He was a little wild back then, running with Merle and the boys. Drinking too much, riding the highways every chance they got and just generally getting their redneck on. Always walking a little too close to the edge.
That was before he met the prettiest little flower child in the whole hippie nation, Beth Greene. She turned his life and his whole damn world upside down.
Why he continued to fall for his brother's bullshit practical jokes was a mystery, a mystery that pissed him off. He should have known Merle was jerking him around when he told him the name of the joint where they were meeting Friday night. What kind of name is Twisted Karma for a biker bar? Daryl questioned his brother but Merle just shrugged and told him the sign with the new name, Devil's Wheelhouse, hadn't been delivered yet.
Like too many times before he bit on it. He drove in the lot, shut the bike down and walked right smack dab into what turned out to be hippie heaven.
The guy at the door took one look at him with his slicked back hair, leather jacket and motorcycle boots and said, "Hey man, c'mon, we're just keepin' the peace. There's a biker bar called Road Dust over on Oak and Main, it's more your thing."
Daryl wasn't offended by the longhaired peacenik, he was used to the "beautiful people" being a little intimidated by bikers. There was good reason, there'd been plenty of altercations all over the country between bikers and hippies. Daryl just looked at the guy and nodded, "Hey man, I'm not here ta cause ya any grief. I just come by ta meet up with someone. As soon as he shows we'll both be buggin' out."
"Just keep it mellow."
"Yeah, I'm cool. Peace, love and groovy man that's the way ta be. Ya serve brew in this joint?"
"Yeah, and the tunes start in about five minutes."
"Music huh? Righteous." He was expecting some hairy guy to come out and sit cross-legged on the small stage, playing a sitar and chanting. It was that kind of place. The smell of Patchouli oil mixed with incense was so heavy in the air Daryl figured a guy didn't need grass, you could get stoned just breathing deep. The walls had all been painted with bright flowers and peace symbols, there were flowers and candles on the stage and the patrons all seemed to be dressed in paisley, tie dye and embroidered jeans. Everywhere he looked there were beads, roman sandals and moccasins. Yep, it really was Hippie Heaven.
That fucking Merle. But he figured what the hell, this would make a good story to tell and a real good reason to deck his brother the minute he found him.
The hippie chick behind the bar had just handed him his glass of beer when the singer took the stage. One look at her and Daryl Dixon sat his ass down on a bar stool, watched and listened. He was digging everything about the choice little flower child.
He decided flower child was a good way to describe her. She was beautiful and delicate looking, like something you'd want to hold in your hand and take in the fragrance of. He shook his head at his own thoughts. Ten minutes in this joint and he was starting to think like a hippie. If he kept this up he'd be wearing Nehru jackets and linen pants next.
She strummed her guitar and covered all the big hippie favorites, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Joan Baez, she even sang that new Beatles tune, Hey Jude. In between all those covers she sang some of her own stuff while the biker just sat there slowly sipping his beer, he dug it all.
It caught him by surprise when she announced there was just one more song before the end of the set. He couldn't believe he'd sat there all that time. He stood, reached in his pocket, pulled out some bread and walked toward the stage. He stuffed a fat tip in her jar and she smiled so pretty, but he just nodded his head and left.
He wanted to talk to her, maybe ask her out for a beer or whatever girls like her drank, wine maybe, but they lived in different worlds. He didn't know anything about her kind or how to even approach her, and even if he did she probably wouldn't want anything to do with him. Bikers and Hippies just didn't mix it up.
Her sister ran in the back and warned her, there was a biker in the bar. "If he starts to cause trouble Bethie you run off the stage, get right back here and stay put. You know what happened in Statesboro last week, they held that poor guy down while they shaved his head. We'll let Glenn and Aaron handle his type."
Even though she'd never had an encounter with a biker she'd heard enough stories about their troublemaking, especially their legendary fighting, to be scared. She was determined though; the show must go on. She decided to do her best to ignore him, hope he hated the music and left. She quickly checked her song list, grabbed her guitar and made her way to the small stage.
She saw him the minute she walked out of the back, he stuck out in the room full of hippies. He looked just as rough and frightening as she suspected a biker would. His hair was a little long like the guys she knew, but more slicked back. He had on jeans but not bell bottoms or dungarees, his were those deep navy colored jeans. The 1950's style 501s.
The bright white t-shirt, the bandana tied loosely around his neck and the black leather jacket were all part of "their" style. Finally, there were the boots. How did he even walk in those heavy looking things with their thick heels, buckles and straps?
