Sick to Death of Stories
THE BLACK LEATHER biker jacket had been a gift from his ex-wife, Josephine. She gave it to Jake right before she left him. At 16, their daughter Katie was old enough to decide who she wanted to stay with. Now 26, she wondered if she’d made the wrong choice.
Her dad was limping through another physiotherapy session. Aftermath of a motorbike accident.
‘Who does that?’ she was thinking. ‘Who takes up motor-biking at 61 years of age?’
And who wears a leather jacket in hospital, as a patient? Someone who wants to assert that, unlike the oldsters he saw around him, rotting in the rehab ward, Jake had plenty of life left to live.
“A motorcycle?” she’d said when he bought it — with more than half his life savings. “Don’t people just ride motorcycles until they have an accident scary enough to stop?”
Jake’d had his the first time out. Bike totalled, smashed against a signpost on a hairpin turn. He was lucky his corpulent torso hadn’t taken the impact. A bum leg was an inconvenience. A missing kidney would take five years off your life.
Up on the parallel bars, favouring the leg that didn’t have pins in it, Jake grunted, groaned and sweated, while Katie held his arm and steadied him.
“Go slow, dad. Don’t force yourself.” He had no one to blame but himself for being here, and she looked forward to the last of these visits.
He took a break, gasping for air. His shoulders weren’t in much better shape than his legs. “You know, as much fun as this isn’t, it’ll make a great story…”
A great story. Katie wasn’t sure any of the stories they could tell about their lives were ‘great’.
“For a song, like. Maybe a whole album,” he said. “Oh, sure…” She’d spent her entire childhood sitting cross-legged at her father’s feet, listening to him lament his real and fictional sorrows in an endless string of grimy, beer-smelling blues bars. She’d adored him, thought he looked like Odin with his big scratchy beard, seated on his throne, guitar in his lap, in a halo of blue smoke. By the time she was 12, she’d very likely done enough