Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
Flathead-- From 1920 through 1969, Flathead Indians and Harleys were a major force in American motorcycling.
Up until I met Candy, there were only two things in my life of any value: the 1946 Flathead that my father gave me, and the 1917 Navy Luger that my grandfather brought back after World War 2.
I wasn't what you would call an ambitious fellow. I usually went with the flow and always took the easy way out. Now, don't get the wrong impression as I was not a wimp in any sense of the word, but I wasn't an in-your-face bully, either.
I enjoyed the pleasures of many a friendly young lady over the last few years, and I was usually able to sweet talk one of the better ones out of the bar before closing time. That means that I didn't end up with the coyote leftovers. None of them, however, were interesting enough for me to want to establish any kind of relationship, until I went to Vegas.
When I was not picking up girls at bars, I was beating my kidneys to death on the top of some type of earth-moving equipment. It didn't take me long to get familiar with anything made by Caterpillar or their competitors. I had all the work I could handle and the money was good.
In no time at all, I was able to buy a small house with a garage for my precious flathead. The Ford F150 pick-up stayed out in the rain, but my baby got to be inside all by herself. Granddad's Luger was safely locked in the bedroom gun cabinet along with a small collection of miscellaneous rifles, shotguns, and some black powder pieces. It was a nice little cottage and I always brought my conquests there to consummate my nightly relationships.
My downfall came in the middle of January. Work was a little slow, so a few buddies and me grabbed a special casino flight out of Philly to Vegas. I forgot the rule: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
Candy came from somewhere South of Huntsville, but North of Birmingham. I never could remember the name of the place. I don't know if it was her blonde hair or her beautiful, plastic boobs, but I fell in love the first time I saw her. What cinched the deal was that she made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. When I was with Candy, I felt like I was handsome, smart, and strong. All of a sudden, I was the world's greatest lover. I don't know if it was the booze or the neon lights, but I had to have this woman. My collection wouldn't be complete without her. I came home with a new wife and a new tattoo.
Things were great for the next several months. Warm weather came and Candy and I started riding every weekend. Of course, I spent more time keeping the Harley running, than riding it, but that was the joy of it. I was just starting to feel comfortable with my newest acquisition when things fell apart.
The Pig Pit was not the best place to take a woman like Candy, but I was feeling confident in my ability to take care of her. I had been to this rat-hole several times, and had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I felt that we could have a good time, if I kept my cool, and if I was ready to leave when things got nasty. The first two hours were fine and then nasty arrived, in the form of a hairy giant named Butter. Candy ended up dancing a few times with Butter and it seemed to me that she was starting to be a little too friendly. Candy was a flirt, but this was not the proper place for it. I had been trying to pace my drinking, and I was still sober enough to know that there was no way in heaven that I could handle this monster if things got out of hand. It was time to leave.
Candy was having a good time and did not want to go home. I finally had to take her by the arm and gently walk her out of the place. Of course, my loving wife was complaining the whole time: loud enough for the whole bar to hear her. We just made it to the truck, when somebody grabbed my arm. It was Butter and he was not smiling. For some stupid reason, I took a swing at him and that was all I remembered.
Okay, I know all the clichés. The first thing I noticed was the garbled voices on the speaker system and the constant ding-ding noises, alerting people to something or other. It was all there. The puke-green walls and the fluorescent lights. I was alone in the damned room and I was in pain. The sunlight coming through the window told me that it was daytime. The trouble was that I could only see the light through my right eye. My left eye was swollen shut. I found myself taking inventory. My lip hurt, and it felt like I was missing a tooth or two. I quickly discovered that it was not a good idea to take a deep breath. My whole mid-section was wrapped up like a mummy. Something was wrong with my right hand and when I raised it up, I discovered four fingers wrapped up with steel braces. That was when it all came back to me. I remembered using that hand to hit a big ugly mother in the face. To round things out, there was some kind of a cast on my left foot. I assumed that my ankle got messed up when everything else happened.
