by John Christy
Nature fed my love of the color green. Watching sunlight find its way through the canopy of shimmering leaves was a singular pleasure in my solitary life. I felt warm. I felt safe. All due to the plethora of varying shades of green.
So, when I saw it there, it leaped onto the movie screen of my mind. Even amongst the other colors of black and red and yellow and blue, the green one stood out. It looked golden in comparison to the others. Assembled together in a perfect military rank, their eyes right, their metal parts polished and shiny. None the less the green one stood out. It even managed to appear to be larger that all the others.
The coins and dollar bills in my cigar box were becoming restless, reminding me that they were there to perform their part in the fulfillment of my dream. My sweaty 12 year old palm, holding the lid closed, covering the gilded images of Garcia y Vega, until such time that I may produce my life savings in exchange for a pristine, green, Schwinn Varsity 10 speed bicycle, with the custom addition of a book rack over the rear wheel.
The store owner stood next to me, silently, while my mind went for a ride on my new, bicycle. Racing down the hill with the other boys from the neighborhood that had been in possession of their 10 speed bicycles long enough to have rust forming on their steel rims. Hopping curbs, running across lawns, riding down to Mr. Roevangs’ store for a popsicle or a five cent bottle of Coca-Cola, riding through the creek where we hunted for frogs and….
“I can lower the seat down enough for you to reach the pedals,” injected the store owner. My imaginary ride popped like a party ballon. Suddenly I was back in the bicycle store. “Here, I‘ll hold the handlebars while you get up on the seat,” he said. I snapped my cigar box treasury under the spring clip of the book rack. While I reached for the pedals with my toes, he made a mark on the post approximating the spot to where he might have to lower the seat.
Stacking the silver dollars that my grandmother had given me on my birthdays and Christmas. Unrolling the bills of lawn mowing money I’d earned last summer. Separating the stockpile of quarters and dimes that I’d won playing Acey Ducey with the Navy veteran across the street. Counting it out again, like I had done a dozen times before; assuring myself that I finally had
enough ransom to meet the price for my independence.
The consequence of my actions hadn’t occurred to me until my parents arrived home that Friday afternoon. Sitting outside on the patio, rubbing the head of my dog, Bucky, trying to screen him from the angry discussion about my new bicycle, going on in the kitchen. I’d been accused of stealing the bicycle from one of the neighborhood boys. Pointing to the $65 price tag, still hanging from the handlebars, I was accused of stealing my bicycle from a store.
Upon the order of my mother, my father loaded my bicycle into the trunk of his De Soto for the humiliating ride back to the bike shop, for the senseless proof that I had, in deed, paid for the bicycle with my own money. My stunned parents loaded my bicycle back into the De Soto and drove home in silence.
My father, with the respect that he would afford to a bottle of nitroglycerin, set my bicycle down in the patio breezeway. With the afternoon sun reflecting off the lustrous green paint, I could make out the gash, that the trunk lid had made in my once new bicycle.