Each morning she expects to see her bike returned, no questions asked, and then she’s disappointed, but not as much as the day before.
Today she’s on her way to get some towels. Days need lists of things to do or they run together.
She corkscrews Rafe’s wide Camaro slowly up the Target ramp, the driver behind her flashing his high beams. Then he roars around her and up the ramp.
“Asshole,” she calls.
The towels on the shelf are not like the ones in her head which, she now realizes, are the ones in Ferguson’s bathroom. She moves on to an aisle titled SEASONAL. Through the gaps in the bottom shelf, she sees them. Rows of white shoes.
She abandons her cart, runs down the aisle, to the next aisle over.
An entire table of white shoes lashed into pairs and all marching in the same direction.
Back down the aisle, past the check stand, through the door, she tries not to run all the way to the car. Tires squealing, she drives towel-less into the day.
There was a nurse who’d said, Can you live with what happened to you?
She can. How sad is that.
Someone is honking. The light has changed. A bicycle speeds past and as soon as she sees it, she changes direction. East, not west, straight to Velo Bike Shop.
The salesman at Velo is named Kirby and he is amazed. The bike and helmet, a pair of gloves, a fancy lock, all in thirty minutes. Kirby helps secure the trunk with bungees and then wishes her happy trails.
The bike thuds in the trunk like a body when she turns corners. Tomorrow she’ll get up early, ride so long that she’ll be bicycling in her dreams.
But as she approaches the house, she wonders, what has she changed by spending this money? Nothing. Just another distraction, like Rafe’s Camaro. The guitars.
She goes right past their house, and parks in the alley.
By the time she’s released the bungees and hauled the bike out, Ferguson is standing on his porch with hands on hips and a Mariners cap on his head.
She walks the new bike to the porch. The cat swarms his legs.
“How much that set you back?”
“I don’t know—I forget.”
“Lucky you. Looks to have all the bells and whistles.”
“And I got a lock.”
“So you’re not thinking a ghost stole the other one from my porch? Given up on that view, have you?”
She stands blinking. She’s lost her place.
He says, “Lunch time. Have you eaten?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“That wasn’t the question. Come watch me eat mine.”
But once she’s inside with the bike locked to the porch railing, he begins fixing two pimento cheese sandwiches as he tells her about his childhood friend Bob, who came to grief from bad habits.
“Don’t make one for me.”
He doesn’t stop, either the sandwiches or the talk, which has turned to advice, mainly, Don’t get old, and don’t lose people.
“Not an entire sandwich, please,” she says. And watches as he takes wax paper and wraps the other half for later, very slow and very thorough.
To read the rest of this piece, purchase issue 27.1 here