Sometimes, I astound myself with my brilliance. I rapidly came to the conclusion that I did something dumb, and ended up getting the shit kicked out of myself. I also had to piss. Using my superior deductive skills, I found the call button by the headboard.
"Oh, I see you are up, Mister Tyrell. Nice to have you back with the real world. How are you feeling?" Nurse Gleason looked like a stereotypical hospital worker, just out of a TV sitcom. She wasn't frumpy, but she wasn't trying too hard to go the other way either.
"I feel like you are going to be very, very, mad at me if I don't get a bed pan, ASAP."
It hurt like hell, but at least I was able to relieve myself with a little help. My angel of mercy took care of the task at hand as if she had done it a thousand times before, and I am sure she did.
"Where the hell is my wife?"
"She and her gentleman friend went home several hours ago. We didn't expect you to come around till later today."
"What gentleman friend?"
She gave me a slightly inquisitive look. "A big guy, who looked like a biker."
Gentleman friend? That's the son-of-a-bitch that beat the crap out of me. He should be in jail. What the hell is Candy doing going home, or anywhere else with him? My momentary aggravation did not help the pain radiating from my chest area.
"Can somebody explain exactly what the hell is wrong with me, and get me some damn pain pills of any kind."
I hated taking pain pills because they made me nauseous as hell. Right now, nausea was the preferred alternative. The available doctor looked like he came from Bombay, but he did speak perfect English and seemed to know what he was talking about. He covered everything in about twenty minutes and promised me that I could go home as soon as I could use the toilet facilities unassisted. I didn't have any toilet facilities at home, but I did have a bathroom. An hour later, Nurse Gleason removed the drip from my arm and brought me a walker. I waited until she had left and then I figured out how to swing out of the bed and make my way to the 'toilet facilities, ' where I painfully, had a much-needed dump. Squeezing your bowels with three cracked ribs is not fun.
Three hours later, my loving wife showed up with her gentleman escort.
Butter stood quietly by the doorway as I endured my wife's gushing for almost five minutes. I really didn't hear a word she was saying. Finally, she paused to catch her breath. "What the hell is he doing here? Why isn't that son-of-a-bitch in jail, and what are you doing with him?"
It was then that I realized that Candy's brain was not nearly as developed as her body. Three questions in a row were more than she could handle. She was so wrapped up in apologizing for causing the problem, that she hadn't thought any further. She stood there, frustrated.
"Let's start all over. Why isn't he in jail?" Butter was avoiding eye contact with me.
Candy finally was able to put a few words together. "The police said they couldn't arrest him unless we pressed charges. They said that you started it, because you struck the first blow."
"What the hell are you taking about? He grabbed me while I was protecting my wife."
"Yes, but he didn't know I was your wife. Butter thought you were dragging me out of the Pig Pit against my will. He was trying to protect me from you. When he tried to stop you, you hit him."
"Is that what you told the police?"
"Well, yeah. It was the truth and I couldn't lie to them."
"Do you mean to tell me that he can beat the crap out of me and get away with it? Couldn't you have at least charged him with excessive force?"
Candy just looked at me with a quizzical expression on her face and nodded.
"I am sorry man. I didn't know she was your wife. I'll make it up to you, I promise." Butter seemed to feel some kind of obligation to explain his actions.
"How the hell are you going to make it up to me?"
"I am going to take care of things for you while you are healing up. You will be able to relax and recover because I will be there for you."
It was like a nightmare from hell. "I don't want you taking care of me or anything else. Please, just get the hell out of my life."
"John, don't go making any rash decisions like that. Butter has already started to help out. He drove your truck back to the house, and he called your work to explain that you would not be able to go in for about six weeks."
"Has he been to the house?"
"Yes. In fact he is going to stay there while you recover. Isn't that thoughtful?"
"No it's not. I want him out of my house and out of my life."
Well things seemed to go downhill from there. The hospital released me, but I was confined to the bed for at least two weeks and to the house for a month. Candy got a sheet of instructions for changing the dressings and a handful of prescriptions, mostly painkillers.
