The Bike

He remembered his bike, and his best friend. His best friend’s name was Mike. The bike was a red three-speed English racer. It was a Christmas present from his mother.

Man, he loved that bike. It was an upgrade from the used, heavy bike he’d previously ridden. He rode it everywhere he could, but often pedaled back to see his best friend. He’d moved away from Wilkinsburg to Penn Hills two years before, but still visited. The two remained close, doing the silly things that twelve year old boys did in America in the sixties. Six miles away, he loved those rides and the visits, looking forward to both.

During one visit, his bike turned up with a flat tire. Unable to fix it, he called his mother and requested a pick-up. She complied, but was angry. It interfered with her plans. Still, he was her son. She came to get him. She couldn’t take the bike, though, declaring it too big for the trunk and herself incapable of helping him. Forced to leave the bike, he locked it with its chain. His friend promised to look after it.

Getting back to get fix it proved problematic. The weather had turned. His mother didn’t want him walking back there, or hitch-hiking, but she wouldn’t give him a ride, either. He finally made it, to discover the bike had been stolen.

“I was going to call you,” his best friend said. “They left a note. They said they were the Blue Globe.”

None of that made any sense. Shit, it sounded like a lie. He made the accusation. An argument ensued. His best friend’s older brother, Donnie, came in.

“I took your fucking bike, and sold it. I needed the fucking money.”

He was speechless. “You had no right,” he finally said.

“Fuck you. It was just sitting there. You should have come and got it. It’s your own fault.”

“My fault. I trusted you guys,” he finally said.

Donnie laughed. “Serves you fucking right, then, doesn’t it?”

“I want my bike,” he said.

“Too fucking bad.”

“I want my bike.”

“Too fucking bad, it’s not here. What are you going to do about it?”

Balling his fists, he attacked.

They crashed across the small kitchen, knocking over the tables and chairs, and moving the refrigerator with the force of their fight. Donnie was older, taller, and weighed more, but he hammered Donnie’s skinny body. Finally throwing him back, Donnie fumbled in his pockets and drew out a switch-blade.

Click. “You better fucking go,” Donnie said, “or I’m going to fucking cut you.”

Ready to be cut, his best friend stepped in, stopping him and yelling at his brother. “Came on, man,” Mike said. “You’re bleeding. You’re all bloody.”

He didn’t want to go anywhere with his best friend. He didn’t want to see or hear him, but he went into the bathroom and washed up his bloody face. Cleaned up, done, he gave Mike a final look and began the walk home. The incident had changed him. He’d lost his bike, but worse, he’d lost his best friend and his sense of trust.

Yes, it changed him. He withdrew. People could no longer be trusted.

Not even if they were your best friend.

 

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