The muscled biker in boxer shorts and leather jacket, which made a sound like heavy breathing when he approached me on strong hairy legs, didn’t look as if he wanted to talk. Chains clinked around the ankles of the boots with each step. I was a physical coward at the best of times. The hippie chick said that bikers had raped her and a friend after midnight in their own ashram, and no one heard the screams. Did they scream? Yes. No one heard. If they did, how was anyone to know it was the scream of distress rather than ecstasy? The boy on the roof, according to those who heard, screamed like an eagle before he flew. How many bikers were there? Two? No three, no two, like shit man, who was counting? Well, two of them did me on the beanbag. I said I didn’t want it, but they didn’t stop. And no one heard your screams? Where the fuck did the roomies go, the four guys? What about the other girl? Where specifically were you raped? Also on the beanbag? What do you mean where specifically? How about on the window ledge, or on the kitchen counter? In the fucking ashram. I don’t know where the guys were, maybe they were there, and we were all stoned, like I said. In the fucking ashram, that’s where they raped us. It was really rape, are you sure?

I was in the eighth-floor laundry room at the end of a corridor after midnight. My throat closed tight; dewdrops of sweat beaded my temples. Both bikers trapped me in their glare. The muscled one stood so close to my face that I saw curlicues of grey hair in his otherwise black beard and a fine scar on his lower lip, maybe the result of a knifing? Catching a whiff of Old Spice, I wondered where he applied the aftershave, since he evidently did not use a razor. The leather jacket reeked of sweat, machine oil, and coitus, maybe on the bitch pad of his motorcycle. His jaw dropped and circled like a bull chewing cud. Reflecting the lights, his long black hair seemed freshly shampooed, and I wondered how he wore it on the bike under his helmet, if helmet he wore. I didn’t see helmets; the other guy wore a red bandana around his forehead. Perhaps they were road hogs—or did the term apply to the machine and not the man?—who enjoyed the freedom of the open road, the wind in their hair. Did he use conditioner like a woman to untangle it after a shower? A citrusy scent similar to my own shampoo.

The bat slipped from my hand and first bounced off the red rubber tile of the floor then rolled to a corner. A poor choice, that red. It showed all the dirt and scuff marks, including bits of mud broken loose from their soles. Unable to return the biker’s stare, I naturally followed the movement of my weapon deserting me in time of need. Did one of them rape the girl? If all bikers were not rapists, and all rapists were not bikers, it did not follow that he was a rapist even though he was a biker. For some reason, I remembered the famous line in Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich: “Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal.” Were bikers particular as to gender? Would anyone hear my screams and listen to my story afterwards? Would they advise silence to maintain the peaceable kingdom? Was I not mortal?

“Well, what do we have here?”

We all know that our thoughts tend to gather and scatter simultaneously like schools of minnows described by Virginia Woolf. It’s hard to sort them out, determining which came first, which second, because mine appeared and intertwined and dipped and coalesced and burst outward from an illusory centre. My mind trying to collect itself and my mouth opening to answer what really was a rhetorical question, my eyes remaining fixated on the biker’s crotch for signs of danger, I saw myself in an absurd situation. What on Earth was I doing in a college commune laundry room with a bat, now out of reach, in the name of whatever ideals or educational theories, confronted by a mostly-naked muscle man in a leather jacket? He had roared to the college terrace on his Harley, stomped through the foyer, entered the elevator with his companion, located a laundromat, stripped, taking off his boots and jacket and leather chaps and jeans, then putting his boots and jacket back on, and met a decidedly unthreatening, pale-faced, long-haired, unimposing youth who had trouble finding his voice and who could well serve as fuckmeat.

We locked our gaze and stood our ground. He lit a cigarette, which gave me time to tremble—at least to disguise the fact that I was trembling—and to wonder if I had fallen victim to prejudice and stereotype, fed by stories of rape. What did I know of bikers except they rode humongous and noisy machines in groups, wore boots and leather chaps, Nazi-style helmets or biker caps or bandanas, and often sported beards and belly, and belonged to gangs who met or lived in clubhouses on some otherwise deserted road. Also they used drugs, hardly a shattering acknowledgment, savoured their existential and physical freedom, and screwed a lot. They had much in common with college residents. I knew the back seat on the motorcycle was called the bitch pad. Like those glimmering, coalescing and dissipating minnows, my thoughts flicked and gathered and shattered among legs and boots, cock and cunt, and I thought of the girls raped in their ashram, of women among bikers faring no better than women among radicals.

Periodically, a newspaper reported internecine conflict among bikers, and police infiltrated their ranks as, it was suspected, undercover agents pretended to be political radicals or hippies in the college on the lookout for criminal and conspiratorial activities. Were the bikers necessarily criminal? Were they not as much against the “man,” the square world and its liberal apologists (among the latter I’m sure I belonged), all anathema, as the inhabitants of the college? Sometimes they assisted in the college, volunteering to do some manual work in exchange for their use of the premises. I imagined this hirsute hulk standing before me like a grunting Morlock, and the hippies, the flower children, as singing Eloi, mesmerized and ready to be eaten in one way or another. A stupid comparison really, but, as I said, my mind rushed through a pool of speculation faster than it takes for the minnows to disperse and vanish from sight.

