I spun around to see one of the leather-clad bikers sitting on a picnic table in the shade. Dammit! Twice in fifteen minutes! How do I not see these people?
“You are the blogger…right?” He was working on a cigarette of his own and exhaled a lung full of smoke at the end of his question. “Yeah…..” I was taken aback by his question at first until it finally dawned on me…This was my interview subject. I strained to find any clues to be sure, but other than the leather and the unkempt gray hair streaming wildly from the bottom of his do rag, there was nothing that made him stand out. Even the too-long mustache seemed to fit in. I was having second thoughts on my first appraisal.
“So.. you’re the guy, right?” I asked. He took another drag, this time the smoke was first and the response was at the end. “The guy?” He seemed perturbed. I had read a lot of modern folklore about this guy and, of course, dismissed a majority of it, but…..at least give me something to go on! He wasn’t even tall! Average, he was Joe Freakin’ Average!
“My interviewee, the infamous Infidel Warrior!” I waited for his response. One last drag and the still burning cigarette butt was launched in my direction, landing at my feet. “Something like that. Let’s get this over with.”
Must be him. Not a very charismatic individual, this guy. “Okay….let me grab my stuff.” I headed to my car and grabbed my recorder, pad and pen, and my camera. I kept glancing back just in case somebody else might be popping up out of nowhere. Nope. I was determined I wouldn’t be caught off guard a third time.
“I thought we were meeting down the road at a roadrunner something.” I set my equipment on the table. He seemed to make a mental note of what I set down, then looked in the direction I had been driving. “That’s what I said…. and just in case someone else heard it, that’s where they’ll be. Not here.” His sunglasses were now trained directly at me. Clearly, he was paranoid. “Oh, of course….gotcha.”
I smiled a fake smile and mentally rolled my eyes at what was turning out to be a waste of gas and precious time. I mean, I could be trolling chat rooms and social sites picking up leads on real citizen journalist fodder. I grabbed another Marlboro from my pocket, lit it, and sat down. He looked down at me from his perch on the table and I suddenly felt a bit uneasy. He stared and waited.
I took a long drag and, not wanting to look intimidated, stared back. I couldn’t see his eyes but I could feel them sizing me up, darting back and forth, up and down, squinting once or twice to focus on something….Focus on what? What is he looking at? What is he looking for? Just who the the hell does he think he is anyway? And why the hell am I out here baking in the sun in the middle of nowhere with this gnarley old biker dude sitting on a bird crap covered picnic table, sweating and getting a rash?
“You’re looking a bit pekid. Better hit one of those waters. You’ll dehydrate in no time out here.” He was right, I did feel a bit queasy. That Coke was sitting warm and syrupy in my gut about then. Without breaking eye contact, I twisted the cap and guzzled. Oh that was good! On the very last gulp in the bottle, I choked, spraying a mouthful on his boots. Needless to say, I broke eye contact as I coughed the last of the water from my lungs and he turned and shook his head slightly. Damn!!
“I’m good,” I wheezed and realized I had doused my cigarette in my near-drowning. I flicked it under the table, hoping he hadn’t seen that as well. He continued to look off down the highway as I got myself together.
I cleared my throat and tried to make a comeback. “Okay, Mr. Infidel Warrior, just who are you….really?”