By Your Side Part 4: “A Trip on the Hog”

Every week I’ll install parts of this California short story I wrote three years ago for a fiction class. It’s since been rediscovered and reread and revised and unrevised for what I ultimately wanted to accomplish in this small story of a summer in between college and the growth of a youth in love. Here is the first part of many for this story, and I hope you enjoy!

*If you would like to read the next part of the short story, stay tuned, or simply click above the BY YOUR SIDE page for the full story. P.K.

            After the last of the breakfast buffet had been served in the dining hall, Mr. Wyath called Noah and Alexander to the back of the motel. There was a badly white-washed tin shack serving as a two-car garage for the Wyath family. The smell of diesel and Pinesol was expelled once they opened. Inside was the family’s Volvo and June’s rusty orange beetle. And from between them Mr. Wyath wheeled out an older model of a type of motorcycle, something dated and probably from the 80’s, Noah presumed.
            “It’s um, really nice, sir,” he said in a pleasant voice, looking down to June’s brother, Alexander. He wasn’t looking amused, and said nothing.
            “Glad you think so,” Mr. Wyath replied, and pulled something from the wooden table in the shack’s corner. He placed keys in Noah’s hands. “Go ‘head. Said yourself you liked it.”
            No, he hadn’t said it that way. But Noah sure was taking a liking to him; he felt obliged by the Wyath hospitality to dust off the bike some more and mounted it. He hadn’t any idea with getting it started or where to go, and why Alexander stood stiff and pouty more than ever observing Noah’s awkwardness.
            It was as if his sweetheart could hear these thoughts, saving him in a matter of seconds as she came around the corner wanting to come along with Noah on the drive. “We’ll take it easy,” June whispered into his ear as she wrapped her arms around his waist.
            It started out slow, cautious, and the two of them were stiff on the bike as it picked up speed and descended the little hill from the Starlight. He didn’t even plan on going down. But now they were along Price Street, with no traffic to hold up and neither a destination to head to. Somehow, they already were on the entrance ramp to Highway 1 and the pace was picking up; the further down the long road they went the faster the bike went and the quicker Noah’s heart beat. Her laughter was stirring him alive in what seemed like seconds speeding down.
            They took an exit off to a gas station just as the ocean started to fade out of views from grassy browning hilltops. “Turn around!” June excitedly shrieked at him. Down the road once more. It wasn’t so bad, since June was right behind him, lifting him over that road like an angel had just taken hold of his life, directing him towards the electric ocean and the golden sun.
            She shouted and laughed interchangeably into his ears where to turn and what gears to switch, and then they were driving down Pomeroy Avenue by the pier. June let go once at the stoplight to wave to people she must’ve known standing around outside the Splash Café. “Park there!” she commanded. It was the first time he’d parallel parked, and it was horrible. Between two cars, not even in a car, but he still did it and felt relieved that it wasn’t on some tight hillside curb in San Francisco.
            June suggested Noah phone Jay to join them, and while they waited around she crooked her arm into his and led towards the direction of the pier. “Your first bike ride?” she asked, gliding her hand along the old wood of the long stretch before them.
            “Some scary shit,” he said with a good laugh, “not gonna lie.”
            “At least you’re getting better use of it than Alexander does.” He looked at her perplexedly. “It’s his you know,” she explained. They were just above the shore where the waves violently smashed with the dark sand, and below a single group of little girls had just been ambushed by a massive one that hadn’t quite died at the shore.
            “The hog?”
            “It’s Alex’s. Before he was born, my dad put money aside from the motel to buy a motorcycle for when he grew up. Then they started to notice things, and the doctor officially declared my brother was a dwarf. No use for a motorcycle there. It’s not even Alex’s thing, even if he could manage to ride a motorcycle.”
            That explained the sourness from Alexander. “A lot of things must be holding your brother back.”
            “He gets by.” She nudged closer to him as they looked out over the pier. Seagulls were coming up, landing beside June and closing in should she have food. It was warm on the waterfront. Skateboarders outnumbered pedestrians on the stretch. Everyone seemed to get by. Pismo Beach was one first trip on a hog Noah wouldn’t forget.

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