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Anne & Big Bertha

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Chapter 1

 

Anne Lister had always been a rebel. She owned the toughest meanest looking motorcycle there ever was and she had named it Bertha. Some say she was a womanizer others who know her intimately know she has been through hell and finds it hard to be in a relationship. That’s why she has a different lover every week.

She chugs beer like most of us chug water on a hot day. She’s a chain smoker and while people keep warning her about how dangerous to her health it is she won’t listen. All she says is well, you’ve gotten die of something and the sooner  the better for me.

She had a very low opinion of herself. Even her favourite aunt couldn’t get her to look after herself. So, it would be hard for a partner to do that. Anne’s ideal fuck buddy was someone who would agree to her demands, never ask questions and do what she wants. She always laid down the law and she never too anyone to her place. They always went to a hotel.

She happened to be at the local pub when she saw the cutest girl sitting at the bar. She looked nervous. Anne sidled up next to her. ‘Hey cutie, do you want me to buy you a drink?’ The blond looked at her and wondered if it was the right thing to do. She was sure she knew who it was but didn’t want to say anything to upset this beast of a woman sitting beside her. ‘Y Y Yes p p please. That would be lovely.’

‘What’s your poison, missy?’

‘Sarsaparilla.’ Anne looked shocked. She wondered what this pretty young thing was doing in the pub on a Friday night.’I’ll have one sarsaparilla for the young lady here and a Jack Daniels on the rocks for me.’ Ann searched the room to see if she could see her cousins. They were the ones who convinced her it was a good idea to go out on a Friday night. Catherine told her they came here every Friday and hadn’t been ambushed by any weirdos.

Then the woman turned around and could see Ann was nervous. ‘What’s your name, pretty one?’

‘Ann..Ann Walker. What’s yours?’

‘Anne LIster!’ She said as she took a cigarette and placed it in her mouth. She found her lighter and was about to light up when Ann said. ‘That isn’t a nice way to impress a young lady, now is it?’ So, Anne not wanting to start out on the wrong foot return it to its packet and put it back in her pocket. ‘Goodness me. I really don’t have any manners. Do I?’ She had never stopped smoking for anyone but here she was contemplating the idea. Hell, I have only just met her and I am thinking about quitting this crazy life I live Anne pondered. She had always told herself she would never meet someone who would tame her wild ways and make her stop drinking and smoking. Yet, within a matter of moments Ann Walker seemed to be able to do that. ‘I am allergic to cigarette smoke.’ Oh shit, fuck, how the hell am I going to hook this one. Anne thought. ‘How did you get here tonight, Ann?’

‘My cousins, Delia and Catherine brought me.’ She looked around again to see if she could see them. No sign of either of them. ‘They were here a moment ago.’ Ann said.’How did you get here?’

‘I rode Bertha.’ Ann looked stunned. Who was or what was Bertha?

‘Bertha?’ Ann said surprised.

‘She’s my baby. She’s a Harley. The meanest looking motorcycle in town.’

;Oh goodness, I just realised who you are. That Anne Lister who rides hard and fast and who has a new girlfriend every week.’

‘Yeah, that’s me.’ Anne said but Ann saw that behind the bravado she could see a tear, behind all the noise and boastfulness she could see someone who wanted to be loved. Was it possible that she could tame the beast and show her much love, which is all Ann needed. ‘What are you going to do now?’ Anne asked. ‘Your cousins seemed to have deserted you.’ Ann went quiet. She had to think of something. She didn’t want to go home with this one. She was a little bit afraid of what Anne would do but she wanted to go for a ride on her motorcycle. ‘I don’t know. I guess I can get a taxi home.’ Anne could see Ann was hesitant to do that. So, she said. ‘How about you hop on my cycle and I will take you home. What do you think?’

‘I don’t know. As you can see I’m really not dressed for motorcycle riding. I have no helmet or leathers.’

‘Don’t worry, Miss Walker, I always carry a spare of everything in my saddlebags. I am sure they will fit you.’ As Anne & Ann were walking out of the pub Delia and Catherine yelled out to Ann. ‘Where are you going with that Bitch?’ Anne looked around she could see them. ‘Anne has offered to take me home on Bertha.’

‘No, stay with us here for a while longer.’ Delia said as she eyed Anne Lister.

‘No, you left me at the bar alone and went off to do your own thing. Now, I am . doing my own thing. So, fuck off and leave me alone. I’m busy.’

‘Okay. No need to use that language.’ Catherine said. Anne & Ann walked over to Anne’s motorcycle which she had chained and bolted to a pole. ‘For someone who’s so tough you sure don’t want someone to steal this.’ Ann said as Anne undid the lock and removed the chain. She reached into one of the saddlebags and pulled out a helmet. Ann tried it on and it was a perfect fit. Then she reached into the other saddlebag and pulled out leather pants and a leather jacket. Ann did her best to tuck her skirt into her knickers. When she tried on the pants and jacket they too were a good fit. Anne thought, this could be an omen. If, that was possible. ‘Now, what you need to remember is go with me when I lean Bertha. Okay!!’ She demonstrated what she meant. Ann nodded. This would be fun or the biggest mistake she had ever made in her life. Anne climbed on and waited for Ann to climb on behind her.’Now, remember what I said and hang on tight because I don’t go slow. Okay!!’

‘Okay!! What happens when you get pulled over by the cops?’ Ann said wondering if her cousin, Jeremiah was on patrol tonight. That was the last thing she wanted was to be seen by her cousin after he pulled Anne over for speeding.’

