It was late Sunday afternoon, Susan had already left the house to join the Slow Bike Society on the Eastern Shore for a round trip ride from Mullet Point to the Grand Hotel for afternoon tea and cookies.
Later on, around 5pm, I grabbed my 1980s era Huffy Bay Pointe 3-speed and headed to book club, Drinkers with a Reading Problem. Bikes, books and beer are a few of my favorite things. It started out as a nice leisurely ride to the The Book Cellar, a space next to Page and Palette for adult beverages, book launches, and live music.
As I crested the hill near the tennis courts, I was riding on the shady sidewalk with the whir of distant lawnmower when I heard a Crack! I looked up and saw a dead limb snap away from a pecan tree and it was falling into my path. I quickly rode off the sidewalk and toward safety. It never made it to the ground. Turns out it had fought gravity and won, thanks to it being caught in a cocoon of kudzu. And that was that. I pedaled on to book club and didn’t think anything more about it…but perhaps it was a sign.
At book club, I was enjoying a Grayton Beach Salt of the Gulf and listening to my fellow book clubbers comment on In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, by James Lee Burke. Just as I was about to spout my thoughts on the book, my cell phone rang. My bride, Susan. She never calls me at book club.
“I’m calling because I knew you’d be mad if I didn’t,” she says.
“What happened?” I’ve already assumed the worst with her intro.
“I fell off my bike, and scraped up my leg and elbow. I’m okay. I’m home. I’m going to take a shower and put some ice on it.”
“How bad is it? Do you want to go to the ER?”
“No, it looks bad, but it’s just below my knee, I’m just gonna rest.”
“Do you want me to come home?”
“No, stay at book club, I’ll see you soon.”
“Thanks for letting me know, and yes I would have been mad if you didn’t call and tell me.”
When I got back to the table at book club, they were still talking about the gratuitous violence, and that the book was well written.
“Irene, (her book pick) I thought with an amputee like John Bell Hood so prominent in this book I thought you picked it with me in mind.” I did enjoy the book, the writing, and yes, especially the confederate dead. I did feel like there were a few too many deaths, i.e. plot points, that made the book about 100 pages to long, but I’ll read more Burke.
When I got home I looked at Susan’s leg and did my best Dr. Samry. Her leg looked like a red raft floating over a sea of skin and she told me what happened.
“I was riding beside Valerie on our way back to Mullet point and I hit a trash barrel with my handlebar. I misjudged how close it was. When I hit the barrel I fell and knocked Valerie off her bike. I’m glad we were wearing helmets.” Valerie had a puncture in her ankle and was able to ride back later with some of the group and thankfully, it didn’t stop her from playing her Monday morning tennis match.
Of course, the slow bikers are all Eagle Scouts, nurses, teachers, and mothers. Not only do they have Band-Aids on board their bikes, they have alcohol swabs and all manner of first aid. I think one of them carries a defibrillator. Everyone, genuinely concerned, including Maureen, Rosalie, Patricia, Liz and others, helped clean and dress the wounds. For some reason I thought of Bill. He’s like MacGyver, I would trust him with a scalpel, needle and thread. Thankfully they didn’t need any of that, no broken bones, nor a trip to the ER. A good Samaritan, Linda an employee from the Grand Hotel who had just finished her shift, stopped to find out what all the commotion was about and gave Susan a ride back to her car. Dadgum, people are so nice here.
My wife, bless her heart, has a history with mayhem. When she was a kid, she ran into the corner of a house. Yes, A house! Can you imagine…”it was during a game of tag,” so her story goes, “another judgement gone wrong.” Anyway, she’s fallen off her bike before too, but when she was a kid, over the handlebars and all. She was even bit by a dog while riding. Yes, while riding, and then she fell off, not wanting to run over the second dog, a pocket dog from the grassy knoll. Honestly, she comes home more battered and bruised from her classroom, no, not physical abuse from her 330+ second graders over the last fourteen years, but from walking into desks, tables, and quite frankly anything stationary. Oddly enough, I think she’s been fine on the stationary bike at the recreation center. Thanks to her cadre of caring cyclists Susan will be back on her Raleigh M-20 bike in no time, but this week she’s back to school. Stepping gingerly around all those desks I hope.