A Goat Bt Any Other Name
My first brush with the law, and my Dad has to come pick me up . Funny thing is my old man looks more like a criminal than I do. I’m being raised by a hippie tree hugging father and a step Mom who’s not quite so liberal. Dad used to ride Harleys, smoke pot, and was as he puts it, “a bit of a rouge” Tonight my rebel Dad comes to pick me up from the cop station in a beat up VW. Plus I have a feeling he was no stranger to cop stations back in his day.
Once we were out of the precinct parking lot he asked me in his calm voice what happened. I explained it all, how we were smoking a joint before the dance at the High school and the cops came running over. Not finding anything they searched us all and I was holding rolling papers so they took me to the precinct for possessing drug paraphernalia on school property. Straight away he gave me the like it or not its still illegal lecture, and the not ever on or near school property thing. We drove in silence after the lecture for two minutes until he said, “Paraphernalia? Rolling papers? Are they fucking kidding? “ The two of us laughed and my old man ran off some of his cop jokes, like someone stole the toilet from the cop station and they have nothing to go on, or he points to the back seat and says he picked up a dozen donuts in case I was in serious trouble. He always admitted he felt pot should be legal like alcohol even though he doesn’t smoke it anymore. That is he says he doesn’t smoke but I have my suspicions, every once in a while I feel like my stash is light a few bowls. Either way my old man wasn’t a big fan of cops busting kids for having fun.
When we got a block away from home and he said, “I’m gonna have to act all mad at home cuz I gotta at least pretend to be a responsible adult and Jenny will be expecting me to ground you. I’ll need to issue some form of punishment your step Mom will think that’s important but I mean fucking A, rolling papers is a fucking crime now? Look I get it Ian, it seems unfair. In fact is unfair, but that’s how the games of the establishment are played little cool man, you don’t try to beat the law, you wrangle around it. You gotta fool them at their own game. Give them enough of what they want and let them think they have the upper hand. If you fight them they just use stronger punishment, that’s their warped mentality, to punish you harshly until you break. So here’s what I’m gonna do. I am gonna tell Jenny that you just made a small mistake because you were unaware of the consequences of smoking marijuana. You haven’t committed any bad crime and no one got hurt and education will work better than punishment. So you will write me a four page report, two pages on the physiological consequences, and two pages on the consequences marijuana can have on society. That way you will learn the err of your ways!” That man was a fucking genius!
We drove home and I went straight to my room. Dad explained to Jenny what was up and downplayed the incident. She apparently agreed that the report would be the best punishment and so it was set. He used that report when he and I had to go in front of the town board and they were so impressed they dropped the charge and expunged my record completely. Man I really adored that man. He could spin a story like nobody’s business. So I knew that night when he came into my room to talk about the whole situation it was a perfect time to distract him by asking him about his youth. He loves talking about his younger days in the “turbulent sixties.“ One character in particular I had always wanted to know more about was his best friend. I only met him a few times when I was young but Pops tells me he came over all the time when I was a baby. I didn’t remember that and I don’t even know his real name. My big sister and I just called him “Uncle Goatleg”. That alone had to be a good story.
“Hey Pops, I know this was a stupid thing I did. You’ve always been so honest with me and I know you smoked back in your day, but whenever I think about what it must have been like for you growing up the one name that keeps coming to my mind is Uncle Goatleg. All I remember about him is this really nice guy with long hair and a very long beard. I remember you were always happy when he was around and I figure you call him Goatleg because of his limp. I assume it was caused by a motorcycle accident or something cause I vaguely remember you and him having motorcycles and giving me and Molly rides wearing football helmets. What was his real name and what was he like?” I could see a huge smile on my dads face as he reminisced. Uncle Goatleg was as tall as my dad, and just as muscular. Maybe even a little more. He had very thick curly reddish brown hair that danced over his shoulders. My dad always had a short beard, but Goatlegs chinstrap was quite long. The full rust colored hair sprouted from his chin and went clear down to the middle of his chest. The hair on his face was so thick I can’t say for sure if he even had lips. Santa would have been jealous at how beautiful that beard was. Like I said, he has a bit of a limp, and he walked with the assistance of the coolest walking stick I’d ever seen. A dark red hardwood cane. Around the cane was carved the most magnificent black and yellow cobra snake with the head right at the handle so he could hold his hand inside the snakes mouth. I recall the detail of the snake as almost mesmerizing, the tiny scales, the flared head and sharp teeth were kind of menacing and I’m sure I stared at it every time he came over. Without really ever knowing Uncle Goatleg I admired him greatly and wished he had come around more often.
“Oh wow, uncle Goatleg. I’m surprised you remember him. His biker name was Redbeard but his real name was Kevin. He injured his leg in a motorcycle accident. Yeah, he and I rode together a few years before I had to sell my bike. Kev had a gorgeous tricked out Harley shovelhead. What a beautiful bike. Me and Kevin go all the way back to kindergarten where we got into a fistfight over a toy truck. It was the first fight for both of us and we got sent to the principals office. While waiting, we glared each other down still pissed, and then Kevin says “I hear the principal looks like a grasshopper. A fat bald grasshopper.” I broke out laughing and we both making cricket noises and acted the fools. Became best friends instantly an learned we only lived three blocks away. Stayed best friends until he left. We did everything together rode bicycles, went to the beach, dances, girls, rock concerts, everything. We were together all the time just about all the way through school. We even learned to drive in the same car, your Uncle Jack’s Barracuda. When the time came we went to buy our first motorcycles at the same place.” I wasn’t sure what I wanted to hear more, the story of their friendship or the story of why Uncle Goatleg left but I opted for the latter. “When did he leave and where did he go? Why did he go? Did he ride away on his bike? Do you know where he is now?” Pops chuckled, “Slow down son, it’s a bit of a story. Let me get us something to drink.” As he got up he smiled and his chuckling voice trailed off, “Always with a million questions Ian.”