‘That won’t happen. I know all the hiding places around here. Plus I have never been caught.’ Anne said boastfully. She was an expert rider and had only ever had one accident. That was when she first obtained her licence but it wasn’t her fault. It was another motorcyclist who was weaving in and out of traffic to get where he was going quickly. She just happened to be in his way. He clipped her rear foot rest and they both landed on the road with traffic behind them coming to a screeching halt. She was lucky she had only a broken arm and a few bruises. He had to be taken to hospital. A few weeks later she found out who the other rider was when he came after her. It was Christopher Rawson. The leader of the Black Crows. A bikie group she tried to join when she was younger. She doesn’t know why now because she can raise hell on her own. ‘Anne, I am on. I live at Crow Nest. You do know where that is. Don’t you?’

‘I certainly do. Are you related to Christopher Rawson?’ Anne said gritting her teeth. Ann began to wonder if she should say no but she wasn’t one to lie because she knew any lie would come back and bit her on the arse. ‘Unfortunately, he’s my cousins. Just like his brother, Jeremiah.’

‘You mean you are related to Constable Rawson. He is still trying to catch me speeding. He hasn’t had much luck so far.’

‘Well, I hope he doesn’t catch us tonight because I don’t want my aunt to find out I have been on a motorcycle, and what’s worse it is with you.’

‘What’s wrong with me?’ Anne said feeling her anger bottling up inside her.

‘There’s nothing wrong with you, Anne. It’s everyone’s perception of you that’s wrong. You have been nothing short of kind and considerate towards me. I don’t wish to go home right now. Let’s go somewhere we can talk. Okay!!’

‘You wish is my command, dear lady. Hold on. Let’s get this beast moving.’

Anne kick started Bertha and off they rode. She didn’t go through town because if Constable Rawson saw her he would try to stop her which would result in her needing to speed to get away from him. She didn’t want to do that with Ann Walker on the back.

She rode out of town. Then she took them up a lane way which lead to a dirt track . After they had gone a few yards and Anne knew they were out of sight of passing traffic she stopped Bertha and helped Ann get off. Ann had never been to this part of the neighbourhood. She wondered where Anne had brought her. Anne took her hand and walked her to a clearing where they sat down on the grass. ‘This young lady belongs to me. It is part of the estate my uncle left me when he passed away about three years ago. I manage it with the help of my team of employees.’

‘What is the name of the property you own?’

‘It’s called Shibden Hall. It has been owned by another Anne Lister. A distant relative of mine. So, I feel blessed to be carrying her name. They say she was a bit of a badass like me.’

‘You seem proud of her. I wonder if she would be proud of you.’

‘I can assure you she would. She kept a journal filled with her exploits with women. They were written in crypt hand and what she wrote  in what she called plain hand was what she did on the estate. She sank coal pits. I don’t think people would like it if I did that.’

‘I’m sure they wouldn’t. What do you do?’

‘I am trying to create a parkland around Shibden. Somewhere for people to come and spend the day with fun adventures for kids and where adults can relax.’

‘Goodness! You do have a softer side, Miss Lister.’

‘Don’t tell anyone about that. I have a reputation to uphold. I don’t want that spoilt by you blurting out that I am soft.’ Anne said with a sly grin on her face. Ann could see she was messing with her but she knew more about Anne Lister than Anne could ever imagine.

‘The lights of Halifax look lovely from up here. How often do you come here just to look at the stars.’

‘Often. It’s my one place to find peace now that I am single and alone.’

‘You might be single but you are not alone. I am here with you now.’ Ann said as she leaned in close to Anne. ‘And I think you are beautiful and badass.’

‘Why, thank you. No one has ever told me that. I feel we could be good friends but we seem to be such polar opposites.’ Anne said as she looked at Ann with sad eyes.

‘Anne Lister, we have only just met. This could go from common friendship into a wonderful relationship. Just give us and it time. We have the rest of our lives. Don’t we?’ Ann said as Anne smiled then smiled more.

It was dark as they climbed back on Bertha. ‘Where would you like to go now, Miss Walker?’ Anne asked.

‘Wherever the road takes us, Anne. I have enjoyed being with you and you do realise you haven’t had a cigarette the whole time I have been with you.’ Anne didn’t realise that until Ann spoke those words. Yet, she didn’t feel the need but it was always there when she was alone.

‘I could take you to Shibden to meet my family. Would you like to do that.’

‘Anne, I would love to do that but won’t they be wanting to go to bed.’ Ann said earnestly.

‘They will be watching tv. Marian loves watching the Bachelor and Bachelorette. I think reality tv isn’t so real.’

‘Yes, but you can chill watching it. Reality shows are designed to allow you to watch without thinking.’

‘So, true but that can be dangerous too.’

‘How?’ Ann asked surprised. She had never thought of it like that.

‘You switch off and sometimes never switch back on. So , you don’t take in what is happening around you.’ Goodness, Ann thought. ‘You are so right. Let’s go so I can meet your family.’ Anne kicked Bertha started and off they went. As the wind whistled around Ann’s head she thought she could get use to this. She had been in deep thought when Anne drove into Shibden estate and stopped near the front door. ‘Hey, back there we are here.’ It seemed Ann felt so safe with Anne that she had dozed off. ‘Come on, sleepy head. I am sure a good strong cup of coffee with my aunt, father and sister will wake you up.’ Anne said as she helped Ann climb off Bertha. They walked over the gravel path as they opened the door to go inside they heard. ‘Anne, is that you?’

‘Yes, aunt, it is me. I have a friend with me, Ann walker. She has come to drink coffee with you.’ And wake up, Anne thought. It must be my driving.

They removed the leather gear they were wearing. Ann straighten her dress out as best she could. She was wearing a pretty green dress with yellow flowers and a bright red t-shirt. Anne was clad in shorts and a t-shirt. She didn’t like wearing leather gear when she was home.