About Bus Stories and Other Tales
Author: Sean Michael
Word Count: 122,000
Page Count (pdf): 500
Date Published: September 15, 2021
Publisher: Sean Michael
Heat Rating: 4
File Types available: epub, mobi, pdf
From a chance encounter between previous lovers to an otherworldly present given to a very special young man, Bus Stories and Other Tales offers fifteen tales of love and need, passion and pleasure. This anthology includes the popular fairy tale ”Winter’s Gift,” and ”The Bohemians,” a story about a young man who trusts beyond reason and the men who love him, as well Beginning to Believe, Radio Boys, The Present, Still Waters, Watching Angels, The True Wind and the Bistro. And of course, the six “Bus Stories” which each explore a different version of what happens next when a young man at the back of the bus pays the fare of another young man who gets on the bus at the next stop.
This anthology was originally published by a different publisher.
From Beginning to Believe
Tyler whistled along to the Eagles on KFOX, hands full of grease as he cleaned out the engine on a ’59 Triumph TR6. She hadn’t been well treated, but with a whole lot of TLC, she was coming along nicely. Maybe too nicely to sell.
He interrupted his whistling to chuckle. He was going to go broke if he kept keeping the beauties. He had the front and back doors open, a nice breeze coming in off the ocean, keeping the place cool.
As the chorus of the song came on, he sang along with it. “Take it easy… take it easy… don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”
He made it to the end of the chorus when he heard someone clear his throat. He looked up at a guy in jeans and a t-shirt, eyes shadowed by a ball cap. Dude looked clean-cut as hell, little brown beard and moustache trimmed, no hair peeking from the hat. “Evenin’. Jim at the Kawasaki dealership said I should come here and ask for a Tyler if I had questions about a bike.”
“Well, cool, I’ll have to thank him for the referral.” He got up and grabbed the rag out of his pocket, rubbing off some of the grease. “I’m Tyler. What can I do you for?”
“Kit.” He got a nod, the voice surprisingly southern, classy. “Pleased to meet you. I’m hunting a bike that is damned stable, that doesn’t fall over easily.”
“You looking for a particular brand, or just the stability factor?”
“Just the stability, really.” Kit shrugged and gave him a grin. “It’s just something I’ve always wanted — a motorcycle, that is — and I figured I’d see what my options are.”
He nodded, impressed. Most guys came in and didn’t like to admit they needed help and knew nothing about bikes. “Well a low-rider might be your best bet. Stable ride, you don’t have to perform a high jump to get on it. Most bikes made these days though are pretty solid — not like the classics — as long as you don’t try and take corners too fast, you’re fine.”
“No high jumping is a good plan.” The low laughter was soft, sort of wry. “And how about special modifications? Do you know anyone who does custom work on bikes?”
He grinned. “Well, Kit. You just happen to be talking to someone who can help you with that kind of thing. I can tear ’em down, build ’em back up, add to ’em, subtract from ’em. You want a VCR and TV installed? I’ll make you sign a waiver, but I’ll do it for you.”
That earned him another laugh and the man pushed himself away from the wall, moving toward him with a stiff, unnatural gait. “Sounds like you might be my man, Tyler. Can I see some examples of your work?”
“Oh, I am always ready to show off my beauties. How much time have you got? ‘Cause there’s the five cent tour and then there’s the grand tour, but I have to warn you now — you get me started and it takes a strong incentive to stop me again.”
“I got time.” Kit nodded. “I like to know the people I do business with, know what I’m spending my money for.”
“That’s a good old-fashioned sense of business that’s sadly lacking these days.” Tyler figured his hands were about as clean as they’d get, so he pocketed the rag and held out his hand. “Tyler Jenkins, motorcyclephile at your service.”
A callused, square hand took his, muscles rippling in that arm. “Kit Keyes. Pleased as hell to meet you.”
He smiled, enjoying the feeling of the warm skin against his own. “So tell me, Mr. Keyes, where are you from?”
“Originally? Oklahoma, but I’m living a bit north of here these days.” From here he could see Kit’s eyes, warm and rich, all greens and browns. “And it’s Kit. Mr. Keyes is my daddy.”
