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