Christ on a Motorbike
Officer Lewis pulled over a longhair at about 0830 on a Sunday morning, about thirty miles outside of Emmaus. He flashed his lights at him and turned on his flashers, and the longhair obediently pulled over. Lewis was beat. He got up only three hours before, and left a wife who was equally cranky in the morning and a son who only mumbled into his pillow when he leaned into his room to say goodbye. Emily would be in a better mood after a day of missing him; Andrew would wait until Christmastime. The coffee was cold, his danish was stale, and Lewis’ heartburn was not going along and taking it easy on him. He belched, and winced. Damn it.
Motorcycle, he wrote. Tag number PCBWU. He wondered if that was some kind of comment. Helmet violation. The dude’s hair had been floating back-it looked like-three feet behind his head. Lewis hadn’t seen hair that long since the 60’s, when he got back at his Dad by joining the force instead of the peace corps. Look at that guy. Lewis couldn’t see his face yet, but his jeans, his hair, everything about him said Poor Man. It said Life on the Road. Probably a drifter, doing odd jobs for food and gas for his machine. Lewis had met a few in his day.
He called in the ticket and got out of the car. The drifter waited. As he walked closer, Lewis saw that the drifted had a helmet strapped to his back seat. He walked farther out to the side, on the edge of the shoulder, in case the drifter did something stupid.
“Good morning,” he said, as he came up alongside him.
“Morning, officer.” The kid had a beard and mustache. He wore a necklace under his shirt. he looked like he was inhis mid-20s.
“Do you know what I pulled you over for?”
“A helmet violation?”
“That’s right, sir. Why aren’t you wearing yours? You’ve got one back there.”
“Because you needed to talk to me today.”
Lewis’ face hardened. He didn’t need any bullshit. Not this early in the morning, not on a Sunday. “Don’t get disrespectful now, boy. I’ll beat your ass off that hog.” It sounded hollow and false as he said it. He didn’t want to beat this guy up. He doubted that the kid would hurt a fly if it hit him.
“I’m sorry, officer. Didn’t mean to.” The kid held up his license and registration.
Lewis looked at the license. There was a picture of the kid. Born December 25, 1971. His name was Jesus H. Christ. It didn’t look like a fake; it was a new one, with the Pennsylvania counties holographed over the card. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“Your name, sir.”
“No, officer, that’s legit. I have other ID if you need it.”
Lewis looked at the registration. Same thing. This was fucking — he bit his tongue halfway through the word, since he might be in the very presence of the dude whose Father might take offense. Anyway, it was freaking weird.
“No, thank you. What does the H stand for?”
Mr. Christ grinned. “Nothing. Like Harry S. Truman. I think my parents were in a funny kind of mood the day I was born.”
Lewis chuckled. “All right. I’ll be right back, Mr. Christ.”
He ran the tag and the license number through. No priors. The kid was still sitting there on his bike. He reminded Lewis in some ways of Andrew. Where this Christ guy had his helmet violation, Andy was busted for driving on his permit without a licensed driver in the car. Turned out he’d been driving two drunken friends home.
Lewis looked at the kid as he leaned over his handles, waiting. He was a little rough on Andy when he found out.
Lewis decided. He tore up the ticket and went back to the kid.
“All right, Mr. Christ, I’m going to let you go. Wear your helmet from now on. I won’t be so kind next time.”
Christ grinned. “Kind and merciful. Thanks, officer. ” He put his helmet on.
“Have a good day.”
“Peace be with you.”
PC B W U. That was the license plate.
Mr. Christ rode off, taken from his sight by a cloud of dust. Lewis stood there, wondering.