The other thing she couldn't help noticing was, he was a hunk. The way he watched her while she sang made it impossible to miss his eyes, they were the most bitchin shade of blue she'd ever seen. But when, just before the end of her set, he started walking toward the stage she thought she should do what Maggie said, run to the back. Before she could he smiled at her. It was small, closed lipped and half crooked, but it was also warm and sexy.
When she saw the amount of cash he stuffed in her tip jar she almost fainted, she'd have grocery money for the next week. Then, just like that, he split.
How the heck could she feel so bummed out and yet so relieved at the same time?
Saturday morning he was up early, he wanted to spend as much of the day riding as he could. Not with the guys though, they always got sidetracked by roadhouses and other distractions. Daryl wanted to be out on the highway riding hard.
He hurried to do what needed to be done that morning. He tidied up the house, cut the lawn, did his wash and got himself a weeks' worth of what he needed at the grocery. As soon as he'd done what had to be done he jumped on that bike and took off to tear up the road.
There was an old two-lane highway that, ever since they put the interstate in, was practically abandoned. He was going to see just how fast that bike could scoot. For him there was no high as good as a fast ride on a loud machine. He was ready.
What he hadn't counted on was the little flower child. All morning long she'd been wandering in and out of his thoughts. Maybe some time he'd drop back in hippie heaven just to see her again.
She'd gotten up Saturday morning and baked her Daddy's favorite banana muffins. She needed to pay a call on her folks and have a meal with them. They liked her to come on Sundays, go to church with them and then share the traditional Sunday dinner, but she was being a little bit selfish. She just wanted to have a day she could devote to herself and her song and poetry writing. And maybe paint her toenails. She hoped those banana muffins would at least soften the blow. She promised herself she'd make it up to them the next Sunday.
Hardly anyone used the old highway anymore, just the farmers who lived out that way; it was still the fastest route to the Greene farm and the one she always took. She was driving along and singing to herself when the engine started to sputter and the little bug started to shake, and then it just quit.
She got out, went to the back and popped the hood on the VW's engine compartment. She stood there and stared at it. She knew how to change a tire, her Daddy had made sure of that, but besides tires and how to drive, she knew nothing about cars.
Bitchin, just bitchin. Now what? She was almost exactly halfway between town and the farm. Either direction was at least a five-mile walk. She decided to walk to the farm, she could still see her parents, take Daddy his muffins and get a ride back to town. If she was lucky someone she knew might drive by and give her a lift. Maybe Daddy or Otis could tow the bug back to the farm and figure out what went wrong.
If she would have known she was in for such a long walk she wouldn't have been wearing her new paisley mini dress and knee-high moccasins. This was going to be a trek.
She hadn't gotten more than three yards when she heard it, a motorcycle. Her heart froze and she quickly started saying her prayers that whoever it was would just keep going, leave her alone. What was a biker doing out on this old highway anyway?
The motorcycle flew by her so fast she swore it made her dress fly up. Then she heard it slow, like it was coming to a stop, then it sped up again. Oh no, whoever it was had turned around and was coming back. Her stomach clenched, her heart raced and her feet seemed to be stuck in place. She just stood there waiting for whatever terrible thing was about to happen.
He'd seen the little bug first, you could hardly miss the bright yellow color. It was stopped right in the middle of the lane and he wondered who the dipshit was that couldn't push it over to the side. Then as he practically flew by he saw her. It was the flower child. He felt the grin spread across his face as he turned the bike around.
He approached real slow, not like when he sped by the first time, he took in the scene of what he'd already guessed was car trouble. And what a car. The practically neon yellow VW Bug was covered with big bright flowers in pinks, blues, greens and oranges and there was a peace symbol on the hood. It was a classic hippie ride, perfect for the pretty flower child.
There she stood looking foxy in her short, short dress and knee-high moccasins. This must be his lucky day. He slowed and stopped the bike, and while still straddling it he walked it over to where she stood. She looked frozen in place and like she might pass out, "Hey there flower power, your wheels on the fritz?"
Oh thank God. It wasn't just any biker, it was him. She relaxed a little. Even though bikers were supposed to scare her to death, she was stoked to see him, and not just because her car had died. "Hey, thanks for stopping. I don't know what's wrong. It made a noise and then it shook for a few seconds and then it just stopped." She looked down like she was a little embarrassed, but she smiled when she said, "I popped the hood and looked at the engine, but I don't know anything about cars."
