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Moose

  • There was a time in my younger life when I lived off of my bike. Everything in the world that I owned was carried on my Iron-Head Harley Sporty. I landed in El Paso TX for a while and stayed there for a little over a month. Just enough time to earn Road Money so I could be on to the next Great Adventure. This is a tale from that time. 

    Hope ya like it.

    Moose

    By Jake Walker

     

    Jake was nursing a tepid draft beer and wondering why he would continue to sit here in the sweltering heat. The darkened interior of the roadhouse offered anonymity and a haven from the brutal desert sun. There were a few patrons that matched the bikes outside, playing pool or pinball or talking in close groups, while shooting guarded glances his way. This was a Club Bar and they were taking his measure, sizing him up.

    Jake was wearing oiled Levi’s, a ragged denim cutoff and a primary chain for a belt, sheath knife on the left, black leather wallet with chain and keys and a 45 Colt tucked in his belt. No colors on his back, but many run pins and patches adorned his cutoff. A wide black bandanna wrapped his head, Wayfarer shades perched above the bandanna and engineer boots completed the picture of a Road Tramp.

    “Barkeep, another cold Bud and don’t let this one evaporate as quick, K?” He grinned, drained the last of the piss-warm beer, grimaced at the acrid taste and filled his hand with the cold brew. He stood, stretched and yawned broadly and hollered “Let the party begin!” He hoisted his cold brew to the room and a ragged cheer answered. “What? Is this a party town or WHAT? Let the Party Begin!” This time there was a resounding reply and he grinned. ‘This just might work’ he said to himself.

    Jake meandered towards the back of the bar, rolled up to the Evel Knievel pinball machine and dropped his last four quarters into the slot. He then proceeded to beat the last 5 top scores… with one quarter. He was playing the game and listening to the muttering behind him. The top 5 scores fell and a manic insistence to conquer overcame him. When he finished his last quarter, the bar was silent.

    “That’s how ya do it!” Jake declared and was met with hostile stares. “What? That’s good shit Jackson!” He drained his brew, signaled the bartender for another and went to take a leak. While he was in the sour smelling men’s room, he heard someone open the door and readied himself for whatever might happen.

    The tramp stepped up to the urinal and said, “Those top scores were from Moose and he’s not gonna be happy you beat him. Nobody plays that game, except him.”

     “Really? Well I’ll just have to shake his hand and challenge him to a game!” Jake was feeling cocky and this Moose dude would just have to bow to his superior playing ability.

    “You probably won’t want to do that. He’ll just crush you, give ya a Skull Palm.” He chuckled an evil way and left the bathroom. Jake wasn’t worried, he had dealt with big men before and had usually come out ok. Him and Bull in St Louis had become friendly, if not true Friends.

    Jake wandered back to the pool tables, played a few games with mixed success and strolled over to the bar, shook a few hands and ordered another brew with his dwindling cash and sat looking towards the door. He knew that there was at least one patron that had called the Legendary Moose, about this ‘interloper’ that had beaten his score on the pinball machine. He was confident but cautious.

    Meanwhile, Moose had just been released from county lockup and found out his ol’ lady was seen running with a weasel. His house had been pillaged by persons unknown (it was later discovered that it was a club member and dealt with) and someone had stolen the battery from the only cage he owned! Which meant he had to ride his wicked custom-built chop with a 92 ci engine that had a mind of its own. When Turd called him about some road trash in the Club Bar, who had dumped his high scores on HIS pinball machine (he had bought it three months before at a swap meet and installed it in the bar), it was the topper to a piss-off day. When he rolled into the roadhouse, he was incensed, outraged and annoyed.

