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Bonzer Words!: The Kwakka

Mike Larder bought a motorbike which they called the Widowmaker (for obvious reasons) then rode it home from the pub. Just call him Mr Lucky-To-Be-Alive.

Mike writes for Bonzer! magazine. Do visit www.bonzer.org.au

I fell head over heels when I first saw It. Literally. Cursing and rubbing my shins and elbows I cast a malevolent eye over whatever it was that I had just fallen over. Who bloody well parked that thing there?

It lay there on its side glistening in the rain, Its front wheel lazily spinning, its cyclopic sparkling headlamp eyeing me in return. I stared back with awe. It was the most amazing motorcycle I had ever seen.

The rain continued to pelt down as I stood slack-jawed in the small cobbled courtyard behind the pub. I had spent a so far, warm dry and convivial evening enjoying a glass or two after work. But as bladders do, the sack needed emptying so I'd weaved a slightly unsteady course toward the rear and the outside dunny.

I sloshed back to the bar enquiring—not very politely—who had left that effing wicked- looking machine in front of the pissoire.

Ron the bar-keep sheepishly admitted to ownership of the chromed monster I'd just flattened on my way to a blissful evacuation and, apologetically, shouted me a beer. And tried not to laugh.

By the end of the evening and after some slightly incoherent negotiation I bought the thing. The Kwakka and me were about to become intimately acquainted.

I don't really know how I got it home. It never occurred to me to find out just what I had bought from the noble bar-keep. Why did he keep trying not to laugh as he snatched at my cheque?

Luckily for me Alexander Avenue was quiet that night. I discovered very quickly that I hadn't bought a motorbike but a two-wheeled missile. It didn't smoothly accelerate in the accepted fashion. A tweak of the throttle and it catapulted forward like an unbroken colt with a burr up its arse. Its front wheel showed an alarming tendency to fly up in my face. Not for the first time during my liaison with the Kwakka did I wonder why I had bought such a potentially scary machine.

The next day broke sunny and clear. I didn't. I woke and carefully examined myself for damage. Often the case when I'd had a big night out. But just why did I have a throbbing elbow and, on further investigation, a couple of bloodied knees and fleshless shins.

Peering blearily out the window I saw from behind throbbing eyeballs that my car was not parked in its usual spot. In its place was a sleek blue and silver motorcycle lying splayed untidily against a tree. Who left that thing there I pondered? Then realisation dawned.

Later that day and after an urgent summons, my mate Steve the butcher came over, still bloodied from dismembering carcasses of recently deceased beef cattle. He rode a Honda 750—in 1973 one of the most powerful bikes on the road.

I explained the circumstance of my purchase. Like Ron the bar-keep It took him some time to stop laughing.

“Do you know what “that” is mate?” he guffawed with disbelief.

I replied, somewhat testily, that of bloody course I knew what it was. I'd earlier found the machine's logbook under the seat.

Of course I knew that it was a Kawasaki 750 H2 Mach 4 triple-cylinder electronically- ignited two-stroke motorcycle. Anyone could see that!

“You really didn't ride that home pissed last night did you?” he continued in some amazement. “Mate, I'd want a lot of practice just to get it home sober and in the daylight.”

“OK I give up,” I replied with increasing alarm, “what is it then?”

“Mate . . . they call them the Widowmakers. They kill people,” he added for emphasis. “Especially those that have never ridden anything bigger than a lawn-mower engine.”

I peered again, with some considerable alarm, at my apparently lethal toy. “But it's only got three cylinders—yours has got four—and it's not as big as yours.”

I realised I was starting to babble a tad hysterically.

Steve draped a brotherly arm around my shoulder. “You'll find out mate,” he chortled, drying his eyes with the back of his leather-clad sleeve.

I idly wondered if Ron the bar-keep wanted his bike back.

Two years later I flogged the Kwakka to cash up for a trip overseas. The bloke who bought it was dead within a fortnight.


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