"Uh huh. Whaddya doin' out here in nowhere-ville in the first place?" His voice, it was a little coarse, kind of raspy and a definite turn on.
"I was on my way to my parent's farm for a visit."
"So you're a hippie chick farmer, is that deal flower power?" He had that little grin on his face and he didn't seem scary at all, not really. He seemed sexy.
She smiled back, "My folks are farmers but they're definitely not hippies, and my name is Beth."
"Beth, I like the sound a that. I was afraid it was gonna be Starshine or Moonbeam," The way he smiled she knew he was teasing, and then he introduced himself, "I'm Daryl. Lemme have a look at that engine."
She watched him as he dismounted the motorcycle and she was already deciding not all bikers were bad people, or scary. She was pretty sure she'd met one who wasn't.
He popped the hood and checked the engine out for a few minutes, chewed at his lip and said, "Ain't no big thing I can get it goin' for ya."
"Really Daryl? That would be so groovy. I'm supposed to be at my folks for dinner by now."
"Dinner at one?" He snickered.
"We're farmers. Remember?" She smiled but he kind of thought she was a little embarrassed.
"Hey, no that's cool. I ain't gonna be able ta fix it right now though. I need my tools and a couple a parts. Tell ya what. I'll ride ya over ta the farm, then I can run ta town and get what I need. I should have it all ready ta go by the time you're done visitin'."
"Daryl that's way too much for me to ask. I just wouldn't feel right."
"Ya didn't ask me to, least I didn't hear if ya did. What I heard was me offerin' ta do it. C'mon now we better make tracks. You're late for dinner."
"Why are you being so nice?"
"Why are you bein' so pretty?"
She was just standing there staring at him and it was getting to the point where he was getting uncomfortable. When he was about to ask her 'what?' her arms went around his neck and she kissed him on the cheek, "Thank you, Daryl."
One arm slipped around her waist while his other hand was teasing at her hair, and he smiled, "I got a pretty good feelin' it's all my pleasure. Now how bout ya tell me how ta get there flower power."
His strong arm around her felt so nice, she would have been happy just staying right there. Ratz. "It's just down the road here about five miles, on the right. You'll see a little wood sign on the fence post, near the mailbox, it says Greene."
"That's your name huh? Beth Greene?"
"Yes, and what's your last name?"
"Dixon, Daryl Dixon."
He got on the bike and she enjoyed watching that action just as much as she had when he'd gotten off it. Then he held a hand out to her, "Okay, here, hand me that sack." He set the muffins on the seat in front of him, "Now just slide on right behind me, like gettin' on a horse, an iron horse. When we're ridin' ya keep them bare legs away from the pipes. I don't want ya hurt."
When she raised her leg to get on she realized, the skirt of the dress was hiking all the way up. She hurriedly put the leg back down. "Um, Daryl, I can't, well my dress, it's well…"
"Yeah I knew that was gonna happen. It's got me bummed out that I ain't got eyes in the back of my head." He thought it was pretty funny but she looked embarrassed again. Apparently, the flower child was a little more bashful than the chicks he knew. He reached for her hand, "Hey now, I'm just teasin' with ya Beth. I can't see ya back there and even if I could, I wouldn't look if I wasn't invited to, ya know? Look around, ain't no one else out here gonna see ya either."
"You're right, thank you again."
"It's a short ride, just hang on and we'll be there before ya know it."
She slid on behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, just like he said to. Once she did she forgot all about her dress being hiked up. At least she did until they pulled in the driveway and Mama and Daddy were standing right there. They must have heard the motorcycle.
Thank goodness Daryl pulled in nice and slow, trying not to kick up too much dust. As soon as he brought the bike to a stop and held his hand out for her she hurriedly got off, then frantically pulled her skirt down.
Daddy didn't look pleased at all when he asked, "What in the sam hill is going on here? Bethie? Answers please, starting with just what you're doing on the back of a motor bike and just who this young man is."
Daryl knew his manners, what he remembered his Mom teaching him and what the army had drilled into him. Before her Daddy was done speaking he was off the bike and extending his hand to the older gentleman, "Hey sir, name's Daryl Dixon. Your daughter's car was broke down on the road, I happened by and gave her a lift out here."
"I'm Hershel Greene and this is my wife, Annette. We thank you for that." Then he gave his daughter a stern look, "Beth, how many times have I asked you to get rid of that toy you drive and get a real vehicle? It's not safe and it looks like a clown car."
