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A Short Story
by Bryan Costales
Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales, All Rights Reserved 0
and below that a was a local phone number without an area code. Nobody seemed to be watching him. A new song segued his attention. “Free bike for the right owner. Outside the train window he spotted a bicycle leaned against a concrete wall with a small for sale sign taped to its handle bars. Bibbi bip. Johnny studied the bike. and asked himself. and sometimes regretful of his close cut hair. Johnny believed himself still young. He gazed at the sign on the bicycle and tapped his toe to music so vividly rich from his earphones. despite recently turned thirty-seven. Sound cancelling earphones played Les Cowboys Frigants harmonizing a version of Chanteur Pop recorded live somewhere in France. Johnny stared at it. a nice mountain bike.Pencil Drawn Mouse by Bryan Costales Johnny Ribbon tapped his toe three beats to the bar on Caltrain as his car pulled into 22nd Street Station one stop from home.” the sign read. It appeared to be a superbly maintained mountain bike and didn’t appear to be locked. Johnny stood up straight and looked around. Homeword Angel by Moby. “How much?” He stood and hurried off the train as Day Too Soon segued into his ears sung by Sia. Johnny slipped off his earphones and was immediately Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales. All Rights Reserved 1 . a little tan from long walks at lunch. Do-do.
” Trafﬁc noise from the freeway overhead dropped brieﬂy. “You Won!” But nobody walked out. no cameras peered at him.” Behind him the train pulled slowly out of the station. “But still the phone number. just like he had been headed home too. What had her name been? He couldn’t remember.” Johnny hesitated and wondered if he might be on a hidden camera. Johnny stood alone on the platform where sun light hit him directly as if a follow spot followed only him. The woman’s voice reminded him of Disney’s Minnie Mouse. Johnny thought he could hear music playing behind the woman’s voice. “So what do I have to do? Do I have to tell you how much I like the bike?” “Look under the seat. commuters driving home above. “You saw the bike?” It was a woman’s voice. The last of departing passengers vanished up the metal steps like tap dancers up a Busby Berkeley musical staircase. High and squeaky like a cartoon voice. “Go ahead. but in the train below.” Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales. All Rights Reserved 2 . He shrugged. A sequined woman might emerge carrying a sign. Why are you giving it away?” “I give away one thing a day.” he mumbled. He plucked his iPhone from his pocket and called the number. “You rich or something?” “Something.” the squeaky voice pressed him.assaulted by noise from the freeway that passed overhead. She would come out and the crowd would shout. a tinkling piano rag.” Johnny didn’t expect that. like in a boxing ring. “Take a look. He used to know a woman with a voice like that. “Free bike. must have been a friend of a friend or maybe someone who worked at one of the several places he had once worked. Tappity Tap. perhaps Scott Joplin. “Looks like a good bike.
plucked it off and stood again. rolled it.” Johnny noticed writing on the envelope. he saw a label on the bike. He toyed with the idea of calling the phone number again but decided not to. But why were skis and snowshoes also on the list? And where had he seen that mouse before? Johnny slipped his earphones back on. it looked like something he’d seen before. Monkey Rag by the Asylum Street Spankers played. peddled smoothly. bent like that. Scuba gear. On the back was a penciled list.” The envelope ﬂap was tucked in. “Enjoy the bike.” Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales. On the front was a pencil drawn picture of a mouse with its mouth wide open in a yawn or maybe a yell. yes. Chicago. But he hesitated.” Writing that matched the writing on the sign. All Rights Reserved 3 . Snowshoes. Johnny tapped his toes and smiled. not glued.” The squeaky voice said. folded it and tucked it into his back pocket. “Do you have the envelope?” “Yeah. The picture of the mouse tickled his memory. He turned the card over again. open it.” and hung up. “Bike. He’d been wanting a bike and wasn’t about to jinx a free one. He saw a small envelope taped under the seat. Zap do what. “Bike. “Open me. He dismounted and reached to lift the bike. “Well go ahead. Had her name been Dixie? No that wasn’t right. “A free bike. The stairs looked a lot steeper knowing he’d have to carry up a bike. His toes touched the ground when seated. and the brakes worked well. the handle bars were a good width. He sat on the bike and found the seat already adjusted to about his right height. How bout that!” He pulled the sign off the handle bars.Johnny bent and looked.” A check mark was by the word. It rode easily. He reached. so Johnny pulled it open and withdrew a small card. Skis. “Trek Bicycles. He peddled the bike forward a dozen yards to the base of the stairs. He stopped without a squeak. Johnny frowned.
