The Biker Gang

GROWING UP IN IDAHO

“Spontaneity is the essence of youth. Never having a plan—just going on impulse.”

Each day’s activities started with an object—say, a wagon, a stick, a rock, an old worn-out tire, an inner tube, or any other thing that had a use. I stowed the object in my pocket or carried it over my shoulder to Jamie and Andy’s house, then we would decide what to do from there. Sometimes the activities we invented bordered on criminal, but to us, that was a concept corralled in an adult arena. We only knew if we got caught and punished, then it was wrong. The idea was not to get caught.

When you’re a kid, your environment is boxed into a world created by your parents, your social confines, and what goes on in the neighborhood. I loved adventure. Getting into trouble was something I tried to avoid, but as a kid, there were times where the boundaries were not exactly clear on what was right or wrong. Those are things that must be learned, often by trial and error.

One warm spring morning, dressed in our usual attire for the season–shorts and bare feet, Jamie and Andy and I went looking for action. The ditch behind my house was empty, so we took advantage of that luxury and used it as concealment while we plotted and planned. The ditch itself was around four feet deep, so once in it, nobody outside its depths could see us. The weeds along the banks offered even more concealment. Able to act incognito in all our mischievous, criminal acts gave me great delight.

As we walked down the ditch approaching the top end of our neighborhood, we heard voices. Barely peering above the weeds, we spied a group of older boys fixing their bicycles. Tires, chains, wheels, seats, screwdrivers, wrenches, and sprockets were laying all over their front yard. It was a major biker gang rendezvous, with boys everywhere, getting ready for some serious riding.

Jamie, Andy, and I slunk back to the bottom of the ditch for a pow-wow.

“These kids have been bullying me for a long time,” Jamie said.

“Yeah, me too! I don’t like any of em,” I replied. “They pick on me and call me names.”

Andy was mute, but there was no backing down in Andy. He just nodded his head in agreement and smiled. He was feisty and a good follower.

“Let’s fix em for good! “Jamie said with an excited pitch in his voice. “If we circle around from down the street, we can raid them before they even know what happened.”

We had all seen plenty of cowboy and Indian shows on TV. Indians fascinated me. They always appeared out of nowhere and raided the cowboys before those lazy pokes knew what hit them.

I preferred being an Indian when my friends and I had cowboy and Indian wars. Smearing war paint on your face and wearing feathers in your hair was cooler than wearing a stupid cowboy hat.

Anyway, I was ready to “Indian-raid” those boys’ biker party. I was so excited, anticipating the action, that I could barely contain myself. We drew plans in the dirt on how we would administer the raid. We would hit them from the other side of the street, wreck their party, then quickly run into the ditch and race as fast as we could to my house where we would hide in my backyard. Our plot seemed fool-proof.

Five minutes later, we were crouched opposite our original location, ready for some serious action. Jamie whispered, “On the count of three, we hit em…one…two…three!”

Suddenly, we burst from our hiding place, screaming and running as fast as we could. Within a few seconds, we were sacking the bike party! Older boys were scurrying everywhere bewildered, wondering what was happening. Our raid took them by surprise! I grabbed what I could–sprockets, chains, tools, bike tubes and tires and threw them as far as I could, into the weeds next to their house. Jamie and Andy did the same.

Our plan went like clock-work. We scattered their stuff–then we scattered. Jamie was in the lead, then me, then Andy as we entered the ditch to make our getaway, running like a pack of rabbits. I could hear the older boys behind us screaming words that began with ‘S’ and ‘F’ and a few others. They were really mad! I was barely into the ditch when I realized the older boys were in hot pursuit.

“Run faster, Jamie!” I yelled. “They’re gaining on us!” I was sprinting as fast as my feet could move, and I was a fast runner!

I looked back just in time to see Andy fall into the clutches of the angry mob. He was chubby with a round potbelly and could not run very fast. Those older boys pounded on Andy for a while as Jamie and I made a clean getaway. The two of us bivouacked in my backyard to plan our next move. We could hear Andy screaming for mercy at the hands of the biker gang.

We hadn’t intended for any beatings, and we both felt bad for Andy, but we were powerless to save him. In the life of crime we had chosen, it was everybody for himself, and we all understood the risks.

Soon, the beating stopped and Andy rejoined us, whimpering and bloodied. The boys yelled threats from down the street, but they knew better than to come near my house because mom would thrash them. I threw a few well-aimed rocks in their direction, not intending any serious harm. I just wanted them to know the battle was not over.

They gathered up their wheels, chains, sprockets, tubes, wrenches, and seats and went back to work. Occasionally, they looked up from their labors to check for any other raiding war parties. None came.

Jamie, Andy, and I were quickly on to something else. Andy wiped the blood off his puffy, bruised face. We grabbed my red wagon and headed off for another adventure. The battle with the boys up the street was on hold until another day.

Sam King

Jeff Hicks

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