Nat has taken the Ninja out to food for us. She has peeled off all the decals and taken off part of the faring to make it look like it's just another bike that's been rolled and the owner is waiting for the replacement parts to come in. She took my gun after I insisted on cleaning it for her. Nat knows how to clean a gun but I wanted to do it anyhow. Just for luck, I guess. I can hobble quite well on my leg now. The pain is going away faster than I expected. Shit, in a few weeks, I'll be able to ride again. Now, if I could just get rid of the Want. It's eating away at me, nibbling at my toes and fingertips like this itch that I can't quite get to. I wonder if knife-throwing would work for me too. I stand up, dizzy from lying down for so long, woozy from lack of food in my stomach, and walk into the kitchen. I want to find that damn methadone and just party. I know that if Nat finds me, she'll put another hole in me that will really hurt. I look around, in the cabinets, on the counters. It's nowhere to be found. The ziplocs that she had stashed in the cupboards are gone. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I stand there, in my boxers and t-shirt, 7am in the fucking morning, cursing the woman I love for taking my methadone so I can't get high. All I want is to just get rid of this monster that's making me want and want. Just shut it up till I can deal with it later. "Dammit..." I whisper, drumming my fingers on the counter. Thunk. There's a ebony and silver handled knife embedded in the cupboard door close to my face. I look at the dagger and then at where it came from. "Back to bed." Nat has a handful of plastic bags that she's picking up off the floor where she dropped them to toss her knife at me. "Now." I look at her, grumbling, and then shuffle back to my room. I can hear her cursing loudly in the kitchen, rustling plastic and then the clomping of her boots in the hallway to my room. I'm sitting on the bed now, wondering what the hell I was thinking to go looking for that stupid methadone anyway. She'd just find out and then she'd shoot me. And I want to get off this stupid trip anyway. I haven't slammed in two weeks. I don't really want to shoot up. Just want to get rid of the want and that's all. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I kick the bed with my good leg. I start yelling at myself for being such a fool. I curse the day I started shooting smack and that I got shot and that I let us fall into this fucking mess. I'm shouting really loud now and I look up. Nat's standing in the doorway, laughing at me. I think I want to kill her but then I start laughing too. Nat sits down next to me and we just laugh and laugh until we can't anymore. I am shivering because I'm just too tired and hungry to do much else. I lie down and just groan. "Oh fuck. What the hell am I doing?" I put my arm over my eyes and just start giggling again. Nat pulls out a bottle of JD from her jacket pocket and takes a large swallow. "Dunno." She grins after the hit. "But you're looking a lot better." "Yeah. Still can't find where you hide the goodies, though." I grin back at her. "Never will." She reaches underneath the mattress and pulls out the baggies. My mouth drops open. I can't say anything at this point. I grab the bottle out of her hand and take a slug for myself. My eyes start watering from not being much into drinking hard liquor. I've always been the beer-drinker. Nat takes the bottle back and just about drinks half of it off in one go. She hands it back to me and dares me to do the same. I glug about a quarter more and then start gagging. She calls me a wimp and I tell her that I think she's just too baaaadd for her own good. We're getting drunk now. It's some ungodly hour in the morning and we're both smashed. "When you're well enough to ride, I'm taking you to Ojai." Nat takes the bottle from me and looks out the window into the morning sun, drinking the JD like it was water. "We need to just be mellow for a while." We spend about a week more at the house. I can walk pretty well now, with a cane that Nat produced for me after another food run. I look pretty bad-ass with my cane. The leg is pretty much healed, to the point where the old skin is peeling away and it itches like all hell. The hand has been fine for a while. We pulled out the stitches a few days ago. Nat makes me walk as much as I can, walk around the back yard. She and I take turns throwing rocks at some bottles that we lined up on the tree stump that Nat was throwing her knife at. We break them all pretty quickly. I would have kept them if they were cool bottles but they were just Budweiser empties. I tend to collect bottles and put groovy candles in them. The apartment that I had in Sac was filled with candles in various bottles. Nat and I would light all of them, turn off the lights and make love in the middle of the room. Ojai is about 100 miles south of where we are in Central California. We'll have to lug ourselves down the I-5, through the Grapevine and then take the 150 through Santa Paula to Ojai Valley. Normally, this would be a cool ride, but I'm really dreading sitting on the back of a hot Ninja with a stiff leg. I hope that maybe we can lift another bike and I can ride on my own. Something like a nice cruiser that I can just sit up to ride, instead of crouching. With the cane came a large bucket, soap and shampoo. The outside water works, it seems. Nat and I hosed each other off in the yard. It felt so good to wash my hair out. I hit it about four times with the shampoo until the smell of dirt and grease was gone. Nat took great pleasure in spraying me in the face with the hose so it would get up my nose and then I'd sputter and curse at her. She laughed at me and I got her back with a bucketful of water, pouring it over her head so that her hair got all in her face. We sat naked