Once, in France, we were hammering hard on some Auto-route (freeway), trying to get back to Utrecht to sell the van back to the 300lb, dope-smoking, American expatriate hippy we had bought it from. We'd had a wonderful time in Europe, for eight weeks, a time that exceeded all our expectations, all our dreams -- but it was time to go home. I was tired of all the highway signs in a language I couldn't read, tired of how hard it was to get around, tired of the traffic and clutter.... I needed prairies and mountains and clear rivers, I needed to see my son again, I needed to go home.
Also needing diesel, we pulled the 86' VWWestfalia we'd lived in for two months into one of those Auto-route centers, similar to our truck stops, and parked it and cranked up the pump. Reddisappeared inside to use the facilities. After the tank was full, I replaced the hose and pulled the van away from the pump island to give others access. I shutthe vanoff and climbed out, needing to stretch my legs and get some air......... and I walked around the side of the building and watched as a girl came wheeling in off the freeway on a CBR600.
She was dressed in the full leathers customary to European riders, and I could tell she was young even from where Iwas standing. She was also skilled, and she swung the bike smoothly around and back pedalled it into a parking slot likeshe was on rails. She got off the bike, pulled off her race replica helmet, and bent over and shook out her mane of hair, and then straightened up and unzipped the top half of the leathers. She pulled the garment off her shoulders andlet it fall and bunch at her waist. She was wearing an elastic sportsbra, and she was flat, stone, gorgeous...... dark and bottomless, almondeyes, and a face-framing, web of shining hair. Algerian, maybe, I remember thinking.... She dug a pack of cigarettes from her tank bag and lit one up, sucking on it greedily, like people of sharp appetites do..... She swung toward me and for a full five seconds, she held me with her lovely eyes, and then sheturned them away. I was conscious of my growing paunch, my grey-hair, my half-century plus years of sunlight and storm, of joy and sorrow, and of every mark those years had put upon my face.......
"Yeah," I mumbled to myself. "Go ahead. Turn away, darlin'.... but there was a day when you wouldn't have.... there was a day when we would have had business, you and me.... my dark eyed, mystical-eyedbeauty. Believe it! Oh, you better believe it!"
I heard the van's horn honking behind the corner. My wife was ready, time to go. Time to go home.