Teenage Motorcycle & Love Tragedy Story

Matthew Simmons

His neck snapped when he hit the pavement, but I swear it was the broken heart that killed him.

He lay down his bike on the final turn knowing it was his race to lose. The other bikes—behind him by a length as wide as is the width of the visual range of a person like you or me or someone else—shimmered into fading miragey objects, and went out, and then gone. Nothing. The crowd and track and stands and checkered flag went next, and it was only then me and him and his still-rumbling, laying-down-on-a-white-expanse-of-featureless-nothing-ground motorcycle.

I ran out and grabbed hold of the broken body he was vacating. I stroked up and down and side to side on his face, bumping over his nose once a trip. He had eyes that weren't looking anywhere. And they were open. And they were moisture dense. And they were brown, because a boy has eyes that are brown. In all situations, a boy has eyes that are brown. In all versions of reality, a boy has eyes that are brown. Always, a boy has brown eyes.

See me, my hands on the sides of his face and my knees on the ground and my hair moving around like the wind is heavy and dramatic. See me in a skirt and a windbreaker that looks just like his windbreaker, because it's the windbreaker he gave me when I broke his heart and is his windbreaker, not just a windbreaker that looks just like his windbreaker.

See me crying tears of joy because, like he should, he died for the love of me.


You find bones and sedatives in a shoebox behind the shed. You wonder about the bones—bird bones, swallow bones—and swallow the sedatives one little night at a time. The nights are so little, like they are less than half the nights that used to be. The sedatives are strong and quick and you wake up right on time.

I make a star pattern of the bones that you gave me. That place where pill-taking creates happiness is somewhere I can't get to—a state a couple of states away that no one will hitchhike me to for fear of prosecution. That's how me and the pills don't meet. You? Better. So you take the pills and I don't.

I wish you were real. You wish it as well.


Trouble is magnified by the fact that we see him in the halls at school and decide he's for us, but can't choose between you and me when we both—being just a single, really—call dibs simultaneously.

Trouble is just trouble. He's just him. He's just a Johnny, like all the other Johnny's, because only in this world are you and me and Johnny.

We make more trouble of it, though, because making trouble of it is probably the only thing left to do here.


Let's make a fire in the trash can. Let's give our skirts to flames in the Girl's Room and run. Let's feel the last bits of it.

I'm tenderer there than you. You have your tenderness in places only imagined.

Let's ask Johnny for a cigarette and see if he will light it for us, or see if he is predisposed to letting us light the thing ourselves and then decide if it means something or if its just the way he is feeling at the time—maybe petulant, maybe hard—and make nothing of it.

Because why make things of things? Why ever in the world make things of things? What would be the kind of reasoning for that?


The shoebox has a crayoned name on it. In black and blue outlines, it's a box with a name that names Johnny.


Johnny-from-a-long-time-ago Johnny. Johnny from the last of the last of the last of the folks in the neighborhood Johnny.

We remember Johnny.

I remember Johnny.

Oh, Johnny.


Let's make Johnny think we like him. Let's make Johnny fight for us. Let's make Johnny into the Johnny's of forever ago Johnny like there's nothing but the way to be and the way to act and the way to feel and the way to remember Johnny. That Johnny. That lovely, lovely Johnny.

I'll grab the booze from the liquor cabinet and we'll sneak over to his house. He lives on his own, no matter what his age mentions about his living arrangements. Let's knock on a window. Let's flirt through glass.

Oh, God, please, let's flirt through glass. Let's hold the bottle to the window. You take the pills maybe out of the hem of our skirt. You shake them out in your palm like an offer to a pill-sot god of the old school variety. Like a god of drunken revelry. Like a god of determined, desperate silence.

Oh, gods. Let's fuck Johnny.


We hatched. A skull expelled us. Or a volcano erupted us. Or a river gather us together like drifting wood flowing and catching against an rock.

Who knows. Here we are. That's enough.


It's just a frenzy of talk about talk, isn't it? You, God, my imaginary friend. You, God, my imaginary friend.


Pull Johnny from the wreck of an automobile. Grab Johnny, who's bike took a spill and scattered him across the track. Find Johnny at the bottom of a ravine, all blood-bone stuck-out parts and limp muscle pieces in a pile. Read Johnny palms, one at a time, and both with the same message glowing from the lines carved here and there` —a message that says No, No, No, not this one much more than a little while.

Grab Johnny's cock from his pocket and put it in our pocket for later. Use it later, dead-Johnny's Johnny.

Make more Johnnies. The world can be full of them. This world can be full of them.


What do we know from sex? Skirts and curiosity is what we know from sex. What we know about where sex comes from is that sex comes from a place that comes later than we are, but we found our way to it anyway. Miracle!

The result of the fact that God loves us!

Or if not God, well, certainly the gods love us. God may be indifferent. (Shouted from the rafters we hear, "GOD IS INDIFFERENT, BITCH!") The gods aren't indifferent. They walk around and fuck us when we're sad. Or pretty. They fuck us when we're pretty.

The fact that we're sad, too, is just a coincidence.


Back at the race track, the world of Johnny is ending and we're there to watch it all happen. Spring sun. Summer breeze. Fall chill. Winter silence. Everything all at once in the mind of dying Johnny and then therefore reflected in the eyes of dying Johnny and felt here inside myself. And you yourself, too.

Back at the race track, the other motorcycles have reappeared and are zooming by us on the track, past me kneeling on the ground, and Johnny crumpled in my arms, and you floating high above us.

Back at the track, the checkered flag has waved and a winner has been recognized. The music is swelling around us, but it's tragic minor keys in the ears of us, while maybe somewhere else triumphant major chord pomp in the ears of some other couple in some other story.


Johnny and I sit down one night and we go through the things that have happened over the last month of our relationship to see if we can find some reason for me to break his heart. It takes a while, as we have both been faithful and kept one another in our respective hearts and all that.

We search for most of the night, chain smoking and filling a white board with ideas. Brainstorming. Just throwing things out there.

Another girl you bought a soda for at the malt shop? Another girl you stopped off to help change a flat tire for one night when it was dark and things could easily be confused? An older woman who made a pass at you, like, say, the school nurse when you got in a fight over me and had to get bandages in the place/s where you were maybe cut?

It's a toughie. We spend all night. And then you pipe up and say we could probably just go with the wrong side of the tracks, I have money and people and Johnny doesn't narrative, and we agree and shake hands.

And I break Johnny's heart.

If only you had piped up sooner, we could gotten to it quicker, and maybe gotten, also, a good night's sleep.


The gods of speed and recklessness are the first to bless our break-up by arranging a motorcycle race.

The gods of slippery pavement and tearful pop songs meet for the first time in many years and hammer out a friendship. (They put aside their differences! They put aside their differences!)

God is sick of tragedy and stays out of the whole mess.


I meet Johnny on the pavement. I watch him as he dies.

I circle and I circle and I circle.