    “Holy shit.” Jake muttered under his breath. This was the biggest human he had ever seen, and he did Not look happy… Happy? He was murder incarnate. A chill swept through Jake and he wondered if he would come out of this alive. The Legendary Moose was around 6’10” or seven foot tall, he had to wrap himself around the door just to get in. He looked like he might weigh 400-450 lbs, corded muscles and thick arms gave way to a massive chest covered in thick black hair. Coarse black hair in a braid laid almost to his belt in back and his beard was wild, thick, black and swept back in a 90-mph blow-back.

     Jake gave himself a mental shake as he looked at the massive wall of pissed off biker stalking towards him. Moose was a good name because his muscled shoulders stretched the fabric tight on his cutoff, the seams of his jeans were similarly tortured, and his boots were black, enormous and would have served well as gun boats… with skulls. Some type of animal had been immortalized and mounted to his boots on the arch strap. There were two medium sized skulls that hung from his chain belt. Jake recognized it as two Harley primary chains welded together and of course a huge skull for the belt buckle.

     To his credit, Jake didn’t turn away or avert his eyes. When Moose locked eyes with him, he nodded and pointed to the tankard the barkeep had waiting for him.

    Moose grabbed the tankard, glared at Jake and downed it in one long gulp. He pushed it away and picked up the waiting replacement. He tossed off half of that, glowered at Jake and said, “Who the **** are you?”

    “Jake Walker, friends call me Edge.”

    “I ain’t yer Fukin Friend. I’m gonna call you… Jackass! Yeah that fits.” Moose fixed Jake with his best mean glare and Jake’s ‘waterworks’ almost let go. Up close and personal, Moose was ‘Oh Shit’ incarnate. An immense wall of muscle and attitude and he smelled pissed off!

    “Well, I’ve been called worse. Wanna play a game of pinball?” Jake grinned a sick, weak grin.

    “You pay, I’ll play.” Moose growled and then fixed Jake with a crazy stare and growled, “You’re the sumbitch who beat my score, ain’t ya?”

    “Yeah. If I’d known BEFORE I played, I would have left it alone.” Jake stated calmly and looked at the bar. “Anyway, ya wanna play?” Jake stood and turned towards the back. An insanely large hand descended onto Jake’s head and squeezed. “If ya kill me right now, you’ll have to deal with the cops…” Jake quipped.

    The pressure eased off and a deep chuckle came from the behemoth behind him. “You got some ball Jackass, ya know that?”

    “More balls than brains, I always say. C’mon, let’s play, four games and I’ll spot ya five thousand points. My last $10 bill sez I’ll beat you 2 outta 4!” Jake laughed manically and slapped Moose on the shoulder. Moose roared a laugh, clapped Jake on the shoulder (almost took him to his knees) and rumbled “You’re on Jackass!”

    The bar patrons that had been expecting blood and disfigurement were stunned. Silence followed the unlikely pair, while the jukebox bled the Stones ‘Get what you need’. Jake and Moose squared up and Jake said, “Heads or tails for first go.” “Heads” was the instant reply.

    Jake looked at the flipped quarter, it was Tails. “Heads goes first!” With a wry grin, Jake stepped out of the way and watched as his gigantic adversary proceeded to tilt the machine within 14 seconds. “Tough luck Moose. These new machines…”

    “Shut up and play Jackass!” Moose growled.

    Jake played very carefully, letting bonuses slide and then gutter-ball. He stepped aside and the game progressed as the folks in the cantina returned to their drinks. Jake heard the door creak open and looked up. He did a double take and looked again. Forty-something, 5’3”, 160 pounds soaking wet, balding, shaking and looking around the bar, kinda owley but determined. His Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts with Birkenstock sandals and white socks took a backseat to the 380 auto he clenched in his shaking hand.

    “YOU!” he screamed, looking towards them and then stormed across the bar.  Jake moved around the mountain of a man playing pinball, until he had good field of contact, loosened his 45 Colt and waited. Moose glanced at Caspar, snorted and returned to his game.

