I did not want to go on the damn bike ride, but Clark seemed so excited about it, and I do like riding my bike, so I plodded down the stairs to the basement, knowing once we got out and got going, I would be okay. We had to pump up tires; I stood in the basement for 15 minutes while Clark filled the tires on one bike, then the other. He opened the garage door.
The air was brisk, brisk enough for Clark to be wearing a windbreaker. We turned left onto Live Oak and I took off, trusting he wasn’t far behind. The wind felt incredible, and as I leaned forward with my head into it, I was aware of my warm body as the air opened up for me and hugged me like a backwards jacket. We pedaled over the bridge and I see-sawed from side to side to get some momentum going. I reached the top and pedaled twice and then coasted down the hill on the other side. We biked past the marina but we didn’t go in; those boats weren’t tied down and there was a hurricane coming. The neighborhood turkey stood by a mailbox while a lady tended flowers nearby. I laughed and pointed and she just shrugged. I heard Clark say something to her behind me, thank God. Laughing and pointing is impolite. We turned the corner.
We rode past the house the Thatcher’s lived in when their house burned down, and on further down that street we rode past my 3rd or 4th favorite house in the neighborhood. There are some really old people around here so it’s good to keep a list of favorite houses.
We took the short cut, then cut back around to the long side and I almost ran over a kid. He was not too far from the curve, playing in the street, and the girl with the dog who was with him almost got it, too. I’m pretty sure the girl with the dog was watching the other two younger, crazier kids who tore through the streets and tailed us while pedaling their little Spiderman bikes until they were nearly smoking, the furious looks on their faces reflecting the effort it took to keep up. They broke off at what I assume was their invisible fence, and I heard them roaring with laughter.
A little ways down we found a dead snake whose underbelly was black and white checked. He looked like he was wearing a Vans bodysuit. Turns out it was an Eastern Corn Snake, non-poisonous, and he had gone belly-up. I got a picture of the dead body for my Instagram feed because with all the checks and all the rocks on the road it was hard to see the little sucker. I wanted my friends to be able to play “Hide and go snake” like we all did as little kids. On the way back to the house, I smelled freshly-cut grass and motor oil, and looked back to make sure Clark hadn’t fastened blades and a hood onto the back of his bike and was weaving in and out of yards cutting down blades of grass and baby mushrooms whose whole lives were these last few days. He hadn’t. When we got back to the house, Clark said, “Well, that was a good workout,” and I said, “Thanks,” like I was his teacher or something because I had been leading him the whole time.