Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Bike Crash

Henry was raised with all my other cousins on Capitol Ave. a block and a half west of Wayside Dr., and I still remember how to get there. You go north on Wayside Dr., cross Lawndale Dr., go over the bayou, and then turn left on Capitol Ave. just past the railroad tracks with the horribly designed, steep and dinky underpass.

Next door to Henry’s house was an apartment unit, a green and white, rectangular, two-story building with a sidewalk that completely encircled the apartments, except for the rear, which opened up into a driveway that accommodated eight or ten cars for the tenants.

One day Henry and I wanted to race our bikes, and we began by racing around the apartment building. It was an ordinary sidewalk without enough room for two bikes. Neither of us wanted to concede the concrete to the other and ride on the grass, so we got in each other’s way the entire trip around the building, and it was a bump and grind affair that didn’t have a decisive outcome. One of us, and I accuse Henry, but only because he’s not here to defend himself, suggested that we go in opposite directions.

“The first one back to the starting point will be the winner!” proclaimed Henry, but only because he is not here to suggest otherwise.

The race began, and I could tell immediately that this was a great idea. Without Henry hogging the sidewalk, I could get up some real steam, put the pedal to the metal, get the wind whistling in my ears, pour the coal on, and get up some real speed. Henry had no chance.

Henry was probably thinking the same thing, and we “met” in the very back of the apartment unit in front of the garages. It was a horrible crash, and as I lay there moaning in pain, spread eagle on my back fifteen feet from the bicycle, I heard Henry moaning too, and he sounded hurt. I realized how stupid Henry and I had been. Our ignorance was only surpassed by our pain, and I laughed out loud. Henry, in a serious voice said, “Don’t laugh. It hurts too much to laugh.”

Of course we both laughed plenty hard, but our bike riding was over for that day. In fact, Henry and I were banged up quite a bit. If that happened to me today, there’d be broken things, and a lot o’ them.

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