Mike rides like the wind on a night during the last slow stretch of Fall. Cold, fast, and gone before you have a chance to see it move the palms.
From PCH to the 710 to the 5, straight into the heart of the city, we fly down the dark concrete band toward the collage of bright lights which taper up to one elegant and crowning point.
The nights are getting colder and the days are getting shorter and the dark will turn to dawn before we’re all home.
We stop at a bar near the river just after midnight.
We started in Orange County and made our way up the coast quickly towards the blue light bridge. At its base, some turned around and headed back, but a small group went further. Itched for the long ride, searching for the empty streets of the big city.
“I could use a beer,” Nick says, as he takes his helmet off.
“Fuck, I could use a few son,” replies Mike, still seated.
There is a staggered chuckle from the group.
The red neon calls us, but as the others make their way in, Nick and I wait outside and smoke.
After a long silence he coughs and asks, “Are you gonna’ see her tonight?”
I mull this thought over.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
I pause again, hesitate, and then reply.
“I just don’t.” I then continue, “There’s nothing more to it than that. It flickers and happens sometimes and then sometimes it doesn’t. It just dries up and fizzles and dies.”
He thinks over what I’ve told him.
“It’s not a regular thing,” I add.
He nods and then takes a drag and asks, “So what do you do about it?”
“I just run with it,” I say, “Let it happen, but I don’t push it.”
Nick tosses his cigarette onto the floor and crushes the glowing embers under his boot.
“Well,” he says, “I’m not one to tell you what to do, but just handle your shit, alright?”
“Alright,” I say, with a grin, “You don’t have to worry about me.”
He pats me on the back three times like an old friend looking out for me.
“You know me man, I always worry,” he says.
“I know. Thanks.”
He starts walking the entrance and I take my time against the wall, waiting, smoking. Watching every car that passes by. Carefully observing the catalog of moving shapes, looking for a familiar one.
CCR plays from inside and I pull out a joint from the case inside my jacket pocket and light it.
Well, take me back down where cool water flow, yeh
Let me remember things I love
The nights are bleeding into days and the days are getting shorter.