12 Jan Short Story – Thinkin’ Bout Harley
Thinking ‘Bout Harley
By Mike Bockoven
I can still feel her hangin’ on me, ya know? Feel her body there. Feel her doing what she did down south. She was great at all that, always touchin’ me, always lovin’ on me. Sucked dick at the drop of a hat, sometimes not in the most appropriate of places, if you catch me. We were barely together three weeks and her hangin’ off my is damn near all I think about. It’s taken over my brain. I had a girl friend, not a girlfriend but a girl friend ask me about two weeks in why I put up with it, all the hangin’ off me and stuff in public. I didn’t answer her but it made me think for a bit. I figure when someone’s touching you, you know you take up physical space. You know you’re in someone’s way but…not like that. In a good way. I don’t know how to say it, man. I guess I just I liked feeling like I was in her way.
Where’d I meet her? Damn, man. That’s the most I’ve heard you talk in two days. I mean, I know the first few days in here are hell but you, my man, you’re a tight lipped son of a bitch, ain’t ya? I say talking is good for the soul, particularly if you’re an angry guy like you seem to be. Tell you what, you hold onto that shit too long in your brain and it eats up your insides. That’s medical science, friend. To answer your question, I met her at the bar I used to run called The Horns. I inherited it but it never really felt like the place was mine. My daddy, he named it The Horns ‘cause you fuck with the bull and all that. I liked the name but the place, man…never felt like mine. If I had to tell you the truth, I’d tell you I didn’t know how to make it mine. Still don’t, I suppose, but I did my best. Worked every day, no days off, slingin’ beer. Even learned how to mix a few drinks which is pretty good for a guy like me. Things weren’t great but they were OK and one day I’m behind the bar one minute and she ain’t there and the next minute she is there, touchin’ my arm and telling me how she likes hairy guys and how she only had enough money for two drinks but if there was anything she could do to get fucked up that night, she would definitely consider it.
I happened to have a bunch of access to booze so, done deal. Man, that first night. I don’t gotta tell you…well, maybe I do. You ain’t said more than four fuckin’ words in a row since they threw you in here. I don’t know if you like girls or you like guys. You’re gonna learn to like guys if you don’t already, I can tell you that much.
What was I saying? Yeah, that first night. Crazy, brother. Like she’d been shot out of a canon. At my dick. You follow. But it was weird…see, I lived in an apartment above the bar. That’s part of why I took over daddy’s place and worked every day because it came with a built in place to live no one could kick me out of and I’d been kicked out of a few places not that long before he died. The word was out on me with the local landlords and I had no better offer. So, it made sense. Run The Horns, live above The Horns, take the occasional lady upstairs for a night of rubbin’ my hairy body all over her and then…well, I didn’t have a “then.” No dream. Not that kind of guy. More the kind of guy who deals with what’s in front of him, I guess. And that girl was in front of me pretty much nonstop from the first night I ever laid eyes on her.
I remember the first morning I made her eggs. That’s my “go to” move when I’ve got a girl over because it teaches me something about them. Why? Because, if they eat my very runny ass eggs – which I did season, don’t get me wrong, but I was never able to make them as firm as I thought they should be – if she ate the runny eggs she could either hold her liquor or wasn’t that drunk and it was all good. If she couldn’t get the runny eggs down, I knew I had a problem and had just fucked a girl who was too drunk and that might mean some static later. Either way, eggs are cheap and real delicious after a night of medium sex. I would guess you know that one way or the other.
Eggs or no eggs, the girls usually run for the hills after they see me in the daylight, which never hurt my feelings none. I know what I am. But this girl, she stuck around and she stuck to me. I showered and she hopped on in. I headed downstairs to clean up and she grabbed a fuckin’ broom. I ran errands and she asked if she could tag along and I was happy to have her. Like I said, I ain’t much to look at and I got buddies to hang out with but I hadn’t had a girlfriend in a long time and she was definitely auditioning for the job. I was pretty happy with that. Kind of lonely, if you pinned me down and made me tell you personal shit. Kinda lonely, then. Not a moment to myself since.
You want me to keep talking? It’s lights out in, like, half an hour. Some guys like the quiet. I know Captain in the next cell over doesn’t like it when I go on and on, but he might already be asleep. Yeah, I’ll keep going. Mouth open or mouth shut, I’m thinking ‘bout Harley. Yeah, that was her name. Crazy how it ended up ‘cause most guys here the word “Harley” and they think about freedom and the open road. Opposite for me, I guess.
