Three on a Harley seemed like a dangerous idea, at first, but it really wasn’t that bad. After all, in Third World countries, entire extended families ride to church on WWII Indians that had been buried in trenches for fifty years before they’d been pulled out, hosed off, and put on the road as-is, without so much as a new tire.
I was a bit squeamish over the fact that there were only two helmets between the six of us, but a lot of that came from watching the giant bird pick Bob up by his head and fly away with him. A helmet seemed like a deterrent to that kind of thing, because a helmet is alien looking and not edible looking and, most importantly, is slippery. Helmet or not, I decided to enjoy this ride.
Riding a motorcycle in the city is always a mystical experience, provided a giant bird doesn’t pluck you off the of the motorcycle by your head and fly away with you. When you are walking in the city, you have to pay attention. You don’t want to get hit by a car or run into someone or walk into a dangerous situation. It’s almost like driving, but slower and more tiring. When you are driving in the city, you don’t see shit but the maniacs in front of you. You can’t look anywhere but straight ahead while you curse and pray. When you are a passenger in a cab or a car in the city, you have windows and the framework of the car, and worst, the roof of the car between you and the view.
Being a passenger on a motorcycle has none of the drawbacks of any other way of getting around. You don’t get tired. Nobody bumps into you. You feel weightless as you soar along. You can SEE. God, you can see everything. People and buildings and signs. You can easily look up and see gargoyles you’ve never noticed from the sidewalk on buildings you’ve passed every day for ten years. You can see the SKY, you can look straight up and see the bowl of the sky over your head, and the tops of the buildings that are all trying to touch it.
I looked up into the morning sky as we bumped out of the park onto Central Park West only to see huge birds making lazy spirals in the sky. I wondered if the view of New York City from the back of a motorcycle was ruined for me forever. When it’s not fun to look at the sky anymore, a lot of things are spoiled.
Mere minutes later, we were at Mike’s building. Kat and Kate slowed, braked, put their feet on the ground, but continued playing with their throttles because it was so hot to make that revving noise. Machine Gun Mike was first off, rushing to punch his security code into the keypad on the door. And it didn’t work. He tried it again. Didn’t work.
Everyone but Kate and Kat jumped off the bikes to peer through the glass windows into the lobby. BJ was in there with a group of his fellow oldsters. He was pointing at us and shaking his head. Mike rapped sharply on the glass door with his gun. The winos in the lobby looked at us with shocked “O” mouths as BJ continued to give them earfuls. Mike juked the gun up and down and glared at BJ, but nobody was coming anywhere near the door.
I was trying to think of a Plan B. I wasn’t up for crashing through the glass and just barging in. The glass didn’t afford the building much security, but it was the only thing that kept the lobby from being part of the street. I imagined that someone would break the glass sooner or later. People were going to start looking for their next meals, and the only place to look was going to be where other people lived. Until then, the building needed to have its lobby. However, we didn’t have time to find another safe place to spend the day.
Mike was out of patience, and he leveled the gun at the window, waving for the old people to get out of the line of fire. Their “O” mouths got more “O”ier, but they didn’t move.
Right before Mike escalated to his breaking point, Moira knocked on the window to get the attention of the people inside. Their heads swiveled from Mike to her. In the grime that had accumulated in the days since cleaning windows had bottomed out of a priority, Moira wrote backwards with her right index finger. I had trouble reading it at first, because it was backwards, but Moira hadn’t written it for me to read. She’d written it for Little Old Lady Lesbian, who stood a little apart from the group with Big Old Lady Lesbian. Moira wrote, “BJ has been eating your cats,” on the window.