J. H. Bográn
OF BIKES AND VALLEYS
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OF BIKES AND VALLEYS Copyright © 2006 J. H. Bográn
Edited by Tami Parrington
Cover Art by Tami Parrington
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole, or in part, by
any means, without the written consent of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are
products of the author’s imagination, or are fictitiously used. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Any trademarks referred to within this publication are the property of their respective
trademark holders. None of these trademark holders are affiliated with J. H. Bográn, his
products, or website.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
PART I The Finding
Julie Valley walked past the closed door several times. It had been his bedroom. She hated going in there. It made her stomach twist. The traditional family breakfast was not the same without him.
She usually found other things to do to avoid ’the room’: there were dishes to wash, laundry to take care of, her husband David’s shirts to press, the kid’s homework to check, anything to delay the moment she dread. But now, she’d run out of excuses. She stood facing the closed door, hoping the phone would ring, but all she could hear was her breathing. She wondered if the butterflies in the pit of her stomach were the first trimester of pregnancy’s typical symptoms, or the anxiety of what she would find behind the door.
Resigned, she squared her shoulders as she sighed and pushed the door open.
The bedroom looked exactly the way as she remembered it from the last time she had cleaned it and closed it over a month ago.
“Has it been that long?” she wondered aloud.
Standing by the doorframe, her gaze swept the room: the single bed against the far wall, right under a window, a quarter of its space partially taken by a rusty old air conditioner. Through the dusty glass panels she saw her small backyard. An old dirt bike sat discarded, parked against the fence. A brown and black German shepherd had a hind leg up to relieve himself on the back tire.
“Rambo, Nooo! Bad dog!” she yelled.
The dog’s ear turned up as his massive head moved to scan the source of his master’s voice. The dog could not see her through the window and she watched him resume his necessities. After a few seconds, the dog lowered his leg and trotted away happily waving his furry tail.
“Damn dog,” she said more to herself.
She turned to the chore at hand and with a clinical eye determined the cream colored curtains could hide the dust no more and the time was right to change them. Slowly walking next to the bed she fingered the superhero-themed printed covers.
“David likes this covers,” she said about the eight year old boy.
She deftly pulled the dusty cover off the bed and folded them into a perfect square of about twelve inches. She tossed it freesbie-like on top of the dresser next to the door. When she pulled the rest of the sheets off, something shiny caught her eye. Julie stood very still, dropping the covers as her heart started pumping faster. Her extended hand rescued an old notebook from beneath the mattress and brought up close.
J. H. Bográn OF BIKES AND VALLEYS
The cover of the notebook had the landscape of a desert-like red planet, a futuristic spacecraft hovered above the rocky canyons.
She opened the first page holding her breath and gasped as her deep secret fear was confirmed by the black inked longhand.
She sat down. The hair on the back of her neck signaled her fear of what she might find. As she finished the first line her eyes barely held back her tears.
The diary of Peter Valley
The day started with a pouring rain that told the tale of a long gray day ahead. I was dead asleep in the guestroom when the door suddenly opened with a bang.
“If you are not ready in ten minutes, I’m leaving without you!”
Uncle David stood in the doorway with his hands on his hips, his hair a tossled mess, giving me a stern glance to let me know he wasn’t kidding. It worked, because I’m sure I broke some kind of record getting up and ready in less than five minutes. I figured I had no time to shower, quickly pulled on my jeans and a white T-shirt. I took my Walther PPK from under the bed and holstered it under my armpit.
Kind of strange how I came by the gun. It was my grandfather’s; he had it in a friend’s shop for repair. One day he asked me to go pick it up. He died that same night of a massive heart attack before I could give it back to him. So I kept quite and nobody seemed to remember it. I’ve had it for a year now and I’ve only been able to shoot it once, last Memorial Day.
Uncle David was taking his .357 Magnum. A card-carrying member and wholehearted defender of the N.R.A. for ages, he had a very impressive collection of firearms, even some foreign assault rifles that he acquired during his tour of duty in Desert Storm.
I finally put on my jacket and took a look at the mirror: tall, skinny, definitely looked seventeen. But my main concern was that the gun was unnoticed. No bulk under the armpit, the jacket was baggy enough.
I was ready and ran out to the kitchen table. My two kid cousins were having breakfast, and my uncle seemed disgruntled. He was sure I’d stay asleep after all. But there was no chance in hell I was missing this trip! It took me three months to convince Uncle David to take me along to the mountain in the first place.
I handled my old dirt bike pretty well but somehow I believe this was irrelevant to him, he was worried about me hearing the conversations with his friends. They formed a very tight group, those five guys, all about thirty-five, on their quads and dirt bikes up in the mountains.
Aunt Julie had made pancakes. I ate half a dozen with very rapid fork movements. My two small cousins looked amazed. I truly was their hero! Once in the garage, I started strapping my rucksack on the seat of the motorcycle. My uncle looked suspiciously in my direction. “What have you got there?” “Just a few things. Remember I’ve got a Forest Ranger patch from the Scouts. I have water, and sandwiches that Aunt Julie made, a rope and a short machete.” “A machete?!”
J. H. Bográn OF BIKES AND VALLEYS
“Well, yes. I took it every time I went camping with the Scouts.”
“Cut it with the Scout stuff, okay?”
We started off and went by the houses of my uncle’s friends. Tom with a quad; John and Keith, also quads; and finally Fred who happened to like dirt bikes like mine. His house was closer to the forest we were going to.
And off we went up the mountain, a total of six bikes, pretty much like a gang, except for leather pants that nobody was wearing.