When he came back a few minutes later he had a large mug of beer for himself and a soda for me. “Hey, can I have a beer?” I got the you know better than that look as he smiled. “Not this time Ian, but someday soon we’ll share a few. Right now I’m gonna tell you about your Uncle Goatleg. Actually you gave him that name.” I perked up instantly. “Me?? How did I do that?” Dad took a long swig of his beer, “One time he came over and you were like two and a half years old. You were full of questions even back then. You asked him over and over what happened to his leg, why does he limp, was it from the motorcycle, non stop questions. Kevin laughed and rolled up his pant leg to show you his disfigured and scarred leg. You said ’Ew gross, it looks like a goats foot.’ We laughed our asses off and then he roared, ‘Yea Ian, Uncle Goatleg, that’s my name. I’m your Uncle Goatleg.’ Every time he came over we called him Uncle Goatleg. You and your sister are the only two people in the world he’s let call him that. He got a real kick out of that. Anyway, as I was saying, Kevin and I rode bikes together for a while but he was much more serious about biking and eventually took to hanging out at bars that outlaw bikers went to. The Heathens Motorcycle Club which is the second biggest MC group on the east coast. The main rivals of The hells Angels. Eventually Kevin was asked to become a member and he jumped at the chance. I went with him a few times to the Heathens bar and it was very scary. They got into fights over things like ’you breathed on me‘, or ‘you looked at my beer.’ Dangerous crowd they were very violent. Being an outsider I was a target so I told him I couldn’t come around anymore. He understood but that was the life he wanted and he lived it. We saw less and less of each other, Goatleg always with his MC gang. I had to sell my bike and wasn’t interested in hanging out with The Heathens. I’m a lover not a fighter. I would read stories in the papers of major brawls between them and rival clubs and he would stop by from time to time and give me the inside scoop. Then one night in 86 or so, he stops by the restaurant I was working at and tells me he has a huge problem and needs help. He has to get out of town and disappear forever. I was stunned and we went outside to talk. He lifted up his leather jacket and shirt to show me his right side. It was one giant black, blue, and red bruise and I was like holy shit Kev, what the Hell; happened? Well in typical Kevin style, he made the big mistake of banging one of the other bikers mama’s. But not just any bikers babe, he nailed the mama of the president of his chapter. He was beaten by near everyone in the club with fists and pool sticks and thrown out of the bar. Everyone took shots at him except the president. Seems he wants Kevin either dead or really suffering and was gonna take care of business himself. So Kev was a marked man. After work I went to an ATM, took out as much cash as I could and made him promise to let me know where he is. He said ‘can’t do that bro, it will put you in danger. And your kids. Can’t do that to Ian and Molly.’ These fuckers mean business and they’ll fuck over anyone what knows me. Just gotta split man, that’s all.’ They won’t rest until they kill him so he left and went underground. I moved shortly after that and neither of us has any idea where the other ended up. I think about him all the time.”
I gotta tell ya, I was pretty blown away. As I absorbed the story I had one last question, “so you have no idea where he went? Not even a clue? Or a name he might use? You know we can find out a lot of shit on the internet, maybe we could do a search?” (So maybe it was more than one question, that’s my nature) Pops smiled at me, “Sometimes Ian, things are left behind because they are supposed to stay in the past. As much as I miss Kevin I am not sure finding him would be the best thing for him.” I was taken aback. “Him? What about you Dad? Don’t you think you deserve at least a thanks? Or a hello? A postcard, or I don’t know,….something!?” I hated when he seemed like King fucking Solomon but he gave me his Zen smile and in his voice of reason explained. “Any contact could put us all in danger Ian. My brother needed my help and needed it without question or condition. Maybe its forgotten and maybe not, but when you love someone there are times when you must sacrifice your own personal feelings for the good of the one you love. And I love your Uncle Goatleg, we’re blood brothers forever, we pinky swore in blood and everything. Forever connected even if its in memory only. I know how much he appreciated what I did for him and he would have done the same for me in a heartbeat. The truth is I have heard bits and pieces of Kevin’s life but over the years I’ve learned that sometimes things from the past should just stay there. Life isn’t always easy son.” That wasn’t good enough for me, “What exactly have you heard about Uncle Goatleg?” Dad shook his head in mock frustration, “ I hear tell he headed down to Florida and is living a happy quiet life somewhere near a town called Palm Coast. I hope he is and I hope he‘s happy and we should just leave it at that.”
The wheels began spinning in my brain. My best friend Eugene has an aunt who lives in Flagler Beach, which as it turns out is only about ten miles from Palm Coast. I was graduating high school in June, and me and Huge were going on a short one month vacation somewhere. We weren’t sure where we wanted to go but we knew we needed to get away. Now I knew exactly where we would spend our vacation. Flagler Beach and Palm Coast here we come!
A Goat Bt Any Other Name