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The Wannabe

    • 220 posts
    May 22, 2016 7:23 PM EDT
    This is a story from the demented psyche of yours truly. I own all rights and take full credit for the concept. Ever wonder about a 'sidewalk commando' and what makes them tick?
    Numbers
    Jake ‘Edge’ Walker

    Walter turned off the TV and stared at the blank screen. His heart was pounding, he closed his eyes and the vision of himself astride his chopped, blacked out Harley came easily. The handlebars were high, the smoke bled from under his rear ‘skin’ as he slowly walked a 360 and the babes were loving it. In his mental theater, some were tugging their tops off and as he floated by; they would fling them at him, he caught them and they smelled of perfume and sweat. As he finished the burn, he dropped into the saddle and roared away into the night.
    Walter opened his eyes to the reality of his life and knew that something had to change. He knew that his destiny was on two wheels and in a 1% club as a ‘Club Bro’. He had the requisite two wheels, a 750 Zamahooki. He had leathers but he only wore them in cold weather because who would wear them in hot weather, duh? Let’s see; leather head-rag, fingerless gloves, half helmet (DOT) and a nickel-plated 380 caliber automatic. Oh and his Harley ‘Avenger’ boots with side zipper and a Harley badge on the heel. His vision of himself when he looked in the mirror did not match what others saw. He was a 35-year-old accountant with thinning hair, soft hands and a soft gut that was just starting to strain the zipper of his leather jacket.
    “Yep, that’s all I’ll need.” Walter turned from the mirror and he walked through his apartment into the kitchen. He looked at the clock on his stove. 10:15 pm and it was time to ride, but where to? The Longhorn. It was a known hangout for the notorious Pirates MC. He was gonna march right in there and demand they sell him his ‘Patch’. A fresh fire kindled in Walter’s heart and before he knew it, he was on his bike and on the road… to the Longhorn… known hangout of the Pirates MC. His heart quailed and he almost turned around in the middle of the block and headed back to his apartment but he set his soft mouth in a firm line and rode on.

    As he backed his bike into the only slot in the front, a murmur rose from the onlookers for the new rider. Not one jeer or sour note reached his listening ear. He was on two wheels and they accepted him. He knew this was where he belonged. He made his way inside and with a newfound confidence shouldered his way to the bar, ordered his chosen poison (rum & coke) and wandered out back to the beer garden. He sat close to a group of Pirate patch holders and sipped his drink while listening to their conversation.
    His only information about 1% clubs came from his TV. “The Devil’s Ride”, “Sons of Anarchy”, “Biker Build-Off” and “Orange County Choppers”. He watched every week and reveled in the sub-culture portrayed. He was half listening to the talk at the table when he heard Bulldog grousing about how much he had to pay this year in taxes. “Yeah, the bastards raped me for over five grand, probably all the over-time I worked last year.”
    There was laughter and good-natured ribbing followed. “Shoulda got yerself a good tax man Bulldog. He coulda got ya a good break.” “Yeah, let the bookie take care of it.” “Ah, yer fucked. The IRS takes what it wants.” As Walter listened to the exchange, a crazy idea formed in the ‘Spreadsheet’ that was his brain.
    “Hey Bros, I think I could help. I’m an accountant and I do tax returns.” Walter’s outburst, accompanied by him standing up and approaching the table, surprised and shocked him. Six faces now looked up at him and none were friendly. The silence and the hostile stares unnerved him and he wondered if the TV might have steered him wrong. As his bladder control problem started to nag him, his gaze jumped from face to face, hoping for a friendly look or a sign of redemption.
    “You been listening in on what we’re saying? Who the hell are you and gimme one reason why I don’t kick yer ass right fukin now?” The one that now held Walter’s terrified stare stood up and fixed him with a withering glare. Six foot tall, long blonde hair held in a tight braid and a fierce face to match that stare filled his vision and loosened his sphincter, almost to the limit of his control.

    “I’m Walter, an acc-cccountttant.” Walter stuttered and fought for control of the water-works that were threatening to flood the scene. A cool, calm feeling settled over him and he wondered if he would die from the beating.
    “My name is Walter, I’m a CPA and I heard Bulldog say that he had a bad tax year. I didn’t mean to hear what he said but I did. I want to join your club and I would do all your taxes for free.” He let out a breath that he didn’t know he was holding. His swimming pool bladder had granted him a reprieve and he stood calmly while he awaited the outcome of his outburst and wondered why he had said ‘for free’.
    A moment passed and then loud, harsh laughter rose from the table. The biker that accosted Walter sat back down and he was chuckling and shaking his head. The group exchanged knowing looks and more than one wink was traded. They all looked at the big blonde biker and he stood up and stepped towards Walter. To his own surprise, he stood his ground and let the big man approach him. He saw a patch above the right pocket, ‘Road Captain’ and over the left read ‘Rhino’.
    “So, you want to be a Pirate, eh? Well, ya gotta have a Sponsor first, then ya gotta be a Prospect. Who’s gonna Sponsor Walt?” His eyes fell upon Bulldog and he said “Bulldog? You wanna sponsor this… accountant?” They all laughed and to Walter, their mirth sounded sinister and cold. Bulldog shook his head and Walter cringed; why had he said anything? His newfound confidence was quickly evaporating and his plumbing was threatening him again when Bulldog stood up and glared at him.
    “I don’t think you got the guts to be one of us. You think you’re tough enough? When shit goes downhill fast and the fists and chairs are flying, what are you gonna do? These are my brothers and I would kill or die for any of them. You got something like that in your soft accountant gut?” Those at the table nodded and Walter felt a trickle of doubt slip down his spine. What did he mean ‘Kill for’ and would he be expected to lay down his life for someone he didn’t know? Then from the back of his mind, Jax’s voice whispered, “You're an outlaw, like the rest of us now.”
    Walter drained his drink, fixed Bulldog with his best Billy Lane stare and said, “My life is Numbers. That’s all I know, that’s why I came here tonight, because I want to be a part of a motorcycle club. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, even as a kid. I’ve never been in a fistfight and I’ve never shot anyone before. I hope I never do but if I take a vow, an oath… I will die to defend it. I know I’m not much to look at and part of me is scared to death right now, but I tell you now Bulldog, if you’ll sponsor me I won’t let you down.”
    Bulldog stared at the wannabe standing as tall as he could, knees slightly shivering and felt a moment of compassion, kinship and remembrance from when he had done the same thing 15 years ago. He stood up and stepped right into to Walter’s face. Walt didn’t budge, just held the stare of the older biker. Bulldog shook his head slightly, extended his right hand, shook Walt’s hand and said “Alright Newb, I’ll sponsor ya if you’ll do my taxes. If ya fuck up, it’s on me! Which means, it’ll be twice as hard on you if ya understand what I’m saying? I’ll give ya my phone number; church is on Thursday, as a hang-around you ride nowhere without an escort which is me or another club member, you always wear your ‘Known Associate’ patch when you ride. Initiation is 90 days from now. Ya got any questions?”
    “Thannnkk you.” Walt cleared his throat, “Thank you. The only question I have is can I go pee now?”
    The table erupted with good-natured laughter, Walt was hugged and had his hand shaken repeatedly but all he really wanted was to go to the bathroom. He made it to the bathroom and once he was in the quiet smelly men’s room, he felt a rush of elation. He had done it; he had been accepted into a motorcycle club.

