Wayward Motorcycles LLC was by no means a fancy endeavour. As was its owner, Wayland. The plucky little motorcycle shop sat on Franklin street, between Duckfat Sandwich shop and the Whole Foods. Wayland remembered the big opening they had thrown, more than a few years ago now, with their whole grains and the raw honey, and all that yogurt, he was lactose intolerant. He couldn’t help but notice how the landscape slowly changed in Portland, and suddenly the town was overrun by people with long, shiny beards who wore flannel and drank craft beer. Most of his customers were these strange people, so he kept his hatred to himself. Besides, he could be easily mistaken for one of them even of the best of days, let alone today. He missed the Old Country on days like this, when it was just the end of winter but not yet the beginning of spring. We would get on his half broken, ratty Triumph and go down to the promenade by Thames street. We would just sit there, in silence, watching the ferries come and go, disappearing into the vanishing point between the grey ocean and the equally grey northern sky. Somewhere over there, across the ocean was Wayland’s home, I've heard from mutual friends that he was from a tiny town near Swindon, in the UK, but he never spoke of it, nor was his accent any kind of British.
Wayland didn’t speak much usually, I used to come by the shop every now and then to watch him at his craft - and what a craftsman he was. WMC was one of the only shops in the area to have its own forge and furnace. In the far end of the hangar sat an old, beat up anvil that looked like some relic from a forgotten time. The wall behind it, adorned with which every type of hammer you could imagine, arranged neatly in rows from about an arm’s length above the head, down to the very floor. Many incredible things took shape under Wayland’s hammers and on his trusty anvil. Fenders, fuel tanks, levers, subframes. Sometimes even small jewelry and on very rare occasions, he made knives for some special customer or overseas order. It was beautiful to watch. A red-hot metal bar would be yanked out of the furnace and onto the anvil, where Wayland’s rhythmic strikes would send sparks spiraling into the air above us in hypnotic patterns. More strikes, and a change of hammer, pulling out intricate shapes from chunky pieces of steel. In the semi-darkness of the shop, beautiful things took shape, things that would travel sometimes halfway across the globe, to be mounted on a bike somewhere.
I brought iced tea with me that day, as i did stop by the Whole Foods on the way here. It was some kind of exotic red leaf variety. I was tempted to show up with a bottle of kombucha, but I could clearly envision Wayland pouring it down the drain the moment he’d figure out what it was. So, iced tea it was, as we sat on the tiny stools at the shop’s entrance and didn’t have a chat about the weather. The glasses were far from clean, and there was no ice in the little fridge in the upstair office, but it was fine. Wayland needed a break and I needed to spend some time at the shop, it was my meditation, you know, necessary to heal my brain from that office job of mine. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good job and it paid the bills, but my true passion was the kind of creativity I watched Wayland put into his work.
“You know, Esther, I never thanked you for keeping me company here all these years, you remember back in ‘08 when things were slow?” Where was this coming from? Yes we have been “friends” almost since the shop opened in 2007, and by “friends” I mean that I’d intrude on his business and make myself more at home than he was in his own shop. I nodded quickly, before things could get awkward. “So, I was thinking you should have this” Wayland pulled something out of the pocket of his leather apron and handed it to me. Neatly wrapped in a black piece of suede was an exquisitely crafted pendant, clearly made by the man sitting next to me. “This is the star of Ishtar. Your star”. The pendant was an eight-pointed star, enclosed in an intricate knotwork circle, swirling patterns running through the combination of white and rose gold that made up the rays. It was so masterfully polished, that it almost looked like it had shined in a light of its own. “Way, you’re scaring me, what is this about?” I could feel something was up, he was acting weird and he was looking at his hands when he replied: “I’m going back”. “Back to England?!” I jumped to my feet, sending the pendant flying through the air into a tall, dirty glass of lukewarm, red leaf variety organic iced tea.
This story is being published to subscribers first. Thank you for being part of the Tribe.