Justice Riders Chapter 1

Justice Riders
Chapter 1
by Anonymous

No doubt about it.

Piggy Johns had the best pulled pork sandwiches in town.

Roland Williams ordered a Number Seven. Back in his heyday, he could go through four or five of these before getting back on his bike, but now, one was enough to fill him all day. The Number Seven was a six inch hoagie roll with slow-cooked pulled pork slathered in Piggy John's Award-Winning Secret Sauce, with a side of Fat-Fries and a medium drink. Roland had been around long enough to know that the Secret Sauce was just their regular barbecue sauce mixed with ranch dressing, but it was so good that he kept the secret like everyone else.

He sat down with his order on an outside table in the regular spot. It was right here that he met the first Black Biker when he was only three years old, a year before he retired. He gave him a toy motorcycle. Roland William's mom had had a picture of him sitting on Roland Jackson's knee that she gave to him the year before she died. It sat on the mantle above the fireplace in her old home, and now it sat in his den. The color of Piggy John’s was blue in the picture way back when, but now it was natural brick red. Still the same bricks though, after all these years.

He folded the sides of the hoagie roll together and took a bite. Still the same recipe too. They changed it once back in the eighties, but there was such an outrage that they brought it back immediately and never spoke of it again. And still, after all these years, the sauce got all over his fingers. Which is why he always wore his leather gloves while eating it.

The air was cool today, even though there weren't any clouds in the sky and it was the middle of summer. Namond West would've said, “if Summer Storm's on the rag, somebody better lock her ass up.” He was gone now though. A lot of people were gone.

Namond West. His mentor. His friend. They put him in the ground two weeks ago. Buried him with his jacket on and his helmet under his arm. Would they do the same for him?

He started in on the Fat-Fries. They were good with or without ketchup, but he always went without. Lorrie used to 'accidentally' spill some on his fries to tease him…

The sound of his roller blades preceded the old Asian man as he came up on Piggy John's. Smiling wide to show the world how many of his teeth were missing, Lon Langsy, the Courier skidded to a stop millimeters from the table. When the two of them had less gray hair, this would've made Roland jump, but he was too used to it to let it register.

“For a man who can roller-skate faster than a motorcycle, you sure take your sweet ass time,” Roland bit into his sandwich.

“Hey, I'm an old man,” said Lon, “I can't get around like I used to.”

“Bull…shit…” said Roland. The two laughed.

“So, you going to order me something, Roland?” said Lon. When he smiled the edges of his goatee fanned out slightly.

Roland and stared at him as he took another bite.

“Come on! I don't have my wallet on me,” said Lon.

“After thirty damn years you are the cheapest mother fucker I've ever seen,” Roland held his arm up and pointed at the table. “Yo kid! Another Number Seven!” Somewhere in the back, undoubtedly, a teenager was making another Number Seven.

“I should've brought a jacket today, it's so cold,” said Long, rubbing his arms. He always wore thin red shirts that never kept the wind out.

“What you should've brought was a wallet,” said Roland through a mouthful of pork.

“If Summer Storm's on the rag…” began Lon.

“…we best lock her ass up!” finished Roland, the two bumped fists like they always used to.

“You remember that jumpsuit she wore in the seventies?” said Lon lasciviously. His sandwich arrived.

Roland remembered. “She looked like Evel Knievel's bitch,” he chuckled. “But damn, you could see everything.”

Lon took a bite of his sandwich. “Mmmmhmhmmm,” he was always complimentary about food he got for free, which was all the time. When he swallowed he started, “This one time, she made it rain,” Roland knew the rest of the story because Lon had told it to everyone a million times, “inside a charity ball at Memorial Plaza while she was robbing the place, and…mmmmmhmhhmmm…you could see everything. She was soaked from head to toe! Well, she started levitating off the ground, like she usually did, and True Patriot says, he said, 'get behind her and hold on!’ So I skate up the walls over the ceiling behind her, but True Patriot started charging at her at full speed.” Roland heard this story so many times, he could probably tell it better than Lon could, but he let Lon continue, “Patriot goes to tackle her but… mmhhm ohthissandwichisamazing…mmmmhmm, but she's so slippery from the rain that he just grabs onto her jumpsuit!”

“And he pulls it right off,” said Roland.

“Right off!” exclaimed Lon, “her bare chest for everyone to see! But I don't know this is happening right, so I try to grab her from behind! And there I am! Groping a naked Summer Storms in front of the entire charity ball. And you know how other people in that situation would hold her around the stomach or the neck…”

“You just kept on squeezing them,” said a voice to their left. It was a bearded old white man in a tattered plaid red shirt and a tan hat. “And she was so stunned that she let you keep on doing it. Roland, Lon,” said the old man.

“Sage!” said Lon. “Good to see you!”

“Nice to know that everyone's still alive and kicking, I'm gonna go order my food, be right back,” he walked inside.

“Did you invite him or did he just know we were here?” asked Lon.

