Wednesday, June 2, 2010


"...Wait, let me take that back. There was one time..."

I stole my friends motorcycle when he was drunk, passed out on the floor, pieces of throw-up stuck to his lips. It was late and they drive on the left side of the road over there so I was a bit out of place and out of my element. That and I didn't have a license nor did I really know how to ride a motorbike. Conceptually, I had a good idea about how to do so but had never actually made an attempt to try it before that night. There's a first time for everything though and because I was tired, I figured that I could make it happen. I wanted my bed and to sleep and I didn't think about my friend at all...I was a horrible friend and I was wreckless.

The bike started up just fine, just one turn of the key that I had taken from his front pocket while he slept and I was off. Luckily, the house that we were at was in a small, quiet, suburban Japanese neighborhood and I was the only one on the road. This gave me the freedom to practice a bit with the throtle and brakes to make sure that I didn't kill myself. The ominous, Japanese rabbit moon above also provided enough extra light so I didn't feel scared.

Needless to say, I ended up crashing his bike anyway and landed in a ditch on the side of the road. Crossing the bridge on the left side of the road to head back in the direction of my apartment proved to be more difficult than I had thought and the lights from an on coming car spooked me. There weren't many European-Americans in the hood where I lived and I was certain that if I was spotted, I would be pulled over and arrested only to spend the rest of my existence in a Japanese prison. I had heard horror stories about foreigners in the jails there and never wanted to see what they were like from first hand experience.

I was okay though but the bike was not. The owner, my friend was bigger than me, he was a sumo wrestler and I was afraid of what he might do to me when he found out. I always thought he looked funny riding that little bike with the basket mounted on the front but I never told him so. He was a sweet guy but could crush me with his pinky if he was so inclined. I did my best to stay on his good side, but now, with his broken motorbike in my possesion, I wasn't so sure that I would be able to stay in the clear with him.

As I stared at his bike on the ground, my hands on my head, I wondered what I would tell him. I wasn't wearing a helmut either, but I was a badass like that. When I had finally composed myself and had stood the bike back up, confident that I would be able to make the rest of the ride home in one piece and had recovered from the shock of the crash, my cell phone rang. It was him, Miyata Michio the sumo wrestler.

He woke up and realized that I had left him and that his bike was gone. He didn't sound mad, a little sleepy and drunk but all that he really wanted was for me to come back and give him a ride back to our building. I inspected the bike for any damage and couldn't see any. Slowly this time, I started the bike, got back and on and drove 22 kilometers per hour down the road in the opposite direction of our appartment to go get him. I crossed the nearest bridge again, accross the Nigawa River where I would back-track to the house where the wrestler lay.

He was waiting for me outsited when I arrived, luckily looking more sleepy and drunk than angry. When I came to a complete stop, he and all of his 300 pounds of sinewy muscle, "bear hugged" me and plopped onto the bak of the bike behind me. "Be careful, aight," he said in drunken Japanglish, his version of hip-hop slang and Japanese. We were quite the sight going down the road, skinny white boy driving with the large Japanese man attached to him like glue and still moving no more than 25 kilometers per hour.

We got to the apartment building but this time, before I could bring the bike to a complete stop, Miyata Michio the wrestler jumped off the back and ran into the building without me. I parked his ride in his space and let myself into the front doors only to find my friend passed out on the couch in the first floor lobby. I let out a long sigh hoping that he would hear me and wake up and then walked up the three flights of stairs to my room and went to sleep. I was trying not to think about what he might say to me the next morning when he would take the bike downtown to his weekly sumo practice.

Without me telling him what I had done, he found out himself when he rode it the next day. The wheel was bent and the whole thing rode funny. He told me of the problem but never accused me of anything, he just asked me for the 20,000 yen it would take to fix it. I never said that I was sorry, never admitted that I had crashed his bike and didn't have to...he knew. I just handed him the two bills and we left it at that.

The Hell's Angel laughed when I told him this. "I knew it!" he said. "It was a Honda right?" I knodded my head in agreement and he slapped me on the shoulder and laughed again and then paused. "So you support us?" he said after that. Confused, I answered with an affirmative though I didn't quite understand the question. "Red, white, and blue," he said. "So you support us," he said again but as a statement this time.

"Sure." I didn't know what else to say to him. Then he unbuttoned his shirt with difficulty, one button at a time. While I thought that this was somewhat natural in a place like San Francisco, I was still caught off guard. Once his shirt was open, he revealed to me a barb wire tattoo around his neck and another one on his shoulder with angels wings. Then he pointed to my shirt, which I had forgotten about. I was wearing a black shirt with wings on them as well. "You's got wings on 'em too," he said now touching my chest with his index finger. "Why, yes I do!" I exclaimed.

"It's good to have badasses like you with us," he said more seriously this time. He also took a hug swig of beer from a paper bag that he was holding and the liquid trickled down his chin. Shit yeah...I was a badass. I rode a Honda scouter with a basket on the front into a ditch one time...and even in a foreign country for chrissake!

The semi-toothless old man put his shirt back on and punched me in the shoulder again, only it was more painful for me this time. "Hell's Angeles broddah man!" He said and then he was gone. I guess that was my in...down with the Angels...I'm a badass...he said so...for real tho.

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