“Cool. You can call me Tyler or Ty or T or hey you with the awesome bikes.” He gave Kit a wink and finally dropped his hand, leading the man to the far end of the long garage. Kit kept up well, the sound of tennis shoes sliding on the concrete echoing.
“You’ve got a bit of a limp there — I take it that’s responsible for the need for a stable bike with special modifications?” He wasn’t one to pussyfoot around a man.
“In a way, yes.” Kit stopped and he turned to see the jeans’ legs lifted, exposing two steel rods disappearing into the sneakers. “I’m pretty damned stable, but I don’t want to get caught because I’m stiff.”
“How far up do those go?”
“The left one has three inches below the knee. The right has an inch and a half above.”
No embarrassment there, no fear. Just cold, dead truth.
“You can ride then. Without any knees, you might have run into problems. Hell of a thing though.”
“Yeah. I don’t recommend it, as a rule. Have you modified a bike for something like this before?”
“No, I can’t say I have. We’ll fix you up though.” He gave Kit an easy smile. “If you decide to go with me that is. Now let me show you my beauties. Also known as my babies.”
He pulled the tarps off a half a dozen bikes, each one restored to dealership shine. Just like new.
“Damn, those are fine!” Kit let him take the man through each one, listening and asking pertinent questions. Just from talking with him, Tyler could tell Kit knew his way around a motor, wasn’t a stupid man, had done some research.
Once he’d finally petered out, he offered Kit coffee. “Any man who can listen to me go on all afternoon about these babies deserves a cup of my best. There’s a little patio out back, we could talk about what you’ll need done.”
“That’d be appreciated, thank you.” Kit followed him out, settling carefully into a cast-iron chair with a soft sigh.
He found a couple of mugs and poured his half-day old coffee into them. “Milk, sugar, black?”
“Black with sugar, please. Thank you. How long have you been working on bikes, Tyler?”
“Pretty much since I was fourteen.” He made up the coffees and brought them over along with an old bag of Peeps. “I couldn’t ride them yet, but I discovered that nothing set my father’s blood pressure higher than bringing some raggedy old bike home from the dump and working on her in the garage.”
Kit chuckled, turning down the Peeps with a grin. “Now there’s a goal I can respect. My daddy’s still telling people his boy’s a welder in El Paso.”
He chuckled, dipping a peep into his coffee to soften it up. “And what’s the truth?”
“The truth?” The man grinned. “I’m in the music business. I own a little label, record independent artists, that sort of thing.”
“Independent? The big boys haven’t driven you out of business? Cool.”
“I worked with the big boys for a while. We have a good relationship. Some of my folks go on to get big deals with the big boys.” There was a hint of regret somewhere in that voice.
“Yeah? Makes you sad to see them go?” He wasn’t one to leave a mystery alone.
“Oh, no. The kids deserve their shot in the spotlight.” Kit shook his head, smiled. “Somehow I doubt you’d be interested in hearing the young’uns I record. All country music, barring a touch of folk.”
He chuckled. “Oh, I don’t mind a bit of country — ‘s long as it’s not too twangy.”
That earned him a nod. “I hear that a lot. The old twangy stuff’s dying out. So, you reckon you could make me a bike that I could learn to ride, Tyler?”
He grinned, noting the change of subject. “I reckon I could, Kit.”
“I would like that. I take it you need to come up with specs and an estimate and then I’ll cut you a check.” Kit leaned forward, rubbed his knees, shoulder muscles working.
He nodded. “That sounds about right. I’ll do you a couple of estimates — one with a brand new bike, another with a second hand one, something I can build up myself. The advantage of a brand new one is going to be durability, but your cost will come down a lot if I build it up from scrap. I won’t try and tell you that one I build is going to be as durable and steady as a top of the line new one, but I do a fair job, even if I do say so myself.”
“I’m less worried about the money than the quality. It’ll have to be good before the insurance company will cover it.” Kit nodded. “Sounds good. I’ve always wanted a bike, even before the accident.”
“Good for you for sticking to your guns and not letting a thing like that derail you. There are lots of people who would.” He liked Kit. The more he talked to the man, the more he got a good feeling about him.