Heart of a Warrior
By Nik C. Colyer
Published by Henrioulle Publishing Group
April 2001; 0-970-81630-8; 196 pages
"Come on damn it, we ain't got all night," yells a dark figure sitting on a throbbing apparition in the middle of my new lawn.
I pull on yesterday's Levis, a T-shirt and my gardening sneakers, step out my front door and cross the fragile grass.
Without saying a word, or glancing at the driver, I walk past the glaring headlight, swing my lanky left leg over the back wheel, and sit uncomfortably on a minuscule square of padded leather. The pulse of the idling engine tells me I'm sitting on a Harley-Davidson, my dream machine, my phantom.
After thirty-eight years of waiting, finally someone offers to take me for my first ride on a Harley. I don't care that he's a stranger and that I have no idea where we're going. This single ride has been a dream since I was a boy.
The second my foot leaves the ground, my buffalo-shouldered mystery driver revs his throbbing engine. His bike takes a long wheel-spinning arc across a lawn that I had so painstakingly planted only last month. While getting to the driveway, he maliciously guns his engine and digs his tire in my wife's flowerbed.
For a reason I don't understand, riding off into a hot predawn August morning with this total stranger feels right.
His bike lunges onto the roadway and leans into a deep left turn. Once the bike straightens out, I watch the burly stranger pull back on the left-hand lever. He guns his engine and snaps the clutch like a tightly strung bow. As the front wheel leaps off the ground and climbs high into the air, he lets loose a long, wolf-like howl into the sultry summer night. I'm thrown hard onto the support bar and feel a sharp stab halfway up my spine.
Not until we have traveled a few hundred feet down the deserted highway, with his engine thundering under us, does the slender front wheel gracefully settle back onto the pavement. This is my first taste of popping a wheelie while flying down the road on a Harley.
Wind whips at my stubble black hair, rips at my Sierra Club T-shirt and shrieks in my ears. I dare a look over his shoulders at the speedometer. Ninety-five miles an hour, and he's still pouring on the gas.
I lean back on the support bar and try to catch my breath. Just my luck, I get a ride on a Harley, and the driver is a lunatic.
He yells over the screaming wind, "Relax, Bob sent me."
Who is Bob?
He shouts, "grab me a brewski in the right saddlebag."
He's going almost a hundred miles an hour on a curvy country road, and he wants a beer? No way he'll get any alcohol from me.
He turns his head and yells, "Where the fuck is my beer?"
Although, I don't want to, I'm compelled to reach into the black leather bag and fish for the object of his desire. The bag is lined in plastic, with a six-pack of cans stowed in chipped ice. When I wrap my hand around a can, the frost feels refreshing. I pull the container out and yank the tab. A spray of foam blows in my face. Oh great, we get pulled over, and I'll smell like a brewery.
I see his long wiry hair blowing in the wind, and I realize that neither of us is wearing protective headgear. Excessive speed, consuming alcohol while operating a motor vehicle, no helmets, we're definitely getting pulled over; it's just a matter of time. Instead of taking a cool ride on a hot summer night, a quick jaunt on a Harley, a never-thought-possible-dream-of-a-lifetime, I'm sure to spend the rest of this night in jail. What will Renee say?
I hand his beer forward and catch a glimpse of the label. In thick black lettering, inside a brown shield, the words Harley-Davidson are printed across the can. Below the shield, I read: Heavy Beer.
Heavy Beer! The guy is a lost cause. He's rolling death on two wheels, waiting for a crash. What am I doing here?
He kicks his head back and finishes the entire can of beer in one long pull. With his head still lifted, I'm wondering how he sees the road at all. He expels into the night air a long guttural blast of a belch. When he throws the can over his shoulder, I hear tinny clangs on the pavement far behind.
As a fully paid member of the Sierra Club, I grimace at the barbarian's casual act of profaning the environment. I vow to come back, find his can, then deposit it in a recycling bin.
He turns his head and yells, "You're here for Biker Bob to teach you about being a man. Forget about the beer can, Chance. Pay attention, because you got shit to learn."
I'm positive I never voiced even one syllable of my apprehension. How does he know what I'm thinking? How does he know my name?
He turns his attention back to the road, twists the hand throttle, and his bike, which I thought had reached top speed, leaps ahead as if we had been idling. We lean into a long sloping turn, flying past a familiar fifty-five miles per hour sign, a blur now, as his motorcycle leans deep toward the pavement.
"Oh-h-h, dar-r-r-n-nn," I scream, as we cut into the turn, drifting over the double yellow line into the oncoming lane. Sparks flash as his cycle leans over so far that the frame scrapes pavement. I'm a goner. I lean forward, both arms tightly gripped around his monstrous waist. As I tighten my grip, he erupts with a roaring burst of laughter, and another long wolfish howl. When we reach the far end of the turn, he shoots out onto the open and mercifully straight part of the highway, leading down the hill toward the State Capital, Sacramento. We're still alive, and it's a miracle.
