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Excerpt 4

April 10, 2017

As I rode up the exit ramp, I saw a guy with a bicycle at the top watching me. My first thought was that he was touring on a bike like me, but as I came closer I could see he was just riding a mountain bike. And definitely not a biker: no biking shorts or shoes. Just some guy on a bike. He was muscular and heavily tattooed, a combination that always makes me a wee bit nervous, but I sized him up and decided that he seemed to be more or less ok. That assessment was soon called into question. He called out:

“Hey, do you have an Allen wrench I can use to fix my brakes?  They’re really loose and don’t work very well.”

“I’m sure I do.” I said, but not wanting to adjust brakes on an exit ramp with cars and trucks speeding past us, I said “Let’s ride over to that truck stop. We’ll adjust them there.”

He thanked me, and introduced himself to me as Chris. The truck stop was about one quarter mile west. We rode up to it, single file, me following him. It was a fairly big truck stop, like “The Iron Skillet” or a “T and A”.  There were about twelve trucks parked in the lot, so while not dead, it wasn’t exactly a throbbing place.  As we entered the truck stop, a thin, blond haired woman in her mid-twenties came out of the door.  She was not happy to see Chris, and her screaming sounded like a frozen motor bearing:


She screamed as soon as he was in earshot. She told him in terms that no one could mistake that she did not want him in her parking lot. She made it pretty clear that if he didn’t leave she was calling the cops. She screeched it again, “I’m going to call the  f&^$#?! cops!”

She sounded like she meant business to me. For good measure, she called him an expletive that no one should say in polite company, and which cemented my nervousness to be seen in his company. And that was the good part of what she had to say. No kidding. She called him a liar, a murderer, an escaped felon, a child molester, (more swearing), and just about every other type of bad person you can think of. I wondered if any of what she said was true, and worried about what I had bumbled into. Was this guy setting me up for some nefarious purpose?

Chris verbally brushed her off. He was actually seemed to be pretty level-headed; he must have heard it before. He told her he was just here to fix his brakes, but she continued her ranting and screaming. Chris turned to me and genuinely apologized, “I’m sorry about this.” He said. His apology disarmed me. I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I just stuck to the business at hand, getting his brakes tightened up.

I pulled the wrench from my pannier and handed it to him. “It’s none of my business. Here’s the wrench.” I didn’t want it to be any of my business.

As he adjusted the brake cable, she went back inside the truck stop. Standing outside, twenty feet from the door, I could hear her muffled voice complaining about him to a coworker.  Yes.  She was that loud.

I really didn’t know what was going on, but from my standpoint she seemed totally in the wrong. I don’t know their past history, but what I saw was a guy ride up to a gas station and attempt to fix his bike.  A woman comes out and without provocation on his part, she lets him have it with both barrels, figuratively speaking.

But I’m sure she didn’t see it that way.

Chris finished with his repairs, handed me the wrench, and thanked me. I went inside to new shades.  I nervously looked around for Blondie; I didn’t want her flying off the buy some handle at me!

I tried on a couple of different pairs of sunglasses and finally settled on a pair that seemed mechanically stronger than my previous pair yet were reasonably priced.  Blondie was nowhere to be heard.


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