THE NOBLE QUEST OF THE BIKE PEOPLE
Jud and Jake walked down the long, dirt road. It was a sizzling hot summer day and Jud's feet sweeped up dirt as they walked. Jake was twiddling the still-sweet stick of a near-finished lollipop in his mouth.
"Why the hell are we doing this, anyway?" Jake asked as they approached Tony Stevens' ranch house. There was a mixed sense of facetiousness and unrest in his voice.
"Because," Jud replied, "if I don't get my bike back my dad'll fucking kill me. I just got it, like, a week ago. He asked me about it yesterday and I told him I left it at Mike's and that I'd get it today. Plus, I gotta get it back somehow."
Tony was smoking a cigarette in his front yard, tending to his family's horses. He was wearing a wife beater, exposing the barbed wire tattoo on his bicep. Jud and Jake walked up and leaned forward against the fence of the stable. Jake threw his former sucker's stick to the ground.
"Hey, Tony," Jud said.
Tony turned around and strutted toward the two freshman boys. He took a nice, long drag of his cigarette before he started talking.
"First of all," he began before he took another drag of his cigarette, "take your goddamn arms off my fence."
"Oookay," Jud said, irritated, but not surprised with the kind greeting.
"Listen, Tony, we just came back here to get my friend's bike back. We know you have it, and we don't want this to turn into a big deal. He just got it a week ago," explained Jud.
"He shouldn't have left it over at Chris'. He shouldn't even have been at Chris'. None of you little shits should've."
"Chris told us we could be there. If anyone, it's his fuckin' fault we were there. He shouldn't've told us we could go over there."
Tony dragged his cigarette and flicked it into the desert behind us.
"You think I'm fucking stupid? You all knew Chris' dad was out of town and that Chris wasn't even suppose to be there. Anyways, if your friend wasn't such a dumb little shit he would've grabbed his bike when you all pussied out and ran off."
"Dude," Jud finally hopped into the mix, "we don't want to start a confrontation out of this. We don't want to turn this into a big deal. Just give me my bike back and we'll never have to see each other again."
"I don't have your bike."
"I don't have your damn bike. I gave it to the police station this morning."
"What the hell are you guys doing here?!" a middle aged, angry female voice came from around the corner.
From around the corner came Tom, Tony's mom. Nobody's quite sure what posessed her parents to give her a man's name. Tom was one of these short, tan, overexaggerative middle aged women who's always upset or pissed off with something or someone. She's the type of woman who would pull out a shotgun on you if she saw you creeping on her property, without taking a second to think twice. Redneck, power-hungry, quick to act (or, rather, quick to not think); she was one of those low-class angry and scared Americans with an angry and scared family.
"What the hell do you boys think you're doing on my god damn property?!" She walked toward us from up the road, "And what the hell is this?!"
She picked up Jake's half-soggy lollipop stick from the dirt.
"Who's is this? Is this one of yours?"
"No, ma'm" Jake replied.
"Not mine," said Jud.
"Don't bullshit me. Are you bullshitting me?"
Jud and Jake both stood silent in shock. Before either of them could come up with an an answer, she pressed on.
"You," she locked on her snake-like eyes to Jud and moved toward him, "open your mouth."
Jud opened his mouth. She observed his tongue and breath, then sharply moved on toward Jake.
"You, Jacob, open your mouth," she demanded.
Jacob didn't say anything and opened his mouth.
"It's red. Your tongue is red. Your lips are red. This is your fucking garbage on my property."
"I'm sorry, okay? We just came to get my friend's bike back."
Tony stood there and lit another cigarette.
"You barge onto my property, litter it with your fucking garbage, lie about and expect your bike back?"
"Listen," Jud interrupted, "we don't want to turn this in to a big deal. We just want to get the bike back and leave."
"Well, you're not getting your friend's bike back. Ever. Don't you guys know what happened to your friend Chris that night?"
"Yeah," Jake had a mildly bold tone, "you guys called the cops on him and he got arrested."
"Yeah. That's exactly what happened. And you know why? Because all you little trouble-making kids ran off. Buncha friends you guys are. He could have died that night, he was passed out on the couch when we got there. The place was a fucking pig sty. If you guys had just come back like we asked and cleaned the god damn house we wouldn't have had to call the police. But you and your buddies just ditched Chris at the house for him to do everything. And you call him your friend."
