Floydata was a grease monkey, a sunshade mechanic that technology had left behind. The garage he ran sat just on the fringe of Lefthand, WV. A small mountain village in a rural area of a rural state. The building was surrounded by the obligatory rusted hulks of decades past. A Desoto Firedome Coupé, its chrome pitted and rusted, sits on rotten tires, a tribute to the age of tail fins. Relics of bygone pickup trucks, missing headlights or grills or both, steel browned from years of exposure with no SPF 50, litter the lot. A couple of Studebaker Hawks could be project cars, if someone were interested, but interested people don’t live in Lefthand. Floydata could fix just about anything, as long as it was vintage, or before computers, fuel injection, catalytic converters and a plethora of smog stuff took residence in Henry’s progeny. Carbs, two barrel or four or multi-sets, presented no challenge. As a good musician might play by ear, he could tune a V-8 just by the sound resonating off the exhaust. The engineers in Detroit, Tokyo and Munich had relegated mechanics like Floydata as useless as an Encyclopedia Britannica in the age of laptops and tablets. He still managed an existence with oil changes, lube jobs and tires, but he was part of a dying breed either unable or unwilling to adapt.
Floydata had two loves in his life, his motorcycle and his girl. His bike was a 1977 Harley-Davidson Sportster, Confederate Edition, sporting a grey paint job, stars and bars on the gas tank and a general’s sleeve braid on the front fender. While his riding gear amounted to “washed twice a year” dungarees, scuffed Red Wings, sweat stained T-shirt and leather jacket, adorned with Viet Vet, Army, and H-D patches; the bike was immaculate. Not a scratch, a ding, or a spot of road grime was evident as he mounted up for a weekend ride with his girl.
Flovanna was a country girl, a mountain girl; if Lefthand had streets, she’d been street savvy. As it was, she was just “country smart”. Working two jobs since leaving school early with a G.E.D.; she spent mornings slinging hash in “Jolene’s Cafe” and evenings slinging beer and cheap drinks at “Big Dick’s” bar. A favorite with the regulars at “Big Dick’s”, she was easy to spot. A tall drink of water, legs to rival a giraffe and curves like a grand prix circuit. Nature had blessed her in many ways. Her tits, while not overly abundant, were nestled close, creating a grand canyon of cleavage that men wanted to get lost in. Flovanna knew her assets. She didn’t flaunt them, she didn’t tease them, but she didn’t tuck them away in a turtleneck either. Just call it product placement.
Floy and Flo were holdouts. Their contemporaries had departed for jobs, lives and futures in places like Charleston, Huntington, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. There was nothing to hold Floy in Lefthand except maybe Flo. Flo was there for her mom. She’d known her all of her life; it was a strong bond built of love, mutual respect and a changing role of dependency. So there they were, hold outs in a futureless town that time was bypassing. Sharing what lives they had, being tossed together, victims of circumstance as fate played a closely held hand.
Sunday, the only day Big Dick’s didn’t open. This was a fall Sunday, the trees emerging from the dressing rooms cloaked in reds and golds. Days were as crisp as a fresh apple. Flo heard the throaty rumble of the grey ghost before Floy turned the corner onto her street. Kissing mom lightly on the cheek, she said she was off for a ride with Floy and would be back before dinner. With that, Flo was out the door.
Floy was in the driveway, straddling the bike as it rested on its kickstand. With his scuffed Red Wings, dusty dungarees, leather jacket, the chain connecting belt and wallet hanging low along his leg, red Stars and Bars bandana tied around his head, eyes hidden behind a pair of Walmart shades, Floy was the archetypical portrait of a biker. As the house door opened, Floy re-fired the Harley. The twin V roared to life as the kickstand snapped up in response to Floy’s boot. Without a word, Flo settled in behind Floy. The straight pipes resounded with the thunder of exhaust as Floy headed out of town.
The county road was quiet on this Sunday afternoon. As the road climbed out of the valley, Floy rolled the bike side to side as he negotiated the hairpin turns. One valley over, the county road tee’d with a state road. With barely a boulevard stop, Floy hung a right and headed north. Flo, with her arms wrapped around his waist, snuggled against Floy’s back. The colors of autumn flew by, weaving a kaleidoscope of hues. Deep greens of pine opposed the soft yellows of the ash. Oak punctuated the scene with brilliant reds while maples, caught on the fence, moderated with tones of orange. On they rode.