For the first couple of days, Candy kept me drugged up with the painkillers and sleeping pills. It was all a little hazy but I do remember a lot of laughing and giggling going on. After a while, I realized that I had to start weaning myself off the drugs and to get my head straight. I could see out of the bad eye, but things were still a little blurry. I lost a tooth and another one was broken off; that one hurt like hell and I was afraid it might get infected. I was going to have to see a dentist soon. My right hand was useless, and I could barely hobble around with the smashed ankle. The biggest problem that I had was not being able to breathe or to move my body because of the cracked ribs.
Candy kept coming in and feeding me soup and pills. Butter would just stand by the doorway and smile. I started stashing away all the pills I didn't swallow, and started taking some high dosage Tylenol that I had in the medicine cabinet, because there were virtually no side effects. From the pill bottles by the bed, I was able to figure out that Candy was more than double dosing me on the pain and sleeping pills.
Candy and Butter were gone for a good part of the day and every evening. They would stagger back in after midnight and loudly hush each other so that they wouldn't wake me up. Of course, by this time my senses were back to normal, even though my body wasn't. Their night always ended with about forty-five minutes of rousing sex. For some odd reason they would be extra quiet when they came home and then noisy as hell when they got into a sexual frenzy.
I spent my days running all sorts of scenarios through my head. Something had to be done, but I had no idea what. When Candy and Butter were at home, I acted as if I was still under the influence of the drugs. They kept giving them to me and I kept spitting them out later. My eye had healed up, but the broken tooth reached the point where is would have to be removed. The toothache from the root infection was worse than it was when it was just damaged. My hand was stiff and it hurt when I moved it. I removed the bandages and metal splints myself, and no one seemed to notice. It was still unusable. The ribs seemed to be mending, but my movement was still restricted. The cast on my foot was just a damned annoyance. I reached the point where I could hobble around without using the walker. Candy and Butter had no idea that I could function at all.
It was about noon when Butter came into the room with a bowl of soup. I was getting the shits from eating soup all the time, but didn't feel that it was a good thing to bitch about. I put on the groggy act and watched as he smirked a little.
"She's getting her hair and nails done." He set the soup on the nightstand.
"Are you planning on leaving soon, Butter?"
"Why the hell would I want to leave?"
"Well, I am going to be getting better and thought that you might want to get on with your life."
Butter got a laugh out of that. "This is my life, bro. Why would I want to leave a perfect set up like this? It's a great little house and your wife is fabulous in the sack. The limit on your credit cards is unbelievable. I get to go out and party every night with a beautiful bitch and you get to pay for it all. If you think I am giving this up, you are out of your head."
"What are you going to do when I get better?"
"Who said that you are going to get better? Eat your damn soup wimp-boy. Oh by the way, Candy and I are going to be going up to Hershey tomorrow, for the bike show. We will be riding that sweet little Flathead you got down in the garage. Don't worry, I'll treat it right." He was snickering to himself as he left the room.
That pretty well made up my mind for me. It was time to do something, or anything. A short while later, I heard his monster duel-wheel, diesel truck leaving, I assumed, to pick up my loving wife.
I staggered out of bed and got the key to the gun cabinet. It was a wasted effort, because the lock on the cabinet had been broken off. Things were getting worse. The guns were missing, even the black powder rifles. Most devastating of all, was the absence of my precious Navy Luger. All that was left were a few boxes of ammo and two cans of black powder. Were they hiding them from me or did they sell them?
My pants were hanging over the back of a chair. It was over a week since I had left the hospital and the bitch still hadn't washed them. I took out my wallet and started looking for my credit cards. Of course, they were all missing, along with my driver's license. Nothing was going right today.
I got back in bed, finished the soup and took a couple of Tylenols.
I waited for Candy to bring me my supper.
"You don't look too good Honey. What's wrong?"
"I don't think I am getting any better. I am tired and nauseous all the time."