Yeah, so, things are going great for, like, three days. Then I notice her temper…no, that ain’t right. A temper is when you get mad in a second and yell and hit. I’ve been with girls who had tempers, right? That wasn’t what this was. With her it was more a cruel streak. Like, I first noticed it when we were at this strip mall attached to a grocery store picking up some food and this woman had dropped one of her bags. A can was rolling about 5 feet from the woman and Harley, she just wound up and kicked it like she was going for 3 points in the Super Bowl, man. Just launched that fuckin’ can into the street over from the strip mall then she looked at the woman like “what you gonna do?” Luckily the can, it didn’t hit a car or anything but the woman saw her do it and was just sort of like “why’d you do that?”. Harley didn’t answer her. Just laughed. I laughed too. It was funny at the time.
But there were other things, too. She hung around the bar, obviously, and she gave bad vibes to some of my regulars. That led to our first fight about a week or so in. One of the guys who came to The Horns all the time was named Phil, and his wife had just left him, probably because he came to The Horns all the time. You see sad sacks like him a lot and I always figured it was part of the job to give them a place they could come and just fuckin’ be. No one asking nothin’ of them. The booze is almost second place to just being a place where no one expected anything of ya. So Harley, she starts talking to poor old Phil and Phil, being the kind of guy he is, can’t wait to unburden himself about his terrible wife and his terrible job and his terrible mother and all the rest of it. I’m watching the both of them and Phil, being the kind of guy he is, gets done with his tale of woe and then turns it on Harley. He’s all “what’s a girl as pretty as you doing in a dive like this?” And I’m watching Harley and I see this look in her eye kind of creep in – same look she had when she launched that rolling can into the next township – and she just lays into Phil like he owes her money.
What’s she say? Stuff like “Your dick still work, old man? I bet that’s why your wife’s gonna leave you”. That was her opener. From there she started calling him all sort of things, “pathetic” and “impotent” and “weak” and she didn’t let up, man. Not a bit. And Phil, he doesn’t know what to do because his safe space ain’t so safe anymore and it’s thrown him for a bit of a loop. So he does what guys like Phil do, which is he starts yelling back, right? Calling her all kinds of things, and everything he calls her, she throws something worse at him and they’ve gone from “friendly talking” to “about to punch each other” in, I swear to you, no more than 90 seconds. It was crazy, brother. By the time I broke it up, Phil was almost ready to cry. Personally, if I were Phil I’d be about ready to cry all the time, too, that sad sack son of a bitch. But I smoothed it over and I told him I was sorry and next time he came in I’d give him a free drink. He took me up on that, believe me. Phil ain’t the sort of guy to leave a free beer on the table, even if there is a wildcat at the other end of the bar making fun of his dick.
My point is, Harley, she’d do stuff like that. She had a mean streak that when she locked it in, look out. Didn’t take me long to figure that out. Truthfully, I know what I am and I quickly clocked what she was – a great woman with a mean streak – so whenever she laid into me, I was able to slough it off pretty easy. She’d get all mean and I’d shrug my shoulders and go somewhere else for a while and we’d be fucking later that night. I think a lot of the problems in this world would be fixed if people would just learn that people are who they are and they ain’t gonna change. Once you accept who someone is and learn to work around them, life can be pretty sweet for a minute or two. Like it was for me and Harley for a while. Then the police started coming around.
I should have mentioned, Harley said she had a job and would be gone from, like, 9 – 3 or 4 every day. I don’t know where she went but she told me she had a job at a vape shop and I believed her. Now that I’m here and I look back at it, that was hard to figure because she never kept the same hours. Sometimes she was back at noon, some days she just didn’t leave my apartment, which, I want to stress, was just fine by me. She cooked and cleaned and it was all good, man. All good. And, if I needed to justify it, I would tell myself she had a part time job with different hours, which, as far as I know, was the truth. Sometimes I would ask her where she came from or about her past and she would always tell me a nugget of something and then grab my crotch so I never really did get a good, full story out of her. Again, I’m fine with that. A lot of guys aren’t. But I’m fine with let this good looking woman into my life and letting her do what she wanted and if that meant not talking about her history, fine by me. Didn’t eat away at me at all.
But the cops, that was a different story. I don’t have a record…I didn’t have a record aside from a few DUIs and a liquor license violation or two and some shit with former landlords, but nothing major, but I know cops from working at The Horns. Local cops were in there all the time so when these dudes came in, I clocked them for what they were, which is to say “not local”. They looked like high up, heavy hitters. How? There were two of them to start with, which seemed more official to me. They were wearing suits instead of uniforms. Some of the questions they asked, the way they did things, the things they were interested in. The fact that they had badges. That sort of thing. They were asking if I had seen a girl who fit this certain description because she had done some really bad things and I knew, in my gut, they were talking about Harley. I knew it before they pulled out the photo. I knew it because, even with the mean streak, it was too good too fast and too good to last, you know? A guy like me doesn’t get a girl like her and really doesn’t do it fast like I did. I knew it didn’t make sense and I’d turned it over a bit in my brain and thought maybe she was a girl on the run from something. That had occurred to me. I told myself if that was what was up, don’t make her talk about it and ride it out. Enjoy the girl while she was hangin’ around and don’t worry too much. That’s sort of a motto of mine. “Don’t worry too much.” For all the fuckin’ good it did me. Maybe I should choose a different motto.
