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