We would lay in their bed watching movies, drinking Coronas, and talking. Soon after we met, she invited me to the Hells Angels clubhouse for parties. I was still single, having a few dates here and there with guys who friends had fixed me up with. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that what I had built in California was my real life. ” “I need to go back,” I said, not really believing it myself but somehow thinking it was the right thing to do. ” “I’ll miss you,” Scott said, the last time I saw him. He had grown up poor and the youngest of six in rural Oregon, and had been in the military and in a smaller motorcycle club before the Hells Angels. I was shaking so hard I could barely get on the bike. I knew then that I should get out, that what I had seen in front of me could easily turn my way.
“Pancho thinks you’re a nerd; kind of like a librarian, but he likes you,” she said. He hadn’t ever said anything to me and I was a little scared of him. I was in my yoga pants, sweatshirt, and running shoes, ready for an afternoon of tennis. With its red-upholstered bar stools and black-and-white checked floor, a framed poster of the documentary “Hells Angels Forever,” there was typically a line of people at the bar, a band playing, and the sense that at any time, something was going to jump out and grab you. Nothing stuck — till a weekend trip Pancho and Angela invited me on to a motorcycle rally in Reno. There was no reason to go back to something that was right in front of me. All I knew was that my job wasn’t going well — in part because it was being crowded out by the other parts of my life — but also because I had never felt California cool enough to fit in. “But maybe you need to go back to Colorado to find something you’re looking for. He was seven years older than me, but it seemed like more. * * * Angela was upset that she even introduced us. ” she cried out over the phone, when I told her that he had surprised me late one night when he came out of the bedroom only wearing pajama pants and carrying a small box. “Here, why don’t you lay down,” he said after he had put my nightgown on me. If we need to go to the hospital we will.” This was the same man who took bubble baths with me, the water nearly overflowing with his weight added to mine.
“Did you know she learned to play tennis when she was little, like eight or something? With her dyed jet-black hair and turquoise eyes, Angela looked otherworldly.
But in her tight T-shirt, red lipstick, jeans and combat boots — and lines etched around her eyes and at the sides of her mouth — she also was tough. “Here, this is for your birthday,” Angela had said, handing me a small white box the night of my birthday party in early 2006.
It was the same feeling I got from running a hard trail in bad weather, or putting on a headlamp to navigate steep trails at night in the Oakland Hills with an ultra runner I trained with. Pushing through the smell of cologne and leather to get outside, where there was another bar, a buffet set-up, and partygoers smoking, drinking, and laughing, I would usually find Angela. But by midnight or one a.m., I was ready for bed, even though the party would still be going strong. It was surprisingly peaceful, even with all those engines and cars. I told him I was an editor and runner, here with Angela. “I mean, seriously, you’ve been smooth for a long time.” He was sixty to my forty, and bore more than a passing resemblance to Kris Kristofferson. “Maybe I can come to Alameda and take you to lunch sometime? He scribbled my number down on a cocktail napkin, ripped it off and put it in his vest pocket. That same peaceful feeling that I’d had with Pancho’s friend. At two or three, I was in the member’s room, sitting among coats and drinking a Diet Coke, waiting for Angela to get the keys to open the gate so I could drive home and dive into bed. “Listen, I’m sorry I had to go so abruptly,” he said. I didn’t think a bike would be the best idea, and Scott didn’t either. When we got to the party, I was excited that Angela would be there. One night I was in our local tavern playing pool with a girlfriend when a group of Hells Angels walked in. When I was overwhelmed with work or under the weather with a cold, he knew how to cheer me up, picking up my childhood Pippi Longstocking doll and speaking for her in a high falsetto voice. “I think you owe her an apology.” The guy turned to face Jack. We were arguing about something stupid: that we should have started the spaghetti earlier. The throbbing pain was so bad and I was so shocked that I fell to the floor with the sauce and noodles all over me, and all over the walls. The longer I knew him, the less money he seemed to have.My nights were no longer filled only with workouts, after-work cocktails and editing manuscripts.Together, we hung out at dark bars filled with biker dudes and black leather.She had picked up tennis somewhere — not in the same formal way I had, with lessons and ball machines, but by hitting against the concrete houses of wherever life found her.We would sit there for hours and talk, watching the neighborhood kids batting the ball around, often up over the chain-link fence and on to the street.