I only caught it out of the corner of my eye. Something I had seen before. Something I’d been looking out for. In the back of my mind. A particular bicycle. Ridden by a particular person. One with the seemingly sloppy, and haphazard dress of a more typical messenger than myself. This time he didn’t find it necessary to attempt running me over. He was likely more consumed with navigating the heavy traffic that he couldn’t intimidate with speed and surprise.
He weaves the bike in between cars, crosses the oncoming lane, and hops the curb. Startled from nearly being hit, a dog jumps at the cyclist, barking. This jerks the leash, and coffee spills down a clean, pressed button-up. The owner curses after him. Which only elicits a two-handed shrug as he leans back, steering through further sidewalk obstacles with his legs.
From a short distance, I’ve been watching this transpire. Furthermore, I’ve been waiting. Waiting for any opportunity for confrontation. Much like the dog walker, a day of mine was nearly ruined by this jerk-off. I didn’t get hot coffee spilled on me. But the fragile package I was carrying got smashed to pieces. It could’ve cost me much more had I not been so savvy. It’s probably a game this guy plays. See how many times he can get in the way. A side of amusement with his deliveries.
I continue in the same direction. Watching the building he enters. There’s a donut and coffee place on the first floor. After he bolted up the stairs to make his delivery at the above offices, I promptly stride to the bike rack, pulling my keys out. Without hesitation, or conspicuousness, I jab the sharpest one into his back tire. It’s sudden, although brief hiss is my victory lap.
Next, I don’t flee, but stand with my back against the wall of the donut shop. And wait some more for the spoils of retribution. I might not make my delivery on time. So what? Maybe I get written up for the third, and final time. Who cares? It’s too bad the dog walker didn’t stick around. This is gonna be great. Coffee on your shirt or not. My god, I wish I had some booze right now.
When he finally emerges I become giddy. I watch his reactions change as if it were an award-winning movie. For the first half of it I can’t see his face. But the body language is more than enough. He looks up and down the street, then finally turns back to see me smirking. I look away, maintaining the smirk. Just to put the tiniest shred of doubt in his mind. Make him confusedly wonder if he should accuse me.
“Did you do this?” he asks, pointing back at his tire. I just smile at him. “What the fuck is your problem?” Now he steps towards me.
“Oh I remember you. You almost hit me with your bike a few weeks ago right? That bike,” I say, pointing at it. “Caused me to drop a very fragile package. Could have costed me my job.” I’m moving in too. We stand nearly toe to toe.
“Oh shit, that was you wasn’t it?” he starts laughing. “If I realized, maybe I would’ve stopped to kick you in the balls and steal your package. It’s the least I could do, after what you did to my brother.”
“What? Who’s your brother?”
“You don’t even remember. Why would you? How could you? I’m standing here thinking, is he even going to ask how Cameron is doing?”
My hostility briefly attempts to morph into confusion and embarrassment. I remember meeting this guy. It was nearly a year ago. I did go to visit Cameron in the hospital. I didn’t get in to apologize to him. Because of a confrontation with the same asshole standing in front of me now.
“How is he doing?” I ask after a while.
“Fuck you dude. He’s doing better without you in his life.”
“I was never really in his life. And too bad about your tire. I didn’t see what happened.”
He only frowns at me. Then pulls his pack off, letting it hit the pavement. I think he’s getting ready to take a swing at me. But then he moves back towards his bike. The back tire is popped off, and the tube is replaced in a matter of seconds. A handheld cartridge inflates the tire, and soon the pack returns to his back. I’ve obviously made a huge underestimation.
“Good luck. To Cameron too,” I say.
“Whatever dickhead, I’ll be sure to see you around,” and he steers back into traffic.