Comrades in Arms

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Comrades in Arms

Postby Rench » Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:17 pm

This is a story which actually runs parallel to the well-documented Life and Times of Christina the Sportster-Diva, started in almost the same instant over 13 years ago now. It is, in truth, as much about 2 guys who were suddenly on the terrifying precipice of adulthood, neither with any plan for it, as it is about a Harley or a Ural. The true beginning was a lie. The kind of lie a true friend will tell their counterpart to keep them hanging on for another minute, another day, another week.

We were standing in a Harley dealer in northern Palatine, the town I did most of my growing up in, tried to leave, and crashed back into, hard. After 4 years, instead of a college degree, I had a dismissal letter. The home I came back to was a shell cluttered with boxes, my old man living alone there, disappointed at my unsuccessful return.

This was pre-100th anniversary, pre-gentrification Harley. There were more bikes than T-shirts, the parts guys all had nicknames and greasy shirts, and the mechanics freely smoked wherever (and after hours, likely whatever) they wanted. There were shiny new models lined up with the gently used ones, and I didn't know a thing about any of them. Just that I didn't like who I was right then, and the me I wanted to be rode a motorcycle. Even then I didn't fancy myself a 3-patch tough guy, but someone who could have a more symbiotic and organic relationship to a machine. I just wanted to not be where I was, and in these beautiful metallic creatures I saw simplicity, raw truth, and an inherent ability to escape, or at least make forward progress, which I had been lacking for some time. My best friend said to me that we would. We would escape this grinding entropy, that we would move ahead in life; that we would buy a couple of bikes and ride wherever they could take us.

He was lying, of course. To this day he denies any memory of the conversation, and the amount we were both drinking back then, it's somewhat amazing I do. He was, and remains, far too academic to go thundering down the road on a universally accepted suicide machine. But after he said the words, I went home that night and made a plan. I totaled all my debt for the first time in my life. I started making something other than minimum payments. Every month I'd write the new, lower total on a card and hang it on my bedroom door so I could see that I was accomplishing something. I got a lot of shit together over the next few years, and then, finally, I walked into a dealership with no debt and told them exactly what I wanted, putting down the ordering funds in cash.

And my friend? Nowhere to be seen. He swore up and down it would kill his mother dead if she ever saw him on a bike. It was about this time he started denying entirely his simple pep-talk that actually got me on track for the first time ever.

Weeks went by, I was impatiently waiting for the delivery of my Christina (again, documented in all it's drama elsewhere), and the footnote that always got lost in her grandiose story was my best friend calling me back to his computer one night. Telling me this is it. If I was going to have some damn motorcycle, this is the thing he would ride alongside me in, and he pulled up a picture of some antique military thing. It looked about 60 years old, had a sidecar, and then I saw the punchline: it was Russian.

You see, despite being closer than brothers since high school, we were ridiculously opposite. We must've looked like an obscene young adult sitcom piece between our polar opposite views, appearances, priorities, and never-ending bickering. So when I bought the living breathing, stereotypical symbol of Americana, he found a modern manufacturer of Russian military motorcycles: Ural.

The problem was, it was cool. The thing looked awesome. I had no idea if, when, or where one could even find them, but he, as he often does to this day, planted a seed in my mind.

Over the next decade, we went from roommates, to housemates, to best men, to fathers, to now neighbors. And as anyone my age can attest to with shame if not deep sorrow, we seem to have lost something in all that. We used to play a sega genesis drinking whatever mixed with alcohol until 3 AM, sleep, work, repeat. Now, we live literally 2 blocks from eachother (and not city blocks mind you, nice little suburban blocks), and see eachother monthly at best, if planned 1-2 weeks head of time. And while I never try to diagnose anyone of anything, his mood the last few months (years?) seems, well, stuck.

So last month, I pulled up in his driveway in a Ural. Now, a few weeks prior I had shown him a picture, and reminded him of his second promise, and he actually smiled, "yeah, I'll learn to ride that..." But I have to admit, due to our neverending contrary nature, I fully expected a near battle on my hands with an inevitable loss at the end. So when I pulled up and told him to grab a jacket (it was 7*F out the day it was delivered), I was absolutely shocked when he did, and was scrambling to put his shoes on. A few turns around the block and he was actually smiling. Admittedly, there was no safety gear involved, but we were yelling back and forth over the 15 mph wind and laughing about it.

