Gangly Noir by Matthew Riley
I first saw her through the window of Webster Bicycle Shop. She was leaning gracefully, not unlike, yet wholly different from her inferior replicas. I was 12 and she was a silver and red Rebel BMX racing bike and she shone like the sun. She was all I longed for during the summer between seventh and eigth grade. To quench this longing, I took a summer custodial job at my school in hopes of saving enough money to rescue her from layaway prison. We rode out together, number 13 displayed proudly on her handlebar’s number plate. Throughout the remaining summer days, we bonded over tabletop jumps and high-speed berm collisions. Time and again I lifted her out of the mud smiling through a grimace. Bruised shins and bent spokes only made us stronger. And then she went away.
How many minutes I stood staring at the spot in the garage where she should have been I do not know. Time’s weight crushed me and I fell without knowing the fall. Days of confused moping ensued and then finally the righteous anger pointing the way to my resurrection. Four of my buddies were over later that day and we set up shop at the scene of the crime. We were the Mystery Gang with five too many Shaggys’, but between us we knew most every creep hiding behind most every hedge and curtain in the hood. Dog walkers were no longer walking dogs but answering a few questions about what they might have seen on the night of the last full moon. Sam covered the 7-11 beat, Mike down by the creek, Yatu and Torren had the north side and my nose kept twitching south of the link. For me, this was real. For my buddies, it was just a fun way to burn the last week of summer.
Just as my time was running out, we had a break. A friend of a friend knew a guy who had just gotten busted for running a bicycle chop shop out of his parents’ garage. We were there in minutes and to my luck the garage doors were open. The first thing I saw was her number 13 partially visible behind a multitude of bikes and bike parts. As I got a closer look I could see that her handlebars were on a Mongoose frame. Then I spotted her forks embarrassingly clutching a yellow Tuff Wheel. Her frame was sporting a host of Huffy and Redline products. This was a mongrel lot all bent and betrayed. Unsure of my next move, I bought time by pacing the street in front of his house. Then I saw him coming out through the kitchen door into the darkish garage. He was two or three years my senior and thirty or more pound heavier, but my anger was beginning to grow starting in two small, clinched fists. Before I knew what I was doing I was standing in front of the open garage listening with him to the words falling staccato from my mouth, “That’s my bike. There, and there, and there, and over there.” I could see that he had been crying and before he could turn his head back around from where I had been pointing, his tears began to flow again; "Please don’t say anything. I’m already in huge trouble and I’ll have your bike fixed and back to you by tomorrow.” I had no reason to forgive him or believe him, but I did and he came through. Although, she never did feel like she took the berms quite as smooth or caught the same kind of air as before. As time passed, my interest in BMX waned and my fret over her lost capabilities diminished to forgetfulness. In my late teens, I gave her away to someone nearly as enthralled with her as I was then.