“I don't know, man,” Roland finished his sandwich. “I don't know how he does it.” He had invited Sage of the Streets to sit in with him and his other old buddies at one point…probably months ago, but he said he was busy. But the invitation was open like always, and like always, he found out the details himself.

He came back out with his food. “So Lon, finish the story.”

“Oh! Okay, so she lost her concentration and fell to the ground and True Patriot covers her up. When the cops come up to arrest her she leans over to me and she says, 'If you ever want to do this on a non-professional basis, just give me a call.' And I'm just sitting there, mouth agape, and True Patriot takes me aside and says, 'next time, you yank her top off and I'll attack her from behind!'”

Roland had heard the story more times than he'd heard the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but he still at least genuinely smiled at that last part.

“You never took her up on the offer though, did you?” Sage pulled out a cigarette and lit it.

Lon blushed, “No…I was dating Kiki at the time.” He beamed over at Roland. “She took a fancy to you though.”

Now it was Roland's time to blush, “Come on, now, let's not get started with that.”

Lon wiped his hands with a napkin, “What did she say to you that one time?”

He couldn't remember. He looked down at his feet. It was something about the weather…it was, “How's the weather down there, handsome? Cause I can make it a little more rough if you want…”

The three of them laughed. Lon talked through his chortle, “now I know you took her up on that…”

Roland smiled, “Now a lady never asks and a gentleman never tells, but, uh…heh…that was before I met Lorrie…”

“Oooh, I knew it!” said Lon, grinning from ear to ear.

Nobody said anything while the Sage unwrapped his turkey sandwich and started into it.

Roland looked at him disgusted. “You don't come to visit me at Piggy John's for months and you order a Turkey Club?”

The Sage shrugged, “They have good turkey here.”

“Man, nobody orders the turkey club! It's called Piggy John's! You eat pig at Piggy John's, come on man,” Roland ate the last of his Fat-Fries as Lon got up to refill his drink.

Another old Asian man walked down the street, but was still a little ways off.

Sage nodded in his direction. “I think he's going to ask you again, Roland.”

Roland turned around and watched the ‘apparently’ hobbled thick-bearded man waddle slowly down the block. “Yeah…I figured. I figured you'd ask me too. But it's not gonna happen.”

The Sage set his sandwich down. “Don't say no just yet. If he brings it up, hear him out.”

Roland looked back at the Sage, “You're the one bringing it up, motherfucker. I told you all years ago, I told you all at Namond's funeral, and I'll tell you all now. Case closed.”

Lon sat back down as wise Master Xin'jo took his seat.

“You wanna eat something, Xin?” asked Roland. He wasn't as kind as he should've been, probably because he knew the old man was going to eventually ask him again.

Master Xin'jo shook his head, his long hair shook with his beard, “No, thank you Roland. I'm still quite full from breakfast.”

Lon spoke up, “I don't think I've ever seen you eat anything, Xin.”

Xin shrugged and smiled, “Pure coincidence, I assure you.” He pulled a small case from out of nowhere. “This set's made from whale-bone; had it for years.”

Roland smirked, “Alright then, let's get to it.”

They set up their dominoes and began the slow process of losing to Xin'jo once again.

Lon was off to a bad start. “Every time! I don't even know why I keep playing with you guys.” He stroked his goatee in silence.

“Master Xin,” began the Sage, “I hear Boss Negro's been pushing into Chinatown recently. Are your people okay?” Roland rolled his eyes. He could tell the Sage wanted Xin to ask the question.

Xin'jo smiled and set down another piece, “They're taken care of. The boy who works at the printing shop will make a full recovery I'm told.”

“Is Akira looking into it?” asked the Sage putting down his piece. Roland knew that the Sage knew whether or not Akira was looking into it. He just wanted to remind Roland Williams that there was still crime in Mainport City.

“No…Akira is busy at the moment. But Citizen Riot and Great Wall are taking care of it,” Master Xin'jo sat forward and folded his hands over his beard.

“What's Burning Heart doing?” asked Sage. “He was working with you, last I heard.”

“Hey, yeah,” said Lon, “Where's he been lately?”

The Master raised his eyebrows and grinned, “He comes and goes.”

Lon tossed his cup into a nearby garbage can, “So he's alive then? Everyone's been thinking he died in that explosion.”

“Oh, he's quite alive,” said Xin'jo. Roland set down his piece.

“You know who he reminds me of?” said Lon. “Butane.”

They all nodded their heads in agreement. Lon was probably out of the loop on the game that Xin and the Sage were playing with Roland at the moment.

“Whatever happened to Butane?” asked Lon.

The Sage set down a piece, “He got his ass locked up in a prison off the coast a while ago. He got out in that big prison escape, but nobody's heard from him since.” Sage was always good for knowing everything that was going on. That was also the reason he rubbed Roland the wrong way recently. “So Roland, how's the new Black Biker?”

