One Step Too Close

By: K.A Merikan

He turned to face her with a smile he hoped was carefree. “Be right back, babe.”

“Ryder! What’s happening? I need to know!” she yelled, but Ripper and Wolver were already mounting their bikes by Ryder’s side.

“Let’s go!” Wolver put on his helmet and revved the engine.

“See you later,” called out Ryder and mounted his bike, glad to have been saved by the others. His focus was now completely on Jed. He couldn’t believe that they’d talked a mere half an hour ago, and the idiot was already going for unnecessary risk. Racing was fine, but sober, not in a state where one could take cigarette burns without pain.

The three of them stormed through the open gate and into the road, cutting off the way of an approaching car, which honked at them. The guy had to be a clueless moron. No one in their right mind would beep at a group of Coffin Nails if he knew who they were.

Only on the road Ryder realized he forgot to put on a helmet, but there was no time for that now. He quickly passed his father and led the two other men toward the place Dana had indicated. The owner of the gas station nearby never reported the illegal racing that sometimes took place there because he earned a lot on the alcohol he got to sell, but once in a while a “concerned citizen” would call the police about gang activity, and people would be arrested. That was seriously the last thing Jed needed right now.

They were approaching, and already Ryder could see a small crowd and a few people on bikes under a lone streetlight.

Ryder tried to call out to them, but the noise of engines was too loud. Ryder’s stomach clenched when he thought that he couldn’t possibly catch up to Jed once he started. Jed had always had an irrational obsession with sport bikes, and a race was just another excuse for showing off his Honda.

“Fuck!” he growled into the air, but it seemed that the group of spectators and contestants already realized they had been caught red-handed, as no one started the race.

Ryder parked his Harley by a group of other motorbikes and cars on the side of the road and didn’t even look back to Ripper and Wolver as he pushed his way through the crowd.

A big guy sitting across an orange motorcycle laughed loud enough for Ryder to hear him. “Mommy came to pick you up? Is it a school night?”

Ryder wanted to punch the idiot into the ground as soon as he was done with his stupid brother, but Jed was right next to the guy, so he got to act first, jumping off his bike with his jaw set.

“You wanna try me, motherfucker?” Jed yelled, and pushed the guy so hard he fell off his motorcycle. With the last bits of instinct, the guy grabbed Jed’s cut, and pulled him down to the ground, but he didn’t account for the motorcycle between them falling and crushing his leg with a loud crunch as Jed’s whole body weight thumped on top of it. The man howled in pain, his eyes bulged, and he took a swing at Jed despite being under the machine. The scream howled in Ryder’s ears as he watched Jed’s fist smash against the fucker’s face again and again, coming up bloodied, and it was only the scream of one of the women that pushed him into action.

Ryder pulled Jed away hard and kneeled next to the injured challenger. As soon as Ryder touched the bloodied nose, the man let out a shriek and sobbed, twisting his face from the pain. All of a sudden, his hand went up to grab Ryder’s arm when Ripper and some bystander hauled the bike off.

“Serves you right, piece of shit!” Jed yelled, and spat their way, but Ryder could see from the corner of his eye that Wolver had a lock on him.

“Cops!” someone yelled, and like a stampede of wild horses, the crowd began to disperse to their cars and bikes, or even just ran, creating a chaos beyond anything Ryder needed right now.

He screamed out, furious, and punched the asphalt, wincing when the hard surface clashed with bone. “Fuck. Fucking fuck! Jed!” he growled, looking at the vehicles rushing back toward the clubhouse. It was just the injured racer and them now.

The headlights of the police car blinded him for a moment, but then he looked at Jed, who still struggled with their father, like a tiger kept away from its prey. Ryder took a deep breath when his eyes met Wolver’s, silently asking him to keep the crazy idiot back. His heart raced, his stomach crawled with nausea, but the one thing he kept thinking about was that Jed was on probation.

“Let’s go!” Jed yelled at him, but even his speed-hazed mind had to know that wasn’t an option the moment a policeman ordered them to go down to the ground as his partner rushed over to the injured man, already calling an ambulance.

Ryder kneeled and raised his hands, wet with the guy’s blood. He was lucky to have touched it already and be covered with evidence. “It was an accident,” he yelled, looking at the cop, who stopped talking for a moment, before resuming the conversation with the emergency services operator.

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