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