to be.

I spent the rest of the day wearing myself out on that kick starter. Kicking, kicking. Switching legs and kicking some more. I'd stop for breaks and wash it some more with that dirty old rag. I'd tug on cables and wiggle the drive chain. I'd kick the tires and look at the wires then try kicking it some more. Then the process would start all over again.

The day passed into exhaustion without so much as a cough from the engine.

The next morning I skipped the cereal and carried the Dixie cup of Kool-Aid outside with me. I climbed up in the tree and ate some cherries. I had been thinking about pushing the bike over to the park. Because there was this hill. I was thinking I could "ride it" down the hill just coasting it. It would be fun to ride it even that little bit. But pushing it home. Pushing it back up that hill. Well that task took me all afternoon. But the ride down that hill was nothing short of spectacular!

The next day the guy with the beard came over again while I was again hard at work on the kick starter. He started working on it again and sent me over to his garage to get his tool box. I thought I would pull my arms right out of their sockets carrying that thing across the yards. But I got it there. A few minutes later he had the carburetor off and laying in the dirt. Much to my horror he had taken a part off of my motorcycle!!! It would never work now!

But he showed me how to take that carburetor apart. How to take an old toothbrush and a few wires from the wire brush and clean it all out. To get all the yellow stuff out. I didn't have a clue at the time but I scraped all the gasket material away in pieces into the dirt. So he sent me in the house to get a cereal box. I came out with the big yellow box that simply said CORN FLAKES on the front in black letters. He pulled a gleaming switchblade which was the coolest thing in the world to me...well next to my motorcycle that is. Anyway he pulled that knife out of no where and used it to cut new gaskets out of that cereal box and we put the carburetor back together. "Well" I thought " I'm a mechanic now. It has to run we fixed it." So I spent another hour kicking it, just convinced that it was gonna start. The neighbor with the cold medicine smell and the beard just laughed to himself and wandered back over to his house.

The next day I decided to push the bike to the park again and once more know the thrill of riding it down the hill.

The following day the guy with the beard came back and together we pushed the bike over to his house, and rolled it into his garage. He showed me how to get it up onto the center stand. I could do it, but it took all I had. He pulled this little white thing out of the engine and went at it with a wire brush and some sand paper. Then he turned this little lever that was attached to the bottom of the gas tank. And he started kicking it. I nearly jumped out of my cutoff shorts cuz when he kicked it, it actually made engine sounds. As I mentioned I was small for my age, I really didn't weigh enough to do more than get the motor to turn but one stroke. I could have kicked that thing for a year and it wouldn't have started.

Anyway he kicked it a few times, twisted the throttle a few times and I dove under his junk covered work bench thinking someone was shooting at us when it back fired.

He just laughed at me, but not in a way that made me feel stupid. When I crawled out from under that work bench he didn't say a word. Come to think of it he never did talk much at all. He just winked at me and he kicked that old rusty POS one more time and the world has never been the same for me since. The coughing sputtering near death rattle of that motor was the most wonderful sound I had ever heard.

He took a screwdriver and poked at the carburetor with it, And he twisted the throttle and poked around with the screw driver some more and after a bit it started to smooth out a bit. He squeezed in the clutch lever and did something with his foot and I wanted to kill him when I heard something break in the motor at the same time the bike kind of jumped forward. He just chuckled again and motioned me over with his right hand.

Without a thought I climbed right up in front of him onto the bike and grabbed the handle bars. I revved it up!!! No more Vroom Vroom noises and coasting down hills only to have to push it back up!

He took me around the block on it a few times and showed me how to use the throttle and the brakes, how to shift. He let me have the handle bars wrapping his hands over mine. After a while he just kept a hold of my forearms. I can still smell the sun in the air, smell his cold medicine breath on the back of my neck. I can sill smell the rich sweet exhaust.

The next day we rode that thing all over the neighborhood and all through the park. I was the happiest poor kid in the world.

But it sucked. Because I still couldn't get it to start. he always had to start it and he wouldn't let me ride it by myself. For a WHOLE WEEK I had to beg him to take me riding. He kept telling me that if I couldn't start it I couldn't ride it on my own.

Somedays we would just roll it into his garage and I would work on the wheels with the wire brush while he did stuff with the carburetor or the engine. After a while I noticed some old pictures on the walls in his garage. Pictures of some guy on a motorcycle.

The summer kind of flew by that way. I was dreading the return to school. But was excited to tell all my classmates about my motorcycle. None of them seemed interested though. Most of them didn't even believe me.

Winters in Cleveland are much like the Winters here in Milwaukee. Cold, wet, snowy, and just miserable over all. Sam, the guy with the funky breath and dirty beard, let me put my bike in his garage for the winter. Looking back I have to pause here. I expected to be telling you that over the course of the winter and the school year the bike slipped my mind. I thought I would be telling you that I didn't think about it. But that's not the case. most ten year old boys would indeed forget. At least sometimes. Everyday I thought about it. I would sit in school and day dream about riding it around the playground. Or about riding it in the park. Showing of for the rest of the kids at school.

I even imagined riding it in the snow.

One Saturday in spring I noticed Sam's garage door open so I cut through the yards and went over to see what he was doing.

I was struck dumb. I thought I was going to puke. I thought I was going to pass out. I thought I was going to kill the crazy old son of a bitch with his own screw driver! Scattered all over the floor of his garage was what was left of my motorcycle!!! I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. When he saw me there he just smiled and told me I could "help clean up this mess". I could utter but one word..."Why?"

He said "Well, winter is for tear down, spring is for clean up, summer is for riding." After a while to get my now 11 year old mind wrapped around the situation I handed him tools, asked questions , annoyed him and got in the way while he put my motorcycle back together over the next few weeks.

