Death at the Crossroads

Death sat on his bike and waited for me at the crossroads.

I pulled up next to him, close but not too close, and killed the engine. I would miss the bike. She and I had done lots of good miles together; but then, there were lots of things that I would miss.

I looked over at him. In the cold evening light he was a shadow in the moonlight that glinted gently off the chrome of the six exhaust pipes that led back from the monstrous engine that he sat astride.

Read the rest of Death at the Crossroads

The Prodigal Son

I parked the bike in the drive and walked slowly up the path to the front door. I knocked and waited. Eventually the door opened and I was silently ushered through the hall and into the kitchen.

My parents’ house hadn’t changed in all the time I’d been away. This is where I’d grown up. This is where, as a child, I’d played ‘Cowboys and Indians’ in the garden and where, alone in my room, I’d dreamed of bikes I’d one day own and the places I would one day go.

I’d come home. As usual, I was late. But this time, instead of my parents waiting up for me to return from some all-night party, there had been no party and my father was all alone.

Rest the rest of The Prodigal Son

Eating Babies

We saw the bike long before we heard it. The snow that lay thick on the frozen ground muffled most far off sounds and so we had scouts posted; two hours on and then two hours off. That was all that they could take in the cold.

It was Peter who spotted the bike. Only ten years old, he was becoming the very image of his father. He raised the alarm and Marion woke me up.

Through my binoculars I could see little at this distance, except that the bike was alone – that was good.

Read the rest of Eating Babies

Different Roads

The twisty lane threaded it’s way through the woods and then straightened up as it ran alongside the river. The marshy fields that bordered the river seemed to glow slightly in the shadow of the dying sun. Every now and again I’d pass something that I recognised; a cottage, a farm gate, a road sign that I’d seen before. I was back in Cornwall, there were memories here.

The last time that I’d been down this road was many years before. Then, it had been summer and Christine had been on the back. The bike had been my old Honda, I think.

Now, I was travelling alone and the bike was a Suzuki. It was the time of the year when Autumn turns to Winter and it was raining. I hadn’t stopped since St. Austell and the pain in my backside indicated that it was about time for a rest.

Read the rest of Different Roads

The Waiting Room

Joe sat alone in the bar and waited.‭ ‬Far off,‭ ‬in the distance,‭ ‬he could hear a car approaching‭; ‬its unmuffled pipes singing a song of hell.‭ ‬There was still time left though‭; ‬time left but nothing left to do.‭

He had been riding since dawn.‭ ‬With neither destination nor schedule he was happy to be alone on the road,‭ ‬free at last.‭

The last few months had been hell,‭ ‬a drunken hell,‭ ‬filled with misery and pain.‭ ‬But it was over.‭ ‬He had survived and he was grateful that those days were behind him and all in the past.‭

His fall had come when Susan had left him.‭ ‬He had always been a heavy drinker but,‭ ‬with his enforced solitude,‭ ‬he had seemed to lose control.‭ ‬Going over and over in his mind,‭ ‬all the things that he had said or hadn’t said,‭ ‬he drank more and more until the days seemed to pass in a drunken blur.‭

Finally,‭ ‬he lost his job,‭ ‬which was maybe what he had wanted all along.‭ ‬Now he was free to drink even more.‭ ‬He awoke in the mornings with a craving that was only satisfied by the evening’s oblivion.‭ ‬Days turned into weeks,‭ ‬weeks passed into months and he drank the time away.‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

The Window Seat

This is my special place.‭ ‬This seat,‭ ‬by the window,‭ ‬in the prison cell that I now call home,‭ ‬is where I come to think.‭ ‬And it’s where I come to be alone.‭ ‬And,‭ ‬sometimes,‭ ‬if I try very hard,‭ ‬as I look out of the window,‭ ‬I can see a different view‭ ‬-‭ ‬something that isn’t really there.‭

They’re going to kill me in the morning.‭ ‬They’re going to take me out into the yard and make me kneel down in the sand.‭ ‬Then they’ll tie a blindfold over my eyes.‭ ‬And finally,‭ ‬there will be a loud noise‭ ‬-‭ ‬something like gunfire.‭ ‬And then,‭ ‬I’ll be dead.‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

Hell Hath No Fury…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.‭‭

Over the next few days,‭ ‬he filled the sky with stars,‭ ‬raised mountains so that there would be high places and filled the low places with oceans and lakes.‭‭

He created all manner of beast and plants and,‭ ‬on the sixth day,‭ ‬he created man in his own image.‭ ‬And he called him Adam.‭‭

And then,‭ ‬well and truly knackered,‭ ‬he went to bed.‭‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

The Wrong Right Turn

I woke up aching and tired with the sort of tiredness that comes from too much thinking and too many miles.‭‭‭

I’d had a difficult few weeks.‭ ‬My mother had died and I’d missed her funeral.‭ ‬I’d returned to England and my father and I had spoken.‭ ‬Good words,‭ ‬but words we’d almost left too late.‭ ‬We’d parted friends though,‭ ‬for the first time in our lives.‭‭‭