He wore a great ring of beaten gold depicting a skull on the third finger of his right hand. I noticed it when he brought the cigarette to his lips. His bicep bulged. My knees wanted to bend. He blew smoke in my face. He spoke over his shoulder to his friend who leaned against the washing machine, crossing one booted foot over the other, and also smoking, also eyeing me. I felt invaded by their gaze, my private parts inspected, my desirability calculated. I didn’t even attempt to back away.

Unlike many FAC residents who took pride in breaking free from traditional power structures represented by a rejection of traditional dress codes, bikers favoured a narrow range of sartorial choices limited to jeans, leather, belts, studs, boots, caps, gloves, and chaps. In their costumes of fascist authority and power, they followed a pattern of behavior and a chain of command. Their black and silver, fuck-tantalizing, shiny machines, some with high handlebars (remember Easy Rider?), announced a rebellious spirit and incipient violence, sexual and otherwise. For a while, I owned a Vespa like a student in an Italian movie, but sold it to help pay my rent, since I could walk to my university classes. I had not entirely renounced the structure and content of traditional academia for Free Alternative Academy’s resource-person led, non-graded and non-threatening tutorials or seminars on Timothy Leary, Eastern philosophy, or film.

Film: everyone wanted to be a filmmaker, and films were shown in the basement cinema of the college; well, not really a movie-house, more like a concrete cavern at the end of which the committee organizing film nights erected the largest screen they could find. I don’t remember if we paid or donated a few coins to get in. The audience smoked dope, a few drank, but drunkenness was rarely a problem in the college, and the buzz or mellow state of mind induced by one’s drug of choice enabled many to watch less than exciting films. One of the most popular, repeated showings was 2001: A Space Odyssey. I found it and still do numbing, even though Strauss’ symphonic score of Thus Spake Zarathustra provides an initial thrill.

I quickly surmised that my near-naked biker blowing smoke in my face couldn’t abide slow-moving stories and symbolic imagery, if indeed the images of the Kubrick film are symbolic and not merely portentous, and would be more inclined to something like Brando’s The Wild One. “Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” “Whadda you got?” My duty called; at least it mewed like a newborn kitten born in a commune closet: the gentlemen should be informed that, unless invited by friends, they had no right to use the laundry facilities, and as the posted sign advised: don’t use machines after 10PM. The noise factor, you see. It occurred to me that I shouldn’t really care who washed their clothes after midnight or whether they had a right to do so. More profound matters agitated the universe. I should also retreat, but I couldn’t even if they allowed it, and maybe in some perverse stream of my consciousness I didn’t want to. The edge of a precipice terrifies and thrills at the same time. Was I not a free man? The basic philosophy of the radical college experiment celebrated freedom. And surely that meant more than the lamentation of Janis Joplin’s “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Then I remembered that “Me and Bobby McGee” was a song of longing and loss.

“Looks like this load’s done, Zed.”

There is something disturbing about a man named after the last letter of the alphabet. For some reason, I remembered a Led Zeppelin piece blasting out of an ashram the other day.

Way, way down inside, I’m gonna give you my love,

I’m gonna give you every inch of my love.

I was a Literature major and knew a metaphor when I saw one and preferred not to receive any “inch” of Zed’s love. Or it could be that he had chosen to call himself by a letter, perhaps a biker baptism, a new name awarded after initiation and acceptance into the Order of Saint Harley. One can’t believe that sane parents would lean over a crib and declare their bundle of joy to be a Zed. I knew several college residents went by unconventional or ludicrous names like Chrysanthemum or Frodo. Did I mention that Lord of the Rings along with Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and Herbert’s Dune, and Hesse’s Demian and Magister Ludi, not to mention the I Ching, were among the most popular books in the college? I saw a well-worn copy of the Kama Sutra left on a cafeteria table and returned it to the lost and found office on the first floor after thoroughly reading it. One chain-smoking and obsessively good-humoured lady invited people to her one-bedroom apartment to drink tisane and peruse or borrow books from her collection of 10,000 fantasy and science fiction titles. She had crammed most of her kitchen cupboards with paperbacks about alien creatures and intergalactic travel. Wearing dashiki tops and ankle-length skirts in barefoot, she conducted a seminar on the subject.

“Well, our friend here can take it out and put in the dryer, can’t you, bitch?”

Obedience in some circumstances delays the inevitable. I wasn’t sure what the inevitable would be, although in my continuing silence and visible trembling, I suspected it could have something to do with blood and broken teeth, or a biker’s cock ramming down my throat or breaking through my virgin ass. Perhaps, to distract them from what was surely an undesirable piece (myself), I could direct them to guys who would have been more receptive than I. A homosexual study group also existed in the college (I don’t think they used the word gay all that much), and they did good work fighting for their rights, helping victims of homophobic violence, and educating the rest of us about acceptance and sexuality. I shared an English class in Modern Poetry conducted by Northrop Frye with a university leader of homosexual rights. He was a student of slight build, much like myself, spoke in a quiet but assured voice, a poet also who published in literary magazines and college papers, and outspoken in class. What was I thinking? These two bikers would ask to be invited into the bed of a homosexual resident, or if denied, knock the door down and rape him, just to save my own sorry ass? Why was I even thinking of biker cock and rape in the first place?


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