Although it’s just pieces of cloth stitched together, a club patch can be a pretty heavy weight. Not everyone is cut out to wear a patch, 1, 2, or 3 piece.
A 1 piece patch is normally an association like HOG, a family group, or just a group of friends that like to ride together. Of these riders nothing is expected, certain patches aren’t worn, and they don’t need to get any “clearance” from any of the major organizations. But they do need to show respect.
The major organizations I speak of are the 2/3 piece patch clubs. These are the hardcore, “outlaw” clubs. Those 7, Hells Angels, Banditos, Mongols, Warlocks, Sons of Silence, Outlaws, and the Vagos. These may not be represented by a chapter at every location, but there will be an associated club nearby to deliver messages and sometimes lessons. These clubs will always trace their roots to one of the big 7 clubs. The associated club with often wear a “support” patch of the bigger club and sometimes will sit on a local council for the area. Not always, but this usually prevents small problems from turning into color wars.
A 3 piece patch club or outlaw club, will have rules, procedures, and expect a lot from their members. What is expected is different in each club but there are a few constants. These rules are seldom written down so you’re expected to learn them during your “prospect” or “probate” period.
The constants are pretty basic;
- Don’t ever embarrass the club or a patch holder in front of non-members
- Always show respect to a patch holder’s wife, ol’Lady, or daughter
- Always do what your sponsor or a club officer tells you.
- Never leave your “cut” were someone else, even another member, can pick it up and you can’t see or stop them
Failing any one of these basics can result in the loss of your status, any possibility of becoming a full patched member, being “sent down the road” in bad status, or in some cases a severe ass beating. Any or all of these punishments, or even other more severe measures can be taken.
Sponsoring a prospect is also a serious responsibility. As a sponsor you are there to teach the new guy the rules, make sure he is where he is supposed to be, when he’s supposed to be there, and he has everything that is needed.
When a prospect screws up, and they do, the sponsor also takes a hit. Sometimes that hit can teach a patch holder just how heavy that responsibility can be.
So it was with Spider and Deuce.
Spider was a proven brother. He had earned his full patch, defended the club, his charter, and his “P” with the ferocity of a tiger. It didn’t hurt that he had been an “All Army” boxing champion and a multi tour combat vet. He was my charter Sergeant of Arms, or SA for short.
Deuce walked over to me one Sunday afternoon at a local bar where we had stopped on a weekend ride. He asked me how he could get started in riding for the club. I talked with him for a while, liked what he said and invited him to ride with us the next weekend.
Deuce was a big strong kid on his second enlistment in the Navy. He had two years left and didn’t intend to make it a career. Being from So.Cal. he was familiar with the club, was married to a Filipino girl, and I thought he’d fit right in. If he made the cut.
He stayed around for several months and performed his “hang around” duties with enthusiasm. I had several “hang arounds” and 2 working prospects so my charter was growing. At first it really looked like Deuce would make the cut, so on a full vote he was given a Prospect patch.
If Deuce had any flaws, it was booze. I’m no one to criticize anyone’s drinking habits, Deuce had a problem.
One morning his wife calls me at about 4:30 am to tell me Deuce hadn’t come home from a meeting the night before. It was my habit to have everyone call me when they got home after a meeting. I realized I had not gotten a call from Deuce. That meeting had ended about 10.
I got up, dressed, and was about to go looking for him when my phone rang again. It was Deuce calling to tell me he was home. Since the rule was call me “after you get home” Deuce was off the hook with me. His wife was his problem.
Then came the day when Spider tells me he wants to be Deuce’s sponsor. Since you can prospect, but not patch without a sponsor, it was important to get one.
At the time, as I said. Spider was my SA. The charter SA is in charge of enforcement and discipline and is a tough job. I wasn’t sure this would work.
The first incident occurred one night while Deuce was out drinking with members of two other charters, at what else, a strip club.
Two prospects of another charter, were at a nightclub in Wahiwa and somehow got the idea they were about to get jumped by members of another club. A panic call was made and 5 brothers, and Deuce the prospect, took off to their rescue. They never made it.
Three miles down the freeway the whole group was pulled over for speeding. They were all given field sobriety tests, and five out of the six, including Deuce, were arrested for D.U.I. Only Mugsy, who was on medication and so wasn’t drinking, was let off with only a speeding ticket. Mugsy called some members of his charter and they came and got everyone bike’s. His charter V-P came to bail everyone out.
I don’t have a problem with anyone, member or prospect, getting a D.U.I. Hell, that’s a fact of life. But Deuce screwed up by not contacting his sponsor, Spider, or his “P”, me. He did not call us or tell us it had happened. That was the mistake.
I had to wait to hear about the whole fiasco; the other prospects were never in any danger. Three days later I got a call asking me when my charter was going to repay the bail they had posted for Deuce. I called Spider and directed him to contact Deuce, get a meeting with him, and really explain what he did wrong. I told Spider to not make it a physical lesson, but to make sure Deuce knew embarrassing me was not a good thing for a prospect to do. I paid the other charter that day.
A couple of months later was the annual “Cinco de Mayo” party. Our club always gave a good party with music, games, booze, and food. At a club party, club members are not there to have a good time; they are there to work and make sure everyone else has a good time.
