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Smoke rose from the cigarette in my mouth. It burned my eyes, transforming the setting sun before me from orange to a pale brown. I wasn't a smoker, but the alcohol coursing through my veins drove me to stop and buy a pack. I stood in front of the 7-11, smoking and staring at the sun.
My wife lay on the road, her motorcycle in pieces beside her.
A taxi driver stood nearby smoking a cigarette, oblivious to how a sound had saved his life.
Hold on, Gilby said. Let me grab the sheets.
Don't rush, I told him as he limped from his family's guest room.
It had been one year since Gilby's motorcycle accident. His left leg was broken when a man driving a pickup truck pulled in front of him, and Gilby, unable to stop his bike in time, hit the side of the truck. The man fled, and Gilby was left with a shattered tibia...
Great acts of heroism are chronicled in the annals of history. Divine acts of charity elicit sainthood in religion. Breakthrough acts of intelligence warrant the Nobel Prize in science. Then there are the outstanding acts of stupidity. These must be cherished and remembered, kept alive through stories told among friends on barstools and by campfires. They are the glue that bonds buddies together.
Folks can spot somebody "cool." Not counterfeits, like the cocky jock masking insecurity or the greasy hipster generating image. But a person who is entirely themselves; true to their nature in every manner. One who makes their own code and lives by it unapologetically. Maybe that person is the misunderstood actor who smokes aloofly, drives cars fast, and dies young. Or maybe it is someone closer to home, like the stoic girl tending the neighborhood bar. Either way, they stand out. They are often emulated. And they are rare.
Wildlife changes from one side of North America to the other. Not just the type of animals, but each species itself. Squirrels, for instance, are mostly grey on the east coast, but brown in the west. In places with large amounts of snowfall, they can even be white. The squirrel's fur color and other physical attributes formed over thousands of years in response to their environment. Such adaptations are how animals survive. Yet some creatures defy Darwin's logic, evolving in ways that seem worthless, or even detrimental to their existence, leaving us to wonder how they came to be.
Riding a motorcycle across the country you stumble into fascinating folks. Some are simply standouts from the crowd who tickle a fancy and make us smile, then fade into the dormant vaults of memory. But others are complete outliers; true anomalies. The ones who become embedded in our consciousness, emerging from time to time when mood or surroundings invoke them. They are the fascinating characters who enter our lives as a natural result of wandering.
An abandoned coal mine stood within riding distance of my house as a kid. It was a huge trench thirty feet deep, fifty feet wide and about two hundred feet long. The sides were steep with trails that ran between adolescent maple and oak trees, re-growth from clear cutting done decades before. Along the trench floor rusted steel relics of the coal industry jutted from the dirt here and there in tribute to forgotten endeavors. Motorcycle riders would drop in one side of the trench, fly down the trails to the bottom, then climb the other side. With enough momentum, they would launch off the lip of the exiting side jumping ten or fifteen feet in the air.
While Chop Cult is a photo-heavy site, we do enjoy a good read once in a while. Dr. Kevin Moore has been crafting some entertaining and well-written motorcycle misadventures, and we will share them with you from time to time. So, shelve that internet-born short attention span and go old school for a few minutes.
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