Daryl thought her Daddy was going a little harsh but then Beth went right over to him, wrapped her arms around his waist and said, "I missed you too Daddy, and I love you." She handed him the paper sack and said, "I even made your favorite banana muffins just to prove it." That's when they all laughed like this kind of thing happened every day.
Her Mama was up to bat next, "Thank you young man. Daughter, you seem to have lost the bottom half of your dress somewhere, you get yourself upstairs now and put on a nice dress."
"My gosh Mama I'm 22 years old, I've been dressing myself for a long time. Besides, this is the style. You need to get with it, you're still living in prehistoric times."
"Is that right? Well I happen to like prehistoric times and when you're here on this farm you'll like them too. Understand?"
He was thinking all hell might break loose next, but flower power just giggled a little, sighed and said, "Yes Mama." Then she leaned in and kissed her Mama's cheek and her Mama ran a hand over her hair and said, "You're a good girl Bethie. Your Mama loves you."
He was just thinking he liked the sound of that, Bethie. When Bethie herself looked back over her shoulder and said, "Don't leave yet Daryl, I'll be right back down."
He smiled, barely getting a "K," out when her Mama said, "He's not going anywhere until after dinner. That's the least we owe him for getting you here safely." Then Annette Greene looked at Daryl and stated, "Dinner is ready. Bethie and I will get the food put on the table just as soon as she gets a decent set of clothes on."
He'd planned on riding but his plans had changed. He didn't mind since it meant he'd be spending a little more time with the flower child. Besides, he knew no one in their right mind would argue with a southern woman who offered to feed them. "Yes Ma'am, thank ya for havin' me."
He saw Beth break into a big smile before she ran in the house and he knew he'd made the right move.
While they waited her Daddy asked him several questions about the "motor bike" and what had become of Beth's car. "I'll be able ta fix it for her sir. I just need ta get a couple parts for it and get my tools."
"Son, how would you feel about if after dinner we go get Bethie's little toy car and tow it back? I've got a farm truck and a tow chain."
"Yeah that'd work, I could come by in the mornin' and take care of it."
"Oh no son, we can't have that. Tomorrow is the Lord's day, no working on Sunday."
"Huh, is that right. Well I guess I can make it into town yet today and get the parts, I don't need much. I'll stop by my place, get my tools and get after it."
"You won't need tools, I've got a barn full of those."
When she reappeared she looked so different. She was wearing a conservative dress with a high collar and elbow length sleeves and this dress, unlike the hip fashions of the day, was tight-waisted with a full skirt. It showed off her petite body. A body he was sure he'd like to become better acquainted with.
He took his jacket off before sitting with her family for dinner and he remembered those manners he'd been taught. He apologized to her Mama, "Sorry about the t-shirt ma'am. I didn't know I's gonna be invited ta someone's home for dinner."
"I understand completely Daryl, it was unplanned. We appreciate you getting our daughter safely home."
Beth was surprised he had such nice manners, and then she felt ashamed. She'd prejudged him, that wasn't fair. She was also having trouble taking her eyes off his arms. She could tell before that he had a hot bod, she just hadn't known how hot it was.
Her Mama put on a spread that would make any southern woman proud and he ate plenty of it. There would be no need to stop for that burger he usually had on Saturday night.
Her Daddy caught him off guard when he asked, "So are you one of these hippies too Daryl?"
He wiped at his mouth with his napkin while he took some time to form his answer, set the napkin back in his lap and answered, "No sir. I don't think they allow my kind in their ranks. It's not just the bike, I'm also a Viet Nam vet."
What came next startled him, Beth reached over, took his hand and squeezed it, "My brother Shawn is in the Marines, he's in Viet Nam now."
She looked so worried he squeezed her hand back, "Marines are a real tough breed a cat, he'll be just fine."
Her Daddy said, "We salute you for your service Daryl and we're honored to have you at our table." Viet Nam vets were often scorned and ridiculed, Daryl wasn't used to being praised. Although it embarrassed him he also felt a little bit of pride.
After the big meal him and her Daddy went to get the VW while Beth and her Mama did the dishes. Her Mama asked her, "How long have you been seeing this young man?"
"I'm not seeing him Mama. I don't even know him. He came by Twisted Karma last night and watched me sing a set, then he left. When my car broke down I was just going to start walking here, then he came by and offered me a ride."
"Well you two make a very nice looking couple and he seems like a fine young man. I like him."
"Mama stop, I said we're not a couple."
