057. Bear. Leroy B. Vaughn

I didn’t know him very well and he wasn’t what I would call a buddy, just an acquaintance. I met him about three months before he bought the new Harley Davidson. His dad died of a heart attack and left him a good chunk of money. He told me he bought the new Harley as a legacy or tribute to his dead dad. He had an older BSA before the Harley.

His real name was Barry, but all of his wannabe outlaw biker buddies called him Bear. He was a squatty little dude, standing about five feet six inches tall, and weighing just over two hundred pounds. He had all the gear, a cut-off vest covered with patches and pins, dirty jeans, engineer boots, buckskin gloves and the short black helmet worn by most outlaw bikers. On his left shoulder he sported a tattoo of a big blue bear paw.

He had a crew that wore their outlaw biker clothes on weekends, and worked mostly office jobs during the week. The Bear was their de-facto leader, or road captain when they went on runs to Bakersfield, and once to Laughlin Nevada. They went halfway on the Yuma Territorial Prison run the year before, but turned back when the boys started complaining about the hot weather.

I had a house that overlooked the highway in our little mountain town on the grapevine. The road leading to the highway was about fifty yards from the deck of my two-story house, and the turnout for the highway was another fifty yards from that point.

I was sitting on my deck drinking a beer when Bear rode by, giving me a gloved power salute. He turned left in front of a dually pick-up truck and was dead before I ran down to the crash scene.

The female driver was shaking and crying as she looked at Bear’s broken body on the asphalt. The legacy bike was destroyed and lying on the side of the road, and I could hear a siren coming up the hill.

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