Friday, June 29, 2012

The incident of the bike in the night

I couldn’t sleep. It must have been the bratwurst. I shouldn’t eat bratwurst. My doctor says as much. After an hour flopping like a beached fish, I resurrected myself, dressed, and the dog and I went for a walk. It was 2 a.m. The dog was puzzled but game. I didn’t bother with coffee. We walked our morning route along Pearson to Watauga, then right toward the park. Down the street I spied a few kids doing something with a bike in the dark. The dog and I pulled up and waited. What they were doing was lifting a bike that had been cabled to a parking sign. It took all three, one sitting atop another’s shoulders. The thieves had to lift the bike up and off. I thought to confront them but remembered my age. I also noted our unequal numbers. The dog would not help. I thought to hurry back to the house and call the cops. By the time I did that they’d be gone. So I waited, caught in a paralysis of weakness. While I watched it occurred to me that removing the bike from the sign wasn’t going to get them a free bike: the wheel would still be locked by the cable. It would just allow the thieves to carry the bike from the scene. What good was that? I suppose they’d have more time later to saw through the cable. The guy sitting atop the other lifted the bike clear and handed it down to the one on the ground. The horse rider climbed off his partner’s back. They looked around, not seeing me, and one of them pointed farther down the street. They trotted off that way. Then one of them pointed to the other side and they crossed, all in a clump with the bike carried between them like a circus prop. They stopped at another parking sign on that side, resumed their positions, one atop the other, the first handing the bike up to his mounted friend, and dropped the bike with its cable over the top of this sign, and left it there much as its owner had first parked and locked it across the way. They weren’t thieves, it turned out, but pranksters. They snickered and shushed each other, and then, hands in pockets and with innocent swagger, they strolled off into the night’s gloom. I’d been feeling ill from lack of sleep but witnessing this episode made me feel much better. The dog and I had a good long walk without meeting anyone else, except near the end of it a fellow in a car, delivering papers. We returned by way of Cullowhee to the house for coffee and some leftover bratwurst for the dog. From The Folklorist.

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