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The Bell

By J Wahl

For decades the thundering roar of a Harley Davidson has instilled fear, nervousness, and an anxiety in the hearts of many people; for me it was just the opposite. As a small girl growing up, Harley Davidson was the sound of security.

With that V twin drone came the loving arms of my father, a kiss goodnight, and a snuggly bug tucking in. For me there was serenity in the roar of a Harley. Much like a kitten sleeps to the sound of her mother’s heartbeat, I slept with the sound of my father’s Harley lullaby. He was my protector, my knight in shining armor, all I had to do was call and he was there. He was a strong medieval man, last of the truly hard men. He understood suicide shifts, kick starting and leather; yet he never understood air ride suspensions, electronic ignition, or so much plastic bolted on a Harley that you looked like a Tupperware saleslady. He believed in honor, and his word was his bond. When I was a child I was a princess on the back of a noble steed as he rode me through the back roads around our home, as I grew into a teenager, I felt as strong and powerful as he was when we rode.

One day I asked him about the bell. Beneath the engine in the very front of the massive frame hung a small bell. I played with that bell when I was small but had never asked him why mom had rehung that bell from bike to bike before. He said the bell was there to call the angels. When I didn’t understand he told me a story.

“Never mind that road gremlin nonsense the Japs put in the little bag with the bells that they sell, that story only exists because they don’t know the true story.” he said. After World War Two, Harley and Indian riders that served as messengers and scouts began getting together and holding races. Because of the danger of the sport, some of them died. One of the veterans wives found a small brass bell in her jewelry box and took it to her priest and had it blessed. She hung the bell on her husband’s Harley in hopes if her husband went down, the bell would ring and all the fallen bikers who had become angels would either come to protect him from the pain or lead him in safety up to heaven. The bell must be purchased by someone else and given as a gift, and it must be hung by someone that loves you, otherwise the blessing doesn’t work. Remember girl, if the bike goes down the bell rings and the angels come. I have always remembered that story and rang that small bell at my father’s funeral; I know his fallen brothers came to get him that day.

Today I work in Pediatrics in a big city hospital and each time I lose a child from a car crash or whatever reason death may occur. I pull that little brass bell out of my pocket and give it a ring. When coworkers ask I simply tell them I’m calling the angels, but deep inside my soul I know my father listens for that bell and he and his Harley riders are there in an instant escorting my fallen children safely into heaven.

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