This is a story about a boy…….and his bike.
The neighborhood where I live is very settled and subdued. A good portion of its inhabitants are retired, or near retirement, and compared to most other subdivisions its size there are very few kids under the age of 16. There is only one entrance into and out of it, so there is very little vehicle traffic, instead the streets are jammed every morning and early evening with residents taking their daily constitutionals. At times it resembles a scene from something you’d see in a Steven Spielberg movie with his knack for exaggerating the ordinary. Couples, families, a pair of grandma’s exchanging recipes as they stroll or a grandpa walking his poodle and letting it piss and poop on everybody lawns except his own. In another time you might see Norman Rockwell standing at the end of the main thoroughfare, holding the thumb and forefinger on each of his hands out before him to construct a make shift frame to peer through, conceptualizing what his next painting might look like.
Included amongst the dwellers of our quietly secluded haven is one particularly interesting little boy. I don’t know his name as I have never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I see him almost every day. He is probably 12 years old and I never see him with any companions. What makes him standout to me is his bike, not that the cycle is customized or anything special because it is quite the opposite, but rather the fact that he is always on it, a lot. In this day and age of Razor scooters, skateboards and Caster Boards, seeing a kid actually riding a bike is surprising by itself, but on top of that he rides a SINGLE SPEED ordinary Schwinn. Not a mountain bike integrated with humungous shock absorbers or a racing bike with 57 gears with aerodynamically engineered airfoils. It’s just a plain old bike, meticulously maintained, which he rides up and down the streets of our neighborhood tirelessly.
Not only does he ride his bike up and down our streets continually, alone, patrolling for some unseen menace that only he can protect us from, but he also pulls attachments behind him and adds sound effects from time to time. An old warehouse hand truck tied underneath his leather seat serves as his makeshift trailer, and mounted on his handlebars is a small device that mimics the sound of a police siren. You can imagine the worry and confusion he caused the first time he unveiled that little addition.
I’ve always waved hello to the Bike Boy when I see him riding on my way home from work or elsewhere, even though he has never acknowledged me. Sure, there is something slightly “off” about him, but so what. I find myself imagining what his parents are feeling when they see him set off on the adventure that only exists for him. Do they worry about what the neighbors are saying about him because he’s “different”, or do they embrace his quirks and encourage his riding? I hope I would, if I were in that position.
So at night when I’m settling down on the couch after dinner and I hear the feint wail of a siren coming from the road in front of the house, I wonder about that boy………and his love for that bike. There is nothing so pure as that.