    Chapter 2

    The next three months flew by in a blur of work, riding and booze-filled meetings with Bulldog. Walt learned that Ernie was Bulldog’s birth name; Church was the weekly meeting of the club (he wasn’t allowed in, he didn’t even have a Prospect patch yet. He was a ‘Hang-Around’ with a ‘Known Associate’ patch so he guarded the bikes), he had to remove the cool SOA patch from his vest, and there were other clubs that did not like the Pirates MC and were willing to fight him but not Bulldog, bikers do not ‘pee’ they ‘took a piss’, never tell a patch holder they were ‘wrong’ about their financial choices (that one still hurt) and NEVER talk about the Club. His ribs still ached from that one.
    About a week before his Initiation, Walt met with Bulldog at the ‘Horn to go over the finer points of the ceremony. They sat in the back corner where ‘You can watch the doors’. Bulldog went over the Oath for the 27th time, trying to get his Prospect ready for the most important ritual of his adult life.
    “What if I fuck up saying the Oath? Are they gonna beat the shit outta me?” Walt drained his R&C, rattled the cubes & motioned for another round.
    “Newb, promise me you’ll never breathe a word of this?” Bulldog fixed Walt with one of his intense glares from under insane bushy grey brows. Walt nodded.
    “When our Prez, Bastard Dick took his oath he was fucked up and staggering drunk. He mumbled his way through it. When the current Prez, Stump called him on it, Bastard just grinned and said ‘Yeah, well it’s all in there. What the fuck?’ Then he got in a fistfight with Stump, right in front of us all. The VP and Sergeant at Arms broke it up and HE still got his patch. A few years later, he kicked Stump’s ass and now he wears the Prez patch.” He drained his glass just as Nichole brought the next round.
    Walt considered this revelation and it comforted him, a little. He had come a long way from the TV biker he had imagined himself three months ago, before he had joined an MC in the real world. He had handled 10 of the club member’s tax returns and realized these were just people; with parents, kids and family. He also had started to realize that the Club’s finances were not just membership dues, fines, buying patches and bike shop income.
    He had started to go to the gym; he was taking karate classes twice a week and had started walking a mile a day. The first week of all this was a bitch but now after three months, he felt excellent. He had held his own in two fistfights started by another MC member; fast and dirty and were over almost as quick as they started. He had replaced his 380 auto with a short barrel 357 and had traded his 750 Zamahooki in for a Fat Boy Harley.
    He had also spoken with his lead auditor at work about ‘hypothetical accounts’; the nuances that a good accountant should be able to ‘gently cook’ and still have no repercussions. Walt knew the world of accounting was not Black/White as so many supposed, it was a canvas painted with grey tones and shaded with black. The only colors found there were to distract attention from the rest.
    While Bulldog flirted with Nichole, Walt thought about the upcoming initiation. His resolve had evolved with his training; his mind was clearer, he had gone through the Hang-Around hazing, he had washed patch-holder bikes, had stood guard over the Club bikes, had gotten out of bed at 2 am to rescue a club member and had stood fast with Bulldog in two fights. He realized right then, he was in. As he sipped his R&C, he watched Bulldog from the corner of his eye.
    He had gone over Ernie’s current tax return and had filed an amended return that had actually gotten a refund of $19.47 instead of $5k owed. He had done the same for the other nine members of the club, turned taxes owed into refunds. His ‘Club Cred’ had hit an all-time high, but he was still a ‘Hang Around’. That would all change when he took the Oath.
    Church had been in session for over an hour. Walt paced the row of bikes and silently repeated the Oath, all while asking himself “Is this really what you want, to swear an oath to outlaws, to pledge your life to THEM? What are you thinking? You’re fucking insane Walt… ”
    The door to the Clubhouse opened and Bulldog called “Walter, step forth.”
    As Walt entered the silent room, he met their eyes and stepped to the front where Bastard Dick waited. The Prez was a big man; scarred face and dark features, a tattoo on the left side of his face, flames neck to hairline. 6 foot tall and 280 lbs, long grey hair in a ponytail, 45 auto tucked in his waistband and his long grey beard in a grizzled braid.
    “Do you wish to be a member of our motorcycle club?” Dick’s booming voice startled Walt but because of his resolve and his new training, he didn’t flinch… much.
    “Yes.” Walt was surprised that his voice didn’t waver and he relaxed his hands that clenched at his side.
    “Step forth and say the Oath of Membership.” Bastard intoned.
    Walt stepped up to the front, turned to face the membership, cleared his throat and said “I Walter, swear in front of the Brothers of Pirates that I will bear true allegiance to the members of this Club. I will further the purposes of the Club and not compromise its interest in any way. If a Brother ever needs help, I will be there. I will never speak of Club business to anyone outside the club and I will stop any Brother from speaking of Club business. I will protect any Club member’s Ol Lady from harm if the member is not there. I will give my life or take another’s in defense of this Club. This I do swear with my blood.”
    He pulled up the sleeve of his jacket, pulled his knife out and flicked it open then sliced the bare skin of his forearm and watched as his blood hit the floor of the clubhouse. There was a moment of silence and then a roar, a single solid sound of voices rose in celebration washed over Walt. He was pounded; he had his hand almost wrenched from its socket from being shaken, more men kissed him that night than any time in his life. He also felt more accepted and powerful than ever before.
    “Hey Prospect, come get this before I give it to somebody else!” The Prez was yelling over the crowd and Walt turned and saw he was holding a Prospect rocker in his thick fingers and was waving at him.
    Walt stepped up to Bastard and started to take the patch, but the Prez wasn’t letting go. “This is when we name our Prospects. Your Club name shall be… Numbers. Welcome to our Club, Numbers!”
    The rest of the night dissolved in a drunken haze, fueled by Club stories, joints and always more alcohol. Numbers knew that a new Prospect NEVER passes out early in the party, so he was careful to not repeat mistakes that he had heard stories of. Still, he felt himself fading around midnight and asked Bulldog if a ride home was possible.
    Bulldog was at the ‘Funny Drunk’ level and he just giggled and slurred. ‘Hell no, yew ain’t goin nowhheere. Nosiree, you are a fukin Pirate Prospect now dammit! Act like it or you give me disrespecttt. HAHAhahahahahaaaa. Fuk we talkin bout?”
    Numbers wandered off into the crowd and headed for the keg. Rhino was there, looking hard as a granite counter top, Pokey was in the corner brooding over his brew with hooded eyes, Jake leaned back in a folding chair, back to the wall watching Walt closely. Rhino stepped forward, hand out with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
    “So, you’re my ‘Brother’ now?” Walt heard the quotation marks around Brother and seized Rhino’s hand, pulled it to his chest and said “Goddamn right, Brother. I have wanted this all my life and you fukers have given it to me… well, not given. I fukin earned this!” He flapped the Prospect patch and gulped the last of his brew.
    He turned away and headed for the keg. Rhino’s harsh laugh was followed by Pokey’s and Jakes. Numbers filled his red cup with beer and watched as Pokey uncoiled from his chair, reminding him of a rattler approaching prey. Bulldog had told him Pokey was an expert with a blade, tough as old leather and faster with his hands than any he had seen. Walt eased to the right so he could keep the three Bros in his sight and he felt an uneasy feeling creep up his gut and settle around his heart.
    Pokey leaned close and spoke softly into his ear. “Listen ‘Prospect’, I don’t like you and I don’t trust you. My Daddy was a Pirate, one of the founding members and if I find out you’ve done anything to dishonor this club, I’ll kill ya. I’ll be watching you, so stay as far from me as you can and we’ll get along just fine.” He took a step back and glared at him. “That’s a real cute knife ya took your Oath with. Use this one for your full patch oath.” His left hand blurred and then was pointing a plain dark blade at his face. A quick flip and the knife was now offered rather than threatening. Numbers slowly took the handle; Pokey gave him an almost-wink, turned his back, slipped back to his folding chair and leaned back against the wall, hooded dark eyes glancing around the room.
    Around 2 am, Rhino snagged a very drunk Numbers under his arm and led him to a quiet corner of the clubhouse. He laid him down on a chair and turned to go. Bulldog stuck his head into the room and chuckled softly.
    “So what’cha thinks of our new Prospect? Never thought he had the grit to stick it out this long. Ballsy bastard too, I’ve seen him fight and he took as well as he gave. Ya think he’ll have what it takes, when it really matters?” Bulldog stared at Rhino, all trace of ‘drunk’ gone.
    Rhino stared down at Numbers, narrow-eyed with thumbs in his belt. “I hope he does, for his sake.”


