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.


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!