Unlike most of my work, there is graphic sex in this storyline. Thanks to blackrandi, Sbrooks, Bebop03 and stev2244 for the beta reads and editing. This would be unreadable without them. There are others who prefer not to be named; you know who you are and you know you are appreciated.
The Last Ride of Iceman and Gypsy Jane
Jenny was already sitting on the edge of the bed staring down at me when I woke up. As soon as I saw her expression, I knew what she was thinking about.
I blinked the sleep out of my eyes. “This is crazy, Jenny. This doesn’t have to happen.”
She smiled a bit sadly, then leaned over and gave me a soft kiss. “This isn’t about ‘having to’ do anything, Terry. This is about promises. Promises you made to me and promises I made. Promises I need and want to keep.”
I sat up and shook my head. “Still...”
She cut me off. “Terry Eisner. This is important to me. It’s a small gift I want to give in return for being given the most wonderful thing I could have ever imagined. This is going to happen.”
From the set of her jaw I knew she meant it and would never back down. I knew it from near forty years of marriage. I swung my legs out and felt the plush carpet under my feet. I’d put in that carpet: I’d built this whole house, this whole home, just for Jenny. Leaving it, leaving her, just to go to work had always been hard. Leaving it today seemed almost impossible, unbearable. She slid off the bed, eyeing me cautiously.
“I’m sorry, Terry, but you knew this was coming; I told you from the beginning that I made those promises, and you swore you would be okay with this.”
I looked over at the wingback chair in the corner of the room, a chair she’d never even let a cat sit in. My jeans, black T-shirt and boots sat neatly piled in it where she’d set them. She left to fix breakfast while I showered and changed.
I glanced in the mirror; a grey bearded hard-case stared coldly back at me. Forty years of construction, tossing bags of cement and carrying cinderblocks, had left me with a catalog of aches and pains, but it had also left me lean and hard. I’d usually had to do paperwork in the office every day. The owner of a company has to do that, but I’d made a point of getting out and working with the crews every day. It cut down on bullshit and I could tell would-be clients that I personally helped build everything we ever put up.
Jenny had coffee, hash browns, eggs, bacon and sausage on the table for me in the kitchen. We ate slowly, wordlessly, while she watched me intently.
When I was unable to put it off any longer, I finished eating and we pushed away from the table. She took my hand and walked me to the front door, stopping to kiss me for the last time.
“I don’t want this to hurt us, Jenny. I don’t want to ruin this.”
She looked up at me and smiled, a lopsided smile, but a real one. “This won’t hurt us, Terry. It can’t. Not at all.” She gently pulled my left hand up to her chest and started to slide my wedding band off. I tried to curl my fingers to stop her but she shook her head and straightened them out.
She let go just long enough to put the ring on her thumb. “It will be right here for you.”
I just stared at her wordlessly.
“It will be, Terry, I swear.”
She reached up on the coat rack next to the door and pulled down my vest, a vest I hadn’t worn in forty years, and handed it to me. “Whatever happens between Iceman and Gypsy isn’t a problem for us, Terry. It never was and it never will be.”
She gave me a long hard kiss, then a soft gentle one. “The first one’s for you Terry. You give that second one to Jane and you tell her I love her.”
My bike was out on the driveway, a 1977 Harley Lowrider, paniers already packed and the whole thing polished to a mirror finish. She’d done that herself. Months ago, when this whole insanity started, she’d pulled my bike out of storage and had it restored to top condition. The grinning fanged horror that stared at me from the tank had been faded almost to oblivion. She’d had it carefully touched up. Everything had been re-chromed. She’d run like a dream, and I’d taken her on longer and longer rides; Jenny had gone along on every one, clinging dreamily to me for hours on end. It would have been wonderful except for the looming shadow of the future.
The only change Jenny had made had been to have them add a low bitch bar in the back, one she certainly didn’t need. She was right to do it, but the unspoken reason for it was enough to turn me grim and sober for weeks.
I slid on my vest on and the weight of it was far more than the leather and cloth of it.