Anyway, these cops, agents, whatever they were, they were serious, right? And Harley, at that moment, was at her “job” or wherever she was and you know who else was in the bar? Yeah, that’s right. Fuckin’ Phil was in the bar. He had long since thrown back that free drink and was back to running up his tab. Routine is a powerful thing with a guy like Phil. Anyway, I looked at the photo and knew damn well who it was even though her hair was a lot shorter in the photo and I saw, right away, that the cops saw I recognized her. These guys were well trained and they knew. I told them, yeah, she looked familiar and that she had likely been in here at some point. I lied and told her I couldn’t remember the last time she’d been in but I’d give them a call if she came back. But that wasn’t good enough. They wanted me to go back and check my records, remember as close as possible when she came in, that sort of thing.
Then fuckin’ Phil piped up.
It wasn’t much. He just said “you won’t have to wait long” and that was enough for both of the agents to change their focus from me to Phil. They could hardly get their questions out fast enough – when had Phil seen her, what was she wearing, how did he know she’d be back. And, to Phil’s credit, he didn’t give me up. Not directly, anyway. He said he noticed her about a week ago and told them all about the dust up they had and how I’d broken it up and that he’d seen her in here a few times since then. But he didn’t tell them about her and me. At the time, I thought that was really sweet of old Phil. Knowing what happened, I think it’d would have been better if he had just given me up.
Shit, lights out is closer than I thought. You want to hear the end of this? I can shut up. Not like you. You’re the king of shutting up around here but I can definitely shut up. OK. I’ll finish up but I’ll be quick about it.
These two cops, they’re talking to Phil and…shit, what time was it? Truthfully I don’t remember. I know it was after 3 because we open at 1 and I was bummed that only Phil was in the bar at that point. Anyways, they’re talking to Phil and I see her in the street. The biggest window in The Horns is right there in the front and I saw her coming, walking fast and hard like she did. I couldn’t have warned her if I wanted to but…how should I put this…you ever go into slow motion? Like, I don’t know what you’re in for, but if you did something violent was there a moment right before the violence happened where things just slowed way down, but also sped way up? Like you could have a lifetime’s worth of thoughts but you can’t get your damn arm to move to wave her off? Yeah, that was me all over. I just stood there and let her walk in. One of the agents…gonna call them Agent 1 and Agent 2, you’ll see why in a minute…Agent 1, was an older guy and he turns, sees her, clocks who she is and that’s when all hell broke loose.
So Harley’s first thought is to turn to me. Her eyes are wide and sad and angry and I must have looked scared out of my mind because she immediately gets it. I didn’t turn her in and I don’t want her to go anywhere. I hope that’s what she got because that’s what I wanted to say, only with my eyes. Then that look on her face, man, that mean streak look. It didn’t creep in, it jumped in with both fuckin’ feet and she went from “scared girl” to “you should be scared of that girl” in less than a second. She was carrying, like, a computer bag so the first thing she did was clock Agent 1 with it as hard as she could. Dude wasn’t as fast as he should have been and it caught him in the ear. I remember, real clear, that he turned his head to the right to protect his ear and that’s when Harley just…just jumped on the dude. Face first. Like The Undertaker, man, full body leap onto the guy and I lose sight of them because I’m behind the bar. I don’t know what she did down there but Agent 1, he wasn’t making a lot of noise which, if you’re in a fight, is the worst news I can give ya.
Agent 2? Yeah, he was trying to get in on it but he tripped over Phil who was trying to get out of the way. It’s funny now but it wasn’t funny then, how Phil was trying to run but ended up getting tangled up with Agent 2, who was younger. Maybe this was Agent 2’s first time in a fight, I don’t know. All I know is Phil and the young dude were rolling around like the 3 Stooges as Harley was pulling Agent 1’s eyeball out.
