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Be Who You Are, Always

Be Who You Are, Always

Green Moped I saw her again the other day. She is a pretty girl, in a mousy sort of way. She looks like she would run off if you clapped your hands loudly in the same room. She is the kind of woman that just whispers "abuse" in silent screams and pleading eyes. I want to talk to her, but I am afraid that I will scare her off. She comes over to my shining emerald green bike and looks at, her hand trembling to stroke the gleaming, glittering paint. I think she works in the little office near where I stop about once a week, trying in vain to get my book to sell better. I have tried everything short of threatening people to buy a copy but the last few weeks I have been less than interested in this business of selling my work. I have been nearly obsessed with this poor girl.

I walked out the side door of the bookstore, quietly. I didn't want to scare her, but I didn't want her to run off either. I felt horrible the minute I got close to her. Her pretty face was swollen and bruised. Her hair was hanging in curtains in front of her eyes, trying to hide what someone had done to her. I felt sick with rage and helplessness. I asked her if she liked the bike and then forced a bright and sunny smile. Her face, tragic in its shadowy blues and reds, lit up and for a second I could see the passionate, hope-filled woman inside of this sad creature before me.

We talked about motorcycles for a minute or two before she finally admitted that she had read my book and declared herself a fan. Green was her favorite color too, she added, blushing just a little. I told her that I would be glad to sign a copy of my book for her anytime and that I counted all of my fans as friends.(Hell, I could count them all as relatives, if I want, as I said sales are slow at best.) She nodded and then turned, ready to head back to work. I had barely made it a foot when I heard the distinctive sound of a heart wrenching sob. I turned and saw the girl's face cloud and then break open, all the sounds of hurt, betrayal and rage issuing forth.

Her boyfriend, a lazy, drunken slob was a big fan of letting her earn the cash so he could play video games with his equally drunken slob friends all day. Every night he would fall in love with his fists and pound her into his vision of the perfect girlfriend. Every day she would come to work trying to hide her shame and pain. But, what hurt most of all, more than the fists and the boot kicks and the rancid, ugly names he hurled at her was this: he had sold her bike, her beloved, beat up red Harley. It had been a gift to her from her brother when she graduated college, given to her just before he died. She had grown up with just her brother; their parents had died years earlier. Her happiest memories are of her and her brother whizzing down the road on that shiny red bike, giggling and being young and free.

Last night was the anniversary of her brother's death, she said. All the hurt and rage and the utter loneliness had come up on her, burning the back of her throat like a demon screaming to be released. He came in, stinking of beer and cheap perfume and opened his mouth. She let him hit her twice- and then conked him with a skillet, grabbed her purse and left. Smiling, finally, she asked me to do her a favor that I just could not refuse.

If you drive by the little complex these days you will see me trying to sell my book, my emerald green bike sitting out front. About seven parking spaces down, in front of the little office where she is working out her last two weeks, you will see my new friend's bright, shiny red Harley. Rock on, sister, rock on!

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