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The woman who rode away on her motorcycle

I once knew a woman by the name of Betsy Sue Poindexter. Sue, just Sue. Not Susan or Suzanna or anything else. Just Sue. 

She was dreamy. She was good hearted and hard as a paved trail. Her chin always thrust forward as if daring someone to take a whack at it. She cussed like me, dressed like me, had shoulders like me. She had no boobs and was hard as rock with a back big as a zip code.

I admit it: I go in for manhands.

She rode a motorcycle and I wouldn’t. “You’re a goddamn wimp,” she used to say, “despite being the toughest guy I know.” She knew that I didn’t mind being called a wimp. She could also kick my ass if she ever got a notion because I don’t hit people (or animals, for that matter). I’m that tough.

Call me what you need to, I told her. Everyone I ever knew who rode a motorcycle got killed, paralyzed, or maimed for life on it. So, fuck you, I said. I’m built for heavy lifting, not sliding across pavement and wrapping my neck around trees. Ride your shitbike to the hospital.

She was kind to people. She fixed their cars, pushed their wheelchairs, and practiced Ziranzhili flower arrangement and gave those flowers to random people. Old people, the sick, and children loved her. They could see her complexity and the beauty of it. Her idea of fun was a week of Sartre, MC5s and hill racing, followed up with a hike into the deep woods, fire, and sleeping under the stars. We sometimes went into the woods for weeks at a time with just sleeping bags, books and notebooks, pocketknives, dried fruit, and a vial of iodine to purify our water. 

She hated herself almost as much as I hated me. She liked morphine a lot and drank too much. I think that’s where she got her dirty mouth. I think I liked her most because she didn’t tell me what to do all the fucking time.

I loved that woman who had a great name and was as good-hearted and hard as paved trail. She left town on one day and never came back. All these years later, I get nostalgic about her, you know. She possessed arms, legs, back, and character hard and sometimes cold as iron. My memories of her remind me how young I used to be.

I wonder what happened to her in the way middle-age men wonder about their old flames. I hope she thinks about me sometimes. She probably rode her shitbike to her grave. Or sobered up and softened up. That’s an option.

Maybe she lives in a wimpy place like Portland with neighbors just like me, only not as tough.

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