My bike started on the first kick, just like she always had. Eager to get on the way, hungry to go where I had no wish to go. Slate grey skies hung over me as I headed along the ridge road, miles passing under me with that unreal sense of floating to nowhere.
It took nearly two hours to reach the odd little house on the outskirts of the city. A small yard jammed with a mass of bushes and flowers, all starting to look weedy and slightly brown in the late summer heat.
As I rolled up I could see her standing by the gate, hipshot. A vision of skintight jeans, a tiny vest; her brilliantly colored scarf tied on her head. She was holding an elaborately embroidered bag and an open bottle of whiskey.
She hadn’t changed a bit.
She’d stood just that way at Sturgis, over forty years ago. Jeans so tight they laced up the sides, just like her vest, leaving a two inch wide strip of bare tanned skin showing all the way up from the ankle. My first impression was all full wine-dark lips and a mane of wild hair kept barely in check by a blazing bright yellow and crimson scarf, ends trailing down over her shoulder. One look in her kohl-rimmed eyes told me all I needed to know.
That woman was the Devil herself.
She watched me unabashedly, drinking me in as she took a long slow sip from her whiskey bottle. I couldn’t help glancing back as I passed her and turned a corner. She tracked me, and even at that distance I could see the hungry smile on her face.
I tried to put her out of my mind. I’d come to Sturgis to do a job, cut a deal for the club. We were moving hash cross-country for a bigger club, a cash deal. We made most of our cash running China White and Black Tar, but the hash deal had been too good, too easy to pass up. They’d missed two meets, though, and I needed assurances we were still in business. When the Wandering Sons sent me, they meant business. The “Nomad” rocker under my patch was a hint; I wasn’t assigned to a territory and I might be an enforcer. The eight crimson skulls embroidered on my vest were a clear fucking warning.
The meeting went well, though; they’d had five guys rolled up in a police raid and were being cautious.
Two days later, that Devil stalked up to me, staring straight into my eyes all the way up the block.
“Give a girl a ride?”
I put my beer down. “Not leaving for a couple days.”
Her teeth bared in a too-wide smile. “Wasn’t talking about that kinda ride.”
“Who do I have to kill?”
Her eyes glittered. “Nobody. The asshole’s in the hospital. He got stabbed.”
“They must not’ve done it right or he’d be on a slab.”
She took a slug of whiskey and laughed softly. “Maybe you can show me how to do it better next time.”
I didn’t ask why, I never asked why. Not my fuckin’ problem.
In my tent, she was a storm of heat and need, tasting of whiskey and weed.
When I finally decided to leave Sturgis, she was there, bag and bottle in hand. “Got room for a couple bottles of whiskey and a shitload of Acapulco Gold?”
That was the start. She was all about fucking, whiskey and weed. She warned me up front; we’d have a month, maybe two at most before she moved on. She never stayed with a man longer than that. Gypsy Jane wasn’t just a nickname, it was what she was.
There she was, month after month, as close as my shadow, a Siren wreathed in clouds of smoke, walking across campgrounds in nothing but her vest and sandals; that tanned bare ass a promise of heaven.
There were fights, of course. Most men stayed clear. I was Iceman, the enforcer for the Wandering Sons, and Gypsy Jane radiated as much danger as heat.
But there were fights; she made sure of it and watched ravenously when it happened. She fucked like a woman possessed afterwards, boiling hot and insatiable. I always suspected if I ever lost, she’d just fade away like a fever dream.
But I didn’t lose; Gypsy Jane only craved the “fair” fights, one-on-one, or sometimes one-on-two. She hungered for proof of her attraction, proof of what I would do for her. The fights were ones I could win. Gypsy had her own rules; a man who tried to stab me while I was taking down two of his friends learned that the hard way.
He wasn’t the only one with a knife and he didn’t have the sense to realize that I might be the least of his problems.
Word went out, but Gypsy could always find the fools and the drunks, knew exactly what to do, what to say to provoke them into rage or lust. I knew exactly what to do to beat them down and leave them laying in their own blood on the ground.
