October 20,2019


excerpt from

Ash Fork Madness©️

written by

Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison

copyright 2019 Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison


                   The Angels of Hell

I was accustomed to serving motorcyclists in the gas station, and I learned early on to let the riders pour their own gasoline. They got so emotional and vocal if I spilled even one drop onto their glistening, custom painted gas tanks. When two choppers, followed by a long formation of motorcycles, wheeled into the station, dear Louisa’s last instructions to me flashed through my mind.
“Now Chaully, do not worry, but once a year a big crowd of cycles come into the station. Remember ju cannot operate four pumps, pour oil, make change, and write up the credit card charges for so many people. Just tell them, If ju will pour jor own gas and tell me every thing, I will stand by the till to take jor money. No other customers will come in while they are in the station. Oh, some of them do not dress quite like ju an’ me, but do not be afraid. Smile like ju do to the townspeople and the Angels of Hell will love ju too.”
That sounded easy enough, so her words were soon forgotten — until dozens of shimmering motorcycles began to roar onto the premises two by two.
Within minutes I was surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of grossly tattooed, obscene t-shirt covered, leather encrusted, Harley-Davidson riding Hell’s Angels. But only one individual unnerved me.
I was standing beside the till when he walked into the office and stood too close to me. Wearing a German helmet and thick soled boots, he was at least seven feet tall and about the same measurement in circumference. His sunburned and peeling face sported one glistening red eye that protruded through his coal black, tangled, armpit length hair, and his other eye (or socket) was concealed by a black leather eye patch. His bushy black beard of indeterminate boundaries, had taken prisoner a tarantula hawk, three damselflies, two Red Admirals, and an assortment of wasps, bees and other winged creatures. He unzipped the straining zipper on his greasy, black leather jacket to reveal a jungle of wiry, black chest hair, carnal tattoos, a swastika and skull jewelry. I felt his body heat rush out as his jacket drew open. I chose to breathe through my mouth, in hope of reducing the intensity of his aroma — hoping I would swoon into a deep black abyss if he decided to touch me.
“What kind of oil do you got? He growled.
At that particular moment I could not recall a single brand name, so I led him back through the lube-room, grabbed a deep breath of fresh, sweet smelling, oily air, then led him into the stockroom where he could take his pick of product.
The day G.B. handed me my Union Oil jump suit and put me to work, he said a lot of things to me, and one of them was, “Do not ever let anyone go in the stockroom with ye!
All his orders were quickly forgotten until that moment when G.B.’s instructions smashed back into my head, followed by the thought of him walking into the station in this situation. If G.B. throws himself into this crowd, it will be like throwing a lit match across a bucket of gasoline!
I cowered in a corner of the windowless room while the man’s eye stared at me. With his back to the doorway he moved slowly in my direction. His hand reached out and grabbed —Penzoil 70 weight.
I heaved a great sigh and followed him back out to the office, as one reprieved from death row.
Friends and neighbors driving past the station slowed their cars to wave and call, “Hi! Okay Charle.” Reassuring themselves and me, that all was well. Everyone knowing me for the coward I was. Beldon happened by to admire the bikes, but kept an eye on things outside. Spence casually wandered into the office, sprawled on a chair and asked, “Hi Charle, anything new?”
“You’re kidding,” I replied, “I’m glad to see you, but I sure hope you drove to the stone yard and left G.B. tied to his chair.”
When the “Angels” had finally paid for their gas I expected them to fly away, instead they headed into Zetler’s Market where they cleaned out the snack aisle and beer cooler.
As I watched the frightening cast of characters eating their lunch and drinking beer in the shade of the gas station canopy I checked the till tape and was amazed at the quantity of gasoline and oil they had purchased. The total probably exceeded lost car sales.
Profanities punctuated the laughter and I wondered how much they could drink before they lost control. My thoughts turned to a movie I had seen in which a motorcycle gang terrorized a small desert town . . . .
Soon enough the rest was over. One by one the bikers ignited their engines until all other sound was lost in the rumble and roar. They rolled into position, and moving like the flow of a winding river, they thundered out onto Route 66 while G.B. thundered into the station in their wake.
“Oh Honey!” I called breathlessly as I ran to the pick-up. “I am so glad you weren’t here today. Guess what!”
“I don’t need to guess.” He snapped. “I been settin’ atop Third Street watchin’ ya’ll the whole damned day — with m’gun loaded an’ in m’hand.” Then G.B. added eagerly, “How much gas did y’all sell ‘em?”

Posted by Charlotte Madison at 03:39
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April, 2020
March, 2020
February, 2020
January, 2020
For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.

When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.

I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."

For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home

For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.

April Update 2012 Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?