The Biker Gang
Harleys have a unique sound of their own. I hear them all the time roaring up and down Route 60, and I even chased a few when I was younger. Isabel has never paid much attention to motorcycles over the years, and until two weeks ago, I don’t think she had ever seen on up close.
It was around noon on a Friday during the beginning of our beautiful north Georgia spring season. It was a beautiful day, with the leaves literally bursting open, and, strangely enough, nobody had arrived to check in here at Faded Glory. The lobby area was all ready for the weekend’s guests with bouquets of spring flowers displayed throughout the common areas, the guestbook was opened to a fresh new page, and Isabel and Micah were both prepared for the Friday inn gathering to begin.
Micah Davenport heard it first. As I watched him cock his head to the side, I then heard the unmistakable low rumble of a Harley Davidson engine. Somebody was riding a motorcycle up the long driveway to the Inn. The sound of the engine throbbed and ebbed as the rider and his machine picked their way through the loose gravel on our road. Isabel already had a worried look when a shiny blue motorcycle finally appeared and began its short journey to the portico next to the porch.
The roar of the first motorcycle had evidently masked the sound of others behind it. The lone rider was just dismounting when a second motorcycle appeared at the top of the rise at the front of the Inn and cruised lazily towards the portico. It was followed by a third, a fourth, and finally, a fifth.
By this time, Isabel had retreated into the front foyer and was digging feverishly through a disorganized pile of confirmation letters that she keeps tucked in a pigeonhole of her slant-front desk. Micah, who seemed to be taking it all in stride, headed down the wide steps to the portico to welcome the first rider. I was not really sure how to react, so I hung out with a very frantic Isabel.
Isabel had finally found the reservations for the upcoming weekend, and I could see her lips moving silently as she pored through them trying to find a clue to the “calamity” that, in her mind, seemed to be unfolding under her portico. Then, as quickly as she had reacted to the situation, and always the Southern Lady, Isabel hastily crammed the letters back into the desk, slammed the lid, and headed down the steps behind Micah, with me taking up the rear.
Most of the cyclists were wearing black leather jackets with black gloves, chaps and boots. Micah didn’t appear at all flustered as he introduced Isabel to “Digger,” “Bones,” and his wife Charlene, and “Peter Payne,” another lone rider. Introduced next were “Alibi Smith,” his twelve year-old son, and “Crash Colton” and his wife Connie (who were both wearing robins’s egg-blue leathers), making a grand total of eight guests in all. Isabel was just beginning to recover from her initial shock when the ingathering was briefly interrupted by the arrival of the Greeson family from Dalton, driving a white Lincoln Town Car.
Isabel made a point of personally greeting the Greesons and quickly herded them past the bikers and up the stairway to Suite #6 on the second floor. Molly Greeson looked around cautiously as she passed the riders, but, overall, she appeared to be pleased with her hostesses’ warm welcome and attention. Isabel’s look of apprehension seemed to soften a bit.
Since there were no pets in this weekend’s crowd, the excitement was over for me, and I retired to a quieter section of the porch and curled up on the deck to watch things unfold from a safe distance.
By the time Isabel returned to the sign-in table in the downstairs foyer, she noticed that people were already busy signing the guest book, and she moved quietly to a vantage point nearby as “Digger” signed in on the freshly turned page. “Digger” turned out to be Roger Stanton, a funeral director from Decatur, GA. Peter Payne, DDS, was next, a middle aged dentist from Vinings who was riding alone. Next, was “Bones,” Dr. Stephen Womack, on orthopedist from Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, followed by “Alibi Smith,” a young lawyer practicing with the firm of Paulsen, Kellogg & Cadenhead in Buckhead. “Alibi” was accompanied by his twelve year old son, Mickey. “Crash Colton” turned out to be Robert Colton, a retired Delta Pilot who, with his wife, Connie, live in Newnan, GA. Although everyone’s moniker compared accurately with the names on the guest list, Isabel still remained a little quiet and reserved.
After unloading their saddlebags, all of the riders moved their bikes to a spot under the tin shed roof where Ray’s old pickup was once parked. I don’t know whether it was the black leather clothing or just the noise of the bikes, but Isabel still seemed to remain in an elevated state of angst. Everybody else seemed bent on having a good time as conversation flowed easily, and Micah began breaking out bottles of wine.
For the traditional Friday night “Guest Appreciation Happy Hour,” the biker contingent had refreshed upstairs and swapped out their leathers with more conventional casual clothing including Bermuda shorts, tennis shoes and loafers. Isabel came in sporting one of the new outfits that she bought after her Weight Watchers victory, and she finally appeared ready to have some fun. Hors d’oevres and drinks were served, and everything went off without a hitch. Young Mickey Smith became enamored with Spook who was teaching Mickey some nasty new phrases from his long repertoire, and the Greesons arrived downstairs late, but blended in comfortably.
Isabel is invariably drawn to doctors, and Dr. Peter Payne was no exception. After determining that Dr. Payne was not a relative of Rev. Calvin Payne, her minister, Isabel took him under her wing and gave him the “grand tour.” Dr. Payne, a widower with an interest in antiques, was fascinated with the ‘period’ furnishings that are in daily use here at Faded Glory; and before the evening was done, Isabel had shown him every antique on the first floor. Micah’s workload was a bit heavier throughout the weekend due to the fact that Isabel was somewhat distracted with Dr. Payne, but, as far as I know, nothing came of her attentions.
By the time the weekend ended, Isabel seemed very happy and relaxed, and Micah was walking around with an amused look on his face. I resisted the temptation to chase the Harleys down the driveway when they left, and Isabel learned a valuable lesson about pre-judging her guests based on their outward appearances.
As for Dr. Peter Payne, he gave Isabel a warm hug and told her he’d write. Micah, who was standing nearby at the time, later told Isabel to “take two Aspirins, and call him in the morning.” They both chuckled.