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Where Sierra Highway Meets Pearblossom


Kevin B. Duxbury

True Story

November 4, 2000

It was the metal clanking sound that caused me to glanced at my rear-view mirror. From within the cloud of dust, I saw the sun reflect brightly off the twin pipes of what was clearly a Harley-Davidson, tumbling end over end on the shoulder.  Like many, I stopped. I ran back to the rider who laid face down in the dirt beside his broken motorcycle. His helmet and boots were gone, and his watch was hanging loosely to his arm which laid in a way that was not natural. He looked much like a G.I. Joe doll, left on the carpet after play.

People were shouting, "Don't move him!" But he wasn't breathing. A woman came forward and said that she was an EMT. She talked us through turning him over, then asked which of us knew CPR. I knew CPR from my training in the Army, but I'd never used it. "Let's do it," she said.  I cleared his mouth with my fingers. It was full of dirt and his tongue was swollen. She continued steadying his head while one guy did the compressions, and I forced the air from my lungs into his. His mouth hissed each time his chest fell. With every breath I put into him I hoped he would take the next on his own, but he never did.

After each breath I gave him I sat up to take one for myself, looking upon him as I did. He was Hispanic, kind of short, with a handlebar mustache. He was wearing blue jeans and a classic style motorcycle jacket, just like the one I had.  We kept at it for twelve minutes until the pros arrived. I was handed a CPR mask and quickly told how to use it. The next thing I knew, a firefighter was doing the compressions. I continued to blow. The paramedics put together an oxygen masked, then relieved me. I stepped back, and for the first time, took in all that was around me.  It was a Heritage Softail with white-walled tires. And even though it was wrecked, I could see that the tank was polished, and that the chrome was highly shined. On the embankment his quarter helmet had come to rest, a bright sticker of an American flag on its side. And next to his helmet was one of his boots, with the large Harley-Davidson symbol stamped into it.

A firefighter handed me a bottle of Sodium Chloride to rinse my mouth with. It tasted awful. I looked back at the rider. The paramedics were cutting through his leather jacket.  It was Saturday. He was probably riding just to ride, on his clean scooter with all his favorite Harley gear. But within a few inches, where the asphalt turned to dirt, he drifted off the road, then drifted off to Heaven.

Three years later I still remembered the day so vividly. I'd driven that same curve a thousand times, but never had I seen any flowers, candles, or even a cross where that biker died. I went through some things of my own. I found a Harley-Davidson bandanna which read, 'Live to Ride, Ride to Live.' I also found a Harley-Davidson key chain, and a little toy of a Heritage Softail. I attached the little motorcycle to the key chain, then threaded the key chain with the bandanna. Then one night I went back to the curve where Sierra Highway meets Pearblossom, and I tied the bandanna to a sign there. A little something to remember a guy I knew only long enough to see him pass. My life continues on. I work hard, and go home to my wife and children. I don't think much about tomorrow, because it just always seems to come. But every time I follow that curve, I remember that day. I slow down, but my bike just always seems to follow the curve on its own, as though there were an angel guiding me. God bless you, buddy.

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