We were what we were, and it felt like we’d be that way forever.
The end came suddenly, slamming like a door caught by the wind, almost four years after I first saw her at Sturgis.
Four years and seven more embroidered skulls.
It wasn’t even about the club. I caught a shithead cheating at poker and beat the fuck out of him, then I was charged with assault when he turned out to be a police informant. He spent two months in the hospital and I got eighteen months in jail with five years probation.
In a way, I was lucky. Six months after I was in, the Mother Chapter and most of the regional chapters were raided. Some of the leadership were killed when the Mother Chapter went down and a couple dozen more ended up with long sentences for all the China White and hash that’d been found. A snitch somewhere had set us up good.
While I was in, the Wandering Sons MC collapsed. With no national, or even regional leadership, chapters fought for survival. A few broke up entirely, the rest ended up patched over by the bigger MCs.
The feds questioned me, but I’d been inside just long enough to be completely outside the sting. I’d never carried anyway; that wasn’t my job. As desperate as the feds were to put me away longer, nobody who knew the truth was foolish enough to talk about twelve lonely graves or three men killed in back alleys.
The day I walked out into the light, I had no plan. I knew the Wandering Sons were done. I was the last one. I knew the feds were watching me. I had nowhere to go, parole and the ever-present feds meant I had to stay in the county. No MCs should be interested in me, I’d bring them more pain and heat than anything else. Even if they were, it wouldn’t be fair to bring that kind of heat into a brotherhood.
A battered pick-up truck sat outside the jail and a dark haired figure in loose jeans and a sweatshirt sat on the hood, looking irritated and bored. For a moment, just for a moment, I thought she’d waited for me. Then the girl pushed her glasses up and looked at me sourly. “Are you Terry Eisner?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“My sister asked me to meet you when you got out. She wanted me to make sure you had a place to stay. She made me promise to get you set up.”
“Don’t thank me, I could give a shit. Just dealing with Jane and her screwed up life. You know she’s not coming back, right?”
I nodded. “I figured.”
We rode in silence for half an hour until she pulled up in front of a crappy little apartment building and handed me a key. “They take month to month rent, you’ve got a month paid up.”
She snorted a mocking laugh. “You owe me a hundred bucks. If you’re on parole, you need a job anyway. Try TJ’s Construction, they always need somebody to carry heavy shit and you look like you might be good at that.”
“I’ll get you the money...” I paused. “What’s your name?”
Gypsy Jane raised one eyebrow as I rolled to a stop by the gate. “Give a girl a ride?”
“Rules of the road. Ass, cash, or grass.”
She hesitated for a second then forced a smile. “I’m broke, but I got a shitload of prime weed and I’m the hottest piece of ass you’ve ever met.”
“Climb on then.”
She felt frail, like a paper mache doll, holding on weakly at first. She felt like she’d blow off in the first crosswind and I almost headed back. Take her to Jenny, take her to someone who could deal with this.
But a couple of hours later, she’d settled in. Her grip grew more sure and her balance came back. It was as if she’d never left my bike.
When we stopped to eat, she just picked at her food, staring at her plate and ignoring me. She stepped out while I paid, and I found her with her eyes closed, laying back across the bike, boots up on the handlebars, finishing a joint, a half empty bottle of whiskey dangling from her hand.
I stood over her for a long moment until she lazily opened her dark eyes. She gave a languid smile. “Fuuuuuck. I needed that.” She pulled herself up, blinking slowly. “Got Indigo Crush. Makes Acapulco Gold look like railroad weed.” She held the joint up. “Want a hit?”
“I get couch lock, we ain’t getting anywhere fast.”
She sighed slowly, looking down for a second, the idea of time looming uncomfortably. She changed the subject. “Too bad it’s so damn cool. I’d love to wear a lot less.”
It was almost 90 degrees, but she had goosebumps on her arms. I shrugged. “You’d ride naked if you could.”
She laughed throatily “I did, remember?”
“Across half the Ouachita range in just your scarf and boots.” I couldn’t help smiling at the memory.
