Monday, May 16, 2011
Sheriff Otis T. Busby tsked as he ambled around the motorcycle. The big mook in the leather jacket gripped the handlebars so hard his knuckles whitened, and ground his ugly teeth but didn’t say anything. His girl, a petite, curly-haired blonde, clung to his back and watched Busby out of huge, nervous eyes.
“Wellnow,” Busby drawled. “We got us a problem here. You know what it is, biker boy?”
Biker Boy didn’t answer. From the look of him, he sure wouldn’t mind sinking those tusks of his into Busby’s neck. Busby’s eyes narrowed. A lot of residents in Talbot’s Peak looked at him like they’d like to take a piece out of him with their teeth. Sometimes he could swear he heard them growl. Must be something in the water.
“I asked you a question, biker boy.” He let his hand fall to his nightstick. He didn’t like bikers, he didn’t like biker gangs, and he sure as shootin’ didn’t like it when he talked to somebody and they didn’t answer him. The girl wasn’t talking either. That only ticked him off more.
The slam of the patrol car door distracted him. Officer Gordon hurried over. Gordon was new to the Talbot’s Peak force, and on ridealong with Busby until he learned the lay of the land. Busby didn’t wave him off. He could probably handle the biker himself, but it never hurt to have backup.
“Excuse me.” Gordon nodded briefly to the sheriff before he addressed the biker. “You’re Porker, right?” The big biker eyed him warily out of small, piggy eyes before offering up a curt nod. “Thought so. You don’t have to say anything. Look, it’s – well, it’s the helmet laws. You and any passengers you carry around have to wear helmets. That’s why we stopped you. It’s for your own safety.”
The biker sneered his opinion of helmets and helmet laws. “And hers,” Gordon added, indicating the blonde. The biker’s smile disappeared.
All three turned their heads toward Busby. “Yeah, that’s it,” he snarled. “You know what happens to a head if it hits the pavement at 60 miles an hour? It isn’t pretty, and I hate filling out the paperwork. The next time I see you two on a bike, you better have helmets on or you’re getting citations.”
He stalked back to the car. Gordon trotted after him. Busby shot the patrol car off the berm, leaving the biker and his girl in a splash of gravel.
# # #
Porker glared after the cop car’s retreating taillights. He had no use for cops. Calling them “pigs” was an insult to pigs, and he didn’t like being insulted. Worst of all, the cops had upset Mary. He felt her trembling against his back and squeezed her shoulders to reassure her. She stared up at him and mouthed a silent What was that about?
Porker pulled a small tablet and pen from his jacket pocket. He was still learning to sign, and his stutter made lipreading difficult for her. The pad offered an acceptable stopgap. She nodded at his printed Fucking helmet laws and looked at him expectantly.
Yeah. What now? He had a helmet with him; it kept the cops off his ass if he got stopped, like now. But only the one. That got Mary off the hook, but wouldn’t save him from a ticket if they spotted him again.
He handed her the helmet and wrote out his reasoning. Cops think you’ll split your skull. When she looked at his own bare head, he scoffed. He’d take his chances, with the road and the cops. What did people think he was, a pussy?
Slowly Mary smiled. She passed back the helmet and slid off his bike. She started removing her clothing. Porker’s brows climbed. Not that he didn’t object to a wallow, but right here at the side of the road?
Then he realized what she had in mind, and his face split in a slop-eating grin. See what the cops had to say about this!
# # #
“You’re too nice to people,” Busby snapped at Gordon the second they were in the car. “Especially these people. Something weird’s going on in Talbot’s Peak. It used to be a normal town with normal people in it. Now it’s all … weird.”
Busby rapped his hand against the steering wheel. “It’s nothing I can put a finger on. Time was, all I had to worry about was some drunk cowboys on Saturday night. Now we got biker gangs and UFO sightings and a sex club out in the woods. I don’t even want to talk about the newspaper. I think the editor’s on drugs or something.” He shook his head. “It’s like they’re animals.”
“I doubt if it’s that bad.”
“You haven’t been out here long enough to remember the old days.” He shot Gordon a sharp look. “Just why are you here? Weren’t you in Denver before?”
“I don’t like cities. I like Montana. The woods and the mountains suit me.”
And your buddy Wayne’s here, Busby thought sourly. The state authorities had strongly suggested he add Gordon to his team. He smelled Wayne money and Wayne influence behind it. Well, that didn’t cut any ice with Otis T. Busby. In his opinion, the Peak’s slide into weirdness had started when old Johann came over from Austria and got in that feud with the Hancocks. Now they had that Khan asshole stirring up shit. Damn furriners.
The growl of a motorcycle overtook the rumble of the cruiser’s engine. Busby glanced in the rear view. “Well, lookie here.” He slowed deliberately to let the biker pass. His grin had its own feral quality to it. “You better have a helmet on, boy.”
The cycle whizzed past them. The biker did indeed have a helmet on. He also had a bighorn sheep seated behind him. The bighorn had its forelegs hooked around his waist. The bike roared down the road and disappeared.
Busby nearly spun out. The cruiser ended up on the side of the road with its right-side wheels in the runoff ditch. “What the freaking hell was that?” Busby squeaked.
“Biker with a helmet on,” Gordon said calmly.
“I mean what was that on the bike with him!”
“The bighorn? She'll be okay. They’ve got heads like concrete. If they take a spill, those horns would probably do more damage to the road than vice versa. You want to cite them anyway?”
“What, give a ticket to a sheep?”
“It’s your jurisdiction.”
“How do you know the bighorn’s a she?”
Gordon shrugged. “She’s riding on the back, isn’t she?”
Busby peered at him closely. Like the man said, weird. The weird was best left alone. Busby transferred his stare to the road, after the now-vanished motorcycle. “I’m sure that constitutes animal cruelty … somehow. We’ll let it go this time. But if I catch that guy again, with or without his sheep, I’m giving him a ticket on principle.”
“If you say so.”
“Yeah. I say so.” Busby restarted the car. Talbot’s Peak. It used to be such a nice, quiet place. Not for the first time, he contemplated retirement.
Posted by Pat C.