GLOBAL MYTHS NO 6

Another story from the travellers' grapevine

A BRITISH traveller decided it was time to realise his ambition of crossing the US, east to west, the only way any sane rebel would: on a Harley-Davidson. He flew to Miami and, being on a tight budget, bought a beat up second-hand machine for $600 from a seedy dealer in the city's back streets.

He meandered across the country, a hard-livin', tough talkin' biker. Soon he settled into the wandering life of a 20th-century nomad. When he reached Kentucky, however, his luck turned. The chopper wheezed to a halt just outside Lexington. He struggled into town and found a garage. The young mechanic told him to leave the bike overnight and come back the next day. The following morning, he was surprised when the man asked if the bike was for sale. Certainly not, he replied, paid his bill and hit the road.

In Kansas again the old machine ran out of steam. Increasingly annoyed, he toyed with the idea of selling it and upgrading to something more reliable but decided to soldier on. In Colorado, once more the beast gave out. He took it to a garage, and offered it for sale. The mechanic, a grizzled old southerner, told him to come back in the morning.

The next day, to his shock the man offered him $2,000. Realising he must be soft in the head but clearly not short of a few dollars, the traveller asked for $3000. The man agreed, the cash produced, and the papers signed.

Then the old man started laughing. Indeed it was several minutes before he could speak again and when he could he said: "That's the worst deal you'll ever make, boy." He removed the seat. Engraved on the underside was the inscription: "To Elvis, love James Dean."

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