fear nothing sometimes

At 75 mph it took 30-seconds to realize the back tire was flat and I was riding a motorcycle into the Mojave Desert on a rim. The rim felt square, refusing to turn so I muscle the bike into exiting the freeway and park at a gas station. Killing the ignition, I walk around the bike and spot the head of a nail jetting out of the tire. Out in the middle of nothing with a flat tire and a date to be somewhere else in four hours, I bum a cigarette from a passing stranger and consider my options.

There's not going to be a spare tire anywhere around here is for sure. Second no one is going to come and pick me up, that I'm pretty sure. Probably not going to find an inner tube for the tire so that leaves me with plugging the tire and continuing on my way. I begin pealing off layers of riding apparel, preparing for the long haul. The gas station has a garage bay that's closed so I rap on the door and a greasy faced Mexican open up.

"You have any tire plugs?" I ask.
"Si," he replies, blowing cigarette smoke in his own face.
"Nessicito un," I retort.

He opens the bay door and I wheel the bike over and point to the head of the nail. With smoke lingering in his face he grabs some pliers and removes the nail. I bum a cigarette off the mechanic as he digs through a pile of wheel weights and finds a reamer. I smoke nervously, unsure of any plan b, hell I'm unsure if you can even put a plug in a motorcycle tire, but the speed at which he works puts me at ease.

After roughing up the nail hole with the reamer he grabs a tar plug, threads it through the needle and put it in the tire. His grease-stained hands grab a razor blade and cut off the excess plug, leave a strip of oil on the tire. After inflating the tire with air, he spits on his fingers, wiping the saliva overtop the plug. There are no bubbles, which implies the plug is holding air. "

"Vente," he demands sticking his spit-moistened hand out at me.
"How long will it hold?" I ask, rooting around for $20.
"Foreeeverrr," he exclaims behind a crooked smile.

'How do you argue with that,' I think paying him $20 but only after he gives me two more plugs. With air in my tires and gas in my tank I debate my next move. West would bring me back to friendlies but away from adventure. East will take me deeper into the Mojave on a tire I cannot vouch for towards a woman I haven't seen for months since a concussion that hospitalized me stopped us from meeting four months ago in San Francisco. It was not so much I wanted to see her but I wanted to test my mettle. While I care about this woman, I care more about the fun I have with her then long for the fun of being with her. With trepidation in my heart I took a right, heading deeper in the Mojave.

There was no gas for 90 miles, just outstretched, undulating earth littered with cacti and adorned with power lines. Fear swells in my heart. The fear that the tire is leaking air. Fear that two gallons of water isn't enough. Fear that I made a series of bad life decisions that brought me to die in this barren landscape even a vulture wouldn't bother to haunt. I needed a drink, something to silence the voice in my head so I kept on keeping until I hit the 90-mile gas station. Dehydration and nerves made my hands shake I as put the tire pressure gauge to the valve stem. 'The tire will have raised pressure at least 10% so it needs to read at least 38 psi,' I convince myself.

33-psi reads the pressure gauge. I smile, happy that it appears to be holding even if the tire is loosing some air it's not loosing air very fast. I made it to her although she could only care that I was late. She was bored I was too tired to entertain myself. We ate somewhere drank somewhere and went back to her house and fell asleep in her bed. When she awoke in the morning wearing only a bra and panties she accuses me of trying to molest her during the night. I don't know what to say. She's beautiful but has control issues. I remember when she lived in a bad part of town and used to sleep with her door unlocked but the only time I ever touched her was eight years ago on the roof of her bosses house when she kept pulling her tube top down and putting her B-cup breasts in my face. I touched her then but not since.

She said it to get a rise out of me and it worked. She said it to be mean to me and it worked so well I pack up the motorcycle and head west, frustrated at the situation but happy that I made the journey because it's the tough decisions that form our personalities. I made the choice to keep heading east but she the decision to leave for me. I add some air to the tire that is now down to 25 psi, drink water and continue back across the Mojave. Although the weather is not as hot as it was yesterday, the dry heat is making me feel nauseous and weak. Again the fear comes crawling back. Fear I should have gotten a motel, relaxed and hydrated for a day. Fear that the tire will still give out on me when I'm in this weaken state. Fear that I can't take a joke. Fear that I'm going to vomit in my helmet and have to smell that smell all the way back to Los Angeles. But I keep going west, dreaming of swinging palm trees and the sound sand makes when you remove it from your ear at the beach.

I headed west past the Los Angeles boroughs until I ran out of land so I took a right, vaguely following the contours of the coast. Writing travel articles and killing time until I got another flat tire. This time I would kill two birds with one stone and seal both tires once and for all with Slime. The green glue I choked down through the valve core did the trick and stopped both holes from leaking air. 'With 1,100 miles until I'm home, the tire can wait,' I reckoned to myself. 'I need all the cash I have to subsidize my vices, plus there'll be checks waiting for me, bills too but more checks then bills I'm sure of it.'

So I stopped in San Francisco to write about architecture, to visit a woman I once met and to visit a place that's is as much an idea as it is a location. I associate San Francisco with love, fresh bread and the smell of damp wool. I've taken all the best women I've ever known to the city and this woman, albeit more foreign but no less interesting. She said I could stay so I headed north on a whim for a woman I wanted to know better. I met with the interviewees in the Mission District and got all of the raw information I needed to write about architecture, which will pay my rent next month. When I called her she said her roommate's father killed himself and now wasn't a good time. 'His suicide wasn't a good time for me either,' I thought. "Damn I was hoping to spend some time with you," I retort, to no avail. It's late, I'm cold and the only person I know is four hours away in the wrong direction.

I think about my options: head back, stay here or go forward. Unsure I eat at a Chinese restaurant in the Castro District to mull things over. Over a bowl of soup, rice and tea I decide to continue north when fate intervened with a phone call from a woman I've never met. A friend of my friend with a bed and an offer. She gives me an address and I find my way to it. Walking down an unfamiliar street I look for a woman I've never met with whom I will be sharing a space for the next who knows how long. She found me and she was even more beautiful then I anticipated. I rid myself of leathers and we went out to Doc's Clocks, drinking with new friends, her old roommate and a man that came out west to live with his Dominatrix. We went back to her place and we both shared the upper bunk of her twin bed.

For three days she showed me around San Francisco and gave me friends to spend time with when she was away, like her boyfriend a vegan with a penchant for cocaine. I guess he doesn't mind exploiting humans. I remember leaving him at nights end to go home to go to bed with his girlfriend and thinking how wonderfully kooky San Francisco really is. One a beautiful day she and I went to Delores Park to listen as the San Francisco Philharmonic plays a free concert. We drank wine from the bottle on a hill on a warm day, smoking pot that was passed our way when I decided to leave.

'Leave before you're asked to leave,' I said to myself. After the concert I went back to her house, grabbed my things and said, "I'll see you again" to a woman I feared I’d never see again.