It had been raining when I left my father and the rain followed me all the way to the ferry.‭ ‬Normandy was drier and warmer but,‭ ‬by the time I got to Brittany,‭ ‬the rain threatened again and so I stopped and found a camp site where I set up my tent for the night.‭‭

‭I slept restlessly,‭ ‬with too many thoughts crowding my mind.‭ ‬I welcomed the dawn‭ ‬-‭ ‬time to do rather than think.‭ ‬I got dressed and walked into the village.‭ ‬At a cafe I had breakfast and read the paper‭ ‬-‭ ‬bad news as usual,‭ ‬but other people’s bad news.‭‭

Back at the camp site I took down the tent and loaded Bessie up.‭‭‭

Bessie is a black BMW R80.‭ ‬We’ve been together a long time and shared many miles.‭ ‬I don’t know when I started to call her Bessie but I do and I think that she understands.‭‭‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

The Bloodstone

The Meteorite had come from far away.‭ ‬During the thousands of years that it had spent ricocheting across the endless voids of space,‭ ‬it had seen much and knew almost all the history of the universe.

Over the years,‭ ‬countless collisions had whittled it down in size until it was now not much larger than a small family house,‭ ‬although houses had yet to be dreamed of on the blue and green planet that it was hurtling towards.‭

As it passed though the‭ ‬planet’s atmosphere,‭ ‬the heat from the planet’s atmosphere caused the stone to shrink even further and gave its surface a reddish glaze.‭

If anyone on the planet had been watching the Southern sky that night,‭ ‬they would have seen a faint streak of grey,‭ ‬almost hidden amongst the distant stars.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬the Earth was still young and man had not yet been born.‭ ‬And so,‭ ‬the stone went unobserved.‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

Homecoming

It was raining when they let him out,‭ ‬and cold as well.‭ ‬Somehow he had been expecting this.‭ ‬He pulled his jacket closer around him and paused as he heard them slam the doors behind him.‭‭

Five years.‭ ‬Five long years wasted.‭ ‬But now it was over,‭ ‬he’d done his time.‭‭

There was no one waiting for him.‭ ‬He hadn’t told anyone about his release date.‭ ‬He’d wanted to do this his own way‭ ‬-‭ ‬on his own.‭‭

He turned left and headed into town.‭ ‬There was a station there.‭ ‬He’d get a train and go somewhere,‭ ‬anywhere.‭ ‬And,‭ ‬when he got there,‭ ‬he’d decide what it was he was going to do.‭‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

Ghosts

When my marriage broke up I hit the road.‭

Everyone thought I was crazy‭ ‬-‭ ‬maybe I was but it seemed like the right thing to do.‭

Maybe I’m still crazy‭ ‬-‭ ‬who knows‭?

I don’t know if I found any answers on the road but there weren’t too many questions either.

Sally and I had done well with the house.‭

We’d bought it cheap and,‭ ‬by the time it was all over between us,‭ ‬the market had risen so much that we could sell it,‭ ‬pay off the mortgage and still have enough left over so that we could both make a new start with our lives.‭

Sally sold her car and bought a flat just round the corner from her work.‭ ‬I jacked in my job and bought myself a bike.‭‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

A Summer’s Tale

I met her on the road back from Les Sables.‭ ‬She’d been there for the fireworks party and mega celebrations that always followed the end of the Round the World yacht race.‭

She later told me that she wasn’t so interested in yachting,‭ ‬although she admitted that she found most yachtsmen,‭ ‬particularly the round the world ones,‭ ‬sexy as hell.‭

“The great thing about long distance racing,‭”‬ she told me.‭ ‬“Is that the boats come in over a period of two or three days.‭ ‬Thus,‭ ‬the parties go on for at least two or three days.‭ ‬Cool parties,‭ ‬fit sailors,‭ ‬what more could a girl want‭?”

That’s not exactly the first thing she said to me.‭ ‬Not quite.‭

From the smoke coming out of the engine,‭ ‬she was obviously broken down.‭ ‬I would have stopped anyway,‭ ‬no matter what she was riding but her particular ride was a black BMW,‭ ‬like mine.‭

But,‭ ‬whereas Bessie is built for long distances and comfort,‭ ‬the poorly bike stood at the side of the road had been stripped down and set up for speed.‭

When I pulled up next to her,‭ ‬by the side of that dusty road,‭ ‬she informed me in no uncertain terms that she…‭ ‬‬“Didn’t fuck bikers,‭ ‬on a point of principle.‭”‬

That she‭ ‬“was quite capable of fixing her own bike.‭”‬

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

Winter Kills

I was in the basement with Carla when the bombs exploded.‭ ‬Or,‭ ‬should I say,‭ ‬one of the bombs.‭

I don’t think anyone knows how many bombs were detonated that day.‭

I don’t think that anyone expected that the five hour war would totally change the way the world worked.‭

