Summer Fun...Sorta (short story)
True Story by Lowell Lewis
We are going to the pond the skip rocks! This usually includes a little bit of fishing, catching frogs, turtles, and crawdads. If we're lucky, we might see a snake. It's always exciting (scary is the right word, but I don't want to seem like a baby) to watch them slither around flicking their tongue out. Sometimes we see them swimming--they say a snake can't bite you while he's in the water, but one bit Mike last year when he tried to catch him by the tail--so I know they can.
Mom said I could go if my older brother went with me. He likes to go, but I don't think he likes for me to go with him. I begged and whined until he agreed to go with me--oh yeah, and I had to promise to mow the yard for him (that is usually his job).
"Are we gonna do any fishing?" I asked him while rubbing my bare foot across the grass.
"No," he said, while putting air in his bicycle tire.
"Why not?" I asked.
He sighed and said, "Because it is too much trouble taking all the stuff."
"What stuff?" I asked, while thinking that all we need is a couple of fishing poles.
He stood up and let his bike lean against his hip while using his fingers to count off the items; "Poles," he said, "tackle boxes, fish net, stringer, bait, knife, pliers..." He bent back over to screw the cap back on the air stem of his front tire.
I made a face at his back. "Is that all we need?"
"We are not going to fish while we are there." He shook his head emphatically.
"I really want to."
"Can I take my fishing pole?"
He sighed, "no."
I watched him test the air pressure in his front tire by pushing down on the front of his bike. He seemed satisfied. He picked up the air pump and took it back to the storage shed.
I followed him and tried again, "can we just take one pole?"
"I'll carry it."
"I'll even carry the tackle box and all of the other stuff."
"It's just too much trouble--besides, I don't think we'll be down there very long."
I blew air into my cheeks and bit my tongue (not too hard) as I fought down the disappointment.
He looked at me, "maybe we can go fishing next time."
He carefully put the pump back in its place--he's kinda that way. Me, I would've probably just tossed it in the storage room...oh, well.
"You ready?" he asked.
"Yep!" I nodded.
"Where's your bike?"
"Oh...my bike." I pushed my lips out and hesitated.
"Where is it?"
"It's...kinda, you know, broke." I jammed my hands into my pockets and kicked at the ground.
"Well, not really broke--just kind of in pieces." I looked at him to see his expression--I quickly looked back at the ground.
"What did you do to your bike?"
I scratched my head and rubbed my nose before I answered, "well...I was, uh, going to see if I could, you know, put grease in the sprocket bearings."
He rolled his head back and stared at the sky. "Like I did the other day?" he asked.
I nodded. He really made it sound like a bad idea.
"Why didn't you wait and let me help?"
He put his palm on his forehead.
After a minute, he sighed. "Okay, where's your bike? Let's see if we can fix it."
"Well let's look at it."
"Not a good idea."
"Why not?" He was starting to get red in the face.
"I lost some of the B-B's out of it."
"B-B's?" he shouts.
"Those are not B-B's! Those are the bearings!"
I bit my lip. "Oh."
"Where did you lose them?"
"In the field."
"Across the street?"
"Yes." I wasn't feeling very good about this line of questioning.
"But--how did you...?"
"My slingshot." I mumbled.
"WHAT?" he yelled.
I flinched and repeated, "my slingshot."
"Let me get this straight. You shot your ball bearings into the field across the street with your slingshot?"
The way he said it made it sound like I did something really stupid.
He put his hands on his hips. "That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of!" he said.
Well, that certainly puts it in perspective--considering some of the other things he's heard about me doing.
"I'll just...walk to the pond," I said dejectedly.
He eyed me for a moment. "How else did you think you were going to get there?"
I sighed. "Sometimes you let me ride on the handlebars." I gestured vaguely toward his bike.
He took a deep breath and it sounded like he muttered a prayer under his breath.
"Okay. You can ride on the handlebars this time. But when we get home, you've got to tell dad what you've done."
My heart dropped down a notch, bumping my tummy. "Okay," I agreed in a whisper.
We got settled in and soon we were zooming down the pavement. I was fascinated by the way the pavement seemed to be moving under us. I was fairly comfortable on his handlebars--sitting with my feet on top of the forks (just above the tire).
The sunlight flashed off of the spokes as the wheel turned. This caught my attention and the motion of the front wheel soon mesmerized me as we zoomed along. I heard the sound of the tires as they hummed on the blacktop pavement. I heard the pedals creaking as my brother pedaled us along. In the background, I heard birds chirping and a mockingbird fluttered his wings atop a telephone pole. The sun was warm and the wind felt good in my face as we rode along.
For reasons I can't explain I had a sudden curiosity about what would happen if I stuck my foot in the spokes. Yeah, looking back, I'd say this was pretty dumb--but at the time, I didn't really think it all the way through.
Anyway, without any hesitation, I lifted my foot off of it's resting place on the fork and just jammed it into the moving spokes.
My curiosity was immediately satisfied. I didn't have to wait or wonder any more--the very instant my foot jammed into the spokes, the wheel stopped turning. The bike immediately flipped over and my brother sailed over my head while I slapped face down onto the pavement!
It took a minute for the pain to really soak in and for me to get my breath back--but soon I was wailing like a siren and trying to get untangled from the bike. It hurt! It hurt bad!
My brother limped over to me. "What happened?" he asked. He was bleeding and his shirt was torn.
I gulped back my tears and sucked in my breath.
"I stuck my f-foot in the spokes."
His eyes widened. "On purpose?" he sounded shocked.
I nodded and started crying again.
"What were you thinking?" he yelled. It was obvious that he wasn't the least bit concerned about my well being. "Were you trying to kill us? his voice cracked a little at that volume.
"I don't know!" I wailed.
He examined the bike. "You bent my spokes!" he said angrily.
"My foot is bleeding." I said, not kidding, it was cut pretty bad.
"Well, if you hadn't of stuck it in the spokes it wouldn't be."
Great. What a time for bringing that up. I'll probably bleed to death while he is ranting about his silly bike.
"...and you ruined my shirt!" he continued. Obviously, this wasn't going to change soon--he was looking for more things to blame on me.
"I think I broke my ankle," I said, while exploring the scrapes on my face with my fingers.
He glared at me. "That's your face, not your ankle."
I was hurting too bad to even say anything back to him. I guess he noticed and suddenly he bent over me.
"You are okay, right?" he asked with a worried crease in his forehead. I started to tell him that I like him a lot better when he acts this way, but decided this is probably the wrong time.
"Oh, it hurts!" I moaned, only having to act a little.
"What hurts?" he asked.
I tried to decide what would scare him the most. "My head," I said, clutching it in both hands.
"Let me look."
"Don't touch it!"
"Just let me look."
I held still while he checked me out.
Easy for him to say.
He squinted at me. "You know when I said that shooting your ball bearings across the street was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard of?"
I nodded, while trying to smother a grin. This is going to get good--he'll probably apologize for everything he's said and done for the last few weeks.
"Well...I was wrong." he said.
"That's okay." I moaned a little and clutched at my face to hide my smile.
He tapped the spokes and pointed at my foot. "This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of."
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