SWEETIE
Jane Zingale

   Street parking is at a premium in my neighborhood and I’m most appreciative for the protected car park under my building.  However, one day when I drove into the garage I sensed a change in the atmosphere. When I stepped out of my car I felt a significant rearrangement in the weight and density of the air. I scrutinized my surroundings and discovered someone had stolen the pedals and wheels from my bicycle— a beach cruiser the color of concord grapes, an imperial purple with white pin striping. I’d named her Sweetie. Not wanting her to be stolen, I’d tethered her to the metal pipe below my storage cabinet.

      When I saw her I gasped, my nostrils winged out as I released a corrosive snarl. Such a vicious and damaging act so infected my nervous system; it forced the arterial pulse of my heart to quiver like a plucked string. Miserable and offended by such larceny I envisioned the moment of the assault. I pictured Sweetie whipping about like a tormented soul while the culprit wrestled her wheels and wrenched her pedals off their attachments. When he finished he’d shoved her up against the damp cinder block wall where bits of crumbling white paint flaked down on her like confetti. 

     Sweetie had become totally immobile on the metal braces that once held her white walled tires. The chain, no longer attached to the rear derailleur pulley, helplessly sagged and drooped into a cataleptic scroll of ornamental design. Her rigid crank arms sans pedals were stark and empty. She was but a skeleton of her former self.

      I feared my clever bicycle would never be the same majestic transporter of my humble self. I finally draped her body in a funereal black plastic garbage bag. It swagged over the handlebars and partially covered her as it draped down on either side of the head tube and fork upon which she rested.                                                                                                 

     Before the thievery Sweetie and I used to ride flat out along the oceanfront. I’d hunch over the handlebars rapidly pumping my legs. My hair flew out behind me as the wind caressed my skin and reassured my countenance. Full of excitement and enthusiastic gusto I felt guaranteed everything was possible. We’d race down the bike path until I was spent. Life in those moments was good. Gradually I’d decelerate, sit tall and allow my legs to circle round and round slow and dreamy-like while I examined my goals and ambitions. I’d mull over other distracting thoughts such as—I’m alone, I live alone, I’m getting older, I’m in the process of getting lonelier and lonelier until I’ve become a solitary person.

     This unwitting thief had no idea the extent of emotional chaos he’d wrought in my sober alcoholic mind. As I stood before Sweetie, my enduring bicycle, my self-worth pinched as it scurried beneath the fragile skin of my pride. I wanted a drink. My ravaged bicycle awakened ancient fantasies that churned inside me. Decades of accumulated sentimentalities revolved into thoughts that spun and hissed around my ears like the hurdy-gurdy of an organ grinder. I was drenched in retaliatory considerations and punitive self-judgments and I wanted to get drunk.

     I touched my face to feel and know I was a physical entity. I did not reach for that drink. I simply stood there alone with my compulsions and then I nodded my head, dipped my chin and sighed as I dwelt on the possibility of changing my skewed perceptions.