    Chapter 3

    Walter was ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy. He had opened his very own business, ‘By the Numbers’. A registered Certified Public Accountant, ready to take on the world of taxes, audits, business accounting and all things ‘Accountable’. He was already doing taxes for 20 of the Pirate’s members, working part-time for his old accounting firm on a consulting basis and he would be acquiring his full Pirate patch next month. Life was finally going his way and he couldn’t stop grinning ear to ear.
    As Bulldog’s Prospect, he had learned so much about the ins and outs of club life. How much it meant to an Ol Lady when you showed up with groceries because her Ol Man was laid up from a work injury or a bike wreck. He had been to two funerals for club members that had died; had been on every run the club had sponsored and handled the financing before and after the runs. He had founded a club ‘Memorial Fund’ for the families of club members injured or killed.
    He picked up the ringing phone and answered “By the Numbers!” There was a long pause and Walter said “Hello?”
    “Well ain’t that cute? ‘By the Numbers’. That’s a good name.” It was Fuckin Frank, President of the other 1% club in town. “I have information for your club, if you’re interested.”
    “You should call Bastard, tell him what you know.”
    “Funny you would say that, since we BEAT HIS ASSSSS! Hahahahaaaa!” Fucking Frank chortled and gasped his way through his laughing fit. “Did you know that Bastard and I used to ride together? Long time ago, we were good friends. I want you to meet me at the Dugout, one hour from now. Come alone or no deal. Bastard won’t listen to me right now, but he needs to know this!”
    Numbers knew that FF had beaten Bastard in a race a month or so ago and when he got home that night he had been in a towering bad mood. He was also intrigued by the offer, but knew his options were few.
    “I’m a prospect, I can’t meet with the President of Skullz without an escort, you know that.” Walter was pleased his voice had no tremor or hesitation.
    Frank let out a long sigh and said “Fine. You can bring one. One hour.”
    Numbers thought for moment and grinned as he picked up the phone.
    An hour later, he and Pokey rolled up to the Dugout. They backed their bikes into the curb, stripped off their helmets and gloves, turned to walk into the bar and two Skullz members blocked their way.
    Jackal was bald; tattoos crisscrossed his skull and disappeared down into his tee shirt. He was 5’ 10”, 200 lbs of thick-necked grumpy biker. His partner, Slim was a contrast at 6’5” and 180 lbs, flame and skull tattoo sleeves ended at his fingertips. Both wore leather riding gear and had identical glares. They were NOT happy that Pirates were in their territory
    “Follow us” was the terse command. Walter and Pokey exchanged glances and followed the miss-matched pair. “Ren and Stimpy?” Numbers muttered to Pokey. Pokey responded by bursting out laughing and slapping Walt on the shoulder. Twin glares were shot back at them but Numbers started to relax a little. He could do this, they could do this. He was glad for his choice of Pokey because he was a fierce fighter and he had Bastard’s trust.
    Their escorts brought them through the dingy interior, past a few patrons at the bar who studiously ignored the procession and ended in the room furthest from the front door. When Numbers glanced around he realized they were completely surrounded by Skullz members and Fucking Frank sat with Punk on one side and Jackass on his other.
    There was a full pitcher of beer, 5 glasses, 5 shots of liquor sitting on the table and Frank was wearing a knowing-smirk. He gestured at the glasses and shots.
    “Take your pick, they aren’t doped. Take your pick and we all drink at the same time, to show there’s no hard feelings.” His face split in a wicked smile as he leaned back and he chuckled.
    “What do ya know, eh? Skullz and Pirates, drinking together… Like nothing ever happened between us. Something new every day, right Jackass? Well c’mon you two, pick a shot & pour a brew because I have news for you.” He grinned even wider and Numbers felt a cold chill creep up his spine.
    He stepped to the table, poured two beers, picked up a shot from the table and held it out to Pokey. He picked up another and raised it as though to toast. Pokey held his up and stared at Frank. The three Skullz raised theirs and Numbers cried out “FUCK YOU!” and drained his glass. A slight pause and all replied “FUCK YOU!” and drained their shots.
    “I figured it was the only thing we could agree on that wasn’t a lie.” Numbers sat down, sipped his beer and glanced at Pokey. His dark hooded eyes flitted around the room and then looked at Walter with a question in the depths. Numbers gave a slight nod, turned to look straight into Fucking Frank’s ugly scarred face and he asked, “Why am I here?”
