by Liam Scheff
I’m almost human today, having reverted from whatever maudlin and darkly creative state the world usually extrudes me, into a more wide-open pose. Perhaps it was my intersection with a woman accelerating blindly into the intersection yesterday. I’ll restrain myself from a parsed, tight-lipped explanation that might make you think I was hit by a car and bounced off of its hood and tossed onto the road — that would be too dramatic. It is what happened – but I was able to stand and my job became to soothe and calm the woman, who seemed all at once in deep tremorous shock.
People don’t see cyclists, I refuse to pass in front of a car paused at an intersection, as they crane their necks right into traffic; they never see me until they hit the accelerator. This one, though, was 12 to 15 feet away, and I felt sure she’d s…
And then she was accelerating and I was sure she would hit me, it was inextricable, and then I was on top of a hood, and the bike, I noticed was too, and then there was the pavement. And I thank the Holy Lord and Lords and Goddess and Spirits and Angels that no car zoomed quite near me, and that she responded to my yell of ‘Stop!’ But, really, more, “stop.”
“Stop” is such an interesting word. It means so many things. Stop: cease, desist, arretez! But also, “Please notice the fellow on your hood and release the accelerator and do seize the brake, dear.”
The blacktop was a calm place. I lay there like it was my right to, like we were old friends. I felt myself to be entirely conscious and calm. I wasn’t thinking about other cars; I stood up and brushed myself off. I noticed the mass of swirled pollen and dust on the hood of her car. I wondered where it was on my person. On my shirt, shorts? I notice my forearm was a little scuffed, the most superficial skin abraded, by hardly at all, and I realized how lucky, entirely fortunate I’d been.
I got to bounce off the hood of a car and tell the tale. I was finally in a movie. The kind we see on TV growing up. Oh, I understand the seriousness – but – I did a real, professional stunt. And … that is kind of cool.
The woman was a shaking ghost, I had to stand with her, a hand on her shoulder, for fear she’d have a heart attack. I said, “you’ll have to look both ways, I’m okay. It’s okay. But you’ll have to look both ways.”
I said I did not want to call police – oh, what a wreck they make out of peaceful situations – and examined the bike, which was a little, though not greatly, offended by the bruising.
I said, ‘I’ll have to get this fixed, would you mind, would you be willing to come to the bike shop with me – I know them, and see what it costs – ‘
She shook her head in agreement as though understanding the Gods had let her off easy, too. “Of course, of course.”
Not an educated, but an experienced woman, late fifties, generous bosom, well-built, had enjoyed and suffered in life. A progressed “Nancy” from Oliver who had avoided Bill Sykes. I liked her. I didn’t want her to have a heart attack.
Back on the bike, she followed me in her trans am. Slowly. I rode with the thought of my own slightly skewed perceptions and knew I might be experiencing a touch of shock. But, the CBD I’d taken had left me very, almost ironically calm. The locals who came quickly to the scene of the pavement on the – well – very busy street – so, more God, more luck looking out for me – were kind, asked if I was alright. They were the oft-drunk, worse for wear residents of the park, and a lawn club of dark-toothed, tattooed drinking till death do us part Americans. And all were quite sympathetic. The whole thing restored a bit of faith in the average human to have concern elicited from them.
She followed in her Trans Am; we made it to the bike shop, but not before I was almost backed over by a mini-van. I stood, pausing, shaking my head and cursing a bit because people in cars are tools for Satan’s arse. Absolutely fucking blind with distraction goggles, hopelessly unaware and talking on radiation devices. No one looks around.
We made it, the nice woman, still with some shakes, her bosom still generous and raised for comment in her top – a woman showing the degrading collagen of the mid 50s; showing the face of both the girl and the old woman – reminded me (now I realize) of a type: Valerie Perrine in American cinema. She came into the bike shop with me; I talked to my friends there, briefly described the issue, sparing the woman’s role, and we walked out.
I felt strangely turned on – and some lusty odd part of me wondered if I could extract sex from this? I decided not to try at all, I’d regret it, I was in some state of emotion, not thinking clearly… I said she was free to go – if she’d be willing to pay the fee for the bike realignment, I’d appreciate it. She seemed in no rush to leave, so we sat outside and waited a half block away in front of a cafe. I heard something about her, we talked about CBD oil, and how I’ve had worse bumps by pharmaceutical goons. We talked about gardening – or I did, and suggested it was a good thing to do locally. She talked about bugs, I said I knew people who could help.
We went back in, she paid the 26 dollars and change for the ‘truing’ of the bike and the touch up. I wished her well, said I’d send her information regarding gardening locally. I gave her another hug – I’d given her a couple – to calm her – to reassure her that whatever film was playing in her head was not playing in real life. She’s a nice lady, and I appreciated that she would have sincerely regretted hurting me. (She’s clearly not a doctor.)
She asked me if I wanted some money; I didn’t. I don’t know what the normal fee for hitting someone on a bicycle is. I waived it. She was very appealing, in her way. Maybe I wouldn’t have regretted it. (Not that it was offered – but she seemed a sweet person; how much the world wants for some generosity, it’s so filled with venom, so pointlessly, so needlessly).
I had been on my way to a longer ride, to what I call “the Asiamarket,” but which you know under the name “Wal.” (What monstrosities we’re given to while away our days. A degraded fluorescent-bleached heap of garbage food in a plastic electric retailer), but it’s where I was going. I can’t recall why; would I risk the ride?
I pedaled, I paid close attention; noticed the tinges of slight anxiety around cars; met eyesight, proceeded with extra care. And was, blessedly, fine.
I’d gotten an email earlier that the bad guys were planning to hurt me financially by writing bad reviews on Amazon, particularly Amazon UK. They laughed to themselves about having to waste money on my book to review it.
It is to say, all in all. I think cars hit the wrong people.
So, I’ve been lightly punched by a car; I am lucky. Very. Also to have some good friends, and also, at this point in life, to be a nice – a kind person. A generous one, too. Foolishly so? I suppose I could have made 20 to 60 dollars, but chose instead to make a deposit into the karmic bank. (Oh, hear me karma, I’m paying ahead.)
Liam Scheff is, through the glass darkly, author of Official Stories: Counterarguments For A Culture In Need