She’d passed the building countless times:
Houses on north side of street
Face industry on south.
This house is narrow like others.
But brick painted white and
A few other differences of note:
Brick pedestal holds
Black skull with silver wings.
Half-dozen Harley’s rest
In paved front yard.
Sign on pedestal reads
Hell’s Angels 54.
Another sign, three doors west:
Is there some story there?
She’s looking to buy a house
With garage to shelter coveted Vespa.
This house has no garage, but
A Vespa would surely be safe
From random thieves just
Three doors from Hell’s Angels 54.
Surely a grannie with a Vespa
Could depend on Hell’s Angels
To protect her wheels at home.
But this grannie wondered
About how safe she could feel
Riding to work?
Will bikers give her a rough time?
Can Vespas even be locked adequately?
She doesn’t know anything about Vespas
Except she truly wants one.
She buys the house
And shiny new yellow Vespa…
And tries to assume safety
Of new wheels somehow assured
By proximity to new unmet neighbours.
But doubt creeps in.
Do these leather-clad ruffians
Understand their responsibility
To her? I mean, really?
So new yellow Vespa helmet
With tiny yellow visor
Clutched neatly in string shopping bag,
She approaches silver-winged skull
And without hesitation knocks
On black door.
No answer. Knocks again.
Hog roars up…
Rider big and bearded and tattooed.
He: Hey! No one’s home.
She: I want to speak
......To your public relations director.
Did he just roll his eyes?
He: Oh, That'll be Skinner.
......He’ll be here in a bit.
......Wanna come in and wait?
Enormous be-ringed fingers key in code for lock
And open door.
In they walk.
OK, it does smell of beer and stale smoke.
Regular smoke, not the other kind.
She does know what that smells like.
After all she’s not without experience, you know.
Her best friend’s boyfriend in university
Was one of Timothy Leary's students at Harvard.
Of course sugar cube stuff didn't smell,
But stuff they smoked did.
And this is acrid smell of tobacco.
Lots and lots of stale tobacco.
And lots and lots of stale beer.
Reeking room is clean, just strewn with
Half-filled glasses and fully-filled ashtrays.
He: I'm Bones. Can I get yer
......Summit to drink?
She notices gap in his smile
Where discoloured tooth should have been.
She: Thanks, I don't drink.
He: Do ya drink orange juice?.
..... Squeezed some fresh this mornin'.
Skinner arrives as she sips OJ
Daintily from chilled beer mug.
Tall lanky version of Bones, he
Quickly glances at compadre
To explain unusual guest.
Bones just shrugs heavy shoulders,
Leaves him alone with her.
He: OK, Grannie. why’ve you come
......To Hell's Angels 54?
She tells him of worries about
Rampant Vespa thieves.
He: You're like a neighbour.
......No one would dare harm yer scooter
......So closter our headquarters.
......Sorta like livin next to 55 Division of the cops,
......But differnt, ya know.
......What about when I park
Skinner raises unruly eyebrows.
She: I have an idea for your public relations efforts
......That would be good for me…
......And lots of other road grannies.
She outlines her plan:
Hell's Angels across nation
Will guarantee grannies and their bikes
Will not be messed with.
Grannies will have special crests
To mount on machines, coats and helmets.
No one in his right mind
Would bother a grannie so clearly protected by
Hell's Angels, would they?
And public could see Hell's Angels
Have warm-hearted side.
If some registered grannie's bike is ever found
In another's possession,
There'll be Hell to pay...
Skinner seizes opportunity to trade on
Tough outlaw image
And provide valuable public service.
Shakes her hand.
Hires her to coordinate
New Hell's Grannies programme.
She designs Hell’s Grannies crest-logo,
Gets it registered as trademark,
Manages staff that log grannies
And their cycles,
Orders tee-shirts, mugs and
Pink leather jackets and helmets
All with new crest.
She co-ordinates media advertising,
Does sell-in with Hell's Angels affiliates
All across country and
Conducts press conferences.
She’s spokes-grannie for national
Advertising and PR campaign.
Now she doesn't need her Vespa
To ride to work
Because she works
For Hell's Angels 54,
Just three doors from home.
......16 September 2003