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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)

TITLE: A Ride With Pete
By Robert Dix


Colder than the bottom of an unmarked grave, and lonesome like God himself had forgotten his name, Jeff roared into the moonless Arizona night a glistening black and chrome missile on a solitary mission. It was raining again and while he attempted to wipe the moisture from his goggles with a wet glove the revolving door of his mind was busy arriving back at the same conclusion. He shouldn’t be making this trip. The response was almost a reaction as he twisted the motorcycles right grip just a little harder and the big v-twin responded with more speed.

Into the darkness he roared, the rain stinging his face like needles, yet unable to drive the doubts from his mind. What would he tell her? It was the funerals that had him on tilt he thought. He didn’t like funerals and now two in one week. Tomorrow would be LV’s.

LV, short for “leav’n”, had been a friend thru a thousand adventures. When there wasn’t an adventure LV made one up. Like once one a trip from Phoenix to Atlanta he announced he didn’t like the state of Texas, something about the hats, so they rode around it. More practically LV had taught him how to frame a house, and how to limp a broken motorcycle home. LV got him his first job. Now they say he had been racing in Malibu canyon and missed a curve. Jeff watched the sun rise in his mirror knowing by any measure it was not going to be a good day. But then neither was last Saturday.

Pete’s memorial had been last weekend. Nearly a thousand people crowded into that chapel while more stood outside. Pete had been ill for years, but the illness never seemed to control him, or his attitude. One after another people stood and told how Pete had helped them in some way. Not that he was some sort of do-good-crusader, he could party with the best of them, but if you had a problem Pete would always be there with a few bucks, a wrench or a helping hand.

Too soon Jeff was walking into the little Pico Rivera chapel where a handful of people were gathered. He spotted Sally immediately, and before he could change his mind he approached her.

“Your father loved you like the desert loves the wind.” He said quietly.

Her tears welled up almost immediately and quietly she sobbed “Can you tell me about my father?”

He nodded and guided her to one of the chapel’s old creaky pews where for the next three hours he answered any question she could ask. It wasn’t easy, but he was honest. He told her how her dad’s life always seemed to be pointed into a headwind. About the good times and the bad and how nothing was ever easy for LV. Except for the trouble, and the drugs. There were a few things he didn’t tell her, like how much she looked like her mother, but it didn’t matter. Mostly he told her the simple truth, how much LV loved her.

“Thank you,” she breathed softly before leaving with a heart felt hug.

Latter that day found Jeff sitting atop a park bench watching the setting California sun. A couple of lunch truck tacos and a quick nap had helped him feel normal again. He was glad he had made the trip. Pete would have done the same. Not that is was some sort of game that encouraged people to attend your memorial. More importantly it was the right thing to do. Much like that relic of a motor home that had broken down in the drive at Pete’s funeral. Hundreds ignored the old woman that owned it. Pete would have been the first to lend a hand.

From a jacket pocket he dug out a small damp card the pastor had given him last weekend. “Jesus so loved the world …” it started on one side. “Love one anther …” it started on the reverse. Jeff slowly read one side, and then the other, and then back again. The words mixing with thoughts of LV and Pete and Sally, and a dim glimmer of understanding slowly appeared in his mind. He swung a leg over the motorcycle and hit the starter. It was a long way home and if he hurried he would be able to ask that pastor some questions by morning.

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Beth LaBuff 09/18/08
I've seen a lot of those moonless Arizona nights, and we live with the "desert wind" from March through May. :) Ok, then I had to crack up at "he didn't like the state of Texas, something about the hats." (but I can't laugh too hard, my daughter's family lives there). :) … "so he rode around it!!!" LOL You are a talented writer. This very well-written story has a lot of warmth. I totally enjoyed this!