Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Motorcycling In The Rain

"Check that out," Nick announced looking out of the window. It was about three in the morning and Fred and I crowded round looking out at the strange and miraculous scene outside. It was raining without a doubt. I can't say that I envy the cops out on the streets when it's raining, but it does tend to slow the drunks down a little if it rains early enough in the evening when it keeps people home. This rain came too late for that and when I left the station just before six this morning it was still coming down.It happened that yesterday I got a new riding jacket by Tourmaster which I found on eBay for $110 delivered. It's sold as a warmer and waterproof jacket than the summer mesh jacket I use year round and which is rather inadequate in winter for my tropical skin. Now was the time to test my Tourmaster Pivot.
I love riding in the rain- when I'm properly dressed! The air is fresh with ozone and the smells of all the grasses and trees (and trash cans!) released by the moisture. The road shines under the street lights and tucked away inside my warm jacket and waterproof trousers I could enjoy the cold air on my face without feeling cold or wet. It was snug in there, and listening to the Bonneville hum through the gears without missing a beat gave the ride home a more than usual feel of flying through the night.The rain dissipated passing Boca Chica on the four lane stretch of highway one and I thought the morning was going to be a disappointment as the air dried and the view of clouds and moon light rose up over the islands and water of the Saddlebunch Keys. A cruiser with a bright halogen headlight and annoyingly bright spotlights tucked in behind me to take advantage of my knowledge of the road and I kept hoping he would teach me a lesson and pass but he was too smart for that. I led him through Sugarloaf and out the other side, plunging back into darkness beyond the street lights at the Fire Station. I saw a gray mist in the dawn's early light ahead and a sudden blast of frigid air preceded the flood of rain. I slowed to 50, then 45 and tucked behind the Parabellum windshield. The cruiser closed in, obviously afraid of missing a turn in the sudden fog of water that surrounded us. The traffic light at Sugarloaf came and went, trucks roared past heading to Key West with the day's groceries and suddenly we were back out into the crisp dry air beyond the storm.Cheyenne, alone at home, was fast asleep when I arrived and I had peeled off my waterproofs by the time she came downstairs ready to jump in the car for an early morning walk destination. I was dry under the jacket so that test worked. Summer is here at last, properly.

Dry Skies

It rained the other night. It rained so hard the water sloshing on the palms around my house swished very loudly and woke me up. Not my Labrador though, she kept on snoring on her bed sounding like a gouty grandpa slobbering through his mustaches.I hadn't expected rain, and it didn't actually disappoint as the rain stopped and moved on after an all too brief few minutes. It was better than nothing but it fell out of skies that had promised no such thing as rain.It has been a very odd start to rainy season this year. Beautiful skies, powerful clouds, strong winds and absolutely no rain at all. Very odd. But pretty.

New Town Vignettes

There are times when I'm out in public that I like to make a joke, an unconsidered trifle when I meet a stranger. I was at Gordon Food Service, Key West's only warehouse bulk grocery store buying mineral water. I walked up to the store after I carefully left the camera in the car and went to take a cart from the pile out front. I said to the employee "I'm sorry to wreck your display," to which the employee grinned and said: "Help yourself, it's not a display, it's Art," and we shared a laugh. So often I meet people who either don't have a clue what I'm talking about, don't speak English at all, never mind playing with words...the rare occasion I connect it's a red letter day and I had left the camera in the car. Oh well. This motorcycle is frankly just too weird for me, ape hanger handlebars, primary drive belt exposed and no front fender. This too might be art but it barely seems rideable. Perhaps it's art because I am too much of a doofoos to ride it... Looking at a large pile of bougainvillea cuttings I remembered my own little bush drowned in a downpour we had months ago. Mine is a pile of twigs which is a sad reminder I alone am unable to grow this plant.These people had bougainvillea to spare. And then I passed the mystery car, a Pontiac shrouded and from what little I could see painted matt black.Perhaps I will one day see it around town. If it is in working order I probably shall, as that is the nature of life in a small space, everyone comes by sooner or later. And then my favorite sign, supporting the high school athletes.The billboard at Key West High calls them the "fighting Conchs." The murderous mollusks. The aggressive abalone. It just sounds rather odd.

Snakes And Ladders

Reporting for some overtime Friday night I walked up to the police station where I saw a feral cat in the lobby, prowling about. It ran off as I approached but suddenly a red snake darted out from behind the column as I walked by in my shorts. It gave me a heart stopping shock, even though it missed my hairy leg. It's the first time a snake had lunged at me.I went for my camera as the snake crawled up the column in the lobby and by the time I was organized it was shooting the moon. I think the cat had made the snake cranky but I couldn't remember for the life of me how the ditty goes about red next to black or yellow next to red to identify a poisonous coral snake.It look mean enough as it "snaked" up the vertical column.Inside the police station I found Officer Biskup who thought the drama sounded interesting so he called out a flag down by a Ten-37 (a dispatcher in ten codes). We went back out to move the snake along before a visitor to the police station got freaked out or bitten. I put Eric's bullet proof vest between me and the snake. A matter of mere prudence, you understand. I had my uniform long pants in a bag so my legs were naked in my civilian shorts and I felt vulnerable.I tell Eric he reminds me of Vic Mackey the wildly corrupted cop in The Shield, in my opinion one of the best cop shows I've seen on Netflix. He looks at me a bit old fashioned when I mention the similarity but I think Biskup and the actor Michael Chiklis were separated at birth.
Be that as it may Eric moved the snake along out of the lobby with his night stick.I had thought maybe we could wake the fire department up next door with their padded fire clothes and buckets they seem well equipped to move a snake on. Eric disagreed and scooted the snake into the parking lot where it was reluctant to go as I think it feared the cat returning.I have known Eric for seven years when he was a sergeant and my shift commander when I first went to nights and was learning to dispatch. He went away for a couple of years to police the wide world of the continental US and then he came back to where his home really is. With the snakes, apparently which he likes as little as I do.With the snake safely lost in the mangroves I went to work and Eric cleared the call telling Channel One to have the victim's advocate on stand by for me. Very funny- all report calls all the time for Officer Biskup when next I'm dispatching. Police officers know better than to piss off their dispatcher.

Upstairs the Conch (the "h" is silent) Karl identified the snake as a corn snake and harmless. " I got bitten by one two weeks ago and I barely felt it," he said smiling cheerfully. Well it could have been a deadly coral snake I consoled myself.