The Babe Bike Blues
Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-21 & Epilogue Available On
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This was supposed to be a short stroke story based on an idea
generously provided by a reader who goes by the handle "Drunken
Dwarf." I thank him for that idea.
The problem is that some characters refuse to restrict themselves to a
short story, and some characters want to do more than stroke.
The characters in this story are a good example.
Reading this book may be tedious, initially, because the lead female
character stutters, and I spelled out every single place she
stutters. I did that on purpose, because it makes for
frustrating reading, just like talking to someone in real life who
stutters is frustrating too. I wanted the reader to FEEL her
frustration with her speech impediment.
Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I don't do
ANYTHING in a story without a reason. The stutter
matters. So be frustrated for a while, but keep
going. You'll get used to it ... just like you learn to be
patient with someone who speaks this way in real life.
Jennifer Brazelton sat, an intense look of concentration on her face.
The tip of her unruly tongue was gripped lightly between perfectly even
white teeth as she carefully penned the last of the letter she was
writing to the man she thought of as her Uncle Bob. She took great
pride in the flowing script of her penmanship and wanted it to be
Though she wasn't conscious of it, the perfection Jennifer strove for
in her written communication was an attempt to compensate for the fact
that her verbal communication was typically a disaster.
Jennifer stuttered — she had stuttered all her life.
If you never heard Jennifer speak, you would have thought she was no
different than any other eighteen year old girl. She drew the eye, in
fact, with her slim, athletic body and the hank of carelessly styled
platinum blond hair that hung, usually straight, just past her
shoulders. She looked like a California girl, straight off the beach,
though she was missing the tan.
But when she was forced to speak, it was agonizing, both for her and
the listener. Typically, whoever she was talking with ended up leaning
forward, mouth working, subconsciously trying to help Jennifer get the
words out. Her face was a picture of frustration in these
situations, and the face of the listener was one of pity or sorrow.
Growing up as a stutterer is an education in how hostile the world can
be. She'd had to learn to ignore the other children's cruel
barbs and teasing. Kids who called her "J-j-j-Jenny" were put
in the class of humans who didn't deserve any of her attention. She got
used to being called “stupid” or
Each new year meant new teachers, and new teachers always attempted to
make her participate in class by answering questions aloud. She knew
they thought they were trying to help her improve in some way, but they
were simply torturing her. And when they finally gave up and stopped
calling on her, she was immensely relieved.
All she wanted was to blend into the background and be as invisible as
As time went on, the armor she developed to keep the hostile and
uncaring world away from her tender underbelly got a little stronger,
and she cried a little less. It no longer bothered her when
someone assumed she was stupid because she couldn't say a complete
sentence in less than a minute or so. She knew she wasn't stupid. Her
teachers did too, once they graded her papers.
And she learned that the "do-gooders" as her father called them, really
WERE trying to help, even if they didn't know how to and even if their
efforts to include her in conversation only pulled her into the light,
instead of letting her rest comfortably out of sight.
Most importantly, Jennifer learned that the majority of communication,
when it takes place on a face-to-face basis, isn't done with the voice
at all. She became a master of non-verbal communication,
using a shrug, or nod, or any of a number of facial muscles to say
something without words that almost anyone could understand at once.
Home was the most comfortable place for her to be. Don and Susan, her
parents, were used to getting information in a halting, stumbling kind
of way. It was normal for them. They'd tried everything when
she was young, of course. Even now they had Jennifer in
speech therapy on a regular basis. But, after years of disappointment,
they had finally accepted their daughter as a beautiful, if slightly
flawed young woman whom they loved, whether she stuttered or not.
She knew they loved her and home was a fortress in which she felt
completely safe and mostly happy.
When puberty rumbled into her life, it was another
disappointment. The girls she knew started dating the boys
she knew. They didn't abandon her for these boys. Not really, because
they had never taken her into their inner circles in the first place.
But she heard them talking, and saw their body language as they
flirted, and teased, and did the mating dance that almost all young
women learn to do.
Other than her inability to speak without stuttering, there was nothing
wrong with Jennifer. That included her hormones. Those hormones
provided the same stimulus to her body that they did in other girls.
