II — On the edge of a main highway
On the edge of a main highway that runs through a small desert town. Chevron parking space and flat front shops. It’s bike week. A million bikers take over the town and parade. That’s it: they parade. They drink at night and hit each other sometimes. A biker comes up to me and explains how he’s been raggedy for a long long time. I tell him he’s meant to look like that. In the day time the bikers get up – eventually – and parade. This involves getting on the bike, revving the engine loud enough so that everyone knows you’re about to parade. You don’t rev it so much that you throw a piston. You rev it enough to harvest a few glances; start the little parade going. You allow enough time for a few more people to stop expectantly. This isn’t an unexpected ‘I really can’t imagine what will happen next’, expectation. It’s part of the parade. If you’ve left your bike in a choice position then you can drop the gear shift, let out the clutch, give it the throttle and bang it straight out onto the main drag. You slip around on the seat a little; a bit to the left. A bit back to the right. You’re making it look like you’re easing yourself down as one with a horse and galloping out of town in the Good Old Days. You may crick your neck a bit to the right and a bit to the left. It’s all part of the parade. True: it does feel like you’re doing it to become one with the machine and get your mind extended round those gears. It’s actually part of the parade. It takes about ten minutes – along with the millions of other bikers doing the parade- to complete the circuit. That is: you go up to the north of the town where the buildings slowly drip out into the desert, you swing round the back road that takes you past the base of the old mine, you pop in the south end of town. You parade. The narrower side streets all running off at right angles present an alternative and sometimes you can watch a chopper chug up to the north of town, watch it reappear out the street behind you, cross the main drag, break off right, pop back down from the north. So on and so on. There’s nowhere to go but what you really want to achieve is this feeling of going somewhere. Having people see you are going somewhere and going there with a purpose. A really important purpose. This purpose is more than visiting a long lost friend on a thousand mile road trip. It’s not the long ride to your Father’s funeral. It’s something else. None of the bikers know what the purpose is. So they parade in lieu of the purpose; a place marker. They parade sitting down watching other bikers’ parade in slow-ish motion. You can watch a biker haul himself up from a patch outside the central bank, breath in deeply. Stretch his self a little to the right. Crick his neck to the left. Let out a sigh which you might expect from one of the Old Timer’s going out to face something he doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to. Maybe a couple of passing bikers, already with the parade, anticipate a space for him to step into. You can watch him head up the main drag to the north, wait a while. He pops out behind you down one the right angle side streets. You can watch him wait for a lull in the parading bikes. He crosses the main drag and vanishes down past the central Post Office. He’ll pop out some time and somewhere later. That’s about it. The parade lasts a week, like I said.