His heart was beating more than he expected. Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales.” he said aloud. he once knew a Didi that moved to Chicago. He tried to remember what she looked like. Wo wo wo wo. Johnny had only gotten ﬁftythousand and blew it on a down payment on a condo near 6th and Minna. “I’m starting a new company in Chicago. rested and wiped sweat from his forehead with his shirt sleeve. I’d love to have you. Duelfest. Plink plunk plunk. Uphill to say Howard Street and then home. so he lifted the bike and started up again slower this time to Jug Band Waltz by Jim Kweskin. that had been her name.” he said and mounted the bike again. “I wonder. but could only remember a costume at the company Halloween party. “My town. Schifoan by Wolfgang Ambros segued into is ears. by Amos Lee segued in. They had sold the company for millions and moved to Chicago. Had something happened to Isaac? Had their new business failed? He pulled the folded paper from his back pocket. Johnny reached the street. She was married to the boss where he worked at the time. motivated by the rhythm of Monkey Rag. but that song segued out and Sweet Pea. Which way? he wondered. Betty Boop at a Halloween party. He walked up quickly at ﬁrst. Chicago. a game software company two blocks off South Park. The address that popped up was on Mississippi Street just a few blocks away.” Shif fooaaan. But Johnny believed then and believed now that he belonged in San Francisco. The Duelfest logo had been a screaming mouse. If any of you great programmers would like to join me there. His pace slowed and he began to pant and think. While he rested. “Chicago. He shook his head and realized his breathing had settled.” he said. He felt his weary toe tap and tap. He unfolded the paper and typed the number into a reverse-lookup site on the Internet using his iPhone. downtown near the loop. He remembered his last day at Duelfest. or downhill to Third Street and then home? Johnny stood there undecided and thought about Didi again. Johnny paused at the ﬁrst landing and set the bike down. when his boss Isaac had said. All Rights Reserved 4 .Johnny lifted the bike and started up the stairs. That was all he could remember. Yes Didi. a short woman with a voice like Minnie Mouse dressed like Betty Boop.
He re-pocketed the phone and began to ride slowly along Mississippi Street. “Old Man River. “To Mississippi again. A tractor trailer loaded with frozen ﬁsh destroyed his and a dozen other cars in the parking lot outside a Bob’s Pancake House at lunchtime. He checked his cellphone again for the address then turned off his music. “Should be safe. all he could remember was Betty Boop and a staircase. All Rights Reserved 5 .Johnny re-pocketed his phone and re-tucked the note into his back pocket. but he didn’t know one way or the other. “I don’t want to be distracted. He’d crossed it once by car while driving east for a job. He looked up and down the street and saw nobody threatening.” he said. Johnny looked back down at where he had leaned the bike against the stairs. He believed he may have kissed her once when they had been drunk but couldn’t be certain. He reached Mississippi without having been hit by a car so stopped one foot on the sidewalk to let his breath settle again. He tried to remember if a helmet was the law in San Francisco. Johnny tried to remember if he had kissed Didi at one time. “Up hill. The old Music Master merely sat there amazed. The address led him to a white house near the end. The stairway ran straight up from the sidewalk and there was a garage next to the stairs and the garage was level with the street. His car had been rear-ended and totaled by a run-away truck in the Smoky Mountains. Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales. Who Will Save Your Soul sung by Jewel began which confused Johnny so he took off his earphones and draped them around his neck.” That Old Music Master by Hoagy Carmichael played into his ears as he peddled up the modest incline toward Mississippi Street. as if they sensed he was new to this bike and thereby more vulnerable than he might otherwise have been.” he decided. He realized the bike hadn’t come with a helmet. wooden columns supporting the second ﬂoor above chocolate colored porch. crisp and well maintained. He mounted the bike and thought about the Mississippi River. A ﬂat-topped Edwardian with white painted. A few cars passed him a little too closely.” he said and turned to face the door again.” he said as he watched for addresses.
Nobody’s fault. he just keeps rolling. Nobody’s fault really. same short brown hair. at the bottom of the stairs. She looked just like the Didi he remembered. Inside the house he heard Shadow People playing softly. “I found the bike at the 22nd Street Caltrain station.” Didi rolled back a bit as if she might invite him in but stopped.” Didi continued to smile as if amused by a secret untold.He pressed the doorbell and it felt cold under his ﬁnger as if seldom pressed and heard a distant ding dong inside the house. From somewhere behind her he smelled bread baking or maybe mufﬁns. A stupid broken bottle caused a blowout and the truck swerved in front of us. “That was you? You found my bike?” Johnny turned to face Didi again. Same pixie-like face. but he don’t say nothing. Johnny nodded at her chair. Didi smiled. Isaac was killed instantly. You always had an uncanny ear for music. Didi rolled to the threshold and looked down. The door swung the rest of the way open to reveal Didi seated in a manually operated wheelchair. Johnny wondered what he might say. All Rights Reserved 6 .” The door swung slowly open. He waited and tapped his foot and half spoke and half sang. he keeps on rolling along. “Johnny! Is that you Johnny? How’d you ﬁnd me?” Same Minnie Mouse voice. “Yeah. I wasn’t so lucky. Johnny turned sideways and gestured with his hand at the bike parked below. “Doctor Dog?” he asked. Not really. “That’s right. “What happened?” “A trafﬁc accident. same dimples.” Johnny said.” Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales. “He must know something. Didi looked up at Johnny and said.