under the afternoon sun and I combed out Nat's hair for her. There is no time to get another bike. We're on our way to Ojai, running away to live without crime for a while, it seems. Nat has it all figured out. She's got a major stash of money and so do I. We'll just pool it and live in the valley somewhere, up in the slopes or something. We'll sell off some of my cycles if we totally get broke. They're easy to get rid of. Crouching on the back of the Ninja isn't as bad as I thought. We have to get off a few times so I can stretch out the muscles in my leg. But, the ride isn't very exciting, other than a few CHP cruisers going the other way on the 5. They don't even look at us. Nat has taken the faring and bashed it up to the point where it's totally unrecognizable from the shiny black it once was. I hated to see the bike go like that, but we really had no choice. There will be other bikes, anyhow. As we ride through the winding 150, under the oaks and the sun, I realize that I haven't wanted my smack at all. Physically, at least. I still am taking the methadone...probably will be for a while. But, I'm not shooting up. Nat's not letting me take any more meth than what keeps the physical crap down to a dull roar. She's holding the bottle for me. Won't let me touch it, on the pain of a good shooting in the other leg. Two Ventura Sheriff's cruisers are coming from the other direction. Both Nat and I flinch a bit. They probably don't recognize us, though. I don't see heads turning or anything when I glance back over my shoulder. Probably just heading to town to bust jaywalkers. Ojai police don't have enough to do, other than a few drug busts here and there and cleaning out the Dear Lodge of drunks on the weekends. About five minutes pass by and I glance back again. There's a man in a Chevy behind us. One of those blue boxes that are horrible to drive because they're such dogs on the road. He's wearing shades and he looks to be about the same age as us. He's just cruising it seems. It's a nice day to do that. Our eyes meet just for a moment and he grins at me. I'd grin back but my face is covered with a helmet. Nat is speeding up for some reason. I say shit and grab onto her. She's starting to really lean into the turns with a vengeance. I can see her glancing into the mirrors. Her eyes are wide and her pupils are dilated. What is up with her? I slap her jacketed shoulder with the flat of my hand and she takes her left hand, momentarily, off of the grip to push it away and then re-concentrates on the road. The oaks are rushing by as green and brown blurs. Nat tucks down and I scrunch down behind her, the visor of my helmet ticking against the back of hers. I don't bother looking back again. I can't tell if the car is back there or not because of the roar of the motorcycle's engine. All I know is that Nat's not slowing down, something is wrong and I can't do anything at all. I look over Nat's shoulder, at the instrument panel. We're going 95. This is crazy. If we slide, we're dead. I'm not in leathers or anything, just my jacket. My mouth is suddenly very dry and my throat is closing up. I am breathing through my mouth, taking in large gasps of air and trying to swallow back the urge to start yelling. My tongue feels like it's swelling into a big furry lump of flesh. Gods, we're going to die. All I can do now is just hang onto to Nat and hope that she'll get us out of this alive. Nat gave the gun back to me before we left for Ojai. I stuck it in my belt and covered it with my jacket. I hope it's not poking out of the back of my jacket as I lean over on the motorcycle. I don't dare check with my hand. I can feel it pushing into the small of my back. It has two rounds left in it. I feel up inside of the back of Nat's jacket. Her knife is there, as if that was any use to us. There is a road crossing the 150 ahead. I notice it just before Nat starts leaning the bike over to the left, downshifting. The engine screams as we both crouch low and over into the turn. Nat swings out her knee to help with the turn, dragging it on the ground. I can hear leather scraping on asphalt and gravel. We fishtail as the bike's rear end flies loose from the paving for a second. Nat throttles down for enough traction and we catapult up and out, barreling down this little two-lane badly paved road. The road forks off into some sort of driveway. We take the driveway, slipping and sliding over the uneven surface. There's a house and a barn of some sort up ahead of us. I notice a pack of Harleys lined up by the house, front wheels all pointed at us in some kind of greeting. Nat slams on the brakes, front and back, locking up the wheels and sending up sliding to a stop. She cuts the engine, kicks down the stand and leans the bike onto it. She turns enough to shove me off of the bike and onto my ass. I tumble on the ground, grabbing at my gun. The car is now in sight, roaring up the driveway to meet us. They guy hits his brakes, sending a shower of dust and gravel flying everywhere. Nat hops off the bike. Her leg is torn and bleeding. Her leather chaps have been eaten through, down to her skin. The man is opening his door. I think I can see a pistol grip shotgun in his hand. It's hard to tell because his windows are tinted and the sun's shining into the windscreen. I squint, trying to aim my piece at him. The front door of the house opens and a group of men walk out nonchalantly. One of them has such light blonde hair that it almost looks white, standing out starkly because his skin is darkly tanned. The man with the shotgun is out of his car and has frozen still. Blonde man makes a signal and his companions pull out various weapons. I squeeze my eyes shut as they open fire and blow the man to pieces. When the gunshots stop, I open my eyes again. He's on the ground, in pieces, lying in a growing pool of blood.