Published on May 2nd, 2018 | by Boris




Bob Seger’s whimsical Fire Lake spoke to me the day I heard it in 1981, and it speaks to me today in 2018.

Thirty seven years have rolled under many different sets of wheels. Much has changed in the world and much has not. I have also changed, but I have also remained the same in many ways. Well, I like to think so.

Life has conspired to kick me around some in that time. Which is what life does to people. It kicks them around. It’s how this life business works, I guess.

But Fire Lake still speaks to me. It’s a motorcycle song. It’s an outlaw’s motorcycle song.

The melody is haunting. It is plaintive and uplifting at the same time. It presses something primal in my brain. When I first heard the song it somehow challenged me to live a life as redolent with meanings as the ones I found in its lyrics.

Today when I hear it, it unlocks memories I sometimes doubt even happened. But they did. Because I took that long shot gamble many times.

While I have ridden very few chrome three-wheelers, I have ridden more than my fair share of chrome two-wheelers.

I have worn gypsy leathers (and what a marvellously evocative description of a biker’s leathers Bob nailed right there) and still do. There’s nothing like great old leathers. They may not be the warmest, and they may not be the driest. But they are…well, motorcycling incarnated as apparel. We put leathers on like warriors donning armour before a battle.

I have made that first mistake on a run. And I have seen my brothers make that first mistake as well. Most of them made good on that mistake. A few did not. It still hurts inside to think of them now and again.

I have broken the news to women like poor Aunt Sarah about men like Uncle Joe. That was almost always hard. But it’s what my Uncle Joes would have expected. They would have told my Aunt Sarah if I’d run off to Fire Lake.

And the Road Gods knew I braved many bronze beauties. I even married one, and she remains the gentle grace and beauty in my life. I look up every day and say “Oh Lord, am I really here at last?” And I guess I am. But I ask anyway.

I play those eights and aces every day. I’m a motorcyclist. The Deadman’s Hand is mine to play. I will almost always raise, and I know where to go and who to ask for a stake.

There’s no going back to how it was. I won’t ever ride those empty country roads with the sun burning my skin and my stupid, self-indulgent ponytail flapping in the roaring wind. Helmets were for racers and people scared of dying. I was neither.

I won’t ever again have the indescribable pleasure of a long-legged 19-year-old hottie pushing herself hard into my back and maybe chewing sweetly on my neck.

And I won’t ever again look to my left and my right and see my brothers right there on the road with me. Beside me and behind me and in front of me. Our passage a storm of noise and our arrival anywhere an event to remember.

We would pass bottles of bourbon or cans of beer to one other as we rode. We would pass joints to one other as well. Some of our girlfriends could even roll them on the go.

Sometimes we had guns strapped to the front or the back of our bikes. We all had knives, but we almost always used our fists. We feared nothing and we were ready for anything. And anything was ready for us.

We were horrible and wonderful and ridiculous and magnificent. We were sad and happy and drunk and crazy, and we took drugs and rode motorcycles. And sometimes we crashed and sometimes one of us died. We mourned and we hugged. And we told lies and we bragged and we laughed. Oh how we laughed.

No-one laughs like an outlaw laughs.

We never went to Fire Lake. But we went to Fire Lake.


About the Author

is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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