softly worn and comfortable.” Johnny glanced back at the bike and hoped it would be okay. Just inside the door an older woman stood with her arms folded. Fa Jita. Her Mom kept her arms crossed.” Behind Didi’s Mom. “I’ll try. “And this?” Rhythm and trumpets blared. She glared at Johnny as Didi rolled past her and said over her shoulder again. one of Johnny’s more obscure favorites. Guac A Mo Le. “Come on in. “My mom. Didi pointed a remote at a shelf of electronics and changed the music.” she said.” Johnny stepped up to Didi’s Mom and extended his hand. “Tuesday by the Bacon Brothers. Over her shoulder she said. then followed Didi in. “See you do. Didi clicked again.” Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales.” she said behind him. Hey Jude by the Beatles. Didi had rolled to the far side of the coffee table with a low white sofa across from her. Curtains were open and a small jungle of potted plants mobbed the sunshine under each window. She looked Johnny up and down as his extended hand dropped. All Rights Reserved 7 .” he said.” Got something bad in my belly. but this time just smiled.” He slid in past the coffee table and sat on the sofa. Didi clicked again.” She’s the Queen Of New York City. Tacobel Canon began to play. “That’s too easy. “What’s this?” Johnny tapped his foot.Didi rolled backward and turned away from the door. “Oh yes. “And this?” Violins and Piano. “Johnny. Le’Accordeoniste. Johnny smiled. “Be careful. “Didi has been through a lot. “Black Rose by Black 47.” he said and stepped passed Didi’s mom. “Edith Piaf. The living room was in the middle of the house.” he said and smiled.
Johnny tried to remember how close a coffee shop might be but he didn’t know the neighborhood. Tambourine Man sung by Bob Dylan. “Okay. Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales. Johnny had always wanted to do a music web site.” Johnny sat up straight. “Me too. All Rights Reserved 8 . For some reason his mood just then. “What are you doing now?” “What do you mean?” “You have a job?” “Yeah. “Go get on your bike. In that jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you. But he had been sidetracked and sucked in by promises that never developed for other kinds of sites. “You want to go out for coffee and talk it over?” Didi nodded toward the front of the house.” Johnny was surprised the bike was still there.” he said a little cautiously. just as he had left it leaned against the stairs. after that I moved back here with my Mom and I’ve been dreaming up a new startup.Didi lowered the volume causing the music to ease into the background. Well.” “Something to do with music.” he said. “After our business went bankrupt. “What kind of startup.” she said and smiled. Didi rolled back from the coffee table.” Didi leaned forward. elbows on the arm rests of her wheelchair. But never for music.” she said. “I’ll meet you out front. while I was in the hospital. Ever since school. after the accident I mean. I’m with a startup in Palo Alto. and the empty street reminded him of Mr. Johnny stood and realized how much he towered over her in that chair. She adjusted a beige knit blanket covering her lap and asked.
Publication History 09/18/2010 First published on Scribd.” She smiled a half smile as if she had said something ironic.” he half-sang. He mounted his new bike and Till I Get It Right by Fastball echoed in his mind. A bright green scarf around her neck ﬂapped behind her neck Isadora Duncan-like. Didi turned a bit to clear Johnny and his bike and took off. “Well I spent all my money at the record store. All Rights Reserved 9 . I’ll stay here all night until I get it right. She sped past him and into the street. over to the other side and off toward downtown. You were Betty Boop?” “More to talk about over coffee.com Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales. She was moving faster than Johnny expected. Johnny smiled and peddled in pursuit of Didi on her high-tech wheelchair. “You remember the kiss?” Johnny stared at Didi. “I ain’t afraid of no damn girl in no wheelchair. “On the stairs.The garage door whirred open and Didi rolled out snug in an electric wheel chair. eye to eye with him.” “A Segway wheelchair?” “You afraid?” Johnny smiled and said. She looked up at him. “You want to race.” Didi laughed and dropped back down to chair height. She rolled out to him and raised up to balance on two wheels.
All Rights Reserved 10 . and Peridot Books. Please also visit his http://www. Pencil Drawn Mouse © 2010 Bryan Costales.bcx.About the Author Bryan Costales is author of several technical books. he has been writing a bi-weekly short story for almost two years. in the Banyan Review. chief of which is the O’Reilly “sendmail” book. also called the “bat book” because of the picture of a bat on the cover. Micro Horror. In order to hone his craft. He has written short ﬁction for over thirty years and has been published in Cantaraville Six.com/novels/ site for a glimpse of his novels.