In a sharp flick of his wrist, the engine decompresses. The bike slows hard and slams me against his thick backside. His downshift leaves a short skid. Still going fifty, I look back and see a puff of smoke roll off the rear tire as he shifts again. I spot an open gate a hundred feet ahead of us, when he makes a final downshift. In a measured lump-lump of an idling engine, he pulls off the highway onto a dirt trail where hundreds of motorcycle tracks wander off into a gray dawn.
"Where are we going?" I ask in a regular voice, now that his engine has stopped screaming. I'm delighted that my life has been spared, at least for now.
"It's party time," says the stranger. "Crack me another brewski, and get yourself one, too."
"No thanks," I say, "I don't drink. You wouldn't happen to have a nonalcoholic beer would you?"
He roars with that same wolf-like laughter and shakes his head, "You got a lot to learn, Stewey."
No one has called me Stewey since I was a kid. My nickname instantly brings up old forgotten memories. How does he know my childhood name?
The bike begins a long, slow journey along a dusty, rutted lane. My stomach flutters, but I have been feeling it tremble for the last forty-five minutes. His "It's party time," declaration leaves me suspicious that he will be partying at my expense.
I want to leap off his bike and sprint away into the gray fields. I want to be back home in safety. At the snail's pace he drives, I can jump, but I'm glued to my uncomfortable seat.
We roll over a rise and overlook a small semi-dark valley. The centerpiece of the basin sports a large open-pit fire. The blaze is surrounded by fifteen gleaming motorcycles, all Harleys. Twenty people dance and careen around the huge blaze.
As my driver winds his way into the little valley, my anxiety rises. I'm not only certain that I will not fit into the party, but fear that I may the sacrificial lamb at a satanic biker feast.
He finishes his second beer and tosses the can along the trail. "Gimme another," he demands. "And don't you worry about where my fucking empties are going."
I'm on automatic pilot now and do as I'm told. I stretch my hand into his saddlebag as hooting and yelling reaches us from the meadow. I pop the top and hand the can over his shoulder.
After taking a long swallow, he broadcasts another jarring belch. A number of similar responses echo up.
What kind of crazy place is this? What am I doing here? Who are these rude, uncouth people?
As the engine lumps along in relative quiet, he turns his monstrous head and says, "You're here with us uncouth bastards to learn about being a man, Stewart Chance."
"How do you know what I'm thinking?" I ask.
He snickers. "Your real lesson begins when you meet Bob. Pay attention and stop thinking about them empty beer cans."
My driver rolls his bike into perfect position at the end of the line, turns off his engine, unfurls the kickstand, and dismounts his machine in one smooth movement. Not ready for such quick action, I'm left sitting on the back of a bike that unexpectedly drops toward the ground and comes to a jarring halt at a twenty-degree angle, jerking hard against the kickstand. I land face down in dry weeds with my long, gangly legs tangled in various protruding parts of the bike. He is already ten paces away, before I lift my head. The entire party gawks.
My hulking driver turns, looks at me, and shakes his head. With a sarcastic grin on his face, he says, "Don't think I ever saw anyone get off a bike like that before." The crowd bursts into laughter. When the noise calms, he says, "Would you stop fucking around and come over here. I want you to meet my buds."
I'm beyond embarrassment, beyond feeling like crawling into a hole, but with nothing else to do, I get up and try to stroll casually over to my driver. I notice for the first time that he stands a few inches above me. He's more than six feet tall. The filthy black leather vest he wears can't fully cover his larger tattoos. The visible ones climb both his forearms. His thick, black hair thrusts straight out, a foot from his head. Only his ends begin to give way to gravity. His equally unruly beard, which hangs untrimmed to his chest, is made of the same coarse material.
"Well, come on over here," he demands.
I have stopped ten feet from the flame, a cushion from possible attack. As if his suggestion is a command and a chain pulls me, I leap three strides, stopping in front of him.
My ears buzz, my heart bursts and my throat constricts.
"This here's Stewart Chance, our new prospect."
How does he know my name?
"Prospect to what," I ask aloud. Looking at the crowd of half-drunk maniacs, I ask myself again, what am I doing here? Through the blaze, as smoke swings around to engulf me, I hear a number of chuffs.
My driver says, "you're first job will be to get more wood." He points to a pile ten yards beyond the bikes.
I have found my opportunity to get out of the spotlight, away from their glares. On my third step toward the pile, I slip in a hole and stumble, barely catching my balance.
"Kind of a gangly, sort of guy, ain't he?" I hear.
"Of all people," says another, "why's Bob chosen him?"
"You going to let him clean your scooter?" another asks.
"Hell no," my burly voiced driver says. "He'd probably scratch my paint, but I'm sure he can do a bunch of other shit."
