Finding myself inexplicably awake at sunrise, vaguely hungover and wondering what to do about it, I reached for my bicycle and rolled it out onto the porch. I wasn’t going to ride, necessarily, but I thought I would put her out on the porch for old time’s sake, just to watch the golden-red glow wash over her as the sun got up and began to do its thing. But it was quite overcast this morning and misty and foggy and looking like some kind of Precursor-of-Winter Sunrise, even though it was, after all, still August.
As I pushed her out the door I realized the front tire was flat.
“What the hell?” I thought. “That’s odd.” It WAS odd. This is the New Bike. I have had her for a year now (she may be a him) and never came close to a flat. Then again, I have yet to put any significant miles on the New Bike.
“Well, there goes my morning ride,” I thought. “Dang flat.” I started to shuffle towards the fridge.
“Yeah, you can’t ride a bike with a flat tire. Too bad we don’t know what to do about flat bicycle tires.”
I spun around. Nobody there. Toby the Trouble Puppy was sitting there, startled by my sudden spinning about, wagging his tail warily.
“Toby? Did you hear anything?” He wagged his tail and stuck out his tongue and yawned a cautious yawn. I wasn’t cussing, so he started to relax, meanwhile keeping his eye on me at the same time. But I HAD heard a voice, clear as a bell. I looked at the bike on the porch. I turned and looked at my work bench three feet away. There was my bicycle tool box, stuffed with all manner of esoteric bicycle tools and also not one but TWO inner tube patch kits, both the glueless and the glue type.
There was, I could see in the morning light, considerable dust on the toolbox.
“Hey!” I said to Toby. “I know how to fix a flat bicycle tire. “ Daisy the Yellow Dog (getting on in years) stuck her head out from under my bunk to see what was going on. Seeing me standing in my boxer shorts in the middle of the room talking to myself she stretched and crept back into her personal spot in front of the dog fan. She heaved her best “here we go again” sigh and went back to sleep. Daisy sleeps a lot these days.
“We’ll see about this,” I said, sounding confident. I strode over to the refrigerator and reached for the handle.
“Wrong box.” I whipped around again, going into my best imitation Elvis karate stance.
“Who’s there, dammit!? Show yourself!” Toby jumped up from his bed, (the backseat pulled from my Chevy van) and ran under the bunk to hide behind Miss Daisy. I went to the front door and stuck my head out, looking back and forth with what I hoped was a fierce expression on my face. “I ain’t playin!” I shouted, stepping out to where I had parked the bike.
Christy, the redheaded widow from across the way, was doing a little early morning work in her tiny trailer-park garden. She turned to see what this sunrise hollering was about. Seeing me standing there in my underwear, she stood up and came over to my gate.
“Going for a bike ride this morning? I never see you out on your bike anymore. You used to live on that thing. What happened?”
“I have a flat tire.” She looked down at the big trash can sitting next to the gate. The birds were starting up with their morning racket. There are a lot of birds around the Park.
“Well, if you recycle all those cans, you should be able to afford a new tire. Maybe even a whole new bike.”
“I gotta go inside and put my pants on,” I said.
“Good idea,” She said.
“Good idea,” the Voice said. This time I didn’t even flinch. I went inside the trailer. I looked at the pile of empty bottles in a box behind the trailer door.
“No wonder I’m hearing voices,” I said to no one in particular. I reached up into the cupboard over the refrigerator and grabbed a dust rag and a can of WD-40.
I headed over to the work bench.
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Halfway HouseAugust 14, 2016