This one was going to be good. We had members of all the local charters, brothers from several of the mainland charters, and some other club VIP’s attending. During the early set up, Deuce worked his butt off. But, he was sneaking drinks when he thought nobody was watching and by mid-day it was apparent he was loaded and rapidly losing control.
Considering the number of VIP’s, members of other clubs, and civilians around, Deuce was becoming a problem. Nobody was supposed to be drinking until the State “P” said it was okay. That usually happens near the end of the party. At this point, that time was several hours away.
I called Spider over and told him to get Deuce and bring him to me. I remembered Deuce and his girlfriend, his wife having walked out, had driven her car so I asked Julie, who was helping keep the women busy, to find and bring the girlfriend to me.
When everyone was present it was obvious Deuce was hammered, Spider was pissed, and Julie was more than a little scared on how this was going to turn out. Deuce was oblivious to it all and the girlfriend had no idea what was happening.
Speaking a lot calmer than I really was, I explained to Deuce , and the girlfriend, that he was done for the day, he was going home, she was going to drive, he was not going to return to the party and that he, Spider and I were going to have a meeting the next day.
Deuce started to speak but Spider grabbed his upper arm, took hold of her arm as well, and walked both of them out to the parking lot. I could see Spider was talking.
The rest of the party passed quickly and finally late that afternoon the “Boss” called the party a success, gave the okay, and turned us loose.
Julie and I stayed another hour or so and then headed home. We were bushed from the 14 hour day we’d just put in. We’d been home a little while when about 9:30 I got a call I didn’t want to receive.
It was the boss. Deuce had gone home, gotten his motorcycle, ridden over 30 miles back to the party, and started drinking again. Then the question was asked, did I not tell him Deuce had been sent home?
But he wasn’t done yet. Deuce had made a complete ass of himself at the party, but had also made several poorly conceived comments to a Big Island patch holder about his wife and his teenage daughter. The boss wanted to know, did I want to speak to the patch holder?
I didn’t, but it really wasn’t a question. The patch holder was to put it mildly, pissed. But as a seasoned member he hadn’t made a scene until everyone of the VIP’s and guests were gone, that’s why it was so late in getting handled. That would have created the image that Hawaii couldn’t control its members and that would have been a major problem.
But the patch holder wanted Deuce’s head on a plate. I told them both this would be handled. I then called Spider at home, and told him to be on stand-by and available the next day, Monday.
Monday morning I called Deuce and told him we needed a talk and I would be over after work, about 4:30 or 5:00 o’clock. I refused to tell him why, telling him I was at work, which was true, and couldn’t talk, not so true.
At 3:00 I called Deuce and told him I’d be there at 4:30. He knew he was in trouble and started to try to make excuses on why he couldn’t meet me then. So I told him; “Stay home. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”
I then called Spider and told him to be at Deuces house in 10 minutes. I was there in the parking lot, already. Spider made it in less than 8 minutes.
Deuce lived in a “gated community” so I called him, told him to put on his cut, and meet me at the front gate, now. He was caught by surprise.
While waiting for Deuce, I brought Spider up to speed on what had happened. As I explained it, it occurred to Spider this was not just a “come to Jesus” meeting.
When Deuce showed up at the gate he was wearing his cut with his prospect patch.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down, so I walked us all away from the gate, and guard shack. No witness’, just in case. No words were exchanged during that walk. It seemed a lot longer than it was. Kind of a Deadman walking distance.
We stopped, everyone lighted a smoke, and I finally started.
“Deuce”, I began. “You’re a good man most of the time. I think that someday you might be a good brother and patch.” Deuce almost smiled thinking he was going to just get an ass chewing.
“But”, I continued, “not with us. Right now you drink too much, way too often. You don’t know when to quit, and that makes you not follow orders and do stupid things. Like last night when you went back to the party.”
Spider started to say something, but I cut him off with my hand.
“And worse than that”, I said. “You disrespected a senior patch holder, his wife, and his daughter. He wants your head on a plate. Spider,” I turned. “You are his sponsor. You told him to stay home, right?” Spider’s nod yes was slow and deliberate.
By now both men knew this was going to end badly, maybe for both of them.
I looked at both men and pronounced sentence.
“Spider, collect his shit. All of it and meet me at the car.” I turned to Deuce and the only thing I said was “Deuce, Good by”. I turned my back and walked away without another word. I don’t know what my face was showing but I didn’t want to face either of them.
It took a few minutes for Spider and Deuce to walk back to the apartment, and then Spider came walking down the parking lot carrying the cut, patch, several t-shirts, some pictures, and a club sticker that had been on Deuces bike. He had gotten everything.
I don’t think I ever saw Spider walk so slowly. He looked like he was carrying a hundred pound back-pack. He walked to my car and dropped everything into the open trunk. It dawned on him I hadn’t pronounced his punishment.
Spider’s eyes reminded me of a dog afraid he was going to be kicked by his beloved owner.
“Boss”, he started. “Don’t ever make me do this again. Damn, this shit is heavy.”
“This is what the SA does,” I replied. “It’s part of your job. You don’t want to do it, don’t let the situation occur. Or leave the SA patch.”
Spider nodded with a clearly serious understanding look on his face. Then he walked over to his bike, fired it up, and headed home.
It’s just stitches and cloth, but it is “heavy”. Not everyone can wear it.