I gaze high up at the brightly lit stage, feeling lost in the large musty space. Within an instant I recognize three familiar banana seats – one of them a girl’s– only it is crusted over with thick, bruised blue paint, not light sparkling yellow as before. My brothers’ bikes are quickly wheeled in by police officers, right beside mine; they are more scuffed up than usual – as if someone has stomped on them, or thrown them recklessly into the back of a big truck. Unsure of their exact path, I imagine our vehicles being gathered, but feel sickened, and somehow fail to equate law enforcement.
My mother’s suspicious words haunt me; traveling from our basement locker to the Chicago pound, the bicycles are right where she anticipated — now at public auction, along with dozens of others belonging to any number of anonymous kids. Figures are called off loudly, but dumbfounded, I can barely make out the garbled amounts. My parents are silent and frowning, as we are wheeled around, shepherded into our father’s arms, and steered towards the dismal exit.
Banana seats are all the rage — the high handlebars, extra long seats and cushioning, flower power designs and psychedelic swirls, are bliss. I recall how my parents saved up for them in time for the Spring, the joy of racing half-way down the block to the beach, my brothers dancing their glistening spokes like comets to the tune of an ice cream truck at the curb.
One solitary key left with the building, our storage space was never vandalized, or curiously anything else taken – the lock, never broken, just opened and closed again while we were away that long summer. In the early autumn months, there are more strange occurrences. Three Doberman pinschers die from rat poison in the back alley — a bold black swastika soon marking the German janitor’s garage door. Intolerant of our back yard games and neighbor’s noisy pets, he never liked kids or dogs, that much is eerily certain.
I know we won’t ever buy back our stolen bicycles or figure out what happened, but I save $100 from babysitting on weekends over the next couple of years. So determined I am one day to purchase a new, grass green Maserati which we pass safely along to my youngest brother when I leave for college.
Referencing our Demo Class, Beijing Bicycle, with Roberta Seret, Thursday, 2/3
Click to see the captured event, courtesy of TC Office of the Web.