Choice of bikes

It was summer, and the heat rose up in glassy waves above the street in front of Tommy’s house. The field across from us was dry and golden, a heavy breeze betrayed in curls and tendrils moving through the arid grass, almost warning to abort our plan.

We had a choice of bicycles and chose one with a slender frame and pencil tires that didn’t seem equipped to handle Tommy’s stoutish body, its cork-wrapped ramhorn handlebars a stretch for any prepubescent boy. But both of us were confident that Tommy would manage.

We found a nylon rope in the garage long enough to suit our need and thin so we could tie a double knot, then we tied one end of it around the polished seat-post of the bike. The other end we made into a loop that I could hold. Rough against my palms, the rope was old and fraying, shedding little bits of yellow nylon to the concrete floor, disintegrating slowly.

Outside, the asphalt smelling warm and sticky, I planted a foot on my skateboard and slowly rolled it just a bit to check that the trucks and bearings were in order.

Tommy’s legs engulfed the bike so from my view I could only see the tires, and we took to speed. Against my face the air was hot and like the feeling in my stomach came in dull foreboding waves. Tommy turned to watch and his front wheel shuddered. I could tell it terrified him slightly.

Beneath my feet the skateboard started wobbling, every imperfection in the road conducted through my legs and nesting in my belly blunt and nauseating. Despite the growing fear my wheels were about to shatter, I yelled to Tommy, “faster!” til our speed was ludicrous.

I didn’t know back then that skateboards aren’t stable at such a pace. I didn’t know back then that sticky pavement becomes loose and little bits of it can break away. I didn’t know back then that gravel makes a bad tattoo and knees don’t work as brakes.

For a moment I just laid there bleeding numbly, watching curls of wind bend and turn through the field of flaxen grass. It’s an amazing thing to see the wind move like ghosts before your eyes, to hear the blades of grass lean over from the pressure of a force seen only in its effect.
#Amsterdam #nederlands

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