A roar of laughter echoes off the hillside. When things get quiet, he says, "Bob just fucking told me to bring him here."
Around the blaze, they get quiet.
Even in my mind, I can't use the swear word he just spoke. As a young man, I decided not to cuss and not to be around those who do. That resolution has helped make me the spiritual, God-fearing man that I am today. I'm proud of my decision.
Why has this Bob person chosen me?
"Guess he'll be useful till Bob shows up," says another.
A female voice squeaks, "He's got sexy blue eyes."
At the woodpile, I'm relieved to have slipped away from that gang of thugs and misfits. Because I'm not interested in being a prospect, whatever that means, I'll find my own way home.
I walk away from the reveling bikers and, as if squeezed through a funnel, I shift from the wild scene in a meadow to lying beside my wife Renee in our quiet country home. Instead of being a slave to the biker gang, I'm in my bed, after all. I quietly soak in calmness and my wife's breathing. I heave a sigh of relief because I was only dreaming, after all.
Joyful tears well up in my eyes, thankful tears I express often, but only alone in the dark, or when Renee sleeps. I'm a man after all, and gushy expressions should be left to women.
As frightened as I was at the biker party, I'm also intrigued. The ride, now that I have made it out alive, was astounding. Although they designated me a prospect, a form of servant, I felt free and alive, merely from being present.
I look past Renee through our bedroom window at dawn.
Large red numerals in the clock on Renee's nightstand read 5:37, eight minutes before the alarm thrusts us into another day. Smaller numbers read: 09-17-00
I want to tell Renee about the weirdest dream I have ever had. I roll my body over spooning into her backside and put my lips to her ear. "Renee," I whisper.
I make physical contact with a body I have felt next to me every morning for eighteen years, a woman I have cherished every minute of our time. My secret tears well again. My maleness always stands at attention in mornings, but I hide that part of myself by turning slightly.
"Renee," I say, a little more insistent, shaking her slightly.
Her body stiffens. "What?"
"I just had a dream that was--"
"Let me sleep!"
I look over at her clock to double-check the time. "The alarm will go off in five minutes. I just want--"
"Let me sleep, you son of a bitch!" She rolls away from me and pulls the pillow over her head.
I have to tell you about my wife. Sometimes, and especially when she's a little grumpy, like now, she has been known to use profane language. I don't know what has gotten into her these last few years, but the fact is, a word or two will slip out. I have learned to adjust and take her mishaps in stride, but I wonder what happened to the sweet, angelic woman I married.
Rejection is familiar. The fact that she won't wake and listen to what may be the most exciting dream of my life is but a small sample of what I face daily. In less than two minutes, she will have to wake up, so I bide my time.
I rest my head on one arm, gazing out the window at a brightening day. A songbird warbles. A group of blue jays make their obnoxious squawking ruckus on the front porch. They must be getting into our cat food. All sounds are present, but my thoughts are on a wild ride through a canyon on that Harley.
The sound of her buzzing clock startles me out my reverie. Renee leaps out of bed, turns off the alarm, and sprints to the bathroom.
I get a glimpse of her shapely, petite backside. Her long, black hair wisps around the corner as she closes the door.
It's okay, I'll wait until she's finished.
After ten minutes, she steps out with a towel tightly wrapped around her. She musters a sleepy smile in my general direction, turns, flips on her closet light, then disappears among her clothes.
If I don't take my shower now, one of our two kids will drain any remaining hot water.
By the time I have finished showering, Renee has gone downstairs. I towel myself off as I hear her ramble in the kitchen. Sound of dishes and glasses clanging, silverware clinking, makes me think that breakfast is being prepared. She's cooking breakfast for us like she used to?
This dream thing is bursting out of me, and I want to share my experience with her. With an impatient excitement, I dress and go downstairs to the kitchen. I want to talk to her before our kids show up and the breakfast nook turns to chaos.
"I've got to tell you about my dream," I say.
"I don't want to hear about your silly little dream right now. I've got too much to do before work." She butters her toast, sets the knife on the counter, turns and gets a glass of milk out of the refrigerator. She didn't make breakfast for us after all.
She is a busy corporate executive now; she doesn't have time to make breakfast for her family anymore.
With a plate of toast, a jar of jam, and a glass of milk, she sits across the table in total silence. After thinking long and hard of a way to broach my dream without getting her upset, I cautiously begin my tale. Not two sentences into my story, for no apparent reason, she slams her knife across the table, yells a string of obscenities at me, and storms out of the house. As usual, I'm left with the job of feeding our kids, getting them off to school, and cleaning the house before I go to work. I don't mind that much, because now it's my turn. She is a busy career woman, after all, and I must consider all those years that she was home as a housewife.
