When I was in my pre- and early-teens I used to ride my bike everywhere and as most adolescent boys are wont to be, I was pretty hard on it.  The rear breaks snapped more times than I could count and when that happened I used to wedge my foot where the top of the rear wheel met the frame to stop.  Doing so wore the tires down so much that I went through a tire each time the breaks went out.  I used to ghost ride it down hills, take it off jumps into the lake, and try to ride it up tree trunks if there was a root that sloped upward at just the right angle.  So it’s no wonder that my bike would get its revenge while I was doing something as mundane as riding it normally on a sunny day.

I was leaning forward pedaling at a good speed in my neighborhood toward a friend’s house when in the blink of an eye my foot somehow shot forward on the pedals faster than should have been possible and I found myself laying in the street.  I didn’t remember hitting the ground and I don’t know how many times I tumbled before I came to laying on my back in the middle of the road.  What I do remember was laying there dazed in front of a large hedge comprised of lilac bushes, a solid wall of shrubbery 15-20 feet high with the only break being for the home’s driveway.  And I suddenly heard a woman’s voice from the other side:

Voice: Are you okay?
Me: Not really…
Voice: Are you on a skateboard?
Me: No.
Voice: Are you on a bike?
Me: I was

Finally this woman apparently deemed me worthy of being addressed face to face because as I was getting to my feet she came through the driveway gap.  I don’t remember precisely how old this woman was, though I believe she was in her 40’s or 50’s.  Together I walked my bike through the Wall of Hedge, left it near the garage for her husband to take a look at (as it turned out, the chain had simply come off), and she brought me inside to bandage me up.  And bandage she did.

My elbows took the worst of the fall, skinned heavily on the fronts of each.  My palms took a beating, one knee of my pants had failed to stay in tact and ripped through allowing the road to remove my blasphemous skin from existing.  These all got a serious treatment of alcohol or peroxide, generous amounts of Neosporin, gauze pads, and medical tape.  As a young and invincible man the indignity of being supremely dressed up in this manner was kind of humiliating but I allowed her to do so out of respect and thanks.  But then came the point where I began to resemble a mummy (in the words of my mother).

When the chain had slipped, I had gone face-over-handlebars and came down squarely on my jaw.  Thankfully my tongue was nestled firmly where it belonged or it would have easily been severed by the force of my teeth coming together.  In fact I still have a scar there where my facial hair refuses to grow.  It was this area that got the brunt of her good intentions; all the same liberal applications of alcohol or peroxide, Neosporin, gauze, and then medical tape…literally wrapped vertically around the outside of my head.

And then she started talking about poisoning her neighbor’s cat for shitting in her yard.

On and on she went about putting raw meat laced with various deadly poisons to kill the offensive animal responsible while she played nursemaid and her husband removed a link from my bicycle chain in his garage.  I had an instant flash of being poisoned myself, waking up tied to a bed or chair in the basement, for daring to disturb her gardening endeavors by crashing my bike in front of their house, soiling their perfectly fine roadway with all of my precious life juices.

When she finished, I thanked her and her husband, and immediately went next door, my original destination, to warn my friend to keep his cat in the house and to remove as many bandages as I possibly could.