    Frank nodded his grizzled head, stared down at the table and mumbled, “Because I have to.
    “A long time ago, Bastard saved my life and I ain’t talking ‘Saved my life by chance’, no I mean he saved my life. I owe him.” When he finished he was staring straight into Pokey’s dark eyes.
    “You remember, don’t ya Pokey? He stepped in front of that bullet meant for my heart. Does it still hurt him? Heheheee. He deserves it, but he don’t deserve this. There’s a Grand Jury is coming, for both clubs. Full audit, full disclosure and all bad. Bastard needs to know and I’m gonna need help too.” By now, Frank had lost his smirk; he looked slightly less formidable and Numbers couldn’t help but get a chill from this news. What it meant for the club and his Brothers and their families was not good.
    “How long do we have?” Numbers asked quietly.
    “Not really sure, my source says two, maybe three months. Why?” There was a glimmer of an idea in Walt’s brain, a slight hope to turn this around and with a lot of luck, he just might.
    When Walter looked back at the next 65 days before the grand jury, he would alternate between laughing hysterically and wanting to run to the bathroom. His ‘Water Works’ problem had been dealt with by exercise, losing 40 lbs and Tai Chi. What he did to prepare two ‘Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs’ for a Grand Jury Audit and possible incarceration; that was nothing short of miraculous and it had tested his knowledge of finance law and Grand Jury proceedings to the utmost.
    On the opening day of the Grand Jury (and all subsequent days); all members of both clubs had attended the proceedings, arranging themselves both inside and outside of the courthouse and were on their best behavior for the cameras. The proceedings were neither as prolonged nor protracted as he might have suspected. In the beginning, the GJ proceedings were as dry and boring as you might expect but there came a time when the prosecution called Walter to the stand.
    “State your name.” declared the Special Prosecutor, Richard Thumpin.
    “Walter Wardlaw” he replied proudly. It was a good Scottish name and a proud one.
    “Mr. Wardlaw, or should I call you ‘Numbers’? You are the accountant for the outlaw motorcycle gang Pirates, are you not?”
    “No, I’m not. The CLUB has no official ties to my company. Several members are tax clients and I have helped the CLUB with their fundraiser finances. The Easter Run that donates toys and medical help for kids with cancer, the Toy Run at Christmas and the Police Charity Ride. I am a member of the motorcycle CLUB but my company is not on retainer to the Pirates MC.” Walt was warming to the exchange and realized it was similar to a sword fight. Thrust, parry, slash and recover.
    The prosecutor seemed stymied and flustered; he turned and leaned into his associate prosecutor, there was a quick whispered exchange and he faced Walt again.
    “So, you’re stating for the record, under Oath that you have no official ties with the motorcycle gang Pirates?” and he fixed Walt with his best Dirty Harry glare.
    “I have already stated, under oath that the Club has no official ties to my company. I have only helped members of the club, which is NOT a ‘gang’, to do their taxes and I have helped the club as a member, to manage their finances. I have done all this with no charge, pro bono.” Walt knew this was the crux, the one point that would carry them all through this cluster fuck.
    He had spent the last three months ‘cooking the books’ of both clubs and he knew that the math was good. He had sheltered their income, tweaked the sources and made it all ‘respectable’ as it could be for a grand jury proceeding. He had enlisted an old colleague from his former firm, who found the process ‘intriguing’ and had jumped in willingly, for ‘academic purposes’ of course.
    Walt knew that the grand jury was looking for any cause to invoke the RICO provision and knew just where they would come down heaviest. Finances, that would be the center of the prosecution’s case and he had dealt with that in a neat and simple manner. He employed the KISS principle. ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’.
    Walt was very aware of the case of United States vs Barger in a RICO grand jury and he had made absolutely certain the books would stand-alone. Sonny’s trial had ended in a hung jury and Walt was certain his numbers would stand in court.
    Two months to the day since the indictment, he hoisted a mug of brew and shouted ‘Fuck You!’ at the two clubs who were gathered at a neutral bar. The room rang with the reply “Fuck you!” He looked around at the two rival clubs drinking together and thought, “I made this happen. Me. I’ve brought two biker clubs together… Well, for one night.”
    “Ya did good…Bro.” Pokey’s voice whispered in his ear.
    Walt grinned and thought, “This is good. This is as good as it gets!”


