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Jimmy’s Great Adventure

I’m lucky to be alive. When I was eight, my hard working grandmother did what she could to put food on my plate and shoes on my growing feet. She waited tables at Pipers during the day, put me to sleep and worked an overnight job at Tiny Naylors. Bless her in heaven if it exists, but that woman sure taught me the meaning of life, love, and a dollar.¬†Being a latch-key kid wasn’t all that fun. I’d come home from school and prepare my own dinner and keep myself occupied watching TV or reading books. We lived off of Western, just north of Melrose. The area was a bit nicer back then than it is today, so when I told her I missed her and there was no food at home, I asked her if I could ride my bike to her work, I had to promise to be careful and since she had taken me there before, I knew where it was, sort of.


So off I went. Only problem was, my rear tire had a slow leak. I filled it up at the corner gas station at Western and Lemon Grove and started riding south. Of course, I knew by car it’s much faster, so I allowed for that. My tire had its own agenda and would only last about 5 or 6 minutes, so I kept filling everywhere I could. This added time to my journey to Pipers, but there was plenty of day left, and my hunger pains hadn’t started quite yet, so I thought I could manage. It started getting dark and I was getting quite hungry. Where the gosh darn heck is Piper’s? (Ok, maybe I didn’t think those exact words).

The frustration of not yet reaching Pipers was escalated by the tire constantly going flat. At one point, I realized there were fewer and fewer white people and I stood out like red golf ball on a snowy field. I saw a bunch of teens in a low-rider getting gas as I was getting air. All that was missing was a sign on my back that read; ‘Free Bike To Good Home’. I had come to the conclusion that, um… Maybe I passed Pipers!?” Not sure, so maybe it’s a little further.

I rode off again, and tears are now rolling down my face as that low-riding Chevy with those teens and blaring music caught up to me. I started doing the frantic hamster wheel dance going as fast as I could. Then they started complimenting my bike. First guy said; “nice bike!” then as if I didn’t understand, the next guy says; “yeah, nice bike.” It’s just not quite a compliment when the “compliment” is followed by maniacal laughter. They were going my speed, so I didn’t like my chances of surviving this land of the lost. Just then, I turned into a lot full of taxis. An older, quite large man with a gray/white beard was in a lawn chair amongst his cabs, reading a paper and smoking a cigar. I went towards him like he was my daddy. He looked safe, almost cuddly, and it didn’t look like he needed a bike. Since this rabbit found a hole, the group of hungry wolves drove off.

Trying to contain my cry, I did my best congregating words to form a logical sentence. I basically told the man; “I’m lost, do you know where Pipers is?” (yes tears were in fact streaming) “You lookin for a tobacco shop boy? HA-HA-HO-HO-HA-HA!” Jesus, he was like a big black Santa with a stogie and overalls. I explained what Pipers was, and he said “We’ll getcha home son, don’t worry.” He called my grandma for me and she told him that it was on Western between Beverly and 1st street. I remember the man clearly saying “Well your boy overshot 1st street a scooch. He’s up here round about 127th”. I heard her screech something back to him but didn’t ask. He threw my trusty bike in the trunk of a cab, and started the meter. As we drove back, I saw all the gas stations I filled my tire at and thought, “I remember that one, and that one, and that one, oh, and that one” etc… Before his cigar was done, we arrived at Pipers! She paid him, grabbed me in her arms and started crying a bit. While in hug position, I was facing the man as he turned to leave. I raised my hand (bye / thanks!)

With tears long gone, I sat at the bar enjoying the best apple pie and a vanilla shake the world had to offer. In between slurps of my shake, I proudly told anyone who’d listen of my great adventure to Pipers including exploring new frontiers and fending off low-riding gangster bike thieves. It was my first independent adventure and I was finally a man, and I now understood the world {{slurp!!!}}.

Filed under story short story adventure bicycle bike