CYCLIST

We drive around. We take the side streets and the alleys, and head South to where the Mexicans go.  I slow down when we see a biker, or a bike chained to a tree.

“That’s not it,” he says, he keeps saying. 

“He’s gone,” he says, “We won’t find him.”

“Let’s try,” I offer, “Just imagine we do.” 

“Picture what he looks like,” I say, “how he holds your bike, how he sits on your seat, how his sleeves flap against the gearshift.”

“It was a one-speed,” he says. “There’s no gearshift, I got it for fifty bucks.”

“I even bought lights for it.” He adds, “Two diamond lights that flash.”

“Shoulda got a Kryptonite lock.” He says. He bangs his fist against my dashboard. 

“We’ll find him,” I say.

“Sorry,” he says, his face turned down. “Thank you for doing this.” 

“Sure,” I smile, “I’m glad we finally met.”

“Me too,” he says, in the way that I always do. I always say, “Me too.”

 

***

 

We drive over a speedbump, on a residential street. Our eyes dart from side to side, looking for a flash of metal, a blinking diamond light, the tranquil sound of rubber wheels on pavement.

 

“What did it look like?”

 

“It was blue,” he says, “Skinny wheels, I’ll know it when I see it.”

 

I keep driving. On a side street a block ahead, I see two flashing lights, moving slowly.

 

“Do you see that?”

 

“Yeah,” he says, “Go right, we’ll cut him off up there.”

 

“That’s him,” he says. He throws his cigarette out the window, and presses his hair against his head, “That’s him, I’m going to kill him,” he says, his voice cutting short, “Cut him off.”

 

“Right here?” I ask, turning the car. My breath gets shorter. “Is it him?”

 

He opens the door and gets out. It’s too black to see the cyclist, all I see is two diamond lights, blinking softly on the ground. I hear yelling, a pound, a thump, a groan.

 

His shirt is ripped, his face red, slippery. In his arms, a blue bicycle with skinny wheels and flashing lights. 

 

***

 

He lives a few blocks away from me, so I head East. The streets are solemn, mostly empty. My eyes still stray to every bicycle we pass, every biker, every host of skatekids lingering by a gas station. 

 

“Stop.” He says, he presses his hand on the window. Outside a liquor store, at the corner of an intersection, stands a chubby Mexican kid on a blue bicycle. 

 

“That’s my bike,” he says. “Pull over.”

 

“What do you mean?” I stop. He slams the passenger door. He walks determined towards the kid. His white-blond hair sticky. Across his back, a heart-shaped sweat stain.

 

I look at the bicycle in my car. A beat-up blue, with silver handles. There, on the handles, is a thumbprint of blood smeared across a small silver gearshift. 

 

In the green and white light of an empty intersection, I see him swing a punch at the boy. He lifts the bicycle around his waist, and pounds the boy in the head with a skinny rubber wheel.

 

***

 

There are two bikes in my backseat. I drive as fast as I can, avoiding left turns and yellow lights. 

 

The front of his shirt, sprayed with crimson foam. His once-alabaster skin, now choked a spotty red. His face, such a different face, I think.

 

“What are you laughing at?”

 

“I don’t know,” I say, “I just laugh at things.”

 

“Shit,” he says, “Stop the car.”

 

“No,” I say. 

 

“Stop!” he yells, “Stop the car!”

 

He doesn’t look at me, he pushes his finger against the windshield. His temples throb like flexing fists.

 

“That’s my bike.” He says.

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