She just had no outlet for it.
She was cute, and she smiled a lot, because she had learned that
smiling was a way to satisfy people. If you looked happy, most people
left you alone. And, boys being boys, when they looked at her
and imagined her naked, writhing under them as they performed THEIR
part in the mating dance, they were interested. Some of them even asked
her out. It always ended badly, though.
Four of them hadn’t been able to make it through even an hour
of a first date. They were used to rushing a girl through the
conversation stage of things and getting right to the necking part.
Jennifer, of course, never rushed anything...even if she tried.
Two others thought they would be able to just skip the talking part
altogether, and tried to go straight to the petting stage.
One got slapped, the other walked bowlegged for two days.
One might wonder how a girl, then merely sixteen, with no real
experience with the male of the species, might be knowledgeable of how
to handle a boy in that particular situation.
She had a tutor, of sorts. And that tutor was her Uncle Bob.
He wasn't really her uncle. Bob Jefferson was her father's best
friend. Other than her father, he was the only man in her
life who really meant something to her. She had known him for as long
as she could remember.
Bob was a confirmed bachelor, but it was more by choice of lifestyle,
rather than any intent to avoid a lasting relationship with any
particular woman. Bob loved women. But, he also loved the life of the
When he was seventeen he joined the Navy to see the world.
He'd read books and seen movies about Navy Seals and dreamed, like many
young men dream, about how cool it would be to be accepted into that
very special fraternity of men. Don Brazelton felt the same
way, and fate had brought them together in boot camp.
The reality, of course, was quite different than the books and movies,
but both young men were good at being challenged, and the teamwork they
learned and participated in made them inseparable. Initially, it was
them, and the rest of the trainees, against the Chiefs who seemed to be
trying their best to kill them all during training. Later,
when they were stationed together in the same Seal team, they trusted
their lives to each other on a regular basis during missions.
While Don still dreamed of settling down some day, though, Bob was more
the type to revel in the knowledge that he was a thoroughly dangerous
Six years later they both got out of the Navy. Don had seen the world,
and there was a girl back home he was interested in. Bob's reasons for
getting out were more complicated. First off, if Don didn't have his
back, it wouldn't be fun any more. He'd have to worry. Another reason
was that he'd seen the inside of a brig more often than he would have
liked, both military and civilian. He was pretty familiar with the
procedures involved in a Captain's Mast too, though he always got his
rank back eventually. He was one of their best team leaders, and they
knew it. The rules and assholes who always seemed to end up
with the most brass on their collar chafed at him, though.
Had he been able to stay a team leader while the rest of the Navy
(except a few logistics folks who kept the teams in beans and bullets)
went on permanent shore leave, he'd have stayed in.
So, while Don went off to woo a wife, Bob did a stint as a Merchant
Mariner. He'd gotten to see the world as a Seal, but he'd never had
time to explore all the exotic locales the Navy had whisked him to and
away from. He spent seven years roaming the world before he'd
seen enough to realize that people were pretty much people, wherever
He left the Merchant Marine and went to see his "brother," where he met
the wife and their seven year old daughter for the first time. He was
captivated by the little girl almost instantly. She spoke to
his soul in many ways. Having been in twenty-three countries
where he didn't speak the language, communicating with this cute little
girl was a piece of cake, and he could care less how long it
took. She was a doll and her shy smile, as she looked up at
the beefy man with the long black hair and bushy black beard, made his
heart melt. Unlike most children, she didn't run screaming when she saw
him. Instead she sat, rapt, as he told her stories about where he'd
been and what he'd done there. He told her stories about her
daddy too, when he could get away with it. Neither Don nor his wife,
Susan were keen for little Jenny to know some of the things Don had had
to do as a Seal.
Of course those were the best stories and Bob loved telling them, when
Don and Susan weren't around to tell him to knock it off.
He spent two months with them, doing basically nothing. Not that he was
a drag on the family. He was good with tools and Susan's car had been
giving them problems. It was soon running better than when it
was new. Bob wiped out Don's "honeydo" list within a week and went on
to find other things that needed to be done.
