Beto Fife In Paradise

By Mike Deeter

Looking out over a sea of scooters, my hopes of getting a decent ride for the week were deflated. The guy at the counter told us the last motorcycle was gone. So much for booking ahead. As is often the case in these third-world backwater towns, cash in hand will trump any reservation. So I stood there weighing my options, none of which looked promising.  

We were on the north coast of the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon. The town itself was nothing more than a glorified hangout for Dharma surf bums and expats looking to lay low for some tasty waves and a good buzz. 

The guy stonewalled, knowing he had a monopoly on rentals, and tried talking me into one of those emasculating motorized sissy-bikes, rather than refunding the deposit. I dug my heels in and refused to budge. The guy had an ace up his sleeve, though, and offered me a special once-in-a-lifetime-deal. In the back of his shop was a Suzuki AX 100cc motorcycle.

“Deal,” I told the guy not really knowing what I agreed to, taking what I could get at that point.  With the necessary documents filled out, we were handed a pair of helmets and escorted to our ride, now topped off and idling on the sidewalk. We named her Sue Sucky and raced off into the distance like banshees with our hair on fire.

Well, not so much raced as puttered into the maw of oncoming traffic. Our little 100cc four-speed, air-cooled, two-stroke, piston porting, naturally aspirated Japanese contraption was barely up to the task. We were relegated to hugging the shoulder of the pock-marked highway to let traffic blow past as we bobbed-and-weaved between potholes that could swallow the small bike whole.

We made a beeline for a joint called Wilson La Boca Restaurant, on the mouth of a river outside of town. An old ex-pat out of Texas who we drank beers with the night before clued us onto the place. With a rough sketched map and some simple instructions drawn out on a cocktail napkin we were traveling on a wing and a prayer. 

We pulled off the highway at the designated line on the napkin and followed a glorified trail cut through the beach grass. We were forced to hang ass over the rear tire and redline the throttle to get enough speed to cut through the silty sand. The little motorcycle, maxed out on both speed and carrying capacity, barely had enough balls to move, much less float us at speed. Using the front wheel as a rudder, we barely made the mile drive to where the Rio Yasica met the Caribbean.

There, napping under a palm tree, guayabera wide open and a shotgun laid across his lap, was the security guard manning his post at the makeshift parking lot. The throaty rumble of Sue Sucky’s 8.25 bhp engine startled the poor guy awake and into action. With his shotgun at the ready, he marched over to the edge of the river and waved it in the air, signaling a small boat to ferry us to the far side where delicious langostinos and enormous pina coladas served in fresh pineapples waited to be devoured.

We found the guard in the same state on our return, waking him as I tried and failed to kickstart Sue Sucky back into action. I leaned into that shitty little bike for an eternity, until he finally walked over after and handed me the Mossberg 500.

He made some adjustments to the carburetor while I press-checked the shotgun to find it was empty, as suspected. He kickstarted the bike to life in one shot and took back his scattergun with a smile on his face and an outstretched hand. Gladly tipping the guy for his efforts I asked him what was up with the empty weapon. His reply was to deposit the cash in the same pocket from which he retrieved two shells of birdshot. 

Later we ran into the Texan and told him the story, to which he replied, “So you met Beto Fife, huh?”

From the FE Films Archive

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