Wind Therapy by A.J. Downey

Chapter One


The ride was long and dusty; the sun punishing and the wind hot. I hated Eastern Washington in the summer. Everything was rolling golden-brown hills and scree, sun-scorched grass and baked rock. Inhospitable, barren, and it happened almost immediately as you got through the pass and it never let up.

I was much happier on the other side of the Cascades where it was green, blue, and the mountainside was a cool and inviting gray. The rock on this side of the mountain range was darker somehow, more like an iron gray; the color difference enough that it even looked hot to the touch. In the summertime, you could see the heat distortion rising from the rock and shale, the shimmer persisting from the asphalt of the interstate as you redirected your attention back to the roadway.

I wanted back on the other side of the mountains something fierce, but that wouldn’t go down until tomorrow at the earliest.

There weren’t enough men left of the Eastern Washington chapter of the SHMC to run it. Almost all of them had been locked up on charges stemming from some dirty dealings unrelated and unbeknownst to the club at large. Personal greed had overwhelmed their loyalties and the price would be steep even though, as of yet, it was undecided what that price would be. I did know some motherfuckers would be out bad before it was all over.

That would come in a few weeks’ time when the club at large made the run out to the annual National Meet at Lake Eversong. It happened once a year, and wasn’t something that was required to attend yearly, but this year – we had to be there. All of us. From Western Washington, Idaho, and Western and Eastern Oregon.

The Eastern Washington chapter had put the entire region of clubs in jeopardy and needed to answer for it. Worse, they needed to answer for what they’d done to the people we were on our way to help now. As far as I was concerned, the pigs could deal with the rest.

We were loaded with all kinds of prescription drugs from up north over the Canadian border. Lifesaving drugs such as insulin and a variety of cardiac meds and even antibiotics. The only thing we didn’t run was narcotic painkillers. There was plenty of that shit flooding the market down here in the states as it was readily available without our help.

We were riding for the Gregson Family Orchard and Farms outside Yakima. There was a permanent camp there for migrant workers and their families. Some of them weren’t even migrants anymore. The permanent structures became permanent residence to a few families that weathered things out year-round on the farms. Those few families sticking around maintained the greenhouses on the property when the orchards weren’t going anymore.

It was a sad sort of place, reminiscent of the old Japanese internment camps, only on a slightly nicer scale. While drab and a little shabby, the buildings that comprised the homes were in good repair for the most part.

We rode carefully down the dirt and gravel track to what we affectionately called the ‘town square’ which was comprised of a ring of some of the original homes. More a cul-de-sac with squared off edges, if you’d like. There was no pavement, just gravel, and the homes here were essentially all mobile homes – rundown and rudimentary but again, kept in as best repair as could be afforded; which considering how hardcore these people relied on us said something about affordability.

Visually, it was appealing; usually kept freshly painted, which was honestly just a lot like putting lipstick on a pig. It was when you got up close that you realized just how badly some of their shit was falling apart. Gutters held up in places with zip ties and penny nails. Washing lines strung up between units while the busted old dryer sat out front rusting with flowers planted in it, growing out the front.

I mean, at least they tried to keep it pretty and looking nice, but there was only so much you could do out here with so very little to do it with.

The residents, mostly older women, and young kids, came out of the mobile homes onto the rough plywood front porches and steps when they heard the bikes approach. Some of the men who were injured would come around. Sometimes, a truck would come from the field with more – but the one we needed to talk to was the camp doctor and the one who held the purse strings.

She was a formidable old lady for sure. We considered her the camp matriarch. The queen of them all, she was respected enough, revered enough, that whatever she said went. I couldn’t help but think that she ruled this place and its people with a modicum of fear because while the respect was there, so too was something else. An inability or unwillingness for some of them to look at her directly, which was sort of a riot.