Published on January 1st, 2019 | by Boris0
TALES OF THE NIKEN – EPISODE 4
In which our hero finds himself in the company of an outlaw in a country pub in the dark days before Christmas, whereupon he is compelled to ask the small crowd of tattooed brutes who came out to look at the Niken if any of them were interested in taking him to a dance that evening.
“I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole.
No-one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried”
Towering thunderheads crept across the sky towards me. Vast, purple-grey, gravid with rain and livid with lightning. The Niken and I did not have long to go, and I was confident I’d get to where I was going before Rainmageddon began.
As this city boy was discovering, that’s the thing about living out here. There’s not a lot of traffic and distances to places are normally measured in time rather than kilometres. And on a motorcycle, your right hand condenses time quite well.
In the days before Christmas, I had been exploring the back roads joining the Golden Highway with the New England Highway and enjoying them immensely. I had certainly condensed some time upon them while the Highway Patrol was busy eating Maccas and looting the main roads.
On this evening I was on my way to the Neath Hotel to catch up with my brother, Alice, who happens to be one of those dastardly declared enemies of the state the police are forever hounding. Both of us knew what could happen at any time when he appeared in public, but neither of us live cheerfully under the jackboot – and I will certainly not be told with whom I can associate.
That aside, it was crucial Alice beheld the Niken, Your Honour.
I’m the kind of bloke who doesn’t care how sausages are made. I cook them, I eat them, and I do not seek to discover what animal has been pureed to make them so tasty.
My brother Alice is the other kind of bloke. Not only does he demand to know what animal is being forced through the grinder, but he will seek to know where the animal had been grazing, and whether it had been massaged by the soft hands of pretty girls to make it happy (and therefore more delicious) before the pointed hog-maul strikes and sends it twitching to the scalding tank and de-hairing machine.
And Alice knows many things. And I like people who know many things. They make for great company.
It was a very warm Hunter Valley evening as I pulled up in front of the Neath Hotel – a large, Old School edifice of beer, with (because it was a tad warm) a small crowd of Old School beer drinkers arrayed out the front, my brother Alice among them.
“Guess I’m about to find out just how gay this Niken is,” I muttered to myself as I pulled up in front of the front corner door. I would have caused less of a stir had I arrived with a dead buzzard draped sensually across my shoulders and a mariachi band following behind.
“What the fuck is that?”
“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life!”
“That is amazing – seriously amazing.”
Alice was a little more circumspect.
“Wow,” he said and immediately started peering at the front-end.
The small crowd moved hesitantly closer to the Niken, perhaps concerned I would force myself upon them in a lewd act of homosexual abandon.
I answered the usual questions instead.
“Yes, it wheelies. Yes, it leans like a bike. Yes, it has far more grip at the front than a normal bike. No, it’s not a BMW. No, I did not make it. Yamaha did.”
They all peered at the front-end. The publican came out, and rather than tell me to move the Niken away from the front of his pub, he asked me what it was like to ride.
I told him. The assembled crowd listened. Some nodded in understanding.
“Do any of you think it is gay, or that I am gay?” I asked. I figured if anyone was going to tell me I was hot and ask me for a dance, it had to be one of these brutes. A country pub’s Gaydar is the finest in the world.
They all started laughing.
“Mate,” one of them said, “It looks mad and you don’t look gay, but I don’t care if you are.”
That settled, they slowly drifted off. Alice and I engaged with the Niken.
People tend to forget one percenters are first and last, motorcyclists. Hardcore motorcyclists. Sure, there are recent additions to the lifestyle who are more Nike than bikie, but blokes who have been in clubs for decades are all motorcycle nuts.
And Alice is all of that.
“I’ve been hanging to see this,” he said. “It’s fascinated me. I’ve watched all the YouTube videos and I kinda get that front-end. It’s an amazing piece of technology.”
“It amazes me every time I ride it.”
“So it’s just like a normal bike?”
I nodded. “Except for the front-end. It’s better there than a lot of motorcycles.”
“Well how could it not be?” Alice observed. “It’s physics.”
“It certainly confronts the eye though, doesn’t it?”
Alice grinned, and said something that really resonated.
“Apart from the engineering, that’s why I like it so much. It’s so damn different. It’s so…so…”
“That’s it!” he laughed. “I reckon you like it because it upsets people.”
It was my turn to laugh. My brother knows me because he is my brother.
“Well, it wasn’t that to begin with,” I said. “I genuinely think it’s a great concept brilliantly executed. But some people hate it…”
“Fuck them,” Alice shrugged.
“Not literally, of course,” I said.
“Not unless they’re really hot,” he replied.
I nodded. “If they’re hot, then all bets are off.”
I rode home much later that evening along damp, deserted roads. The odd house was festooned with Christmas lights. The storm had passed and the night was soft and warm with a young summer.
The Niken looked even more crazy under street lights. I stopped and took some bad photos of it.
Then I grew a pair and turned the traction control off.
What the Highway Patrol doesn’t know won’t hurt it none.