These tough bikers have a soft spot: aiding child-abuse victims. Anytime, anywhere, for as long as it takes the child to feel safe, these leather-clad guardians will stand tall and strong against the dark, and the fear, and those who seek to harm.
The 11-year-old girl hears the rumble of their motorcycles, rich and deep, long before she sees them. She chews her bottom lip, nervous.
They are coming for her.
The bikers roar into sight, a pack of them, long-haired and tattooed, with heavy boots and leather vests, and some riding double. They circle the usually quiet Gilbert cul-de-sac, and the noise pulls neighbors from behind slatted wood blinds and glossy front doors.
One biker stops at the mouth of the street, parks in the middle of the road and stands guard next to his motorcycle, arms crossed.
The rest back up to the curb in front of the girl’s house, almost in formation, parking side by side. There are 14 motorcycles in all, mostly black and shiny chrome. The bikers rev their engines again before shutting them down.
The sudden silence is deafening. The girl’s mother takes her hand.
The leader of this motorcycle club is a 55-year-old man who has a salt-and-pepper Fu Manchu and wears his hair down past his shoulders. He eases off his 2000 Harley Road King and approaches the little girl.
He is formidable, and intimidating, and he knows it. So he bends low in front of the little girl and puts out his hand, tanned and weathered from the sun and wind: “Hi, I’m Pipes.”
“Nice to meet you,” she says softly, her small hand disappearing in his.
The unruly-looking mob in her driveway is there to help her feel safe again. They are members of the Arizona chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse International, and they wear their motto on their black leather vests and T-shirts: “No child deserves to live in fear.”