Jack of Many Trades

Baggage: Ghost Bike

Originally posted: 2014-02-11

It was drizzling when Garcia left their apartment and she winced a little at the rain as she pulled her hood up. It was going to take some getting used to, this water falling from the sky all year long. She'd let Susan buy her the hoodie even though she felt ridiculous in it - she understood now why they were so popular up here even if she still didn't feel comfortable.

Garcia stopped at the co-op on the corner and bought some fresh flowers and a small bag of M&Ms. The rain had stopped by the time she came back outside, though the sun never did appear from behind the clouds. She pushed her hood back and continued on the way she'd been going.

She'd seen the bike half a dozen times as she walked through their neighborhood, trying to get a feel for it. The bike was a permanent installation, painted white and often decorated with offerings, flowers or small toys. It was not a very large bike.

Garcia took a quick look around to see if anyone was looking, still not comfortable with the neighborhood or the city. Nobody seemed to be around, though. She set the flowers in the wet plastic basket. She pulled a couple of Happy Meal toys out of her bag and set them carefully on the ground at the foot of the bike, then added the M&Ms.

"I don't know your name," she whispered, "but I know the rules of the road. I have made my offering. I would like to speak to you, if you're willing."

When she looked up, a boy was standing behind the bike. He wore a bike helmet the same white as the bike itself. He looked about ten years old, maybe a scrawny eleven. Despite knowing what to expect, the boy's age still hit her harder than she'd expected.

"Thanks," he said, grabbing the bag of M&Ms and ripping it open. He sat down on the curb, his feet extended into the street between two parked cars. Garcia sat down next to him, though she folded her legs in.

"What's your name?"

"Kyle," he answered, sorting out the M&Ms by color.

"Hi, Kyle. You can call me Garcia." She asked him, "Do you get enough to eat?"

He nodded. "Not food exactly, most of the time? But my grandmother brings flowers, still, and little things. My older brother, too. Some of the people nearby. And the little kids know me, and they share."

"Good. I'll bring you things too, if you want. I just moved to the neighborhood."

The boy smiled at that. "Maybe peanut butter cups?"

"Sure, I can get peanut butter cups."

"I never got to try them. I was allergic." Kyle shrugged. "Guess it doesn't matter now."

"Guess not." Garcia wasn't sure what else to say to that. "So do you ride?"

He pointed to his white bike helmet. "Yeah! They said I'm a good rider! I get to see a lot more neat things now than I did before. I was only allowed to ride three blocks to the library."

"I bet you're a terrific rider," she nodded. "I wanted to meet you because I sometimes send messages and things, and sometimes I receive them. I wanted you to know who I was."

"Do you have something now?"

Garcia laughed. "You don't miss anything, do you? Yeah, I do, Kyle. Do you mind?"

"Nope." He crumpled up the M&M bag. "Where am I going?"

"Do you know where Pearl's fairy court is? On the other side of the river?"

Kyle nodded, excited. "I've only been there once but it was cool!"

"Well now I need you to go there again. Can you take this to her?" Garcia went into her bag again and pulled out the brown paper-wrapped box.

"In no time!" he jumped up and grabbed his bike. It pulled away from its permanent fixtures with no trouble, and he tucked the box into the front basked. "Nice meeting you, Miss Garcia! Thanks for the chocolate." It took just a minute for him to be out of sight.

It started raining again as she turned back to the apartment, and she found that this time she didn't mind so much.