“I was so fucking turned on. Everybody staring at me. The stitches on your colors rubbed my nipples the whole goddamn way. The seat took three days to dry out.”
“I remember, we didn’t even get the tent up, you did me right in the middle of the camp.”
“Fuck yeah. That made it even better. Mikey’s bitch, what’s-her-name with the big fucking tits, Karen, I think? She couldn’t stop watching. Then she got into that huge fight with Mikey for looking, too. Wonder what ever happened to them.”
I shrugged. “Who knows? Probably still out there somewhere.”
I’d heard Mikey and Karen had taken a curve by Snake River Canyon a bit too fast and flipped over the guardrail. They never even recovered the bodies, but Gypsy didn’t need to know that. Not now. Not ever.
We rode for another six hours before I pulled off at a motel. Gypsy could barely walk, but when I reached out to help her, she snarled at me, eyes flashing. “No. Goddamit. Not you too!”
She staggered into the room and locked herself in the bathroom.
When she came out she was in a t-shirt that went to her knees. I cleaned up, and downed a handful of aspirin.
As I was getting ready to get into bed, I was planning on just stripping to my boxers, but I caught her watching me darkly.
I tossed the boxers in the chair and climbed into bed. She still had her T-shirt on, but that wasn’t my problem.
We just lay there in the dark, listening to the buzz of the shitty motel room clock for a while. She turned away and I heard a muffled. “Thank you.”
I turned toward her and dropped an arm over her. “For what?”
“For trying not to...” She stopped for a second. “That’s the worst fucking part, you know. The fucking pity. The little hospice nurses trying to be so nice to the ‘sweet little old lady’ is bad enough, But the pity makes me want to throw up.”
She shivered a little and I pulled her closer.
I don’t know whether she was talking to me or the dark when she went on. “They don’t know shit. Little college girls. Think I’m a funny old lady with a bunch of silly fucking stories.” She shuddered in revulsion. “I don’t want to die that way, Ice. Not strapped in bed in pain with a bunch of fucking tubes sticking out of me just waiting for the end.”
I knew what she was asking, I just gave her wrist a squeeze. It was enough. She knew I understood. “They don’t know you, Gypsy. You’re the Devil and you always will be.”
“Damn right.” She settled a little.
I chuckled. “You remember that little cutie in Hells Canyon? The little Cindy-Lou-Who that came into our tent on accident? She probably didn’t walk right for days.”
The little blonde college girl with the topknot ponytail had been so stoned she’d just crawled into our tent while Gypsy was riding me cowgirl, then sat there, just staring at us in the glow of her little flashlight until Gypsy grabbed her ponytail, kissed her and began stripping the clothes off her.
Gypsy laughed huskily. “I know she didn’t, you pounded the fuck out of her half the night.”
“I don’t remember you bitching about it. Hell, I’d only recognize her ass, ‘cause that’s all I saw all night. You spent all night staring at the top of her head. That girl liked pussy.”
“She did.” Her voice trailed off. “You know I saw her again?” Her voice sounded weighty, serious.
“Yeah, after ... after you got locked up. Maybe four years.” She took a deep breath. “I OD’d on horse in Alameda. I died twice in the ambulance, but woke up in the hospital. The guys I was riding with took off and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. One of the nurses kept staring at me. The day I was supposed to be released she came in on her day off with her hair up in a topknot ponytail and asked if I remembered her.
“Horse? I don’t remember you using heroin.”
“Things change.” Her voice grated iron for a second. “Anyway, she asked if I needed a place to stay, so I took her up on it. Her name really was Cindy.”
“At least you had a place to go for a while.”
“Yes.” Her voice softened. “For over thirty years.”
“Yeah...” She sounded like she was going to cry but caught herself. “What can I say? Cindy really liked pussy.”
I forced myself to answer flippantly. The Gypsy I knew would have expected it. “Sounds like it. Must’ve really had a magic tongue to keep you in one place.”
