Lola here. Got something to share with you.
I guess this is a teaser. I’m not sure what else to call it. Kind of a snippet? Maybe. Whatever it is, we’re sharing it.
Susan wrote a little something that’s going to end up being the Afterword of the upcoming Knife & Flesh (which we’ll be loading for preorder in less than two weeks). So it’s not exactly part of the story, but it gets referred to in the story. Confused? Good. We like to keep you on your toes.
We thought we’d share it with you ahead of time, since it gives a little bit of insight into Trick, the male lead of Knife & Flesh (and, okay, Susan’s favorite SoCal guy–don’t tell the others). In order to give it some context, we’re sharing a smidge from the actual story, too. It’s all pretty spoiler-free, btw.
So, to get to the point:
Here’s a teensy snip of Knife & Flesh, the part where what we’re sharing gets referred to:
Jesse, their PR officer, had been on a kick a while back, when they were just getting back into the outlaw life, to beef up their public persona. Sherlock had redesigned the website, they’d added a ‘shop’ with t-shirts and hats and shit like that, and Jesse had had the ‘brilliant’ idea that one of them should write an essay about why they were who they were. Trick had gotten that assignment. He’d done about a thousand romanticized words on what it meant to be a biker, glossing over the darker meanings. It was all very Easy Rider, but there was some disclosure in it, too. Not too much to breach his own privacy, but he’d found it impossible to write about what it meant and not write about what it meant to him.
And here’s the about a thousand words Trick wrote for the Night Horde SoCal website, which will be included in the book as the Afterword:
This Life: What It Means
by Trick Stavros
Whoso would be a man must also be a nonconformist.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and
an appeal to the essence of being.
When I need to identify rebels, I look for men with principles.
~ Frank Herbert
We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.
There is always something left to love.
~Gabriel García Marquez
My brothers have asked me to write about what it means to be a biker. I don’t think there’s one answer to that question. Those of us who’ve chosen this life have done so for reasons as unique and personal as our fingerprints. But I can tell you what it means to me.
There have been motorcycle clubs as long as there have been motorcycles, since the dawn of the twentieth century. But most accounts trace the history of the club “culture,” such as it is, from the period just after the end of World War II. Many see the Hollister fight in 1947 as the first time the idea of “biker gangs” entered the collective American consciousness.
I think that first detail is much more important than the second. We reject the ideas that come attached to the term “biker gang.” We are members of a club, and as such, there are certain things, similarities of personality and experience, that bring us together and bind us there.
Since World War II, motorcycle clubs have always had a high proportion of veterans among their members. If there was a change in club culture at the middle of the twentieth century, away from the idea of hobbyist clubs and toward a true culture, a way of living, then it was the war that did it.
Not just that war, but war in general—and not just political wars fought among countries. Personal wars can have similar effects on those who fight and survive them.
I am a veteran, and I can tell you with certainty that my military service is a reason that I wear Night Horde colors now. I came home, and the world was just different. Not much had changed, but everything about the way I saw it was different. So different that I didn’t understand it. Then I found a place I understood: the club.
Here’s what I think: war pulls the curtain back. A warrior sees a truth, sees it written on flesh, in blood, sees what’s under the gloss and plastic and glitz, sees where that glittery life comes from, what supports it. Flesh and blood. Once seen, that can never be unseen. We can’t go back and put on a tie, sit in traffic on the 10 with our coffee in a travel mug, and pretend that that life is a livable life. It’s not. Not for us.
Some can. Some can go back to the life they had, fit back into that space, and move on. The men who seek a club life, whether they are veterans of the military or warriors of another kind, we can’t. That space closed up behind us. Or had never opened in the first place.
So, we don’t fit. So, we are rebels and nonconformists. So, we seek the freedom to find and live a life of our choosing. We choose this life.
But what does that mean? That’s what I’m supposed to be talking about here. My brothers would be laughing at me right now, rolling their eyes at Trick going off on one of his tangents. So let’s get back to the point: What does this life mean?
I can tell you what this life means to me. One man. One biker. One brother.
Rebellion: People use this word as a pejorative, like it’s a bad thing to be a rebel. To me, though, rebellion means demanding the best and calling out the worst. It means not being satisfied with the way things are; it means wanting things to be better. It means always asking why and demanding an answer that makes sense. That’s what I understand Frank Herbert to mean when he says that rebels are men with principles. We care enough to resist what doesn’t make sense.
Freedom: Freedom and rebellion go hand in hand. In this life, we value freedom, not just the freedoms codified by law, but the freedom to be and know and live in a way that’s true to us. It’s more than the freedom the road offers, though that’s the best metaphor in the world, and it’s one we cling to. Nothing feels more free than riding an open highway with the throttle wide open. There’s a reason we call cars “cages.” But the freedom we value is bigger than that. We value the freedom to be true to ourselves, to know our own hearts and minds, to follow our own path.
Family: There is no bond stronger than the bond between club brothers. Blood might be thicker than water, but colors are thickest of all. The loyalty among the members of a club defies explanation. It can only be fully understood through personal experience. We are men who fit best together. We are strongest together. We have each other’s backs, no matter what. For some of us, maybe most of us, that’s something we didn’t have before. In the club, we built a family. The family at that table gives us the strength and support to be good fathers and good partners, too.
Love: In the end, this is what it comes down to. The history of motorcycle clubs, the cultural fascination, the reputation—none of that really matters. At its core, its heart, the MC life is about love. We love the ride, we love the road, we love the club. We love each other. We love our women and our children. We love our community. We love our country.
And that’s “what it means” to me.
© 2015 Susan Fanetti