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