He looked just like Vin Diesel, down to the athletic build, shaven head and the craggy, indeterminate ethnicity of his face, at once rugged and somehow feminine. He was dressed from head to toe in matching black racing leathers, and he was sitting, IPod buds in his ears, next to his bike on the side of the road, the black and white Ninja I'd seen blaze by me more than once.
It was late evening in Northern Idaho, and the weariness of piloting the U-Haul through the pass, through Spokane, and now into another large steep hill was taking its toll. The two cats, glaring death at me from their cat carrier in the passenger seat, had long since given up on meowing their way out. The cabin stank of cheap air freshener, road food and stale cigarettes. The air was finally starting to cool down, and the radio signal was starting to die.
Outside the golden rays of the dying sun played out on the vast expanse of the Northern Idaho mountains. Vin sat, staring out at the view, his face hard to read. But his helmet was by the side of the road, next to his bike, in the middle of nowhere.
I slowed the truck down, the car mounted on a trailer on the back fishtailing. Coasting carefully onto the shoulder and cursing the lack of clearance at the side, I brought it to a shuddering halt thirty or forty yards from his bike.
The cats lifted up their heads at the stopping of the truck. Something was up, and they were hoping that that "something" was them LEAVING. A paw fished its way out between the bars.
He heard the truck, and saw me coming towards him. He stood up suddenly, adopting an unmistakably defensive stance. We were about the same size, but he was certainly far more ready for a fight than I was.
"What do you want, man?"
I pointed to the helmet next to the bike.
"I stopped to see if you were okay. A helmet off and by the side of the road is a well known biker signal for "my bike is broken, and I need help.""
"I'm fine, man, I'm just resting my back and listening to some tunes." Annoyed.
"No sweat, just wanted to make sure you weren't stranded in the middle of nowhere. Nearest gas station is tens of miles or so, if I remember correctly."
He thought for a moment. The hard mask of his annoyance melted. "Hey wow, if I really was having problems, I'd be really screwed."
We both looked up and down the road. Deader than a doornail. Just the two of us there, not a car in sight. The silence was suddenly eerie.
"Yeah. Well, glad you're okay, and hey, a biker always stops to see if another one needs help."
He nodded. "I didn't know that."
I touched my finger to my temple and got back into the cab.