He spent a lot of time with Jennifer. It might be argued that both were
a little lonely. He had no real ties, except to Don, and she had no
friends to play with.
He took her with him grocery shopping one day. He liked to eat and his
big frame took a lot of fuel. He didn't expect his brother's family to
support that need. Jennifer was in seventh heaven.
As any parent knows, who has taken a seven year old to the grocery
store, the vast majority of the communication between parent and child
consists of "No," or "Put that back!" and maybe "That's not good for
you. Let's get something healthy instead."
Bob didn't speak that language.
"Sure, baby," he usually said. "Get two packages. One for you and one
for me." In another case he said, "Oh yeah, Jeny. I love
them. And that brand is the best! Those things will kill us
for sure. They're LOADED with sugar. Better get three."
They came home with eight boxes of cereal, three boxes of Ding Dongs, a
variety of chips and dips, a jar of peanut butter that already had
jelly mixed in with it, the giant community-sized economy assortment
bag of practically everything the Hershey's chocolate company produced,
and twelve frozen pizzas. There was also an assortment of
Hamburger Helper, canned tuna, Spam and six pounds of string cheese. Of
the twenty-four cans that spilled out onto the counter top at home, one
was green beans. The rest were an assortment of Chef Boyardee's
Susan didn't have a fit.
"Where are the fresh vegetables and fruits?" she asked.
"That's sissy food," replied Bob, smiling. "Scurvy is a thing of the
"We're sissies, Bob," she said calmly.
"No way!" he groused.
"Go back and get the vegetables and fruits, Bob."
"But I don't have to take anything back...right?" he asked hopefully.
"Don't you think five flavors of ice cream is a bit much?"
"Of course not. Variety is the spice of life. I got cones, too. The
good ones—the ones that look like waffles." He beamed proudly.
Susan gestured toward the refrigerator. "We don't have that
much room in the freezer, Bob."
"Yeah, I noticed you guys need a deep freeze. Where could I get one of
those? Does Don know anybody with a pickup truck?"
Jennifer had stood and watched, fascinated as the huge man stood
politely while her mother looked up at him and calmly straightened him
And it was Jennifer who picked out the fruits and vegetables when they
went back to the store.
Susan Brazelton was intimately aware of how important Bob was to her
husband. He HAD talked about everything with her. She was
fully aware that the reason she had a husband she was madly in love
with was because this bear-like man had always brought the team back
safely. For that reason, she considered his hijinks to be
more of a distraction than a fault.
And he was very good for Jennifer.
It was impossible, however, for Bob to miss the fact that he was a
square peg, while Don and Susan's world was full of round holes. He
loved the time he spent with them, but didn't want to wear out his
Having seen the whole world, Bob decided that now he'd spend some time
seeing the country of his birth. He had money and he had time. He
bought a big touring bike, waved to the only family he had, and
disappeared for three years.
His return, when Jennifer was ten, had been a surprise to both of them.
It was as if he'd never left, except that he had more stories to tell.
Oak Valley, where Don and Susan lived with the delightful little girl
who called him "Uncle Bob," wasn't big enough to support the idea Bob
had for the foreseeable future. To do what he wanted to do required a
larger population base.
He took his life savings and with two other former Seals, opened a bike
shop outside Atlanta. They specialized in custom bikes, both
building them and servicing them. As with most things he'd
tried, he was successful.
He got back "home" infrequently, but his time was still his own and he
was the boss, so he was able to spend a week, several times a year,
with the man he considered to be his brother. And each time, as far as
Jennifer was concerned, it was like the big teddy bear, as she
sometimes called him, had never left. He always had a big
grin for her and always sat patiently as she brought him up to date on
what had happened in his absence.
And, because he now had a fixed address, she began writing him letters.
She wrote him one a week. It took all week to write it, but it was
almost like a hobby for her, so she didn't mind. On paper she
could say whatever she liked, in long, complicated sentences that flew
onto the white surface. Her letters were often five or six pages long,
and she said everything to him that she couldn't say to the friends she
didn't have, or the parents who no child can confide everything to.
