I nursed my beer and watched the group sitting on the other side of the room. They were bikers, but they weren't. By that I mean they were all wearing riding leathers and had brain buckets on the floor next to their chairs, but there were no colors on display, no pony tails and beards and what skin I saw was free of tattoos. Three guys and four girls who liked to ride. That meant that at least one of the girls had her own scooter and as I watched the group I tried to figure out which one it was.
The group was the reason I was there. I'd stopped in two weeks ago. It was the first time I had ever been in that particular bar and ten minutes after I sat down I heard the roar outside and when it stopped the group had filed in. They called the waitress and the barmaid by name and that told me that they were regulars in the place. As the helmets came off one of them drew my immediate attention and I thought "No way" as the group settled in at their table and I was able to take a closer look at the person who didn't turn out to be who I thought. Close – damned close – but no cigar. Since that first time I'd come in every day and once or twice a week the group would come in about six in the evening. Sometimes three or four and sometimes all seven, but the one who had caught my attention was always there.
I finished my beer, waved at the barmaid for a fresh one and got up to use the bathroom. When I got back to my bar stool she was sitting on the one next to it. As I sat down she stuck out her right hand and said:
"Sherrie, and you are?"
I took her hand and shook it as I said, "Frank."
"Well Frank, I am a curious girl and I'm the kind of curious girl who always wants to satisfy that curiosity."
"And you are sharing that information with me why?"
"Because you are the object of that curiosity Frank."
"Me? Why? What did I do to invite your curiosity?"
"You are in here every night and you watch the people at our table like a hawk looking for prey. But it isn't the people at my table you are looking at is it Frank. You are watching me and that is what is making me curious. Care to tell me why?"
I looked at her for several seconds and then shrugged. I took my billfold out of my back pocket, took a picture out of it and handed it to her.
"What's this?" she asked.
"Look at it."
She looked at the picture and frowned. "I don't remember this picture being taken and how did you get a picture of me in the first place?"
"Take a closer look at it."
She studied the picture and then said, "This isn't me. I've never owned a pair of earrings like those. Who is this?"
"My wife, or maybe I should say my ex-wife. At least she will be my ex as long as I don't find her."
"I can't get over how much we look alike. We could be twins. Explain to me if you will that statement – the part that she will be your ex as long as you don't find her. That doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. Did she run away? Are you some kind of monster Frank?"
"I guess you could say she ran off. She was cheating on me and the night I confronted her with it she took off with some biker she met at a party we went to. That was three months ago."
"Haven't heard from her?"
"Got a phone call maybe three weeks later. Wanted to know if she could come home. Told her I wished she would hurry up and get back so I could wrap my hands around her throat and strangle her cheating ass. Haven't heard from her since."
"So why are you spending your time looking at me?"
"I don't know. I guess I'm just fascinated with how much you look like her."
"What you are telling me is that you miss her."
"But you don't want her back."
"And I'm kind of a surrogate? Some one you can look at and think that she is still around?"
"Could be. Haven't much thought about it."
"You want to come over and join us?"
"No thanks; I'm not really good company these days."
"What you need is cheering up Frank and I think my group can do that for you. You can sit right across the table from me and see me up close. You won't have to stare across the room at me."
"I don't know if up close is something I can handle."
"You can handle it Frank. All you have to do is remember that I'm not really her and you will be able to keep your hands off my throat."
"Yeah; I guess there is that. Maybe next time we are in here, but right now it is time for me to leave."
As I walked to my pick up truck I saw the bikes parked off to the side and I wondered who she rode with and which bike it was. I thought maybe I would start riding mine. I had a 1956 Triumph T-110 that I had rebuilt and that I didn't spend near enough time on.
I was thinking of Sherrie when I fell asleep. Or was it Gail?
The next day after work I went home and got the Triumph out of the garage and rode it over to the bar. It was two days before they showed up again and I was sitting on a stool at the bar when Sherri and her group came in. She saw me and came over. She didn't bother to ask if I would like to join them; she just grabbed my hand and pulled me off the bar stool as she said, "Come on." I had the presence of mind to grab my beer off the bar as she pulled me off my stool and led me over to her friends. She said, "Hey guys, this is Frank" and then she introduced me to the six people who came in with her. It turned out that they were all family. Her brother John and his wife Sue. Her sister Marge and her husband Bill. Her cousin Tom and his fiancée Bea. Then she stunned me by saying:
"Frank here wants me to replace his wife."
Besides stunning me the statement seemed to cause the other six some concern or at least that is what I thought I saw on their faces. Then Sherrie laughed and said:
"Show them the picture Frank."
I dug it out and handed it to her and she handed it to her brother. John looked at it, up at me and then handed it to his wife and then it was passed around the table finally ending up at Marge. Marge took a real long look at it and then asked me how old Gail was. I told her and she asked:
"Did you ever meet her parents?"
"Just her mom. The story that she told me was that her father got her mother pregnant and then split when her mom started making plans to get married."
"Where is she from?"
"Tucson. Why the twenty questions?"
"Just curious. Was she born in Tucson?"
"Yeah, as a matter of fact she was."
Marge, John and Sherrie looked at each other and then Sherrie said, "No way."
Marge said, "Think about it. His wife is twenty-five and that would mean she was born in 1980. If she was born in Tucson it would fit."
Again Sherrie said, "No way; no fucking way."
"It fits" John said, "And it would explain the uncanny resemblance."
"What are you people talking about?"
Marge looked at me for a couple of seconds and then said, "Our dad works in construction and 1979 and 1980 he was working on a large project in Tucson. Your Gail could be our step sister. May I borrow this picture?"
"What are you going to do with it?"
"Show it to my dad and ask him if he got a girl pregnant in Tucson."
"You think that is wise?"
"I wouldn't do it if mom was still alive, but we lost her to cancer two years ago. If he did get this Gail's mom pregnant he couldn't marry her because he was already married, but if he did get her pregnant I want to know. If I have a sister out there somewhere I want to know."
I looked at Sherrie and she shrugged so I told Marge she could borrow Gail's photo. For the next hour we just sat there and socialized. It was a Thursday and the bar had a live band in on Thursday thru Friday and after they set up and started to play Sherrie asked me to dance. I saw frowns on the six other faces at the table as I got up to follow Sherrie out onto the floor. I mentioned the fact that her family didn't seem too keen on my dancing with her and she laughed.
"They are just too damned protective of me. For some reason they don't think they can trust me around a good looking man."
"What business is it of theirs? You are an adult aren't you? Or are you an extremely well developed fourteen year old?"
"They are family and they worry about me. And I guess I have given them some cause. I have made some pretty bad choices where men are concerned."
"And they think I may be another one?"
"Again, they are family. What I'm most worried about right now is your wife."
"Gail? Why are you worried about Gail?"
"I know my sister and if it turns out that your Gail is our step sister Marge will bust her ass to get to meet her and get her involved with the family. Making a play for you with your wife hanging around might be a bit of a pain."
"Making a play for me?"
"Sure. Why do you think I came over to you last night? I'm a good looking broad and guys look at me and watch me all the time, but there was something about you that got to me and that's why I came over."
"That was before you knew I was married."
"True, but she walked out on you and that makes you a free man. Or are you one of those "hold to my vows until the divorce is final" kind of guys."
"No. When she walked it cut me loose."
"I just made my intensions clear so now it is your move."
"What do you have in mind?"
"Dinner over which we will get to know each other and then we see where it goes from there."
"Have you eaten yet?"
"Then how about right now?"
.... There is more of this story ...