"I don't know, Katherine, if you weren't my therapist, I'd think you were on Stewart's side. That's why I see you without my husband. It's too confusing sorting my feelings with him around."
"I don't understand, I was such a nice person before I met Stewart. I was never bitchy, just sweet and loving. What has happened to me?"
"Sure, I'll tell you the story, but trust me, I'm not proud of it.
"When we got married, I promised to love, honor and obey Stewart. I swear, it wasn't a week before the obey part of our marriage went out the window. After our first year, not a fiber of my being would do what he wanted. At first, I found myself doing stupid things like not cleaning his white shirt collars, or putting too much starch in the wash, so that he itched at work. Once I even left a pen in his shirt. When the load came out, his clothes had little blue dots everywhere."
"We laugh now, but I was serious about undermining his every move. I realized too quickly that I wasn't able to obey Stewart in any literal sense."
"You're right. When I told him, I expected him to hit the roof. I wanted him to rant and rave. He should have stomped around our apartment, but he simply acquiesced. The amazing thing is, nothing has been said about that subject to this day, and what's it been, eighteen years?"
"Well yes, once my obey part went out the window, things went along pretty smoothly for three or four years. Our kids were born, I became a mom, and that, as they say, was that. Occasionally, we got into little skirmishes over sex, and namely the lack of sex. I swear, after the kids came along, hell, I didn't feel like having sex, so we did it as little as possible. I'm just not as turned on by Stewart any more."
"In the last few years, with our kids in their teens and me at work, the rest of those sacred vows have eroded."
"When did I first notice? Damn it, Katherine, haven't you been listening? I noticed the day I said my vows, like someone else had said them. I remember the exact moment.
"Two years ago, I found myself bitching to my girlfriend, Martha.
"I told her that I saw Stewart as a wimpy jerk, rather than the valiant man I had married. Martha wondered why it took that long. She said her husband changed a year into their marriage. She has seen him as a stupid slob ever since."
"You're right, it is sad. I asked her how she could love a man she didn't respect, and her answer struck me to my core. She said she hadn't loved Hank for the last eight years. Can you believe it? She stays with him out of convenience."
"Yes, I know, but I swear, I don't want to end up like Martha and Hank. Once respect is gone, I'm afraid so is love.
"I've been coming to see you for two years now, and though I've gotten in touch with many things, my love is slipping away. I can't bear sitting at the kitchen table with him; he is such a milquetoast wimp.
"With his constant whimpering about sex, sleeping with him gives me the creeps. I don't know how to get our love back, and I'm scared. I want to be turned on to him again, but I just can't find that old tingly place, anymore. Years ago, he was so sexy."
"I know what you mean, but the other day during break, I sat in a coffee shop minding my own business. That old familiar flutter rose in my stomach when a hunky guy who fixes computers walked in and sat at the table right across from me. I felt like a teenager. I couldn't speak, or think straight. I couldn't look at him without getting all shaky. When he noticed me, I almost pulled him into the back room and jumped him. Had he actually said something to me, I would have."
"No, you don't have to worry I didn't do anything, but I thought about it, and that part scares me. Stewart doesn't excite me anymore, and I'm not sure I even want to be excited by him."
--From Channeling Biker Bob Heart of a Warrior, by Nik C. Colyer. © April 18, 2001, Henrioulle Publishing Group used by permission. (back to top)
Mixing equal parts of a belated coming of age, the treacherous terrain of relationship, and longings for a Harley-Davidson. Biker Bob, a Harley-riding spirit guide, boldly trespasses into the dreams of perennial nice guy, Stewart Chance. As a result of Bob's intrusion, Stewart reluctantly undertakes his own heroic journey.
Sensual. The type of man a woman desires and the type of woman that longs
to be released." - Sara Fonders, March 18, 2001
Amazon readers rating: from 11 reviews
Nik C. Colyer, born 1948, grew up and lived in Hayward, California. While in still in his teens he created Cycletherapy, a Harley customizing and repair shop. After five years, he decided to go for a year of college where he found his next career as an artist creating bronze and stone sculpture.
In 1974, he moved to the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains where he spent a year on a forty acre ranch with ten other like-minded young people. During this time, he devoured fiction. Six years later he started to write. His first novel took twelve years, but after its completion, he became a dedicated novelist.
Colyer has completed seven novels, with Channeling Biker Bob as his fourth, and first to be published. Though his work is fictional, he draws from his early experiences of riding Harleys, as well as his subsequent thirty-year transformation into integrated masculinity. His unending curiosity about the relational dance between men and women adds humor and quirkiness to the content of his writing. Finding equilibrium between the tough biker, while staying close to authentic masculine feeling, is a theme throughout this book and most of Nik C. Colyers writings
He resides with his wife, deep in the woods, north of Nevada City, California. Though writing novels is his first love, he continues his romance with sculpture through the process of making gold and silver jewelry.