In addition to his occasional long visits, he appeared for each of her
birthdays. It was from him she got the almost life-sized Teddy Bear she
named Bob. She'd never forget that day, her thirteenth birthday. She
already knew the sound of the motor of the big hog her uncle rode. When
she heard it that day and ran to the front window to look out, Uncle
Bob rode in with the bear behind him, like it was his rider. He'd said
he brought her a boyfriend and she hadn't cared that she was too old
for stuffed animals. She'd slept with that huge five foot tall bear
taking up most of her bed for years. She'd never tell anybody, but she
practiced kissing that bear, too.
She never knew what to expect from him on her birthday. Sometimes he
was extravagant, and sometimes ridiculously simple. On her eleventh
birthday he gave her a sweatshirt that said, "If you don't want to
know...don't ask." For her fourteenth it was a pair of
diamond earrings that were half a carat apiece. Her mother
was scandalized. Susan was even more scandalized when he
produced an identical set for her. To Don, he gave a case of
On her sixteenth birthday she opened a little box to find a pair of
big, red wax lips. When she looked at him in confusion, he returned her
look with a serious face and said, "Sweet sixteen and never been
kissed." Then he grinned. "So KISS THEM!"
She was quick on her feet, though, and saw that the wax lips were
designed to be clamped in the teeth, so that they covered a person's
actual lips. She handed them to him and just
waited. It was he who was confused then.
"P-p-p-put them o-o-o-n," she said patiently.
"You're supposed to kiss them," he said.
"I w-w-w-will," she stuttered. "Wh-wh-when y-y-you p-p-put them on,"
she finished in a rush.
He smiled. "You don't want to kiss your grumpy old Uncle Bob."
She lost her patience then and shoved his gift carefully between his
teeth. Then she kissed the hard, cool wax lips just like she'd
practiced on Bob the bear. It wasn't very satisfactory, but
she'd been too chicken to take them out of his teeth and kiss his real
lips, which she was quite sure would feel much nicer.
For Bob's part, when he saw her close her eyes and earnestly kiss those
silly wax lips, he felt a jolt as he realized she really WAS growing
up. He slapped her on her denim-covered butt cheek and, when she jumped
back and yowled, he grinned evilly and said, "That's one. You're how
old? Sixteen? Oooo, this is going to be FUN!"
He jumped for her, but wasn't really trying to catch her. He knew she'd
be able to outrun him. She reminded him constantly that he was out of
shape and needed to get back into the daily grind that had made him
tough as nails when he was a Seal. Still, it was fun to chase
her around while she hooted and yelled. At least until Don or Susan
yelled at him to act his age.
He'd tried to give her a Sportster for her seventeenth birthday, but
her parents wouldn't let her have it. She'd had to settle for being
taken out to dinner at the fanciest place in town. Uncle Bob had looked
ridiculous in a suit borrowed from Don, which was probably two sizes
too small. With his black hair in a pony tail and the ends of his
moustache waxed and curled, he looked like a blacksmith from the
fifteenth century trying to fit in to the twenty-first. Her mother had
done her hair and loaned her what she called her "little black
dress." She'd never felt so grown up in her life. He'd let
her sneak sips of his wine that night while she ate things she hadn't
even known existed, but which kept her almost breathless with the
anticipation of what would come next.
He showed up for graduation, and gave her a Harley Davidson leather
jacket — black, with silver studs and snaps. It felt like it
weighed a ton when she slipped into it, but she didn't want to ever
take it off.
Then, two months later, the night before her eighteenth birthday, he
"Sweet pea," he said. "I got this problem. A buddy of mine is in some
trouble, and I have to go help him. That means I'm going to miss number
Her disappointment was palpable in her voice, even though she only said
two words: "Oh. O-k-k-k-ay."
"No it's not OK," he said. "But this is important. This guy saved my
life one time and I owe him. I wouldn't miss your birthday for the
world, but I have to go help him. I'll make it up to you, though. I
"I underst-st-st-stand," she said, trying to make her voice light. "I
l-l-l-ove you. B-b-be c-c-caref-f-ful."
