The Ride by Mickey Miller




Chapter 1





Zach





Some people believe in love at first sight.

Me?

I don’t believe in love at all.

On this hot summer night, I whip down County Road M on my motorcycle, feeling the wind on my face. The full moon rides high overhead in the darkening sky, illuminating the dusky light. The sun has set, but the sky still shines with a mixed orange-pink glow. I whip down County Road M on my Harley between the farms on either side of me, feeling the wind on my face.

An image of me flying off my bike flashes through my mind, and it only pushes me to drive faster. I don’t have to look down at the speedometer to know I’m going over one-hundred miles per hour or more.

And I push it faster. I love the feel of adrenaline that courses through my veins from tempting fate.

I’ve been in a funk lately, and my bike seems to be one of the few places I feel free.

I’ll get through this eventually. I just wish I had something to truly care about. My sister passes through my thoughts. I love her and I’d give my life for her, but ever since my time in prison, she’s changed, and we’ve grown apart. Nothing about our relationship is the same now that I’m the black sheep of the family. I haven’t even spoken to her since I got out. I’ve tried to connect with her, but she won’t return my calls.

Ever have the feeling that you need something in your life, but you’re just not sure what that something is yet? That’s where I’m at tonight. That’s why I’m on my bike. For me. For meditative purposes. An escape.

During my time in the clink, all I could do was read books, workout, and play guitar in the yard for an hour a day. I wasn’t great, but the music was something productive to do.

Federal prison doesn’t allow guitars in the cell, of course, as they’re a possible lethal weapon, so each day was spent bettering myself because I knew one day I’d be free.

I give my motorcycle more gas. More adrenaline. More speed.

Where am I heading?

Does it matter?

I just want to get far, far away.

I’ve got to make a move. But that would mean leaving the only life I ever knew behind in my small town here. I’d have to say goodbye to everyone I’ve ever known. Where would I go, anyway, to get a fresh start? Where could I go where my past wouldn’t follow me like a bad dream?

A bug flies into my face, forcing me to slow down. Somehow, the pesky gnat manages to get into my eye, causing me to try to blink it away. I can’t reach up, though, and my heart skips a beat when I think I might lose control of my bike.

The possibility of losing control isn’t what scares me, though.

What throws me off is the nihilistic thought that I don’t really care that it might be all over. I feel something inside of me that wants to embrace death.

Bring it on.

Sanity returns, though my heart is still hammering hard in my chest. Pumping the brakes, I slow down, pull over and come to a halt in the gravel along the side of the road.

I rub the back of my wrist against my sweaty forehead. I let out an audible sigh to no one in the world.

My eye waters from the gnat that flew into it, so I close my eyes and simply listen to the world around me. Corn leaves rustle in the wind. A truck roars way off in the distance.

I run my finger over my eyelid and feel the scar just over my left eyebrow. This reminds me again of my time in prison and how the world will never see me the same anymore.

From now on, I’ll always be Zach Reid, the convict.

Around here, everyone knows everyone. It’s so small that I’ll never escape my reputation.

My ears perk up when I pick up a different sound among the leaves and the wind.

A chill runs through me. The noise is slight, but . . . is that a woman’s voice?

I rub my eyes and strain my ears, unsure if it’s real or if I’m dreaming.

The sound is there, though distant.

Lost in something of a trance, I start up my motorcycle again and drive in the direction of the noise. Could this just be in my head? Am I going insane?

And by insane, I mean, more insane than I already am.

Hearing my own voice in my head is one thing. But a sweet-sounding female voice speaking to me is quite another.

I ride, slower now, down the two-lane country road. The sound gets progressively louder until I arrive at The Hungry Burger Bar and Grill. I’m surprised I could hear the noise from so far away, and over the sound of my bike. Must be the way the wind is blowing tonight.