They were getting close to it. “He's good. He's learning the ropes alright. Rolling with the punches.” Roland set down his piece. “He's using a lot more gadgets than he needs, but these days, so is everybody else. Figure it's got something to do with this Badass from the future or some shit.”

The Sage set down his piece. “That's got part to do with it. He brought a lot of advanced stuff with him…but it's also part of the march of progress. He probably gets his gadgets from the Cavalier, right?”

Roland looked him in the eyes. He knew he looked angry and was losing his cool. “I wouldn't know.”

Master Xin'jo looked from the Sage to Roland. He set down a piece. He'd won the game.

The Sage felt like the jig was up, “Roland…”

“No! No! Fuck no! I am too damn old to go fucking around on that bike again! Black Biker Five's already out there, getting shit done! I am fucking retired!”

Lon and Master Xin'jo sat in silence. The Sage was looking for something to say. “Something bad's happening to this city, Williams. If you knew what was on the streets-”

“I know what's on the streets, Sage! I don't need you to tell me that this city is a damn war-zone! Shit!” Roland was just about to stand up and get back on his bike, but he stayed. “Nothing ever changes in this city, not a damn fucking thing! When it wasn't that islander fuck over in the Tower it was Card Shark down by Riverside! When it wasn't Boss Negro over in the projects it was Big Man Owen downtown! The war doesn't end! It never ends!” He threw the rest of his pieces on the table. “Roland Jackson and Namond West left the war behind before it killed them, and I did the same! Black Biker Three died in December of 1990 when I took off the helmet and I'm still here!”

Sage sat back in his chair disappointed, but the sides of Master Xin'jo's mouth moved upward only slightly.

“How many people can say the same?” asked Roland. “True Patriot got shot with a lightning bolt through the chest! Carnation drowned by the shipyard! Shadowmaker bled to death by a south-side tenement next to a fucking dumpster! Nobody found him for a week! Lorrie…Lorrie died when…when I wasn't there to save her.”

Sage leaned forward, “You know that wasn't your fault-”

Roland stood up, shoving the table a few inches away from him. The dominoes clattered. “Fuck you, man! Fuck! You! All the people I fought for are dead! And putting that helmet back on won't make a damn bit of difference to anyone! There is no one left for me to save!”

“What about the city?” asked Xin'jo. He eyes were set forward, gazing at something thousands of miles away. He was as dispassionate and emotionless as a man could be.

He wanted to strangle the man, “The city was here before I was born and it's going to be here when they put me in the ground like Namond! I am sixty three years old and I am going to die in my bed of old age; like Lorrie should have!”

He walked briskly over to his bike and revved it up. He drove away without anyone saying a word.

Lon looked at the other two, not knowing what to say. Sage looked like he felt. Defeated. Master Xin'jo looked at neither one of them, putting his whale-bone dominoes back into his case.

“What do you think he'll do next?” asked Sage.

Master Xin'jo continued to put away the dominoes.

Roland Williams returned home minutes later. He looked over at the punching bag in his garage. It was caked in dust and the chain that held it was rusty. He kicked it. Whether or not it was the rust or his strength, the chain broke and the punching bag thumped to the floor in a great cloud of dust.

He walked into his den, which didn't make him feel any better. On the wall across from his chair sat his old friend. His old enemy.

The helmet was held up by a hook over a case filled with awards and accolades; plaques and nostalgia. He'd received a congressional medal. The key to the city. An old cigar-box handed to him by the great Ironside over twenty years ago. A small statue of a child given to him when he'd helped put out the hospital fire in '82. The leather gloves Namond West had given him the day Roland Williams became the Black Biker. The small toy motorcycle Roland Jackson had given him the day his dad took a picture of the two in front of Piggy John's. The picture of him sitting on his namesake’s knee that was above his mother’s mantle piece for decades.

Above all that stood the helmet. It had seen bullets, and fists, and fire, and had been so battered that it probably wasn't even safe to wear for just riding a bike anymore. It wasn't even his first helmet. And a piece of the visor was still missing from the day he took it off some twenty years ago. He picked the helmet up off its hook and stared into it.

He couldn't fight crime anymore. His eyes were going bad and his doctor was testing him for shingles. How did Lon do it? He was as old as Roland was and he was still beating on punks with sticks from his roller-blades. He had powers though. Even the newest Black Biker had more gadgets than he'd ever know how to use. The most complicated thing Roland owned was his bike, and it was an outdated hunk of metal and rubber even back in his glory-days.

On top of that, the game had changed. Kids these days knew four different kinds of martial arts and all he knew was how to throw down with street-toughs. They were firing M-60's and all he had was a shot-gun.

He turned the helmet around and looked into it. Aside from the broken visor, it was pure shadow inside. Lorrie bought it for him. It was a present for the first patrol they did together. He went to hang it back on the wall…but…he couldn't. He stared into the dark helmet again. He couldn't put it back on the wall but…he couldn't put it on either…

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