I don’t think that anyone realised that when the radios and telephones stop working,‭ ‬when the hospitals fill up and the drugs run out,‭ ‬when the food runs out….‭ ‬well then,‭ ‬anyone with a gun becomes a warlord.‭

Yes,‭ ‬we all saw pictures of the run up to it on the TV.‭ ‬I guess none of us thought that it would go so far.‭ ‬But that was Mogadishu and Somalia,‭ ‬and Iraq and Iran.‭

It’s different when it’s Basingstoke and Brighton.‭ ‬It really is.‭

And five hours is all it took.‭ ‬From the chemical bombs in London to the suicide nukes in the States‭ ‬-‭ ‬the world didn’t die from nuclear fallout,‭ ‬just the total breakdown of communication and supply chains.‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

The Storm

The West Cornwall moors are a dangerous place to be when the mists come down and the storm clouds gather.‭‭

The narrows lanes disappear into the murky darkness leaving the lone traveller lost and alone.‭ ‬There are no people here when the mists come down,‭ ‬there is no life when the storm clouds brew.‭ ‬Just the mist and the hint of rain on the slowly gusting wind.‭‭

I had been riding here for years but had always taken care and this was the first time that I had been caught out in a storm.‭‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

She Waits by the Window

Joe got on his bike and pulled on his helmet.‭ ‬The mornings were cold for August and Joe would be glad to get into work where it would be warm.

He glanced back at the cottage.

Sarah was sitting in her favourite chair by the window.‭ ‬She smiled and waved at Joe.‭ ‬Joe waved back.

For the millionth time he thought to himself how lucky he was.

He started the bike and pulled out into the lane.

He looked back at the cottage.‭ ‬Sarah was still sat by the window‭; ‬still smiling at him.

Work passed quickly.‭ ‬Joe wasn’t as interested in his work as he had been before the accident,‭ ‬it just didn’t seem to matter as much as it had done before.

All he cared about was Sarah,‭ ‬that she was OK.

Of course,‭ ‬she didn’t get out as much as she had before the accident.‭ ‬Joe understood that.‭ ‬He’d noticed people looking at him strangely recently.‭ ‬It was almost as if they blamed him for the accident‭ – ‬silly people.‭ ‬He couldn’t care less but obviously Sarah did.

Joe thought about all the good times they’d had before the accident.‭ ‬The weekend runs to Wales,‭ ‬pitching their tent in that little camp site‭; ‬exploring the country side by day and exploring themselves by night.

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

The Last Run

The early morning mist rose slowly off the winter ground as the sun tried to warm the frozen road.‭

There were thirteen of us here‭ ‬-‭ ‬all of us that remained from the original club.‭

This would be our last ride‭ ‬-‭ ‬there would be no more.‭

And so we waited silently astride our bikes,‭ ‬all waiting for a signal,‭ ‬a signal that would begin the end.‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

The Collector

There was an evil chill in the air and the old man felt it deep in his bones as he stood and watched the big,‭ ‬black bike charge down the hill.‭

In the damp evening air he could hear the muted rumble of the bike’s exhaust echoing mournfully across the empty farmland.‭ ‬‘An alien sound‭’‬,‭ ‬he thought,‭ ‬’strange in this lonely,‭ ‬desolate place.‭’‬

A fine drizzle began to fall and,‭ ‬in the granite strewn field,‭ ‬the old man turned and started to walk back to his cottage.‭ ‬He would have to make a phonecall and suddenly he had great need of the warmth of his fire and the comfort of his pipe.‭

As the bike continued on its way,‭ ‬the old man called out softly,‭ ‬too quiet to be heard by anyone save himself,‭ ‬“Go gentle me handsome,‭ ‬there be the devil’s work about tonight.‭”

Unaware that it was being watched,‭ ‬the bike sped on.

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.

End of Story

I stood high on the hill overlooking the cemetery and watched as the mourners made their way back to the waiting cars.‭

Martin’s parents led the procession,‭ ‬walking side by side but apart as if each blamed the other for their son’s death.‭

Later,‭ ‬I knew that Martin’s abrasive father would complain that…‭ ‬“Martin had cost them plenty in life and then plenty more in death.‭”

But today,‭ ‬and perhaps for the first time ever,‭ ‬Martin could do no wrong.‭

Now don’t get me wrong,‭ ‬I like to think that I’m a tough enough guy.‭ ‬I’ve certainly been to more than my fair share of funerals.‭

But,‭ ‬as I watched all those poor people walking slowly in the rain,‭ ‬missing for the first time someone that they had lost years ago,‭ ‬I felt a tear form in my eye and,‭ ‬strong as I am,‭ ‬could find no strength to brush it away.‭

Later on,‭ ‬back at the pub,‭ ‬after I had said goodbye to Martin in the time honoured manner and feeling a little worse for wear,‭ ‬I managed to remember where it was that I had first met him.‭ ‬It was that night,‭ ‬that night when the rain…‭

To find out what happened next you’ll need to buy a copy of Different Roads – available from Lulu.com from 1st February 2012.