"No sweat," he replied. "The bastards that are fucking with him will
learn the error of their ways, and then we can talk about what I can do
to make up for missing a very important birthday. OK?"
"I SAID O-k-k-kay!" she barked.
"OK," he said. "Give your daddy a hug for me. And slap your mother on
her pretty little ass for me. Bye."
The next day was made less dismal when her parents gave her a car. She
had decided college wasn't for her. She wasn't worried about the
coursework, but communicating wouldn't be worth the trouble, especially
since she had no idea what she wanted to do as an adult. For now she
was going to stay at home, much to her mother's delight, and try to
find a job somewhere where speaking with people wasn't part of the job
A week later she still hadn't heard from Uncle Bob. She had no idea
where he was. He hadn't answered his cell phone, so she was writing
this letter to him, telling him of her frustration that employers
didn't seem to understand that she wasn't stupid and could do almost
anything, as long as she didn't have to talk to the public.
Her mother stuck her head into Jennifer's bedroom.
"We're about ready to go. Are you sure you'll be all right? We'll be
gone for two weeks."
Jennifer's frustration with employers was transferred to her mother in
an instant. She took a breath, but her face said it all. Her mother
held up both hands, palm outwards.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I know you'll be fine. We'll call you when we
get there. I left Aunt Linda's phone number on the fridge. I hope you
find a job, sweetie."
There was a hug then, initiated by her mother, but entered into
voluntarily by Jennifer as her irritation evaporated. She
followed her mother out and gave her father a hug too, and a kiss on
the cheek. They were hugs she'd be forever grateful she got
to have, as things turned out.
Two days later the phone rang and Jennifer, still jobless, expected to
hear her mother's voice on the phone. It was a woman who said
she worked for the highway patrol in Arkansas. There had been
an accident. She was trying to locate next of kin for Donald and Susan
She was bawling when Bob answered the phone. She'd dialed his
number over and over for forty-five minutes.
"What?!" he barked.
It only took him seconds to recognize the voice. She was incapable of
actually saying anything, both because of her speech impediment and
because she was sobbing. A feeling of terror gripped the big
man's gut. Instinct kicked in and he asked her questions that
could be answered with a yes, or no.
"Are you safe?" he asked.
"Y-y-y-es," she sobbed.
"Are your parents OK?"
"Are you at home?"
"I'll be there in eight hours," he said. "I won't be able to answer the
phone. Do you need the police or somebody to help you right now?"
"N-n-no." The helplessness in her voice was like a knife, turning in
"Hang on, Baby," he said urgently. "I'll be there. Just hang on."
Bob flipped the phone closed and stuck it in his back pocket. He'd only
turned it on because now that he was inside and the perimeter was
secure, he could be alerted by the men securing it if there was any
trouble. It had rung before he could put it back on his belt. It hadn't
been Matt, or Johnny or Ripper, though. It had been Jennifer.
He looked at the man lying on the floor under him, with Bob's left hand
covering his adams apple, choking off all noise except for the wheezing
of labored breathing. This man, and his gang members, were the reason
Bob was in town.
The man, who called himself Sheik Abdulla Hamid, was a twenty-two year
old African-American who had never been fifty miles from where he was
born, except for an eighteen month stint in prison where he changed his
name. "Tyrone Robinson" wasn't cutting it in the slam. He
hadn't accepted any of the tenets of Islam while he was locked up, but
he liked the sound of the names he heard and played the game to get one
of his own. He was the leader of the gang that claimed this
area as their turf.
Matt, also a former Seal on Bob and Don's team, had caught one of
Abdulla's minions trying to break into his car, and had stopped him
from going further. It's hard to break into a car when both
your arms are broken. It's hard to call for help too when the
man who broke them drives away in the car you were trying to steal,
leaving you lying on the ground helpless.
Sheik Abdulla had taken offence to Matt's actions. The car had been on
a list that a particular buyer wanted, and that buyer had supplied
Abdulla the owner's name and address. When they went to the address to
get the car, it wasn't there, because Matt's wife Peggy had gone to the
store in it. So, to soothe their honor they drove by and sprayed the
house with gunfire. Matt's six year old son had almost been hit. Matt
couldn't deal with the gang without leaving his family unprotected, so
he sent out a call for help. Bob, along with three others, had
responded. It was Matt and the three others who were securing
the perimeter of Sheik Abdulla's current...residence.