"Don't worry, John. Everything will be Okay. Just keep taking your medicine." There were four pills on the food tray.
"You look pretty. Did you get your hair done?"
"Yeah, I am glad you noticed. Butter is taking me to the Pig Pen tonight and tomorrow we are going up to Hershey. Should I bring something back for you?"
"No. I'm good." We sat quietly for a few minutes while I ate.
"What happened to my guns?"
"Oh, you noticed. I'm sorry honey, but we had a problem come up and had to sell them."
"What kind of problem?"
"The transmission went out on Butter's truck and the mechanic would only take cash. I know you don't approve of getting cash advances on the credit cards, so we thought the best thing to do was to sell the guns. You weren't using them anyhow."
"Damn it, Candy. That Luger was worth more than Butter's whole truck. Don't tell me you sold it."
"It wasn't worth as much as you thought it was John. We took it down to a guy called Tin Toe, who knows all about guns and stuff. He said it was so old that you couldn't even get ammunition for it. We were lucky to get two hundred dollars."
"Two hundred dollars? It was worth at least ten times that much."
"Oh, grow up John. It was just an old gun. I'll get you another one."
"Why are we paying to fix his truck?"
"Because he is going out of his way to help you. It wasn't his fault you got hurt."
"What do you mean? He is the one that did it."
"You hit him first, John. Remember that."
She seemed a little upset with me. "Take your pills. Butter and I might be late tonight. Fridays are usually fun."
Candy came back a couple of hours later to pick up the supper tray. I didn't move. As far as she could tell, I was out for the night. She was purposely being quiet so she wouldn't wake me. Ten minutes later the diesel had left for the Pig Pit.
I figured that I had about six hours. It would be rough with only one hand, one foot, and a bad attitude. Maybe the last part would compensate for the first two. I had kept the Tylenol level up, so it was controlling the discomfort pretty much. By this time, I knew which way I could turn and how much pressure I could endure and still stay functional. It didn't matter because what had to be done, had to be done. I put the two cans of black power into a pillowcase, so that I could use the walker to get to the garage. Of course, I had to stop by the kitchen and grab a few cans of beer on the way.
For the first thirty minutes, I spent my time gathering up all the tools and parts I needed. Before starting my dastardly task, I finished off a can of beer. Two years ago, I had built a completely new wiring harness for the Flathead. I knew every wire and connector on that bike, like the back of my hand. It took twice as long as it should have to get the damn solo seat off. My left hand just didn't seem to work as well as the useless right one. It was going to be a long night.
Mounting the four sections of pipe under the seat was pretty easy. The hard part was breaking the glass on the spare taillight bulbs so only the filaments would remain. Luckily, I had a nice little stock of six-volt bulbs, that I had picked up on eBay. Once I figured out how to get the vice-grips properly set, it went pretty fast, but I still had to break three to get each good one. I put two bulbs in every section of pipe, and wired them in parallel. If the filament broke in one, the second one would still function. Multiply that by four, and I was pretty confident that everything would work out as planned.
The ignition switch of the Flathead had four settings. The first was 'off' and the last was 'parking lights.' For normal daytime operation, Butter would be using the second position: 'on and ignition.' On the trip home from Hershey, he would have to turn on the headlights, which was position three. As long as the idiot didn't turn the lights on first, everything would be fine. If he did, I would end up losing my garage. I had to take the chance.
Putting the black powder into the pipes was tedious. I had to be extra careful not to break the light bulb filaments, and my dexterity was not that great. Afterwards, to celebrate my success, I finished the second can of beer. Before finishing up the wiring, I rigged up a little test circuit that worked perfectly.
It took me a lot longer to get the seat back on then it did to get it off. The extra hardware attached to the bottom made it harder to fasten the mount bolts. I cleaned everything up, and then stepped back to admire my work. It was perfect and it was unnoticeable, even though I knew it was there. It was time to finish off the last can of beer, before retiring to my sick bed.
