When It’s Your Day…

by bj max

Ol’ Blue’s whining and scratching woke Mr. Mead at the crack of dawn. The old man reluctantly got out of bed and padded across the cold floor into the kitchen where his dog sat, waiting impatiently. Mr. Mead opened the door and the dog rushed outside into the crisp morning air. After taking care of some very pressing business, the dog’s attention turned to other things. He began sniffing the morning air. Suddenly, the faint whiff of a rabbit. Ol’ Blue moved his head back and forth, sniffing and tasting the air. Yep, no doubt about it. There was a rabbit nearby and Ol’ Blue, being the great grandson of a world champion beagle, was bound to find him. Why? Because that’s what he did. He hunted rabbits for a living, and he was good at it and took pride in the fact that he was one of the best rabbit dogs in this part of the country.

In a brush pile not fifty yards from Mr. Mead’s old house, the rabbit or Sylvilagus Floridanus to be more precise, perked up as the back door opened. He watched intently from his hiding place as the old man let the beagle out for his morning constitutional. At the sight of the hunting dog, the rabbit’s heart began to race and he automatically went into survival mode and did everything he could to look like he was gone.

With his nose to the ground Ol’ Blue took a few steps to the left; sniff, then a few steps to the right, another sniff, back and forth, zig zagging ever closer to the rabbit. After what was an excruciatingly long time, for the rabbit anyway, the dog was now only a few feet away. The rabbit’s heart beat faster as the gap closed but he remained stock still. Finally, the dog stopped, went into a semi point, mimicking his bird dog cousins, and his eyes locked on the rabbit who was now less than a foot away. Because of its excellent camouflage, the beagle could not physically see the rabbit, but he knew it was there just the same. With over two hundred million olfactory sensors, Old Blue’s sense of smell led him to prey as sure as if he were equipped with the latest Doppler radar. If his nose said there was a rabbit in that brush pile, then by dog there was a rabbit in that brush pile. So he held his point and stared directly at the cottontail’s most likely location, a time honored pose that was intended to cause panic and flush out prey.

Terrified, the cottontail’s heart began pounding at a rate that would have killed a human being. But terror was a built in defense system for the rabbit and when it reached a certain intensity he would automatically, without thought or provocation, do what rabbits do best. Run!

And run he did. The eastern cottontail can go from zero to twenty miles an hour in roughly one and a half seconds and this one literally exploded from under Ol’ Blue’s nose and had a five yard head start before the dog could react. And when he finally did get going, the rabbit, with a top speed of some thirty five miles an hour, got another gear and accelerated away. But this didn’t worry Ol’ Blue. Yeah. The rabbit was quick, but he would eventually run out of steam. Ol’ Blue wouldn’t. He could chase that rabbit all day long. Just a matter of time.

Fifty miles due south, David Elston, AKA, Hillbilly, was finishing the last of his second cup of coffee. David was on a mission today and that mission required a trip up to the Bluegrass. His Valkyrie Six-Shooter needed new rubber and he had an eleven o’clock appointment at Nance Cycle in Mayfield, Kentucky, a hundred and fifty miles away. A hundred and fifty mile ride for tires. Why ride a hundred and fifty miles for tires? Economics. A new set of tires in Memphis can run upwards of five hundred bucks, mounted and balanced. Hal Nance will do the same job for three fifty…That’s a savings of one hundred fifty dollars. To put it into perspective, it’s like being paid fifty cents a mile to ride a motorcycle. What a deal. That’s seventeen cents a mile more than David makes driving a semi. Pretty good deal when you stop and think about it.

David slipped on his leather jacket, stuffed a tube of Rolaids in his pocket, clipped his cell phone to his belt, grabbed his helmet, gloves, camera, shoved a nine millimeter Glock into his jacket pocket and stepped outside into the fifty degree morning air. After storing the above mentioned road essentials, he decided that the weather was cool enough for chaps. Hey, this is the south and fifty degrees down here is considered life threatening. After strapping on the chaps, he threw a leg over the bike and settled into the Mustang custom saddle, engaged the choke, thumbed the starter and like flushing a commode, six finely tuned 28mm constant velocity Mikuni’s dumped fuel into the cylinders of the big Honda six and it roared to life. David smiled, clunked the monster motor in gear, pulled out of his driveway and was immediately swallowed up in the early morning traffic.
Thirty minutes later, he rolled into a service station in the tiny community of Crosstown.

After gassing up the bike, he strolled inside, paid the lady on duty, then washed down a nuked sausage and biscuit with yet another cupa’ joe. Even though the sun was well up by now, the temperature had dropped to forty five degrees. It always does that once you clear the city. As he finished his breakfast, he began to mentally calculate the wind chill. Forty five degrees at seventy MPH…lets see that would make the wind chill what… four below zero? Four below! No wonder I’m chilled, he thought. Back outside the sky was a deep blue with not a cloud in sight. Looks like its gonna’ be a beautiful day. Hillbilly fired the bike, dropped it in gear and within seconds he was a dot in the distance.

Cruising along at the speed limit and listening to the purr of the engine, David daydreamed about a set of six into six straight pipes. He had heard a Valkyrie equipped with the Vance and Hines variety at a rally not long ago and when the owner zapped the throttle, he remembered the sound being reminiscent of an uncorked 327 Chevy. Sent a chill down his spine just thinking about it. But David did long, three and four thousand mile tours, and wondered if he could live with a racket of that magnitude day in and day out…

David never saw the rabbit. All he saw was a brown blur at the corner of his right front tire. The next thing he knew, he was sliding down Highway 51 on his back. He vaguely remembered seeing his motorcycle flop past him on its way to a drainage ditch in the center of the median. David’s left shoulder hit the pavement first, driving a bone spur completely through the rotator cup. The fall also cracked five ribs, punctured a lung and pretty much ruined his whole day.

The rabbit darted into some blackberry bushes on the opposite side of the road. Hearing all the commotion and clamor on the highway behind him, he knew instinctively that the chase had abruptly ended. He slowed and stopped, turned around, and made a couple of short, gentle lopes back to the edge of the blackberry bushes. He parted the grass with his nose so he could see. Fifty feet away, a man sat in the middle of the road holding his shoulder and groaning. Nearby lay Ol’ Blue, unconscious but alive. A hissing noise drew his attention to the left and the cloud of steam rising from the drainage ditch that now contained the man’s machine. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. One minute he was running for his life, and the next he was as safe as if he were in his own private burrow. The cottontail, puzzled but pleased, turned and hopped slowly off into the depths of the blackberry patch. When it’s your day, it’s your day…

M.M.M.

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