Thu Jan, 19 2006
Dale Franks has a "road-rage" incident.
One Friday night in the early-90's I was riding my Yamaha Virago 920 up West Peachtree Street in Atlanta. That's five lanes: two running in each direction, with a center turn-lane. I'd been in the right-most lane just minding my own business, and I came up on a car running a bit slower than me and I didn't feel like a downshift, so I just casually swung out into the left lane and went around it.
I will never know why, but the guy driving that car just went fucking nuts. This much is true: there is a certain species of cager out there who, when they see a guy on a bike, react as if it's the barbarian horde riding over the mountains to swoop down on their daughters. The summary frenzy of this guy's reaction to a simple, clean, pass in the open lane makes me suspect that in this case, but I'll never know.
Almost before I was back in the right lane, he was in his gas in a rush right up to my tail-light. I kept my cool, and when he didn't get some kind of rise out of me, he swung into the left lane and gassed right up on my left, where he hung for a moment waving his right arm and obviously hollering a bunch of abuse to no one but himself behind his closed windows.
Now, that 920 -- a 75-degree V-twin with a shaft -- could strictly get up and jump when you put the gas to it, and that's what I did. I figured, "If he's going to try to keep up while I run away, he'll have some work to do." I didn't really put my right hand all the way in, thinking it wouldn't take much to leave him there with his head problem.
Well. He spurred that new silver Volvo of his and got on it. Off we went.
It happened that, even about eight o'clock on a Friday night, we were just about alone on that stretch of West Peachtree. I still wasn't in the bike's gas too hard, kind of bemused by now that the guy was this interested in whatever his problem was. As we ran north, he started getting pushy: yanking these tight little swerves toward my lane as if to let me know that he was bigger than me. As if I didn't know. Then, he got serious.
He had his two right wheels in my lane as we went into this curve. That's a .kmz file, kids: it'll open your Google Earth installation and show exactly where this bastard at least thought about killing me. He saw the curve, and he knew what I had to think about, which was blowing right off the road into that grassy bank. I thought, "Okay, bitch, you might get me, but before I go, I'll make sure that everybody has a way to know who you killed." I cocked my left leg and planted the heel of my cowboy boot right in the middle of the right-front fender of his shiney Volvo as hard as I could, doing about fifty miles an hour.
Instantly, he swerved back into his lane. In the curve, now, I looked back over my left shoulder, and the look on his face told me that he was figuring that he had seriously mis-calculated the whole affair. Something like, "Holy shit. I'm dealing with a maniac."
Me? I'd been satisfied that there was a good bit of damage to his car. But that's when he started trying to run. He was all the way in his gas before I realized what he was doing, and he went by me while I was making up my mind: "Okay, goddammit, now you've got my blood up, and this is not going to go well for you."
I started chasing his punk ass up Peachtree Road, which is what it becomes after it crosses the highway, headed up to Buckhead. There are stoplights up there and it gets a little more congested. So, he's weaving in and out of moderate traffic -- still strangely light on a Friday evening. I'm trying to be cool, because I don't really want to spook the guy into something more stupid than he's already been and get others involved where they don't deserve it.
The thing wound up with us at a stoplight, and one car between us. I leaned out to the left around that car and deliberately pointed one gloved finger right at his eyes in his outboard mirror. He leaned over to his right, fiddled around under the passenger's seat, and whipped out a pistol, which he waved at me in his center rearview mirror.
I laughed, in my helmet. "Okay," I thought, "enough. This night, you get to go home without me breaking your goddamned nose right here in front of god & everybody. But you're gonna weep when you get there and dig that dent in your new car. Asshole."
There's no telling what's "up with that" sort of thing.
But nobody has to take it falling down.