Fat Feeder is ordering more shots, and this time, when he presses the plastic cup of Crown Royal into my hand, I can't say no. All around me, people have thrown bundles of wood into burning trash cans without removing the plastic wrapping. Rancid black smoke fills the air, accompanied by an AC/DC tribute band's version of "Hell's Bells." Everything else is being destroyed. Why spare myself?
"To Porky!" toasts Fat Feeder, who waves his red cup in the air like it's a flag. A half-dozen other people in leather jackets, chaps and do-rags are huddled in the beer tent, raising their drinks and hollering. Two women stand on the bar, doing a drunken pantomime that is intended to be sexy.
"To Porky and the best damn rally in Missouri! And to next June!"
We drink. Fat Feeder, thick and bearded, throws an arm around his petite and bespectacled wife. She looks like a librarian being attacked by a grizzly.
Then, somehow, it's 2 a.m. and I'm at the campfire outside of Fat Feeder's tent, nicknamed the General Store, trying to dry myself off after being caught in the crossfire of yet another wet T-shirt contest. "See you're here right now," Mrs. Feeder is saying, pointing to the palm of her hand in an attempt to dispense life advice. "But there's all this around you you're looking for." With her advice comes the disclaimer that this is the first time she's been drunk in 20 years.
Over her shoulder, a diminutive biker, clad in a leather jacket and purple do-rag, turns up the radio on his bike, a blue Harley fattened with extra compartments and baggage. Led Zeppelin is halfway through "Kashmir." The man stares out at the tents as the campfires die and people crawl into their sleeping bags, saying goodnight to the closest thing Kansas City has to a legitimate biker rally. It's a moment worth some sentiment.
"You bunch of fucking pussies!" he yells, kicking the dirt.
From the looks of it, Urich is a place that doesn't want to be found. An hour or so south of Kansas City, the town of 500 would be invisible from state Highway 7 without the sign announcing its presence. There is only one gas station, Cassie's, which locks its doors and its pumps at 9 p.m., making escape after nightfall a dangerous plan if you're low on fuel.
Somewhere amid all of this is the man I'm looking for: Todd Tally, a 44-year-old biker who in four days will single-handedly triple Urich's population.
I've seen Tally once before, back in June, when he shuffled onstage for the first Grand River Rally. He wore denim overalls and a ball cap. In one meaty hand, he clutched a microphone; in the other was a Mason jar filled with apple-pie moonshine someone has handed him.
"This right here has been my dream for longer than I can tell you," Tally told the crowd that night, his voice cracking. "You can come in here and let go, and you won't be judged by anyone."
"We love you, Braindead!" a woman shouted. She wore leather chaps and had a bikini-shaped American flag painted over her chest, nipples at attention through Old Glory. She was the embodiment of Tally's dream.
Now it's September, and the fall version of the rally is less than a week away. After turning off Highway 7, I drive five miles down back roads, which narrow and turn from pavement to gravel, finally reaching Tally's house, a one-story ranch with nothing behind it but the horizon. Next to it is a narrow red garage that Tally has equipped with his own gas pump.