She nodded silently, then sighed. “It wasn’t you. You know that. Nobody but Cindy even came close. Four years with one guy? Shit, I couldn’t even imagine that. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I was going to fuck it up sooner or later. I was going to get you killed or maybe provoke you enough to kill me. We were ... dangerous to each other. We fed off each other. I was sure Jenny could save you, that’s why I ... gave you to her. I didn’t think anyone could save me. It took dying to figure out how to stop.”
She’d stopped waiting for me to react to her, but I already knew. Enough, anyway. Jenny had told me near the beginning, about her sister, about her promises. I let it go. “And Cindy. It took Cindy.”
“And Cindy. She was like Jenny; there was just no ‘bad’ in her for me to feed off of, just love. We moved upstate a couple years later and grew pot. Indigo Crush is something Cindy figured out. Smoothest fucking shit you’ve ever had.” I could hear the pride in her voice as she said that. “You know she wasn’t as stoned as she pretended to be that night? She saw us and couldn’t get us out of her head, so she looked until she found our tent.”
“It was on purpose?”
“She knew she couldn’t live the life, but she saw us and had to let go for one night.”
“I’m glad she did.” Not just for the one night but for the peace she must have brought to Gypsy.
“Cindy died of cancer four years ago. I hated it. I watched the angel to my devil wither away; I watched all the pity and love in the world not do a goddamn thing.” She sobbed but stifled it. “Now this shit happens.”
She said the last bitterly, spitting the words like poison.
I didn’t know what to say. We just lay there for a long time, wide awake and silent. Hell isn’t some fiery place underground, full of brimstone and demons. Hell lives in words. Words like ‘breast cancer’ and ‘metastasized.’
Words like ‘terminal.’
No amount of ‘it’s gonna be okay’ or ‘I’ll be here for you’ would change a damn thing. Gypsy didn’t have long and she didn’t want pity. She just wanted to be Gypsy again.
I could do that, maybe. “Hey, how about we go by Danny Delp’s tomorrow. It’s still standing and it’s not too far out of the way. I heard they have great steak and good beer.”
She answered in a listless sigh. “I guess that’d be okay.”
“It’s kind of crowded sometimes, but there are no ‘citizens’ and its mostly neutral ground now.”
“Really?” There was a spark of something.
“Guy got stabbed there a couple months ago. Timberwolves, I think. Everybody’s on edge, but we’ll be fine. Not our fight.”
“Not our fight.” I could hear her interest, the unspoken ‘we’ll see about that’ in her voice. She settled in and fell away into sleep while I wondered if I was actually insane.
It took nearly nine hours to reach Danny Delp’s BBQ Pit, a lonely clapboard building up against the cliff face in Devil’s Bend. A giant outdoor bonfire sat outside with the charred remains of rice burners sticking up out of the huge rock-lined pit. The Harleys lined up outside the place should have been warning enough for anyone on a Japanese bike not to stop, but there are always more fools than you think.
I parked near a row of bikes with the winged skull “Stingers” of the Hell’s Angels on their tanks.
Gypsy stumbled for a second then caught herself and stood upright. She flipped the tail of her joint away, took another slug of whiskey and dropped the empty next to the bike.
I looked at her. “Ready for some steak?”
She gave her Devil’s smile, the one I knew so well. “Steak.”
The place was about half-full, but the mix of colors made it a fucking powder keg. Two big Hell’s Angels were studying my bike out the window, trying to make sense of the icy blue demon on the tank. Mongols, Pagans, and a couple Rock Machine from way the fuck up in Canada sat around the place watching each other warily along with a half dozen clubs I didn’t even recognize.
It just felt right.
I found a table in the middle and looked at Jane. “Get me a fucking beer.” I said it loud enough to carry. “Make it two.” Her eyes danced with unholy light as she shot me that evil smile and turned towards the bar.
It must have been an enormous effort for her, but she walked with the same slinky strut she’d always had. The hip swaying arrogant movements of a true queen of the damned.
She timed it perfectly, smoothly snatching a tray from the barmaid just as she went to put it down in front of a couple Timberwolves prospects sitting with a table of full patch members.