Wednesday, September 26, 2007

To My Bicycle

I bought you on the cheap from a white brick one-story building that looks more like a bomb shelter than a store and is only open when they feel like it. There are no posted hours. You were bright red where the paint wasn't chipping. You were supposed to be a five-speed but of course your gears didn't work. They weren't supposed to. I only need to go one speed here anyway, there are no hills. Your brakes were non-existent on your front tire, but I only needed your back-tire brakes. But those soon deteriorated as well.

I didn't need 'em. We stopped together when I put my boots to the ground. It made a scraping sound that everyone could hear. People looked at us like we had just survived a close call. I would smile as we took off for the next intersection. Remember that time I wore flip-flops and came home with me feet all black and worn?

I could crash you, sometimes your front wheel would fall off but I would patch you right up. I could drop you on the ground and you'd be fine. You loved New Orleans.

My friends would tell me:

"boy, fix your brakes."
"get a new bike"
"that thing is a piece of shit"

But we took care of each other. We always arrived safe. And I knew I could lock you up anywhere and you'd be fine. Nobody knew your greatness, nobody would steal you. A brake-less ugly bike like you? Nah.


The last time I made the drive from my hometown of Philadelphia to New Orleans, my mom suggested that I take the nice bicycle that I've had stashed at the family home. I repeated back to her one of my favorite stories from her own childhood that she told me when I was a boy.


When she was turning ten years old, my grandparents, Melvin and Ruby (I know, great names), asked my mother if she would like a brand-new bicycle. My mom said no and my grandparents were confused. What kind of girl doesn't want a new bike? Well my mom didn't, because with her rusty old friend, she went crashing down the hill near her house, leaping off near the bottom while her trusty junk-wheeler went flying. She would never be able to do that with a new shiny one that needed to be taken care of and pampered and spoiled.

I repeated this story back to my mom and told her about my bright-red best friend. I told her that if I took that nice bicycle down to New Orleans, I wouldn't be able to crash it down the hill. She smiled and understood. Besides, I said, if I schlep that bike all the way down to New Orleans, it'll get stolen in a week.

My buddy, my bike, I'm sorry I underestimated your sex appeal. Me and Laura only went in for a couple of beers. I locked you like always.

I came out of the bar and you were gone. The lock was slashed.


If I ever see you getting ridden around town, I wonder what I'll do. Will I chase down the motherfucker raping your pedals and kill him with my bare hands? Or maybe I'll just smile, thankful for the chance to wave goodbye.


2 comments:

m.d. said...

Chase him down. Then smile.

charlotte said...

Awww.....bicycle napped. I think you'll never see it again. Sounds like a good excuse for a jazz funeral/second line!