I had grown a bit, but I still didn't have enough ass to kick the dang thing started. He took me over to the park one day. To the hill. And showed me how to push start it!!! I could start it myself!!

Every dayI would push that thing to the park two blocks south four blocks east. And I would roll down that hill, andI would RIDE back up!!

I ripped around on that thing all summer. Spending my allowance on gas, cashing in soda bottles to buy gas. Every dime went into the tank of that thing.

By the end of summer I was able to get one foot solidly on the ground while sitting on it. When winter rolled around again it went back into Sam's garage. Right around Christmas time that winter something happened to Sam. The police came, an ambulance came. I never saw Sam again. I'd been introduced to the word of illegal narcotics by then. Though I didn't yet know the word narcotics.

The summer came and I broke into Sam's garage to get my motorcycle out. I had a hard time getting it started that year so I sold it to an older kid from the west side.

Sam didn't really teach me much about how to work on motorcycles. And as for teaching me how to ride, well that left a lot to be desired too. But If it weren't for him I may never have gotten that thing going, and may never have gotten into motorcycles at all. But one thing Sam taught me is still with me to this day. Winter is for tear down, spring is for clean up, and summer is for riding. To this day, every winter, whatever bike I have owned has been torn down, at least as much as I had the ability to do so. Every spring it got cleaned up and put back together, and got the hell ridden out of it all summer.

For those of you who would care to know that rusty old bike was a little Harley known as a "hummer". Kind of like the one in the picture.


 

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That's a great, great story, Broke..... absolutely wonderful!

We all have something like that in our history, but not with the same flair, the same panache! Good job, buddy...... I really enjoyed that. I could feel in myold bones a ten year old's excitement......

The Harley Hummer! How many ten year olds got their dreams from one of those....?
 

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Good write up, Broke. Those old bikes make for some good stories and memories. For me it was a dual purpose Sears Allstate with a dual rear sprocket.
 

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Captivating read ! thanks for posting .
 

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This is an absolutely wonderful short story worthy of publishing in my humble opinion. (after a good proofing and spell check.)

Times have changed so much from those years but it brought back memories of the clunker cars I'd owned back then. If I didn't learn to fix 'em myself, I didn't have a running car. Usually tax return checks were used to buy replacements and gas money came from skipping lunch and using that lunch money, usually a buck, to buy 3 gallons of gas and a couple of candy bars to keep me going. Yeah, that was back in the latter half of the '60's.

That was truly a wonderful time to live in.
 

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That would be a great short story for Reader's Digest or a similar type magazine. It brought back memories for me.
 

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Yea me too, I rmrmeber the first bike I had and the "times" I ahd with it. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Wow! Cousin Jack has competition. Who'da thunk?
 

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Awesome,,,,,,,,,, Absolutely AWESOME!!!!

I felt like I was right there underfoot with ya Broke. You even had me breaking a sweat getting that "beauty" back home.

Don't kow if I"ve ever seen one of those before. But Man,,,,,,, wish I had one when I was ten. Hell,,,,,,,, wish I had one now.

Excellent write up Broke,,,,,,,,, have yourself a large koolaid on me,,,,,,,, in a real glass even ;)
 

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I'm late getting in here with my post.

I have been reading Broke's story from front to back, and then again.

I could feel the heat and the sweat :D, an awesome job Broke. Worthy of publication.

High quality material.
 

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chiefcherokee wrote:
Wow! Cousin Jack has competition. Who'da thunk?
Competition is good (unless it's for the love of your life.... and that's what they make Colt Combat Commanders for! :cheeky1::cheeky1:)...... No problem for me.......

Hey Broke! Get your pieces in the blog!
 

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Great story Broke,brings back memories ofthe dead bikesI've pushedhome in my day.Keep on writing, you have a hidden talent.

john
 

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Broke, the only thing I can add to what's already been said is this...

Would you PLEASE copy that into the bolg page? I'd love to see that one easily accessible just like CJ's stories.
 

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:clapper:Wonderful . Nothing like a kid and "new toy " :action:write on my friend
 

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I read the Whole thing Broke and its a masterpiece.....Had me living each moment.....Like I told Broke earlier about my first bike experiences....Not to detract from Brokes story, my first attempt at buying a bike was a Sears Moped.... AH sweet memories.....

Claude...
 

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God bless ol' Sam. I was feeling it! Nice story Broke,Every man on this forum can relate, awsome story, nice style. Makes a fella want to just stop a second, and think back to his own dream one special summer. Thanks bro. jimsjinx
 

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That's a good story, Broke, and well told.

I'm not surprised either, I've seen that spark in some of your other writings.
 

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MDKramer wrote:
Broke, the only thing I can add to what's already been said is this...

Would you PLEASE copy that into the bolg page? I'd love to see that one easily accessible just like CJ's stories.
I'd gladly put it there, alogn with a few others...But if it's not to presumtuous I'd like a new category created for them...Kinda like CJ has...

If somone could create it I'd really like it to be called "Redneck Ghost Rider's Garage; Broke Winger's Life on Two Wheels."

Or you could call it Broke Winger's Drivel.

I've been kicking around the idea of a colelction of short storis anyway...Just putting down two wheeled memories before I get to old or stupid to remember them anymore.

Anyway someone help me figure out how to do it. I already registered with word press...so..jus tneed some one to tell me how to do the rest.
 

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Excellent story Broke and worthy of publication somewhere, in the mean time regrding the blog,PM Tanygaer he will tell you how to put it in.

:clapper::clapper:
 
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