Another right turn took them east and back across the mountain ridge. As the bike climbed effortlessly through hairpins, the shadows grew longer and the temperature cooled. As they approached the summit, Flo nuzzled Floy ear, “Floy, Floy baby, I’m cold!” With that and without any statement, Floy found a wide spot in the road, eased over and silenced his ride. “Flo honey, git down. I got an idea,” says Floydata as he began to dismount. Removing his leather jacket, he held it for Flo to slip on. Back on the bike, the twin V roared to life, the reverberation flushing songbirds from nearby trees. Back on the road, the tires sang their song on the pavement while Floy had his own rhythm rolling the bike side to side as he navigated the turns down the mountain.
Flo, with her lips close to his ear, called out over the rumble of the bike, “Floy, Floy baby. I’m still cold!” Again, without muttering a sound, Floy found a spot to stop. Just like before, Floydata had an idea. “Flo honey, zip the jacket and turn up the collar.” With the jacket zipped, the collar flipped, and her ass back in the seat, the two were back on the highway, enjoying the throb of motor, the onrushing wind and nature around them.
Her arms wrapped a bit more tightly around him. She snuggled closer to his back. It didn’t matter how close she got to him, how much she tried to shelter herself, the wind continued to siphon the heat from her body. Once more she called out to him, “Floy, Floy baby, I just can’t get warm. I’m freezin’ here baby!” Just as before, Floy began to bring the bike to a stop. This time he didn’t need a wide spot in the road as they had come to a stop sign, where they needed to turn south, back towards Lefthand. With nary a vehicle in sight, Floy stopped the bike at the edge of the pavement. Off the bike, he turned to Flo, “Honey, I got an idea, take the jacket off.” With a certain reluctance, Flo removed the jacket and handed it over to Floydata. Floy took the jacket, turned it around and offered it back to Flo, “Flo honey, put it on backwards and I’ll zip it up for you.” She placed her arms into the sleeves; right arm in the left sleeve, left arm in the right sleeve. Turning away from Floy, he pulled the jacket to and zipped it, all the way to the collar. Turning her back around, Floy then turned the jacket collar up across her face. “There, that should cut the wind and keep you warm. Now, sit that sweet ass of yours back on the bike and let’s get home!”
“Floy baby, you’re a wonderful and thoughtful guy. You take such good care of me.” Flo climbed back onto her perch behind Floy.
The Harley rumbled to life. As a semi barreled towards the intersection, Floydata turned onto the highway. The semi driver, reacting to the sudden appearance of the motorcycle in his lane, blasted the air horn as he swung left, just far enough to pass, but squeezing Floy and Flo to the berm. Floy wasn’t happy.
As the needle on Floy’s pressure regulator pegged, so did the throttle under his right hand. Racing up to the rear of the semi, Floy spotted a bumper sticker. It said, “I maybe slow, but I’m ahead of you.” With that straw, Floy’s camel dropped to its knees and rolled over. Floy was looking to pass and looking hard. A turn stopped the first attempt. The second time he pulled out, he met a semi coming the other way and ducked back just in time. Just in time avoided the oncoming truck, but wasn’t helpful as his antagonist slammed on the brakes to miss a deer.
As the deer scampered safely away and up the embankment, smoke rolled off the semi’s tires as 70,000 lbs struggled to stop. Behind the semi, having accelerated to pass, Floydata couldn’t react quickly enough. It probably didn’t help that the front wheel just fit under the Mansfield bar. When the front frame member contacted with the semi, Floydata had already begun to leave his seat as inertia rocketed him forward. Flovanna’s own inertia helped to propel him forward as her screams in his ear blocked out the squeal of his own tires, fighting to find grip. The bike couldn’t find purchase fast enough. Lightened of it’s load as the two bodies went airborne, the Grey Ghost slipped down and under the semi’s frame. Floy, locked in Flo’s death grip, abruptly became one with the trailer’s doors. In rapid succession, first his nose, then forehead and teeth as his face flatten like a penny left on the rails.
Flo was more fortunate, only because she had Floy as a cushion. As much of a cushion as a pillow on a bed of nails, but it did work. Call it a going away present, only Floydata was the one leaving. Slowly, everything ground to a stop and like a Looney Tunes cartoon, Floydata and Flovanna slipped down to the pavement from where they left their impact marks on the trailer. The Confederate Edition Sportster was instantly reduced to a relic of bent steel and crushed chrome; its stars and bars to no longer fly.
First on the scene was the local sheriff. He arrived, siren singing and bubble gum light spinning its red beacon, the lighthouse of the highway. The sheriff began his initial investigation and was interviewing the semi driver when the volunteer rescue squad arrive. As the EMTs bailed out of their squad, equipment kits in tow, one called out, “Hey, sheriff, what we got here?”
“Well, from the looks of it, Floydata here was killed outright in the collision. Flovanna seemed to have survive the impact until I turned her head around the right way.”