The Gray Pilgrim
Operating on instinct rather than intellect, I pull up to the gas pump in need of coffee as much as my car needs fuel. A casualty of a late night and an early morning, I linger in the misty twilight of dreams and reality, as I saunter toward the entrance of the twenty-four hour convenience store. Parked on the side, I notice an old biker readying is motorcycle for the day’s travel. I recognize him immediately.
A hometown boy, born and bred on Long Island, natured in Brooklyn and now he sleeps in New Jersey. He is a sojourner who has crisscrossed the country countless times chronicling and cataloging the people, places and things he’s encountered from: New York to San Francisco, Daytona to Sturgis, Chicago to New Orleans, Boston to Los Angeles, the big cities, the small towns and all the villages, hamlets and whistle-stops found in-between. To some he is an eccentric renegade filled with purposeless wanderlust. As for myself and others he is a maverick, a rebel, He is all American and he is ageless.
Spry for his years, rough hewn with a lean wiry frame, his face taut like rough weathered leather beneath a long gray beard, creased with the lines of many miles and many years. He’s dressed in a tan deerskin duster with fringes and faded blue jeans. On his head he wears a stars and stripes bandanna to keep his bushy, silver white hair in place.
His bike is an expression of himself.
Dusty but not dirty from the road, the engine, a big V-Twin, sits mounted on a mono-shock soft tail frame with a fat bob gas tank and teardrop fenders, painted electric blue and highlighted with red and white pin stripes. A cool rigid look, fine-tuned by a low-slung saddle seat with a passenger pad and an old worn rucksack tied to the small sissy bar. The pull back handle bars and a wide glide front end that rolls on chromed spoke wheels gives the impression of constant motion. It has retro-classic style for a long easy ride, standing still; it beckons for the open road. It is a machine to epitomize the power and prestige of the American Dream.
He mounts the bike, starts it up and roars toward the open road. A resounding thunder shatters the silence of the new morning. The fringes of his jacket give the appearance of wings, an eagle gliding on the wind.
Walt Whitman rides a Harley Davidson.