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Jack KerouacIs Pregnant:Stories

Excerpt from “Jack Kerouac Is Pregnant”

How to Be a Passenger on a Motorcycle

The motorcycle owner gets on the bike. He’s stomped on the clutch or whatever that thing is, the choke maybe. He dons his big helmet, puts on his big black gloves, lifts his leg over the hulking machine. He situates himself on the seat, revs, adjusts the mirror, and looks at you, standing on the sidewalk like an orphan. You take the cue. You tentatively put on your helmet, a white one unlike his black one, and you’ve already put your hair in a braid so it doesn’t get too knotty, and you’re wearing your white pants and you hope they don’t get too dirty. You do a little jump up on the hot leather seat and you are behind him, legs spread, almost prepared. You look down to locate the perches for your feet. You find them as the bike lunges forward, and you are sent back into a fearsome space. You hold onto his jacket and press your face sideways into his back. You know how he feels about the motorcycle. He has told you about the freedom and the adventure.

But you are the passenger. You aren’t supposed to lean too much, you are to lean with his body, you are not to make any sudden movements. You therefore tend to look sideways, and the landscape passes by you in a blur. You begin to wonder about your life, about your landlord, about your boss, about the police, about credit cards. You remember a car you once owned and the feeling you had when you drove it seventy miles per hour down a back road. When you remember this, when you remember Pat Benatar on the radio, when you remember the anger, the love, the fear, the pleasure of that ride, you smile slightly to yourself, behind the back of the motorcycle driver.