Yeah, I have given that some thought since I’ve been in here. I mean, I’ve been in fights. When I owned The Horns I was my own bouncer and I kicked my fair share of ass in my day but I don’t think I ever thought about pulling someone’s eyeball out. Why would you do that? It’s not easy. You’ve gotta dig. No point to it, man. You can get a guy with a knee in the balls or knock ‘em out behind the ear or just punch them really hard and that’s enough to knock the fight out of most dudes. But Harley…whoo boy, when she tossed the eyeball on the bar, I froze. Just froze, man. Not sure how to deal with that. Then the screaming started and Harley’s hand came up, grabbed Phil’s bottle he had coming for his next round and broke it over the bar. Then the screaming stopped. All this happened crazy fast, man. Crazy fast.
So the eyeball hits the bar, she busts the beer bottle on the bar and I finally look up and see Agent 2 had his gun out and that unfroze me pretty quick. I screamed “Don’t!” as loud as I could, but it didn’t matter. He got a shot off and it hit her. Mind you, I still can’t see exactly what the fuck is going on down there, I just know there’s an eyeball on the bar covered in beer from a broken bottle and my hot ass girlfriend probably had a bullet in her. He shot once and then, truthfully, my guy, I’m not sure why he didn’t keep shooting. I can’t tell you, but he didn’t and that was a bad decision. I can tell you that much, but I can’t tell you why he didn’t finish the job. And you could ask him, maybe, if you had a ouija board or something.
Yeah. She got him.
She ran at him like a linebacker, man. My Harley, she just ran at Agent 2, full force, head down like the fuckin’ bull she was, screaming the whole time. The way she screamed, I had never heard that before out of her. I heard other sounds, yeah, but not that one. It was something from a part of her I hadn’t seen before. To be fair, I’d only known her a few weeks but if I knew that 120 pounds of awesome could take down a Federal agent with a bullet in her face…well, I might have started my own religion around her. I’d have been the high priest of the church of Harley. Just the fiercest woman you’ve ever seen, man. They put a bullet in her and it just made the bull full fuckin’ angry.
She plows into Agent 2, she’s still got the beer bottle in her hand and I get to see her stab the beer bottle into Agent 2’s forearm to make him drop his gun. Well, yeah, he did, she damn near cut of his damn hand off with a Sam Adam’s bottle. Phil, who was still cowering in the back of the booth, screamed when she did it. Not like a guy, like, a woman’s scream. I found it funny then and I find it funny now.
Shit, lights out in 5. I’ll be quick.
She stabs Agent 2 in the arm, he’s bleeding and screaming, and then she pulls the bottle out and goes for his throat. Me? I don’t know what I was doing at that point, honestly. I wasn’t frozen but I sure as shit wasn’t helping. Yeah, that’s what I told the judge. Let me get through this or you’ll have to hear about it at chow in the morning.
She goes for his throat because of course she does. He fights it, but I can see the dude’s eyes and he knows bad things are about to happen. I’m sure you know that feeling. Like “it’s all over but the crying” sort of look. And Harley, my warrior woman, my Viking queen, stabbed that motherfucker in the throat as he screamed and bled and pissed his pants and thrashed around. Can I get a “hallelujah”? It was over the moment he stopped shooting. It was over the minute they walked into my bar and messed with my woman. He bled a whole lot and screamed a whole lot and, and I remember this, I jumped over the bar and stood behind her. I didn’t try to stop her, I just wanted to…witness, I guess. Be able to tell folks like you about the best thing that ever happened to me. To be able to tell you about Harley who killed to Federal agents in my bar and then kicked Phil really hard in the face then turned around and grabbed me and kissed me like that absolute goddess that she was. We kissed and swirled our tongues around and I tasted her blood and then I got one last look at her. She had a bullet in her cheek and some of her teeth were broken. The bullet must have gone in through her mouth and out through her cheek because there was blood, but at that point I didn’t know if it was hers or the agents or what. I just kissed her and tasted her and loved her and then she ran out of my bar.
And that was the last I saw of Harley.
I called the cops and I told them everything. Honestly, everything. I told them how we met and how I didn’t ask her questions and how I didn’t help the agents when she cut them to pieces. Turns out, “harboring a fugitive” ain’t something they take lightly, although you could argue that’s not what I was doing. And if you can do that, you’re better than my piece of shit lawyer, I’ll tell you that much.
And now it’s dark.
I’ll leave you with this, roomie. If I die and loving Harley was the best thing I did with my life, I can die happy. ‘Cause I know she’s still out there and, with any luck, I’ll get to see her again. And if not, the only thing I’d change is I’d have stopped that fucker from shooting her. I’d have jumped in faster. I’d have left with her, left The Horns, left that town, followed my Harley wherever she wanted to go. That’s the truest thing I can tell you, brother. Until then, all I can do is think about her and I do. I think ‘bout Harley all the time.
Did she eat the eggs? Yeah, she did. Every last bite and asked for more.