    This post was edited by EdgeWalker at September 4, 2017 8:09 PM EDT
  • Bob
    • 2 posts
    May 22, 2016 10:37 PM EDT
    Keep it coming. Ya hooked me.
    • 206 posts
    May 22, 2016 10:45 PM EDT
    Walter was in a coma and dreamed the whole fucking thing! :)
    • 4 posts
    September 3, 2017 10:34 PM EDT
    Im hooked Gimme more

    • 220 posts
    September 4, 2017 8:07 PM EDT
    Well folks, apologies for the extended absence. I completely rewrote the entire story, hopefully you'll like it even better!

    Numbers
    Jake ‘Edge’ Walker

    Walter turned off the TV and stared at the blank screen. His heart was pounding, he closed his eyes and the vision of himself astride his chopped, blacked out Harley came easily. The handlebars were high, the smoke bled from under his rear ‘skin’ as he slowly walked a 360 and the babes were loving it. In his mental theater, some were tugging their tops off and as he floated by; they would fling them at him, he caught them and they smelled of perfume and sweat. As he finished the burn, he dropped into the saddle and roared away into the night.
    Walter opened his eyes to the reality of his life and knew that something had to change. He knew that his destiny was on two wheels and in a 1% club as a ‘Club Bro’. He had the requisite two wheels, a 750 Zamahooki. He had leathers but he only wore them in cold weather because who would wear them in hot weather, duh? Let’s see; leather head-rag, fingerless gloves, half helmet (DOT) and a nickel-plated 380 caliber automatic. Oh and his Harley ‘Avenger’ boots with side zipper and a Harley badge on the heel. His vision of himself when he looked in the mirror did not match what others saw. He was a 35-year-old accountant with thinning hair, soft hands and a soft gut that was just starting to strain the zipper of his leather jacket.
    “Yep, that’s all I’ll need.” Walter turned from the mirror and he walked through his apartment into the kitchen. He looked at the clock on his stove. 10:15 pm and it was time to ride, but where to? The Longhorn. It was a known hangout for the notorious Pirates MC. He was gonna march right in there and demand they sell him his ‘Patch’. A fresh fire kindled in Walter’s heart and before he knew it, he was on his bike and on the road… to the Longhorn… known hangout of the Pirates MC. His heart quailed and he almost turned around in the middle of the block and headed back to his apartment but he set his soft mouth in a firm line and rode on.

    As he backed his bike into the only slot in the front, a murmur rose from the onlookers for the new rider. Not one jeer or sour note reached his listening ear. He was on two wheels and they accepted him. He knew this was where he belonged. He made his way inside and with a newfound confidence shouldered his way to the bar, ordered his chosen poison (rum & coke) and wandered out back to the beer garden. He sat close to a group of Pirate patch holders and sipped his drink while listening to their conversation.
    His only information about 1% clubs came from his TV. “The Devil’s Ride”, “Sons of Anarchy”, “Biker Build-Off” and “Orange County Choppers”. He watched every week and reveled in the sub-culture portrayed. He was half listening to the talk at the table when he heard Bulldog grousing about how much he had to pay this year in taxes. “Yeah, the bastards raped me for over five grand, probably all the over-time I worked last year.”
    There was laughter and good-natured ribbing followed. “Shoulda got yerself a good tax man Bulldog. He coulda got ya a good break.” “Yeah, let the bookie take care of it.” “Ah, yer fucked. The IRS takes what it wants.” As Walter listened to the exchange, a crazy idea formed in the ‘Spreadsheet’ that was his brain.
    “Hey Bros, I think I could help. I’m an accountant and I do tax returns.” Walter’s outburst, accompanied by him standing up and approaching the table, surprised and shocked him. Six faces now looked up at him and none were friendly. The silence and the hostile stares unnerved him and he wondered if the TV might have steered him wrong. As his bladder control problem started to nag him, his gaze jumped from face to face, hoping for a friendly look or a sign of redemption.
    “You been listening in on what we’re saying? Who the hell are you and gimme one reason why I don’t kick yer ass right fukin now?” The one that now held Walter’s terrified stare stood up and fixed him with a withering glare. Six foot tall, long blonde hair held in a tight braid and a fierce face to match that stare filled his vision and loosened his sphincter, almost to the limit of his control.

    “I’m Walter, an acc-cccountttant.” Walter stuttered and fought for control of the water-works that were threatening to flood the scene. A cool, calm feeling settled over him and he wondered if he would die from the beating.
    “My name is Walter, I’m a CPA and I heard Bulldog say that he had a bad tax year. I didn’t mean to hear what he said but I did. I want to join your club and I would do all your taxes for free.” He let out a breath that he didn’t know he was holding. His swimming pool bladder had granted him a reprieve and he stood calmly while he awaited the outcome of his outburst and wondered why he had said ‘for free’.
    A moment passed and then loud, harsh laughter rose from the table. The biker that accosted Walter sat back down and he was chuckling and shaking his head. The group exchanged knowing looks and more than one wink was traded. They all looked at the big blonde biker and he stood up and stepped towards Walter. To his own surprise, he stood his ground and let the big man approach him. He saw a patch above the right pocket, ‘Road Captain’ and over the left read ‘Rhino’.
    “So, you want to be a Pirate, eh? Well, ya gotta have a Sponsor first, then ya gotta be a Prospect. Who’s gonna Sponsor Walt?” His eyes fell upon Bulldog and he said “Bulldog? You wanna sponsor this… accountant?” They all laughed and to Walter, their mirth sounded sinister and cold. Bulldog shook his head and Walter cringed; why had he said anything? His newfound confidence was quickly evaporating and his plumbing was threatening him again when Bulldog stood up and glared at him.
    “I don’t think you got the guts to be one of us. You think you’re tough enough? When shit goes downhill fast and the fists and chairs are flying, what are you gonna do? These are my brothers and I would kill or die for any of them. You got something like that in your soft accountant gut?” Those at the table nodded and Walter felt a trickle of doubt slip down his spine. What did he mean ‘Kill for’ and would he be expected to lay down his life for someone he didn’t know? Then from the back of his mind, Jax’s voice whispered, “You're an outlaw, like the rest of us now.”
    Walter drained his drink, fixed Bulldog with his best Billy Lane stare and said, “My life is Numbers. That’s all I know, that’s why I came here tonight, because I want to be a part of a motorcycle club. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, even as a kid. I’ve never been in a fistfight and I’ve never shot anyone before. I hope I never do but if I take a vow, an oath… I will die to defend it. I know I’m not much to look at and part of me is scared to death right now, but I tell you now Bulldog, if you’ll sponsor me I won’t let you down.”
    Bulldog stared at the wannabe standing as tall as he could, knees slightly shivering and felt a moment of compassion, kinship and remembrance from when he had done the same thing 15 years ago. He stood up and stepped right into to Walter’s face. Walt didn’t budge, just held the stare of the older biker. Bulldog shook his head slightly, extended his right hand, shook Walt’s hand and said “Alright Newb, I’ll sponsor ya if you’ll do my taxes. If ya fuck up, it’s on me! Which means, it’ll be twice as hard on you if ya understand what I’m saying? I’ll give ya my phone number; church is on Thursday, as a hang-around you ride nowhere without an escort which is me or another club member, you always wear your ‘Known Associate’ patch when you ride. Initiation is 90 days from now. Ya got any questions?”
    “Thannnkk you.” Walt cleared his throat, “Thank you. The only question I have is can I go pee now?”
    The table erupted with good-natured laughter, Walt was hugged and had his hand shaken repeatedly but all he really wanted was to go to the bathroom. He made it to the bathroom and once he was in the quiet smelly men’s room, he felt a rush of elation. He had done it; he had been accepted into a motorcycle club.