By the time I got back to the bedroom, I was beat. The beer helped to mellow everything out a little, but I was still wound up tight. I wasn't looking forward to listening to my wife and her new friend satisfy their animalistic urges, so I took a couple of the sleeping pills and nodded off.
The pills, along with the beer, worked fine. I woke up to the familiar sound of the Flathead starting up, and the sun coming through the window. I breathed a sigh of relief, that Butter didn't turn the Harley lights on. After staggering to the window, and watching my precious Flathead carry my wife and antagonist away, hopefully, for the last time, I took a dump and a well-needed piss.
For some strange reason, I was feeling a lot better than I had been. My first reaction was to take a shower, get rid of all these damn bandages, and to retire to the living room recliner. I made my way to the kitchen, grabbed another beer, and decided that it was too early to make a recovery. After ordering a pizza, I cancelled all my credit cards, which was effective immediately. Candy and Butter would have an unpleasant experience when they stopped for lunch or to get gas, even though I am sure they had enough pocket cash to make do. For a twenty-dollar tip, the pizza delivery boy got me another cold, six-pack of beer. It appeared that my appetite was back; because it didn't take me long to finish off the Meat Lovers Delight.
I spent the rest of the day in front of the television. Nothing was going to happen until the sun went down. I ran out of beer pretty quickly, but it was a good time to switch to coffee anyhow. My right hand was starting to feel a little better, and I actually used it somewhat to make the coffee. In a fit of boredom, I removed the bandages from around my waist. The newly exposed skin was pale, white, and puffy looking, but it felt good being unwrapped. There was less discomfort than there had been. I was wondering if the movement from working on the bike was beneficial. Finally, I just couldn't take it anymore, so I wrapped the casted foot in a plastic bag and took a long, hot shower. I put on a set of sweats and ordered in for Chinese. I promised the delivery guy a twenty- dollar tip if he brought a six-pack of cold beer with him.
It was close to midnight, when I guess I fell asleep during the Steven Seagal movie marathon. Candy and Butter hadn't come back and I hadn't gotten any phone calls or visitors all day.
The constant pounding on the door, by two state police officers, woke me the next morning.
"Are you the husband of Candice Tyrell?"
"Yeah. Candy, there is somebody here to see you." There was no reply.
"She went to Hershey yesterday to the Bike show. I expected her back last night. I guess she didn't make it. Did something happen?"
The two troopers looked at each other momentarily. They both reminded me of marine drill sergeants. "I am afraid your wife was hurt pretty badly in an incident at the Hershey Auditorium parking lot."
"Hurt how bad? Was it an accident? You said incident."
"Actually sir, it was an incident. Your wife was riding on a motorcycle with another man and it exploded in the parking lot. The gentleman your wife was with was killed. Your wife was injured pretty badly and is in the Hershey Burn Center. Luckily, no one else was injured."
"How badly is she hurt? She is going to be alright isn't she?"
Trooper number one just shook his head.
"That was my motorcycle. It was working fine yesterday morning when they left. What could have caused a motorcycle in good condition to explode?"
"We have some people looking into that. How well did you know Mister Butterworth?"
"Michael Butterworth. He is the man that was killed with your wife."
"We only met him a few weeks ago. I didn't even know his real name. I just knew him as Butter."
"It seems that Mister Butterworth had a long string of enemies. There were a lot of people out there who had grudges against him. It will take some time to check things out."
"I would still like to know what condition my wife is in. Exactly how bad is she?"
"At this point they are not sure if she is going to make it or not."
"Can she be moved? How I am supposed to get to see her in my condition?" I held out my foot for them to see.
"The best we can do is to have somebody contact you."
Trooper number one was busy writing something down on a note pad.
"Were either of you at the accident scene?"
"Yes sir. We were both there."
"I am just curious, but what is the status of the motorcycle?"
Trooper one looked away from his pad. "The engine and tranny were in one piece, but the rest of it was scattered all over the place."
"Could you have the wreckage returned to me? For sentimental reasons, that is."
