Homeward headed, I was driving my way
Down I-95 past the Old Mill Way in a yawn,
Turning the radio on and looking to play
Something to keep my consciousness on.
Few cars out at 1:00; it had been a long day;
I'd stopped off at Charlie's to sit with a friend
To blow out the kinks and let myself say
What a **** the company minion had been.
Four hours burned off like the late morning haze;
When I'd sobered back steady, was able to drive,
I paid off my tab, left my friends in a daze,
Headed the Jeep to the feed ramp for old 95.
At one in the morning, the traffic was thin;
When I heard Harleys roaring behind,
I scoped the mirror for the lanes they were in,
Double-blinked then to see if I was road-blind.
No bikers behind, no bikers beside, but sound
Like a squadron blared loud, and I felt a cold chill,
Thought better of having the last couple rounds,
Wished I'd stayed an hour before I'd settled my bill.
I glanced to the side, though the sound was all 'round,
Saw a glimmer of green glowing chrome in the dark,
And fire ethereal from pipes blooming sound,
From a Shovelhead, barely visible, flat black and stark.
But the rider's appearance emptied my chest:
Dark goggles, full beard and a gray flowing mane,
Black leather with signs on his tattery vest
And a number embroidered below the man's name:
"Rider 88" glowed red through the gloom,
A ******* burned on the withering arm:
"We rise again!" I heard a voice of doom,
"We're meeting at the old red barn!"
He wasn't alone, though I couldn't see
The posse he rode with, the pack he was in;
I felt a squadron of hellions run through me,
Concussive, incessant, their rattling din.
And then, except pavement beneath the Jeep's tires,
The howling of wind and crackling "Cotton-eyed Joe,"
Nothing but the road after midnight, no sirens or fires,
And me, shaking hands on the wheel, alone.