    Chapter 2

    The next three months flew by in a blur of work, riding and booze-filled meetings with Bulldog. Walt learned that Ernie was Bulldog’s birth name; Church was the weekly meeting of the club (he wasn’t allowed in, he didn’t even have a Prospect patch yet. He was a ‘Hang-Around’ with a ‘Known Associate’ patch so he guarded the bikes), he had to remove the cool SOA patch from his vest, and there were other clubs that did not like the Pirates MC and were willing to fight him but not Bulldog, bikers do not ‘pee’ they ‘took a piss’, never tell a patch holder they were ‘wrong’ about their financial choices (that one still hurt) and NEVER talk about the Club. His ribs still ached from that one.
    About a week before his Initiation, Walt met with Bulldog at the ‘Horn to go over the finer points of the ceremony. They sat in the back corner where ‘You can watch the doors’. Bulldog went over the Oath for the 27th time, trying to get his Prospect ready for the most important ritual of his adult life.
    “What if I fuck up saying the Oath? Are they gonna beat the shit outta me?” Walt drained his R&C, rattled the cubes & motioned for another round.
    “Newb, promise me you’ll never breathe a word of this?” Bulldog fixed Walt with one of his intense glares from under insane bushy grey brows. Walt nodded.
    “When our Prez, Bastard Dick took his oath he was fucked up and staggering drunk. He mumbled his way through it. When the current Prez, Stump called him on it, Bastard just grinned and said ‘Yeah, well it’s all in there. What the fuck?’ Then he got in a fistfight with Stump, right in front of us all. The VP and Sergeant at Arms broke it up and HE still got his patch. A few years later, he kicked Stump’s ass and now he wears the Prez patch.” He drained his glass just as Nichole brought the next round.
    Walt considered this revelation and it comforted him, a little. He had come a long way from the TV biker he had imagined himself three months ago, before he had joined an MC in the real world. He had handled 10 of the club member’s tax returns and realized these were just people; with parents, kids and family. He also had started to realize that the Club’s finances were not just membership dues, fines, buying patches and bike shop income.
    He had started to go to the gym; he was taking karate classes twice a week and had started walking a mile a day. The first week of all this was a bitch but now after three months, he felt excellent. He had held his own in two fistfights started by another MC member; fast and dirty and were over almost as quick as they started. He had replaced his 380 auto with a short barrel 357 and had traded his 750 Zamahooki in for a Fat Boy Harley.
    He had also spoken with his lead auditor at work about ‘hypothetical accounts’; the nuances that a good accountant should be able to ‘gently cook’ and still have no repercussions. Walt knew the world of accounting was not Black/White as so many supposed, it was a canvas painted with grey tones and shaded with black. The only colors found there were to distract attention from the rest.
    While Bulldog flirted with Nichole, Walt thought about the upcoming initiation. His resolve had evolved with his training; his mind was clearer, he had gone through the Hang-Around hazing, he had washed patch-holder bikes, had stood guard over the Club bikes, had gotten out of bed at 2 am to rescue a club member and had stood fast with Bulldog in two fights. He realized right then, he was in. As he sipped his R&C, he watched Bulldog from the corner of his eye.
    He had gone over Ernie’s current tax return and had filed an amended return that had actually gotten a refund of $19.47 instead of $5k owed. He had done the same for the other nine members of the club, turned taxes owed into refunds. His ‘Club Cred’ had hit an all-time high, but he was still a ‘Hang Around’. That would all change when he took the Oath.
    Church had been in session for over an hour. Walt paced the row of bikes and silently repeated the Oath, all while asking himself “Is this really what you want, to swear an oath to outlaws, to pledge your life to THEM? What are you thinking? You’re fucking insane Walt… ”
    The door to the Clubhouse opened and Bulldog called “Walter, step forth.”
    As Walt entered the silent room, he met their eyes and stepped to the front where Bastard Dick waited. The Prez was a big man; scarred face and dark features, a tattoo on the left side of his face, flames neck to hairline. 6 foot tall and 280 lbs, long grey hair in a ponytail, 45 auto tucked in his waistband and his long grey beard in a grizzled braid.
    “Do you wish to be a member of our motorcycle club?” Dick’s booming voice startled Walt but because of his resolve and his new training, he didn’t flinch… much.
    “Yes.” Walt was surprised that his voice didn’t waver and he relaxed his hands that clenched at his side.
    “Step forth and say the Oath of Membership.” Bastard intoned.
    Walt stepped up to the front, turned to face the membership, cleared his throat and said “I Walter, swear in front of the Brothers of Pirates that I will bear true allegiance to the members of this Club. I will further the purposes of the Club and not compromise its interest in any way. If a Brother ever needs help, I will be there. I will never speak of Club business to anyone outside the club and I will stop any Brother from speaking of Club business. I will protect any Club member’s Ol Lady from harm if the member is not there. I will give my life or take another’s in defense of this Club. This I do swear with my blood.”
    He pulled up the sleeve of his jacket, pulled his knife out and flicked it open then sliced the bare skin of his forearm and watched as his blood hit the floor of the clubhouse. There was a moment of silence and then a roar, a single solid sound of voices rose in celebration washed over Walt. He was pounded; he had his hand almost wrenched from its socket from being shaken, more men kissed him that night than any time in his life. He also felt more accepted and powerful than ever before.
    “Hey Prospect, come get this before I give it to somebody else!” The Prez was yelling over the crowd and Walt turned and saw he was holding a Prospect rocker in his thick fingers and was waving at him.
    Walt stepped up to Bastard and started to take the patch, but the Prez wasn’t letting go. “This is when we name our Prospects. Your Club name shall be… Numbers. Welcome to our Club, Numbers!”
    The rest of the night dissolved in a drunken haze, fueled by Club stories, joints and always more alcohol. Numbers knew that a new Prospect NEVER passes out early in the party, so he was careful to not repeat mistakes that he had heard stories of. Still, he felt himself fading around midnight and asked Bulldog if a ride home was possible.
    Bulldog was at the ‘Funny Drunk’ level and he just giggled and slurred. ‘Hell no, yew ain’t goin nowhheere. Nosiree, you are a fukin Pirate Prospect now dammit! Act like it or you give me disrespecttt. HAHAhahahahahaaaa. Fuk we talkin bout?”
    Numbers wandered off into the crowd and headed for the keg. Rhino was there, looking hard as a granite counter top, Pokey was in the corner brooding over his brew with hooded eyes, Jake leaned back in a folding chair, back to the wall watching Walt closely. Rhino stepped forward, hand out with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
    “So, you’re my ‘Brother’ now?” Walt heard the quotation marks around Brother and seized Rhino’s hand, pulled it to his chest and said “Goddamn right, Brother. I have wanted this all my life and you fukers have given it to me… well, not given. I fukin earned this!” He flapped the Prospect patch and gulped the last of his brew.
    He turned away and headed for the keg. Rhino’s harsh laugh was followed by Pokey’s and Jakes. Numbers filled his red cup with beer and watched as Pokey uncoiled from his chair, reminding him of a rattler approaching prey. Bulldog had told him Pokey was an expert with a blade, tough as old leather and faster with his hands than any he had seen. Walt eased to the right so he could keep the three Bros in his sight and he felt an uneasy feeling creep up his gut and settle around his heart.
    Pokey leaned close and spoke softly into his ear. “Listen ‘Prospect’, I don’t like you and I don’t trust you. My Daddy was a Pirate, one of the founding members and if I find out you’ve done anything to dishonor this club, I’ll kill ya. I’ll be watching you, so stay as far from me as you can and we’ll get along just fine.” He took a step back and glared at him. “That’s a real cute knife ya took your Oath with. Use this one for your full patch oath.” His left hand blurred and then was pointing a plain dark blade at his face. A quick flip and the knife was now offered rather than threatening. Numbers slowly took the handle; Pokey gave him an almost-wink, turned his back, slipped back to his folding chair and leaned back against the wall, hooded dark eyes glancing around the room.
    Around 2 am, Rhino snagged a very drunk Numbers under his arm and led him to a quiet corner of the clubhouse. He laid him down on a chair and turned to go. Bulldog stuck his head into the room and chuckled softly.
    “So what’cha thinks of our new Prospect? Never thought he had the grit to stick it out this long. Ballsy bastard too, I’ve seen him fight and he took as well as he gave. Ya think he’ll have what it takes, when it really matters?” Bulldog stared at Rhino, all trace of ‘drunk’ gone.
    Rhino stared down at Numbers, narrow-eyed with thumbs in his belt. “I hope he does, for his sake.”