A Tec-9 was lying on top of a box serving as a coffee table nearby.
Sheik Abdulla had laid it there when he got back to his pad. He hadn't
had time to reach for it when Bob stepped out of the bathroom and put
him on the floor. Bob had been waiting seven hours by then, and was a
little impatient. He was even more impatient now.
"OK," said Bob. "Here's the deal." His hand tightened on Abdulla's
throat just enough that the man's eyes bulged. "Your pip
squeak got caught doing something he shouldn't have been doing. My
buddy broke his arms. You know who I'm talking about?" He
squeezed just enough to cut off Abdulla's air and the man tried to nod
frantically. He let him breathe as he went on. "You, or some
of your people shot his place up. That's unacceptable. It's kind of
like a declaration of war. What you need to understand is
that the war is over. You lost."
Bob reached into his pocket and pulled out a folding knife. His thumb
moved the opening knob while his wrist flicked and the blade snicked
out and locked. Before Abdullah's eyes could even register what was
happening Bob's hand flashed down and Abdulla felt a searing, white hot
pain on the side of his head. His scream was unable to exit
his lungs, though, because Bob's hand clamped down on his throat again.
Bob wiped the blade of the knife on Abdulla's shirt and closed the
knife one-handed before he put it back in his pocket. Then his hand
reached and came back up holding Abdulla's ear in his fingers.
"We accept your surrender," he said as tears overflowed Abdulla's eyes
and he dragged air in through the tiny opening Bob allowed him.
"Consider this reparations for the damage your people caused to my
man's house when they shot it up."
Now Bob reached behind him and removed the Colt .45 from the holster in
the middle of his back, pulling it out from under his motorcycle
jacket. He inserted the tip of the barrel in Abdulla's wide open
mouth. Abdulla's eyes bulged even more and a strangled
whimper came from his throat.
"Since you can't sign a formal surrender document, I'm going to keep
your ear as sort of a sign of the agreement between you and me that the
war is, in fact, over. Should you, or any of your people
forget that the war is over, or should Matt or any member of his family
come to any harm whatsoever, I'll be back for your balls. And
just so your people understand too, it won't be just YOUR balls we come
back for. We'll make a whole COLLECTION of balls. You, as
their leader, need to help them understand that part. Got that?"
Abdulla's eyes were beginning to glaze over and Bob released the
pressure on his throat. He gave the man time to get some oxygen into
his lungs, whereupon Abdulla began moaning. When his eyes had cleared
Bob scraped the front sight of the Colt along the roof of his mouth.
"I really would rather just blow your fucking brains out, right here,
right now, but I need you alive...for the present...to keep your
associates in line. You think you can do that?"
The man's chin bobbed and he choked. Bob lessened the pressure on his
throat some more.
"I can't hear you," he said softly.
"Yah!" choked out Abdulla.
"Is the ear enough, or do I need to take one of your testicles to
convince you how serious this matter is to us?" Bob pulled the barrel
just clear of Abdulla's mouth.
"NO!" shouted Abdulla. "I mean yes!" he said as his eyes widened again.
"NO TROUBLE!" he gasped, trying to find an answer that was safe.
Bob grinned. "Good. We don't normally leave survivors when the mission
is complete. But this is a special situation. You really need to
understand that part. As far as I'm concerned you're wasting
perfectly good air just by breathing it." He reholstered his weapon and
then reached for the Tech nine. Holding it by the pistol
grip, he raised it and then smashed it down on the floor. Abdulla's
head turned to watch as the barrel snapped cleanly and bounced a few
"Cheap, crappy gun," commented Bob as he bent the magazine of the
weapon by smashing it on the floor again. "You won't be needing it any
Then he clamped down on Abdulla's throat until the man lost
consciousness. He called each member of the team. The
perimeter was still secure. He told them where to rally, made sure
Abdulla was still breathing, and then left.
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