"I think that could be arranged. By the way, what happened to your foot?" Trooper two handed me a card with his name and phone number on it.
"Nasty little break. I have been housebound for three weeks now. If I hadn't broke my damn ankle, I would have been on that bike."
The two public servants seemed to be satisfied with all the answers, and they got up to leave. I don't think they were investigating anything, just notifying me of the incident.
"Just curious, but do either one of you gentlemen know of a gun dealer that goes by the name of Tin Toe?"
"Yeah. He has a shop down near Ephrata. We busted him last year for selling illegally modified AK-47's. Any particular reason?"
"No. Mister Butterworth had mentioned his name once. Thanks for stopping by."
There was an old TV dinner hidden in the back of the freezer. I popped it into the microwave and started a new pot of coffee. First thing tomorrow, I had to make a dentist appointment. After that, I needed a checkup to get the cast off my foot.
I was going to be a busy beaver for the next few months. Scrounging up the parts that I would need to rebuild the Flathead would be number one. As soon as I was in better shape, I would be going down to Ephrata to talk to Mister Tin Toe about my Navy Luger. He will not be happy to see me. Tomorrow, however, I had to make my way to the truck and drive to Hershey to see my 'loving wife'.
After a few phone calls, Butter's truck was gone and I had four grand in my pocket. It wasn't much for a twenty thousand dollar truck, but it was a trouble free deal with no questions asked.
I went out for supper mainly because I wanted to make sure I could drive with the cast on. I was glad I opted for the automatic transmission. The biggest problem was simply getting in and out of the damn truck.
It was the first time that I ever finished a full rack of ribs by myself. A healthy appetite must be a good sign.
I had to wait until after nine o'clock the next morning to start making appointments. I set up a double session with the dentist for the next morning and arranged to get the cast off in the same afternoon. It took an hour to modify a good pair of jeans so that I could slip them over the cast. There was no way I was going to drive to Hershey in a pair of sweat pants.
Candy wasn't looking good anymore. After seeing her under the plastic tent, I started to feel bad about the drastic measures that I took, but it quickly passed as I remembered the beating I took at Butter's hand. Her nurse explained that she was heavily drugged to numb the pain. She lost her right foot and the skin was burned off the front of her body along with her clothes. It would have been worse, except the force of the explosion threw her off the back of the bike. The bitch deserved everything she got because of the betrayal and her actions afterwards. It was hard to feel any remorse for her. I wanted to do as much damage as possible to Butter, and she got to share it with him. It was only fair, because they were sharing everything else. I found a little comfort by remembering that they were in this as a team. Of course there was no plotting on their part, but they sure did take advantage of the situation.
"Mister Tyrell? I am Doctor Dolott. I am sorry about your wife's accident." I just stood there like an idiot without saying anything.
"Do you have any questions Mister Tyrell?"
"I guess not. Will she be able to talk to me at all? How soon will she be coming around?"
The Doctor took my arm and sat me down. "She is awake right now, but heavily sedated. I am sorry to tell you this, but we don't have any hopes for her recovery. The trauma from the explosion has damaged most of her internal organs. We can keep her going with the life support system, but that just means she has to endure the pain from the burn damage. We don't see any chance for her ever leaving the hospital. We don't know how long she will remain conscious, so if you want to talk to her, you better do it now."
"I am not stupid Doctor. You are recommending that I take her off of life support, aren't you?"
"Yes. It is the most humane thing to do, but I cannot make that decision, only you can."
"Can you leave me alone with her for a few minutes?"
Doctor Dolott left and I was alone with my wife. I slowly pulled back the plastic so I could see her. It was not a pretty sight. I could tell that she was aware that somebody was there.
"Butter? Is that you Butter? Say something baby."
They were not the words I had hoped to hear. The bitch was still hanging on to that damn hairy ape. I had an overwhelming urge to rub it in her face and gloat about the situation, but I held back. I felt nasty as I leaned over and in a mildly disguised voice said. "I am but mister Butterworth left the hospital about an hour ago with one of the nurses."