    The little man stalked up to the mountain and said “You’re ******* my ‘ol lady and I don’t like it. You have to stop, now!” He raised the 380 auto and fired, maybe 4’ from Moose’s head. Several things happened all at once. Moose roared and fell onto the pinball machine. Several patrons jumped on Caspar, removed his weapon and Jake put his pistol away. He had been a fraction of an inch from killing the little man. The pinball machine tilted and fell with a crash under the weight of Moose and he thought that was the end of the big man, he shoulda known better.

    There came a groan from the floor and Moose sat up! He had been shot, in the head, at short range… and he sat up! With a low growl he staggered to his feet and blood was streaming off the side of his thick skull. He grabbed Caspar by the top of his head and lifted him 8’ off the floor, shook him like a ragdoll and then carried him out the front door and tossed him into the parking lot.

    The hooch hounds had divested him of his 380. They dumped the mag, emptied it and threw it all out into the parking lot after him. That proved to be a mistake, as they found out just half hour later. He picked up all the cartridges and through his tears, managed to wipe off all the grit and reload his pistol. Now, at this time, Jake would have reevaluated and perhaps increased his firepower, but NO! Caspar was in love with a dancer, an exotic dancer who was sweet and beautiful and was the property of Moose.

    You could buy time with her, win her favors but she was ‘pledged’ to Moose. He knew where she got her money and she gave it all to him, that’s just the way it was. Caspar just couldn’t wrap his head around this concept. He wanted to free her from the life that Moose represented, even if she didn’t want to go. This was his downfall and is a lesson in life. Understanding a situation is often a life saver, even if you don’t like it.

    Moose and Jake had quit the pinball (Jake lost gloriously to his immense opponent) and were quaffing a cold brew (Moose’s treat). Jake was just starting to think he might have a chance at Hang Around status when the door creaked again and Caspar rocketed in, stopped 3’ away and shot Moose in the back of his armor-plated skull. Pandemonium ensued; Moose collapsed onto the bar, Jake pulled his 45 and would have ended Caspar’s pathetic life if it hadn’t been for the 6 bikers that dog-piled him and then the bartender dumped a glass of cold Budweiser on Moose’s head!

    With a roar that sounded like it had come from Hell itself, Moose sat up and stared at Jake. “Why the **** did you shoot me, Jackass?” he demanded.

    Jake tucked his 45 back into his belly holster and silently pointed at Caspar; at this point he was being held down on the floor by 4 pissed off booze hounds, was struggling and screaming in Swahili or some other bizarre language and Moose just stared at him.

    “Let him go. He’s mine.” At this point Moose was cross-eyed and bleeding profusely from where the bullet had entered his scalp (for the second time), collided with his concrete skull and been deflected by a combination of angle of entry, low bullet speed and power and sheer dumb luck.

    “Give his pistol back to him and make sure it’s loaded.” Moose had murder in his eye and the bar hounds slowly backed away. To his credit, Caspar didn’t beg or plead, he just took his pistol and faced the mountain. With a move so fast Jake only saw a blur, Moose picked up the little man by the throat and squeezed. It was over in moments and when he fell to the floor, silence reigned.

    “Alright! EVERYBODY OUT! That means you too Jackass. We don’t want anybody else here when the cops show up.” The bartender stowed his shotgun back under the bar and waved his hand in a shooing motion. The patrons quickly finished their drinks, grabbed their gear and headed for the door. The bartender handed Jake a card and said “You can crash at the clubhouse, for what you did here tonight. Ya done good Jackass.” Jake looked at the card and realized two things.

    The bartender was the Road Captain for the club and Jake might have a good chance at being accepted as Hang Around. He needed work so he could get his Road Stash replenished and being accepted by a local club meant he was less likely to have problems while living and riding in a strange town.

    Jake thought it had been a good day. He had met the largest human that he had ever seen, watched a man get shot in the head, twice, been a party to a man’s death at the end of said large human’s arm, been invited to stay at the clubhouse of the local MC and had a new riding name. Jackass… It fit.

     

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