Friday, May 03, 2013
The Bike Mystery
Yesterday I was outside attacking the edges with a weed-eater. If you don’t know that American term, it’s a battery-powered device about 4 feet long with a switch on the end you hang onto and a rapidly-whirling plastic string on the other end that neatly clips weeds and grass in places the lawn mower can’t reach.
So I went bzzzzz around the walnut tree and bzzzz along the hedge, and then I noticed the bike. There in the back yard, not far from Hansie’s old doghouse and Substation Drive, a red bike was neatly parked.
It had a rack on the back with, it looked like, some gear strapped on.
Ok, if there was a bike, there had to be a rider, but where was he?
I looked around carefully, saw no one, and kept weed-eating with a cautious eye to the west.
No movement anywhere, no sign of anyone. Hansie’s doghouse looks, to be honest, like an outhouse, and the thought crossed my mind that someone may have had an emergency and went in there, only to discover it wasn’t what he thought, so he was in there watching, embarrassed, waiting for me get out of sight.
So I wandered to the other side of the house for a while. When I came back, the bike was still there.
I had a growing sense of something sinister going on.
I also thought I heard a noise in the house. I was home alone.
What should I do?
Well, I should probably see if someone was in the house. But what about my own safety? As the Bible says, “What is that in thine hand?” A weed-eater. That would work.
So, clutching the orange weed-eater in my left hand, I tiptoed through the house, around the downstairs, up the stairs, peeking into closets and bedrooms. Nothing.
It occurred to me later that fighting off an intruder with a weed-eater might be a little non-non-resistant. But really, I wouldn’t have been really violent. I would just have encouraged him to do right.
Back downstairs. The bike was still there. Had someone wandered into a field and fainted? Were they hiding in the shed?
I called Paul. He said his nephew Austin is working at the warehouse and he’d send him over.
Austin is a fine young man and I was happy to see him. He looked inside and behind the lamb shed and the doghouse. Nothing.
Then he looked at the bike.
“Hey, I recognize that bike, I think! It’s that old guy that comes around. Larry Something.”
All my vague misgivings and inflated fears dissolved into amusement. All that drama for Larry?!! And concern. Where in the world was he?
Larry, I should add, is a lovable fellow who is probably 60 and was somewhat brain-injured through a childhood incident. He can take care of himself pretty well, and rides all over the neighborhood on his bike. But if his bike shows up without him, you worry.
I don’t know that he’s ever wandered off, but who knows?
Austin and I looked around some more, in and behind stuff, and across the field and in the ditches.
Finally I called Aunt Susie who knows everything. “Who should I call?” I asked her.
“Well, not his dad, he’d be upset,” she said. “Maybe Titus.” Titus works at the pellet mill next to our warehouse.
I didn’t have his number. Would she mind calling?
She wouldn’t. We waited. Austin said, “Oh, I remember now. Larry was over there this morning helping Titus work on something.”
Susie called back. Everything was fine. Titus had come by and seen Larry on his bike and offered to take him out for lunch, so Larry parked right there and off they went.
Wow. Praise God, everything was ok.
Later I was out working some more when I heard a car door slam and saw Larry marching over to his bike.
I walked over. “So, you went out for lunch with Titus?”
He grinned. “Yah!”
“I see you have some pop cans in your basket,” I said, making conversation. “Do you take them to Safeway?”
“Yah! I get money for ‘em.” He was in a hurry to be off, and wheeled the bike to the driveway, mounted, and rode away.
It was a happy ending to the story. But I think I will, for some time to come, feel very foolish about prowling around ready to fight off good-natured Larry with a weed-eater.