Her body jerked at little at my words. After a few gasps and choking sounds, Candy said. "No. No. Butter wouldn't leave me. Butter loves me."
"I am sorry Mrs. Tyrell, but you have to understand, she was a very pretty nurse." There were no further comments from her. Her breathing was labored and uneven. She seemed to be twitching in funny little ways. About that time one of the nurses came in and anxiously checked the monitors. Doctor Dolott came back and asked me to leave the room.
Well, I wanted the bitch dead, but I really didn't want her to lie in a hospital bed and suffer. I guess a lot of guys would have seen some sort of justice in that, but to me it was just cruel. If she had died in the blast like she was supposed to, I wouldn't be having this conflict. That was my fault. Since I screwed up, I guess it is up to me to rectify the problem.
A few moments later the Doctor came out and shook his head.
"I am sorry Mister Tyrell, but there is no further hope."
Well, they pulled the plug on my wife's life support, and by the time I was done with all the paper work she had checked out. The hospital made the arrangements to have her cremated. Three days later, I had the death certificate and a small cardboard box with her ashes.
By that time, the cast was off my foot and I had a new crown with a bridge, whatever that is. It used to take a week to get a crown made, but now they do it right in the office while you wait. Of course it used to be a lot cheaper also.
I was still on Workers Compensation. They didn't want me back to work until I was fully healed. The ribs only bothered me when I laughed or sneezed. I used to think that was a joke.
Fortunately, I had the Flathead insured as a classic. The insurance company balked at giving me anything, until the investigation into the blast was complete. They did, however, have the salvaged parts delivered to me. Of course that cost me over a grand. I had gotten rid of any evidence that I might have left in the garage. I guess a good CIS type investigator could have dug something up, but they didn't seem interested. There was no doubt that it was a bomb that destroyed the bike. Since they couldn't pin it on me, I finally was able to collect.
All of the bike parts were laid out on the garage floor like one of those FAA pictures you see after an airplane crash. It took a while to get everything inventoried and evaluated. About twenty percent of the parts were missing, and about fifty per cent of what I had was damaged too badly to be used. I had to consider the engine and tranny to be an unknown, but I had my fingers crossed. A steam cleaning and a UV dye check, showed that everything was satisfactory. The frame was totaled.
The ankle was getting better everyday, so I started walking as a regular thing. In two weeks, I would have to report back to work.
All of Candy's things were gathered up and donated to the Goodwill. For some reason she had left her purse at home when she went to the bike show. Her Alabama driver's license indicated that she lived in a place called Boaz. MapQuest showed that it was about an hour south of Huntsville.
As luck would have it, the new frame that I needed was located in Chattanooga. It would have been easier to just have it shipped, but I quickly decided that I needed a road trip. I decided to pick up the frame in Tennessee, and then shoot down to Boaz to deliver Candy's ashes to her family. Don't ask me why I wanted to do this, because I don't have a good answer. Somehow or another it just felt like the proper thing.
Things took a quirky twist the next morning. Before I got on my way the two friendly state troopers showed up again.
"Are you getting ready to take a trip Mister Tyrell?"
This was not a good omen. "I have to pick up a new motorcycle frame, down in Tennessee. I'll only be gone for a few days. Is this important?"
"No, not really. We just happened to be in the area and thought we would give you an update."
"The incident that killed your wife. The blast was caused by C4 explosives, which were detonated by a remote device. The Federal people were able to put things together pretty well, but they still don't have a suspect."
"Where the hell does somebody get C4 explosives?"
Both of them just shrugged. I thanked them for stopping by. Ten minutes later, I was on the road. In about ten hours, I would have my new Flathead frame. Tomorrow, bright and early, I would be on my way to Boaz to meet with my in-laws. All I could think about on the whole trip was who the hell blew up my wife and why. What happened to my four perfect little pipe bombs? I knew damn well that the Feds would not confuse a black powder blast with one caused by C4 explosives. Somebody must have really had it in for old Butter. I kept trying to change the subject in my head, but it always came back to the same place. I finally convinced myself that whoever did it was after Butter and Candy was collateral damage.
