Written after pedaling over to the far end of Fox Point, Providence to pick up my phone charger at a friend’s place. He forgot to leave it in the mail box as we had agreed and I almost got mowed down by an irate taxi driver while running errands on the way home, but the bike gods were smiling down and vengeance was mine.
Biking is about Math.
How much time until that signal light turns?
How much space will I have in between traffic and that car door
if it suddenly swings open? If I have multiple errands to run
is there someplace I can get them done without having to ride back and forth across the city all afternoon?
I set off for Thayer Street; post office, copy shop, fair trade coffee, all on the same strip.
I took the back roads, avoiding traffic, skipping the biggest hills and having fun.
Was smart enough to be wearing shorts and the air felt nice on my sweaty legs.
The skin on my face, already slightly tanned and getting used to the sun
so the mid-afternoon rays beating down feel nice, rather than deadly.
Cruising in and out under the shade of trees I make a left on Angel
go down a few blocks and cut up by the Wheeler School.
There’s some construction going on and a dangerous looking corner
but no pedestrians in sight, so I head up onto the side walk
by-pass the workers and return to the road,
coast to the middle of Brook Street, raise my left hand to signal for a turn
and suddenly hear a loud screaming horn
Shocked as shit and almost falling off the bike, I glance back
and there’s this blue and white taxi cab behind me.
The driver is making disgruntled hand gestures and looking all upset.
I make eye contact, nicely, and then following Rhode Island law
for road bicycling to the letter, re-signal my turn, as if to say:
I’m turning LEFT now and in order to do that safely
I have to be in the middle of the lane, Sorry, I’ll be out of the way in just a second.
At which point the taxi then actually attempts to speed through me.
There’s a line of cars at the red light a block away
and it seems as if this guy’s life depends on whether or not
he can get his vehicle in line to wait with them before the signal turns.
Like it’s somehow his duty to get up there and wait with them,
like not only am I just another stupid kid on a bike
and not only am I completely and utterly fucking up the program
but like I’m actually standing in between him and some function so crucial
that the absolute and immediate removal of my person is the only conceivable option.
He BEEPS loudly. Again. This time lays on the horn for even longer
then drives right up close to my bike, putting me at great personal risk
and making a ridiculous scene. So, calmly, I turn because biking
after all, is about Math.
Quickly I judge the distance, lead his car a little and as it passes,
hock the largest, nastiest mouthful of neon congested allergy phlegm
that I can possibly gather, like: FIRE IN THE HOLE!
And there it was, a surprisingly large specimen, glorious, glistening,
canvassed against a clear spring sky. I lost all notion of space and geography
time slowed, and there in the soundless ecstasy of triumph, I watched
focusing in nearly preternatural detail as my main projectile hit dead center
exploding immediately and sending shrapnel gobs of spit in all directions
but the back end of it curved up defiantly! And for a spilt second flexed in mid air,
then finally came down over the top like the tail of a jumping fish thrashes the surface scum
of a small pond before re-entry. What I mean to say… is that it was a direct hit.
A once in a life time shot, like a buzzer beater from half court
or a single rebel X-wing blowing the entire Death Star.
The look of shock sweeping his stubbly stupid face was nothing short of priceless.
He had a weird little fit with his hands then leaned dangerously out the window to scream
YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, YOU KNOW THAT! Wipers and cheap windex working furiously
as he sped off into the afternoon sun. I smiled deep and kept pedaling.
It was the kind of smile that can make a boy forget how crooked his teeth are for a second.
It was the kind of smile that could make anyone feel better
about riding all the way over to the East Side for a phone charger
that wasn’t even there.
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