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