It got put away for the remainder of the winter, waiting for funds to actually register it and proper weather to break in the motor. Lo and behold, today was near 60* in Chicago! And payday to boot!

I texted this time, expecting no positive answer, that it's time to break the motor in a little, so I was leaving on a 40 mile jaunt using a favorite restaurant of his as a turnaround point and another friend of ours following on his own bike. I was shocked not that he said no, but that he said it with honest and believable regret. That he would want to but had gotten behind at work.

Now, my being drawn to the bike was a combination of genuine curiosity, but there's a measurable amount of one-upmanship as well. But there's more. All those years ago, I needed a lie. Someone had to tell me something I wanted to hear to break my stagnation, truth being irrelevant. In that decade, using that lie as a kickstart, I've become who and what I wanted to be. I think I'm coming up on a chance to return that favor. Maybe The best way will be to hold him to some variation of the truth. I saw a smile on that trip around the block the other day. One reminiscent of the one I used to see when we'd spend hours, hours, playing Frisbee and busting balls.

I'm not sure if I will get him further than a parking lot in the pilot seat. But just doing something new, something different, I think is going to be good. Maybe, with a Russian sidecar and 2 wheel drive, I can pull him along like he did me.

-Rench
"I'm not a schemer..."

"Do you know why it's illegal to put gasoline in a glass container?" - Piccinni
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby calamari kid » Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:49 pm

Nice. Some interesting parallels with the friend who finally got me onto a bike, and our relationship.
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby AZRider » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:28 pm

Rench, you need to write for a larger audience. Seriously. I hack shit together and magazines print it. You write the most awe-inspiring tours of the brain and balls of a man living his life that I have ever read.
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby Mk3 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:21 pm

Put some doggles on on that little uber-dem and throw him in the hack. Bring him to DOOM, I'll truck it up there and continue to truck it w/DG in tow, just to see that space monkey in a hack for 12 road hours. Hell maybe we can get him back in leather shirts too (no weird stuff, he used to wear leather clothes that looked normal-ish).
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby DerGolgo » Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:53 am

AZRider wrote:Rench, you need to write for a larger audience. Seriously. I hack shit together and magazines print it. You write the most awe-inspiring tours of the brain and balls of a man living his life that I have ever read.


I agree, entirely.
Which is why I announcified it, so it's on NotTheFrontpage now.
Great story!
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby Pattio » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:23 am

Rench that was a good read, thanks. I was just reading another of the threads on the Ural, the one about learning the riding dynamics on-the-fly, and thinking "Some people really have a gift for seeking out new experiences and having adventurous moments that are surprisingly close to home". This piece is a reminder that what we sometimes see as small from a distance, like someone 'trying a new thing', may really be the tip of an iceberg, visible only because of an old, massive, unseen bulk that pokes it to the surface.

There is so much to be said, or perhaps unsaid, when it comes to looking at a motorcycle and thinking about what it would be like to ride it, for the thought of who you might like to ride it with.
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby Rench » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:05 am

Update: took my buddy out for his first "lesson" today. After about 20 minutes of circles, shifting, and figure 8's, he asked if there was a bigger parking lot around somewhere. :mrgreen:

He's going to get his permit this week, then out on the roads in the next week or two. I mentioned giving one of the two-wheeled ones a throw later this summer, and he didn't argue. As I explained the controls he was focused on whether certain aspects were standard or hack-specific.

It was a good time like I haven't had in a while.

-Rench
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"Do you know why it's illegal to put gasoline in a glass container?" - Piccinni
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby DerGolgo » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:08 am

Ah. So you have moved him to the acute phase of the disease. Good, good, very good :evil:
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby Jaeger » Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:46 pm

Image

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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby Mk3 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:17 am

phpBB [media]


He's getting a permit!? I hope goose is coming to DOOOOM, we're going to need a lawyer.