It was just too much of a coincidence to have happen accidentally. Somebody must have had this planned.
It was a long trip. Getting through Virginia on Route 81 seemed to take forever. Things started to look up when I noticed the Krystal billboards. They don't really have billboards in Virginia, but they list the food establishments at the interstate exit ramps. I think that might be why I decided to take the trip in the first place. I wondered how many sliders a man could eat in three days. Maybe I'd find out.
The Flathead frame cost me almost eight hundred dollars, but came with a good VIN number. It's hard to get a new title without a good Vehicle Identification Number. That would make the rebuild a lot easier. I left Chattanooga just as it was getting dark, and didn't stop until I crossed the Alabama line. I took the frame into the room with me. I didn't come all this way to lose it in a motel parking lot.
I grabbed breakfast just south of Huntsville. The GPS had a good fix on the address that was on Candy's drivers license. For some strange reason, I kept her ashes on the seat beside me. I even caught myself talking to her a few times. I had nothing planned and no idea what I was going to do.
I was humming "Sweet Home Alabama," as the doublewide came into view. I was hoping for a house, but I was expecting a mobile home.
I picked up Candy as I got out of the truck. There was no one around, but the front door was open and a red Jeep Wrangler was sitting in the driveway. At least there was no pit bull sitting on the front steps. There was no answer at the door, so I wandered around back. She saw me before I saw her.
"Can I help you, mister?"
This is something I wasn't expecting. I found myself face to face with a tall, very pregnant, red head. It wasn't red, red hair, but sort of auburn colored, and hung down below her shoulders. She was barefooted and wearing a t-shirt with bib overalls. She stopped hanging the laundry and waited for an answer.
"Is this Candy Selman's house?"
"Yeah, but she's not here. Is there something I can help you with?"
I didn't know how to approach the subject of her demise. I stood there like a dunce and held out the box of ashes in front of me.
She didn't move, but just stood with one hand on her hip. I couldn't tell from the expression on her face, if she was unhappy or relieved. It was apparent that she recognized what the cardboard box was. While she stared at it, my mind started to wander. I kept replaying the video of "Redneck Woman" in the back of my mind. It was as if the music video had come to life. Any minute now, I expected an ATV would come tearing up the hill behind the mobile home. My reverie was shattered by the voice of my hostess.
"What are you smiling about mister? This ain't funny."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make light of the situation. It was just that seeing you standing there, reminded me of a Gretchen Wilson video."
The auburn beauty took a quick glance down at herself. I saw a small smile on her face as she replied. "Sorry. If I knew you were coming, I would have put on a bra."
We stood for a few seconds without saying anything. I think we both were a little embarrassed. She was the first one to break the ice.
"Do you want to come in for some coffee or something?"
I just nodded and followed her into the house.
"Put her down on the coffee table. I don't want that box on the table we eat off of." Somehow or the other, she had figured out that Candy's ashes were in the box. I never told her and she never verified it.
She put the mug of coffee in front of me, but there was no offer of cream or sugar. It didn't matter, because I don't use them anyhow.
"What's your name mister and how did you get a hold of Candy's remains?"
"John. John Tyrell. The crematorium didn't know what to do with her ashes, so I ended up with them."
"Well, Randy will be glad that you brought them. Where did you come from anyhow?"
"Pennsylvania. Candy was in an accident near Hershey. The place where they make the chocolate bars." I took a sip of the coffee. It was almost Espresso, but good. "Who is Randy?"
"Randy is my brother, and he is also Candy's husband."
The coughing noise that I suddenly made at this announcement, gave me away.
"You didn't know she was married, did you?"
There was another moment of awkward silence. This new piece of information left me with nothing to say. The death certificate listed her name as Candice Tyrell. That was gong to be difficult for me to explain.