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The shrine

2013-01-23T18:36:10+00:00

I was at a friend’s house the other day. It’s very clean, bright, stark and empty. He lives alone. He’s a former biker. He still dresses and acts and looks the part, with all of his tattoos and leathery skin and chain-smoking, but his health is declining and he can’t drink, smoke or ride the way he used to. He’s more into fishing, these days.

He has three huge motorcycles parked where his dining room should be. All of them are locked with several chains. Only one of them has a current license plate. The other two, he said, belong to friends.

Inside his front door is a lighted curio cabinet. It stands out because it’s one of the only pieces of furniture in the room, besides his recliner and a sofa and a coffee table. The cabinet is full of pictures of bikers.

Some of the pictures are decades old. You can tell from the fuzzy quality of the photographs, and the way the pictures curl. Newspaper clippings are beside some of the photos, talking about achievements of the person in the photograph.

I asked him about the people in the photographs, one by one. As he talked, tears began to well up in his eyes.

All of the people in the pictures were dead, he said. More than half of them had died in motorcycle accidents. Some had died of lung cancer or other cancers. Some had died of heart attacks. But they were all gone. The curio cabinet full of pictures was a shrine to the memory of his friends who had died, a shrine to a lifestyle that he has largely abandoned.

The two other motorcycles in his living room belonged to two of those dead friends. Both of their owners had died from lung cancer, from smoking. As they wasted away, their bikes had rotted away in their garages or in their yards. My friend acquired them from the families after their owner died, both for free. Both bikes needed a lot of work, and he restored them lovingly to mint condition.

Now the museum-quality motorcycles sit in the living room, near the shrine to their former owners.

Everyone has a cup of tears inside of them, which they carry around with them. Some people never spill their cup of tears, but my friend does, easily, when he remembers his friends who have gone.

2 Comments
  1. Lola permalink
    2013-01-25T12:20:24+00:00 12:20

    that’s sad :(

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    • 2013-01-25T14:56:28+00:00 14:56

      I’m all about sad stories. Let’s watch “Old Yeller” together! How much fun would “When Harry Met Sally” have been if they were always watching “Old Yeller” instead of “Casablanca”? LOTS AND LOTS.

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