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