"Oh you will be. I might be prehistoric but I'm not blind. I saw the sparks flying when you two looked at each other."
"Don't oh mama me, you just mark my words."
On the way to get her car Beth's Daddy quizzed him with all the "I'm her Daddy" questions. Daryl didn't mind really. He knew these folks were old-fashioned, they were also real nice and he respected them.
"So are you an auto mechanic Daryl?"
"No sir, I'm a batch plant operator over at the concrete plant. I know a lot about cars though, I been working on em since I's a kid."
"A handy guy, I like that. So is that a pretty good job, a batch plant operator?"
Daryl was fighting a smile, wasn't it a little soon for her Daddy to be worrying about whether Daryl could keep his daughter in beads and moccasins? But what the hell, he went along, "Yeah I think it is. The pay's good and I got benefits and such."
"Good then. Where is it you live, in town?"
"I got a little house down at the end of Fern street, ya know that area?"
"Sure I do. There are some classic older homes over that way, it seems like a nice neighborhood."
"Yeah I think it is. I ain't had no trouble."
That's how it went all the way there and all the way back. Daryl was pretty sure by the time they got back to the farm Hershel Greene was the only human being who knew as much about him as his brother did.
They got the bug in the barn and Daryl rode hard to get to town before the auto parts store closed. He got what he needed, plus a couple of replacement belts he thought wouldn't hurt, and he was on his way back to the farm.
He'd been working on the little car about ten minutes when she came out. He stopped what he was doing, straightened up, took the red shop rag from his hip pocket and wiped his hands. He grinned at her, "Hey there flower power."
"Hey there Daryl Dixon. How's it going?"
"Fast and easy. It won't be long, but hey if ya gotta be at work I could ride ya back into town now."
"Thanks but I don't work on Saturday night."
"You're kiddin' me, Saturday night and no music?"
"Nope. Saturday night is poetry reading. It's very popular."
He couldn't hold it in, he started laughing. "You're shittin' me now. C'mon, people go ta the bar ta listen ta some guy read poetry?"
She wasn't trying to hold in her own laugh at all, "Yes and girls read too."
They were both laughing and he liked the feeling, and he knew he already liked her plenty. In fact, things were going so good he was daring to hope maybe their worlds really could blend. He took a stab at it, "Do ya have yourself a poetry readin' hippie boyfriend Beth Greene?"
"No I haven't found one yet that knows how to fix my car. How about you Mister Dixon, do you have a biker chick girlfriend?"
"No I ain't been able ta find one yet that likes ta go ridin' in a mini skirt."
When they left the farm he followed behind the little yellow bug, just in case. He wasn't use to going so slow but since it was her he didn't mind. They pulled up to the four-plex, he walked her to her door and asked, "Can I see inside? I wanna know how hippies live."
"Stop it. And yes, of course."
It was an efficiency unit, just one room with a small kitchenette area. He smiled when he saw what she'd done. There were hippie posters on the walls, a tapestry throw cover over the little sofa, and a curtain of hanging beads separated her bed from the small living area. He smiled at her, "I like your pad, and I like you even more." His hands were in her hair and when he kissed her she was jazzed that he did.
When he leaned back he asked, "Ya workin' next Friday night?"
"Can I give ya a ride, maybe hang out there and watch ya sing?"
"I'd like that a lot Daryl."
"Ya wouldn't be ashamed of bein' with a biker?"
"I'd be proud if that biker was you."
Now he had a real grin and he asked, "Saturday, would ya go for a ride with me? Then if ya want I could take ya ta the biker bar, you could see where I usually hang."
"I'd like that ride, that would be boss. I'd be scared to go to a biker bar. But I won't be scared if I'm with you, if you're sure you wouldn't be ashamed of showing up there with a flower child."
"I think I'll be plenty proud ta be seen anywhere with you." He kissed her again before leaving and she just hoped that would hold her over for the week.
Before making his way home he rode over to Road Dust looking for his brother. He was right where Daryl expected him to be, bellied up to the bar with a beer in one hand and his arm around a big redhead.
He saw Daryl and hollered, "Baby Brother! C'mere an tell me if ya been ta any new biker bars lately." His brother laughed that laugh of his that damn near shook the walls.
Daryl went right to him, "I didn't find a biker bar, but I did find sumthin' a whole lot better. Thanks for steering me in that direction brother. I owe ya one."
He turned and left, leaving Merle wondering what the hell. At least he wondered until the next Saturday when his brother introduced him to a pretty little flower child named Beth Greene.