Morning Bike Ride
So, I’ll try to keep this short, because maybe you’ve already heard parts of this from your mom and Nana, but you’ve probably only heard the parts where they swoop in to play the hero, and obviously there’s more to the story than that. It was the morning after our St. Patrick’s Day party and they weren’t doing so hot themselves, sleeping off some wicked hangovers upstairs. The house on Wavecrest was a disaster zone, naturally. There were still at least four or five of Nana’s friends conked out and snoring on the living room floor when I came down. Mo McGee was wearing Paul Sibley’s tie around her forehead like a bandana, and his shirt was all rumpled and unbuttoned down the front, which was pretty goofy because he’d been my high school principal just two years before. I was always getting sent to his office for the shenanigans me and my boys would pull, but he knew I was basically acing all my classes except math, and he thought I was funny so I got Snickers bars instead of punishments. Pretty radical, I know. He even made me and my bro Patrick “prefects,” which didn’t mean jack shit but made your mom jealous because she was accustomed to being the golden child. Anyway, I stepped over Paul and went out to the porch, where Lucian was munching on this gnargly-lookin’ piece of toast, all burnt up and black. I used to call him “Lotion” because he had such a smooth way of talking, and when he was stoned, I called him “Lotion-in-slow-motion.” Lotion-in-slow-motion didn’t even look at me as I hustled past. He was busy brushing crumbs out of his hippie beard and staring up at a dirty piece of fabric wrapped around a high branch on the maple out front. (You probably don’t know this, but Nana took some allergy meds in the ‘70s that made her psychotic, and she spent a whole afternoon cutting her bathrobe into thin strips and flying them from that tree, like blue cotton streamers. That was a few years before she married Lucian, so he couldn’t have known the full story unless the neighbors ratted, but there he was, contemplating the leftover evidence with bloodshot eyes. Hah.) Anyway, I went around to the garage, grabbed my bike, and split. It was a wet morning, which I did not appreciate, because I had a long ride ahead of me. Now strap in, because this is the part of the story where I lose people: I knew something horrendous was going to happen if I didn’t stop it. I won’t tell you how I knew, because you wouldn’t get it, but that fact was as real to me as you are, sitting in front of me now. In my opinion, psychic intuitions are not so different from psychotic breaks, but you don’t see palm-readers getting rounded up and pumped full of lithium. Hah. Anyway, I would have made a clean break of it if I hadn’t stopped by Patrick’s house to nab the rain jacket I’d lent him. Braw was in to all kinds of psychedelics, and on top of that he called himself a poet (and you know a lot of poets are just con-artists with egos), so he essentially had no right to judge me for anything, but he asked, and I gave him the skinny; I was biking to Santa Barbara to stop an earthquake from killing Nana and Heather. If I didn’t go immediately, Quackenbush the plague doctor would remove his mask and split the earth in a catastrophic Quacken-quake, and creepy crawlers from below would wiggle out of the seams and drag my family down to the underworld. So yeah, I needed my raincoat lickety-split. I didn’t get the feeling he really gave a shit when I told him, but I guess he must of because basically an hour later, Lotion’s car pulled up in front of me and Nana tackled me straight to the ground. I’d already shralped about thirty miles up the PCH, which might surprise you because I’m so skinny now, but remember back then I was practically a professional skater, getting featured in Thrasher and all that. Even so, Nana walloped me right off the bike and dragged me in to the backseat, and then they stuck me in the hospital while Quackenbush squatted at the bus stop out front and cackled through his beak. It was pretty preposterous. Long story short, they got their diagnosis. I got a prescription and a parade of rinky-dink shrinks. And now everybody gets to continue drinking and smoking and tearing apart their bathrobes and marriages and none of that matters because apparently, I out-did them all. Hah. So, what’s your mom’s version of that story?