We entered the forest on a dirt road. The morning rain had turned it into a mud pit. Fred slipped and fell to the ground, he was immediately covered in mud. Every time he tried to stand up, he fell again, it took him a while to restrain his laughter and finally get on his bike again. We went slowly for about an hour and left the road to go cross-country and then up a mountainside. Huge rocks started to get in the way making us go around. The rocks got considerable smaller as we rode, and by midday we reached a stream. We stopped there and turned all engines off, I was the last one to make it. The site was perfect; we could actually hear the stream running playfully among the green surroundings.
“Well, Peter. If you want to keep riding with us, you have to get in there.” John said pointing at the stream.
I thought he was kidding so I only smiled back at him, but then my uncle made it final by stating, “We’re serious, kid. You either take a dip, or take a hike. We leave without you.”
“I can find my way back, I am a Scout,” I said proudly.
They all laughed at me miserably, but only for a second, then they turned all serious again, including Fred, the one who laughed about everything.
Mortified and resigned to my fate, I took off my clothes careful with the jacket so they could not see my gun, then only in my underwear I ran to the stream and dived.
The water was much colder than I had anticipated. I came out blue and gasping for air. My uncle reached the side of the stream and had a towel at the ready in his hand. And just then it hit me: This was carefully planned!
I swam to the side and took the towel, dried off, and then dragging my feet all the way, went back to get dressed.
Strapped to the back of John’s motorcycle was a small icebox, Tom went for it and started passing around beers to everyone but me.
“Hey! What about me?” I said offended. I thought my initiation ordeal was over. I was wrong.
“Sorry, kid. We forgot the milk. You’ll have to settle for a soda.”
Tom was laughing along with everybody else, while he tossed me a soda. I was angry. They were really having fun with me. My uncle got to my bike and started giving away the sandwiches, this time no funny remark when he handed me one.
We ate peacefully and the topics of conversations were as mild as if we were sitting on the couch in Aunt Julie’s house: sports, works to be done around the house I half expected them to start on the Playmate of the month, but the topic never arose.
J. H. Bográn OF BIKES AND VALLEYS
Right then and there, I made a pledge to go with them every time I could. It was really fun once you past the jokes at your expense.
We started back and took a different path. This side of the mountain was really steep. To my left raised a wall and to my right a sheer drop. We were maneuvering on a very tight edge. Then, disaster struck, there was a fallen tree blocking the way. We got off the bikes and tried to heave it and drop it to the side. In spite of all of our combined strength, the tree did not budge an inch. I noticed some roots were still running underneath the ground, the heavy rain must have washed most of soil around to make the tree fall, but not quite enough to free it completely. I ran to my bike and came back to the log and without a word I started chopping roots with my machete. I could feel all eyes on me.
John said: “That was smart. Maybe we should bring this guy along next time.”
Infused with my renewed ego, I chopped vigorously at the tree until we were able to move it . Then we got back on the trail as if nothing at all had happened.
About half an hour later Keith’s bike broke down. John and Uncle David, the expert mechanics, spent over and hour nearly dismantling the bike’s engine .
“Are you sure you have gas?” joked Tom.
“Yes, I do. Moron!” countered Keith. His eyes never leaving his precious bike as his two friends started putting back together.
Meanwhile, my water supply ran out as I passed it around. It was a tiresome business to see the two guys working on the bike and having nothing else to do but watch. Finally, the bike sputtered back to life with a deafening roar that pronounced we could head back.
We got home around five, and after we parked the bikes in the backyard, Aunt Julie met us before we could reach the back kitchen door.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“Come on, Julie. We’re tired,” Uncle David said.
“Nope. Sorry, no way you enter the house I just spent all morning cleaning with all that mud on you,” she said, her face serious with resolution.
“What do you suggest?” he asked jokingly.
For an answer, Aunt Julie raised her right hand and squeezed the trigger of her garden hose. Immediately, we were soaked on the lawn with very cold water. I followed my uncle’s example and raised my hands humbly until most of the mud was forced from us.
Uncle David took off his boots and socks, I followed suit sitting on the lawn. Aunt Julie finally allowed us in barefooted under the condition we hit the showers right away.
I did just that and I am now finishing these lines before going down to dinner.
It’s a shame I didn’t have the chance to use my gun, but now I see some mud got to it. I better clean it up before dinner.
PART III Letter from David
I thought you should have your son’s notebook that Julie recently discovered. She finally gathered the courage to go inside to clean Peter’s room and found it between the mattress and the base of the bed.
Going through the pages I discovered where and how he got the firearm. There was never a doubt in my mind that it must have been an accident regardless of the police considering it a suicide.
As I said over the phone, we had just confirmed Julie’s pregnancy. She wishes you to know that we will name the boy after Peter.
For my part, I hope you realize I am as sorry for your loss as you are. I loved Peter very much and really wanted him to have a good time with us at the mountains.
Your brother David
About The Author
J. H. Bográn
Born and raised in Honduras, J. H. Bográn has always been interested in writing. Son of a
journalist, he ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. In his professional life he
has worked in the garment industry for the past 15 years, in the areas of Quality and
Merchandising. In true Honduran tradition, where college classes start after 5 p.m. so
students can hold down day jobs, he went to work fresh out of high school, and took
night classes to finish college.
He currently resides in his hometown, happily married, and looking after his three sons.
You can find out more about J. H. Bográn by visiting his website at:
His credits include:
La Fortaleza (2004), 20 Episode mini series. Co-writer
Retrato de una Ciudad (2006), 20 Episode mini series. Co-writer
Tips and Trips Magazine (1993 -2001), Domestic Tourism magazine.