    Chapter 3

    Walter was ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy. He had opened his very own business, ‘By the Numbers’. A registered Certified Public Accountant, ready to take on the world of taxes, audits, business accounting and all things ‘Accountable’. He was already doing taxes for 20 of the Pirate’s members, working part-time for his old accounting firm on a consulting basis and he would be acquiring his full Pirate patch next month. Life was finally going his way and he couldn’t stop grinning ear to ear.
    As Bulldog’s Prospect, he had learned so much about the ins and outs of club life. How much it meant to an Ol Lady when you showed up with groceries because her Ol Man was laid up from a work injury or a bike wreck. He had been to two funerals for club members that had died; had been on every run the club had sponsored and handled the financing before and after the runs. He had founded a club ‘Memorial Fund’ for the families of club members injured or killed.
    He picked up the ringing phone and answered “By the Numbers!” There was a long pause and Walter said “Hello?”
    “Well ain’t that cute? ‘By the Numbers’. That’s a good name.” It was Fuckin Frank, President of the other 1% club in town. “I have information for your club, if you’re interested.”
    “You should call Bastard, tell him what you know.”
    “Funny you would say that, since we BEAT HIS ASSSSS! Hahahahaaaa!” Fucking Frank chortled and gasped his way through his laughing fit. “Did you know that Bastard and I used to ride together? Long time ago, we were good friends. I want you to meet me at the Dugout, one hour from now. Come alone or no deal. Bastard won’t listen to me right now, but he needs to know this!”
    Numbers knew that FF had beaten Bastard in a race a month or so ago and when he got home that night he had been in a towering bad mood. He was also intrigued by the offer, but knew his options were few.
    “I’m a prospect, I can’t meet with the President of Skullz without an escort, you know that.” Walter was pleased his voice had no tremor or hesitation.
    Frank let out a long sigh and said “Fine. You can bring one. One hour.”
    Numbers thought for moment and grinned as he picked up the phone.
    An hour later, he and Pokey rolled up to the Dugout. They backed their bikes into the curb, stripped off their helmets and gloves, turned to walk into the bar and two Skullz members blocked their way.
    Jackal was bald; tattoos crisscrossed his skull and disappeared down into his tee shirt. He was 5’ 10”, 200 lbs of thick-necked grumpy biker. His partner, Slim was a contrast at 6’5” and 180 lbs, flame and skull tattoo sleeves ended at his fingertips. Both wore leather riding gear and had identical glares. They were NOT happy that Pirates were in their territory
    “Follow us” was the terse command. Walter and Pokey exchanged glances and followed the miss-matched pair. “Ren and Stimpy?” Numbers muttered to Pokey. Pokey responded by bursting out laughing and slapping Walt on the shoulder. Twin glares were shot back at them but Numbers started to relax a little. He could do this, they could do this. He was glad for his choice of Pokey because he was a fierce fighter and he had Bastard’s trust.
    Their escorts brought them through the dingy interior, past a few patrons at the bar who studiously ignored the procession and ended in the room furthest from the front door. When Numbers glanced around he realized they were completely surrounded by Skullz members and Fucking Frank sat with Punk on one side and Jackass on his other.
    There was a full pitcher of beer, 5 glasses, 5 shots of liquor sitting on the table and Frank was wearing a knowing-smirk. He gestured at the glasses and shots.
    “Take your pick, they aren’t doped. Take your pick and we all drink at the same time, to show there’s no hard feelings.” His face split in a wicked smile as he leaned back and he chuckled.
    “What do ya know, eh? Skullz and Pirates, drinking together… Like nothing ever happened between us. Something new every day, right Jackass? Well c’mon you two, pick a shot & pour a brew because I have news for you.” He grinned even wider and Numbers felt a cold chill creep up his spine.
    He stepped to the table, poured two beers, picked up a shot from the table and held it out to Pokey. He picked up another and raised it as though to toast. Pokey held his up and stared at Frank. The three Skullz raised theirs and Numbers cried out “FUCK YOU!” and drained his glass. A slight pause and all replied “FUCK YOU!” and drained their shots.
    “I figured it was the only thing we could agree on that wasn’t a lie.” Numbers sat down, sipped his beer and glanced at Pokey. His dark hooded eyes flitted around the room and then looked at Walter with a question in the depths. Numbers gave a slight nod, turned to look straight into Fucking Frank’s ugly scarred face and he asked, “Why am I here?”