"Chris is our friend, all right?!" Jud was starting to get angry. "He told us to leave, so we did! And we were watching him that night, making sure he stayed off his back and that he was okay! There was always someone watching over him!"
As if the situation wasn't complicated enough, at that moment George's mom, Mary, drove up in her Cadillac beside Jake and Jud. George, one of Jud and Jake's best friends, was in the passenger's seat. George's mom rolled down the window.
"Don't bullshit me. Your whole group of friends is just a bunch of goddamn trouble makers, burdening everyones' lives who surround you. And what the fuck is this, a convention? What the hell are you doing here?"
George leaned over his mom and spoke out her window.
"I just saw these guys from the street and were seeing if they needed a ride," George said.
The tension was quickly rising. You could feel it.
"Yeah, they need a ride. They need a ride off my goddamn property is what they need." Tom was really stuck on her property.
"Yeah," Tony finally butted in, "get the fuck outta here!"
"Can we please just get the bike back?" Jud pleaded.
"I told you, we turned it in to the police station this morning! If you need it so bad go down to the station and get it yourself!"
Tom walked up to the window of George's mom's Cadillac.
"You know, you fucking make me sick," Tom was beginning a rant, and you could tell. "Its because of parents like you that there are kids like this. I don't know what went wrong when you were raising your children. These pot smoking, trouble making little shits are running around making everyone elses' lives miserable. Do you not care? Do you not care that your children are going to be flipping fucking hamburgers when they grow up? You know what, you're a horrible mother and a horrible parent."
A face came over George's mom of pure terror and guilt, like her own self-conscious was chastising her. You could see it in her eyes - fear, guilt, sadness, anger - all blending into a face of complete shock and horror. Jud turned his head toward Tony. He was just standing there with a smug smirk on his face, puffing his god damn cigarette.
That's the thing about ladies like Tom, if you can really call her a lady. She's smart. That's her strong point: She's horribly and terribly smart. Her head isn't in the right place, her values are warped and her logic is skewed, but she's damn smart. And worst of all, she can get into your head. If you've talked with her for more than ten minutes, she'll know exactly how to pry into your head and say exactly the right thing to bring you to submission.
"What the fuck's your problem, lady?!" George nearly screamed at her, obviously furious.
"Don't you fucking talk to me like that on my own property. See? No respect. These kids have no morals, no respect, no sense of anything. And its all because of parents like you."
"Jud, Jake," George commanded, "lets go."
Jud and Jake made their way toward either sides of the car. Mary was sitting there, silent.
"None of you ever step foot on my property again." She marched back down the road and around the corner.
"Yeah, get the fuck outta here," Tony yelled as we started to pull out.
Jud and Jake sat in the back seat as George tried to comfort his mom. They couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for George and his mom. She didn't deserve that, he didn't deserve this.
"Mom, don't listen to her. She's a redneck bitch. One of her daughters is a fucking crackhead, and Tony's going nowhere in life. Only work he does is in the front yard of his sister's boyfriend's house. Their whole family is totally screwed up."
His mom stopped at the road. You could feel what was coming.
"What a fucking bitch!" Mary exclaimed. Her voice become staggeringly unsturdy half way into saying it. As much as we wished and hoped it wouldn't happen, we still knew the inevitable was coming: She broke down and began to cry. Not just cry, she began to bawl.
"She's just a stupid bitch, Mary," Jud said, trying to help George calm her down. In tension as thick as that, things like that go unheard.
George continued to try and comfort his mom. She pulled out onto the road, madly and furiously bawling. The ranting and cursing from Mary, the comforting from George and the dead silence from the back of the car created air thick as oil with dismay. The car was swerving along the road, the car as unsteady as the atmosphere inside of it. The ride back to George's house seemed to be the longest car ride of Jud's life. But when it was over, it seemed to have been one of the shortest.
Jud and Jake sat in George's room as he comforted his mom in the living room. Long gaps of silence almost consistently interrupted their conversation of Tony, Tom and the bike. But after George returned to his room and sat in his big, blue chair, the weariness and silence seemed to single-handedly rid the air of tension. Without having to say a word, they knew they were all thinking about the same thing: Revenge.