I can scarcely fathom what he will end up riding, probably one of those snail things, but whatever, bring on the alcohol and horrible jokes.
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby 2XSL » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:27 am

is registration expensive out there
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby rhinoviper » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:30 pm

DerGolgo wrote:
AZRider wrote:Rench, you need to write for a larger audience. Seriously. I hack shit together and magazines print it. You write the most awe-inspiring tours of the brain and balls of a man living his life that I have ever read.


I agree, entirely.
Great story!


I concur wholeheartedly. Great read, and I'm glad to hear about the progress!
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Re: Comrades in Arms

Postby wyckedsin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:58 am

I know a good editor. And can ask around as to who a good e-Pub would be to use. Here, this is a company looking for Flash and Short Story submissions this month:

http://firesidefictioncompany.com/submissions/

Submissions

Fireside will be open to submissions of flash fiction and short stories from June 1 through June 30th (11:59pm Eastern time). The address to send stories to will be posted here on the 1st. Please DO NOT send us stories before then; they will be deleted unread.

We plan to be open to submissions several times a year going forward. We’re currently planning to be open in September and January.

Lengths and payment

Fireside is seeking original, previously unpublished flash fiction of 1,000 words or less and original, previously unpublished short stories of 1,000 to 4,000 words. (Firm limit.) We pay 12.5 cents per word, with payment on completion of edits. We buy first world publication rights and six-month exclusivity, as well as the right to reprint the story once, non-exclusively, in a Fireside anthology.

What we are looking for

Fireside’s goal is to publish great storytelling, regardless of genre. What do we mean by great storytelling? We want stories that go somewhere, with plot and a beginning, middle, and end. We’re not looking for character studies or metafiction or hallucinatory visions. (We LIKE those things; it’s just not what we publish in Fireside.)

I’ll let Neil Gaiman say it again, as I have in our Kickstarters. This is from his introduction to his “Stories” anthology, writing of his response to a question about what quote he would want inscribed on the wall of the kids’ section in a public library. He captured the reason why we love good stories in his response:

I’m not sure I’d put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface. I think I’d just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I’d put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show it’s working, and that pages will be turned:

“and then what happened?”

And yes, we seriously mean any genre. We have published sci-fi, horror, romance, crime, fantasy, Westerns, near-future, and modern non-speculative fiction. The stories were all terrific, and we are looking for more of those and from all the many genres we haven’t explored. Just tell us a good story.

Vague? A little. But we think it’s exciting, too. No two issues of Fireside have the same feel, and we hope that makes every issue a little more surprising. If you’re not quite sure if your story fits, please send it and our editors can decide.

If you want to get an idea of what we’re looking for, Issues One, Two, Three, and Four are available for free. (Issue Four was the first issue in our current format, featuring flash and short stories, along with a serial.)

Diversity

Fireside wants to reflect the endless array of diversity in the world. We welcome stories from all writers, and we are especially interested in stories including (but not limited to) the lives, experiences, and viewpoints of women, people of color, QUILTBAG people, people with disablities, members of religious minorities, and people outside the United States. We strongly encourage submissions from people of those backgrounds, and all others whom traditional publishing has historically excluded.

What about sex, violence, and profanity?

Sexual content is ok, but we are not a market for erotica. We are also fine with profanity and violence. We’re not looking for gratuitous violence, though. And stories containing sexual violence will be an extremely hard sell; think hard about whether it’s something your story needs to have, and if you need to show the violent act.

What we aren’t looking for

Comics. Poetry. Non-fiction. Fan fiction. Simultaneous submissions (stories that you have sent to other publications and have not gotten a response on). Multiple submissions (please send us no more than one story for each category, flash and short stories).

How this works, and response times

We have a team of readers looking at stories as they are submitted, and they pass the stories they like on to editor Brian White for final consideration. Because of the crowdfunded nature of Fireside, any stories sent on to Brian have the names removed.

We are aiming to respond to all submissions within 30 days of receiving them.

More questions?

If there’s something I haven’t addressed here, please feel free to email me at brian@firesidemag.com. (Please do NOT send submissions here. Any stories sent to this address will be deleted unread.)


Throw something together, and submit it. Get Paid for Writing! You have the skills, and the insomnia, put that shit in your Wallet!
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