    Frank nodded his grizzled head, stared down at the table and mumbled, “Because I have to.
    “A long time ago, Bastard saved my life and I ain’t talking ‘Saved my life by chance’, no I mean he saved my life. I owe him.” When he finished he was staring straight into Pokey’s dark eyes.
    “You remember, don’t ya Pokey? He stepped in front of that bullet meant for my heart. Does it still hurt him? Heheheee. He deserves it, but he don’t deserve this. There’s a Grand Jury is coming, for both clubs. Full audit, full disclosure and all bad. Bastard needs to know and I’m gonna need help too.” By now, Frank had lost his smirk; he looked slightly less formidable and Numbers couldn’t help but get a chill from this news. What it meant for the club and his Brothers and their families was not good.
    “How long do we have?” Numbers asked quietly.
    “Not really sure, my source says two, maybe three months. Why?” There was a glimmer of an idea in Walt’s brain, a slight hope to turn this around and with a lot of luck, he just might.
    When Walter looked back at the next 65 days before the grand jury, he would alternate between laughing hysterically and wanting to run to the bathroom. His ‘Water Works’ problem had been dealt with by exercise, losing 40 lbs and Tai Chi. What he did to prepare two ‘Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs’ for a Grand Jury Audit and possible incarceration; that was nothing short of miraculous and it had tested his knowledge of finance law and Grand Jury proceedings to the utmost.
    On the opening day of the Grand Jury (and all subsequent days); all members of both clubs had attended the proceedings, arranging themselves both inside and outside of the courthouse and were on their best behavior for the cameras. The proceedings were neither as prolonged nor protracted as he might have suspected. In the beginning, the GJ proceedings were as dry and boring as you might expect but there came a time when the prosecution called Walter to the stand.
    “State your name.” declared the Special Prosecutor, Richard Thumpin.
    “Walter Wardlaw” he replied proudly. It was a good Scottish name and a proud one.
    “Mr. Wardlaw, or should I call you ‘Numbers’? You are the accountant for the outlaw motorcycle gang Pirates, are you not?”
    “No, I’m not. The CLUB has no official ties to my company. Several members are tax clients and I have helped the CLUB with their fundraiser finances. The Easter Run that donates toys and medical help for kids with cancer, the Toy Run at Christmas and the Police Charity Ride. I am a member of the motorcycle CLUB but my company is not on retainer to the Pirates MC.” Walt was warming to the exchange and realized it was similar to a sword fight. Thrust, parry, slash and recover.
    The prosecutor seemed stymied and flustered; he turned and leaned into his associate prosecutor, there was a quick whispered exchange and he faced Walt again.
    “So, you’re stating for the record, under Oath that you have no official ties with the motorcycle gang Pirates?” and he fixed Walt with his best Dirty Harry glare.
    “I have already stated, under oath that the Club has no official ties to my company. I have only helped members of the club, which is NOT a ‘gang’, to do their taxes and I have helped the club as a member, to manage their finances. I have done all this with no charge, pro bono.” Walt knew this was the crux, the one point that would carry them all through this cluster fuck.
    He had spent the last three months ‘cooking the books’ of both clubs and he knew that the math was good. He had sheltered their income, tweaked the sources and made it all ‘respectable’ as it could be for a grand jury proceeding. He had enlisted an old colleague from his former firm, who found the process ‘intriguing’ and had jumped in willingly, for ‘academic purposes’ of course.
    Walt knew that the grand jury was looking for any cause to invoke the RICO provision and knew just where they would come down heaviest. Finances, that would be the center of the prosecution’s case and he had dealt with that in a neat and simple manner. He employed the KISS principle. ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’.
    Walt was very aware of the case of United States vs Barger in a RICO grand jury and he had made absolutely certain the books would stand-alone. Sonny’s trial had ended in a hung jury and Walt was certain his numbers would stand in court.
    Two months to the day since the indictment, he hoisted a mug of brew and shouted ‘Fuck You!’ at the two clubs who were gathered at a neutral bar. The room rang with the reply “Fuck you!” He looked around at the two rival clubs drinking together and thought, “I made this happen. Me. I’ve brought two biker clubs together… Well, for one night.”
    “Ya did good…Bro.” Pokey’s voice whispered in his ear.
    Walt grinned and thought, “This is good. This is as good as it gets!”

    • 4 posts
    September 5, 2017 2:38 PM EDT
    keep it going its great