Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Bicycle Game Day 3!

The next day, Mike doesn't find Katie. He scours the city, uptown and downtown, riding for eight hours straight on bike paths and avenues to no avail.

"I've only known her for less than a week," he thinks. "Perhaps she takes a dance class one night a week and this is that night. Or maybe she mentors to inner city youth one night a week. And this is that night."

He gives up at midnight and goes home to plot his route for the following evening, choosing neighborhoods whose scenery might appeal to Katie, based on what little he knows about her.

Three more days pass without any sign of her. And Katie doesn't find Mike either. Unless, as he imagines, she is covertly tailing him. "Maybe she just likes to watch me ride," he thinks. The thought of Katie trailing him, admiring his calf muscles from afar, helps Mike to keep his growing panic at bay. He envisions her a block and a half behind him, sighing when he weaves in between cars. He tries to avoid looking back over his shoulder, instead making a point to spray water into his face at stoplights, shaking his wet hair with a cinematic grace. Also, he often rides with no hands. Katie might dig that.

At night, he retraces his route, drawing up an alternate path for tomorrow's bike ride. Or he'll lie on his bed imagining Katie phoning him up or knocking on his door (she'd have looked him up, though he's not sure if he's listed).

"I couldn't wait any longer for you to find me," she'd say, stepping into his apartment and pasting her body to his.

"I looked everywhere," he'd say, peeling her dress (she'd wear a dress) from over he shoulders. "I wanted to just knock on your door, but that would've broken the rules of the game."

"Let's stop searching," she'd say. "We've found each other. I don't want to let you go again." Then she'd say something about leaving her boyfriend and they'd fuck in Mike's New York apartment. Mike hasn't fucked anyone in his New York apartment yet, and he's quite anxious to do so.

Entertaining this fantasy usually sends Mike to his bed to masturbate to memories of sex with Katie and far more vivid memories of sex with his ex-wife (the good sex, not long after their wedding).

The next day, Mike starts his bike ride at 8 AM. He rides for ten hours straight, taking short brakes for fruit smoothies and defecation in public restrooms. At six PM, he parks by the curb across the street from Katie's apartment. Two hours later, Katie comes walking up her sidewalk with a man in his mid-thirties by her side.

Mike puts all of his strength into the clench of his fists on the handlebars as he watches her kiss him on his cheek. The stranger continues walking down the sidewalk and Katie opens her door. Then she turns around and faces Mike. Mike rides across the street.

"This is quite forward," she says.

Mike sits on his bike. He sprays his face with some water to try to wash the hysteria from his eyes. "Who was that?" he asks.

"Jeff's friend," Katie says. "My boyfriend's friend. He took me to a movie."

Mike says nothing, just stares at Katie. She takes a step into her building.


"You didn't find me," she says.

"You haven't been bike-riding," he says. "You couldn't have been. I've looked everywhere."

"I've been riding. You didn't find me."

"You have not!" He instantly regrets the whine to his voice.

Katie's eyes close just a bit, then she steps into her vestibule. She stops when Mike says, "Wait."

She turns to him.

"I looked everywhere," he says. "Every day. I never stopped looking."

Katie's shoulders fall. She steps aside and says, "One last time." Mike carries his bike past her and up the stairs.

They lay in bed after they fuck. They don't touch. They lay with their arms by their sides. The sex was as brief as the first time, but far less urgent.

"Do you take a dance class?" Mike asks.

Katie doesn't say anything. She stares at the ceiling.

"You're really going to dig bike riding in California," he says. "There are so many pretty places to ride."

Katie keeps quiet.

"Why are you moving to California with your boyfriend?"

She responds in a quick monotone, like she's offering a rehearsed answer during cross-examination. "He's my boyfriend. I love him."

"Are you gonna marry him?"

Katie says, "If he wants me to."

Mike stays quiet for a bit. Katie rests her forearm on her forehead.

Mike says, "This just doesn't seem like the behavior of someone in love."

"This is just bike rides," Katie says. "And this wasn't even that."

She gets out of bed and ties herself into her robe. "This was it. You have to go."

Mike sits up. "Wait. I'm sorry. It can just be bike rides."

Katie says, "I don't think you're a compatible bike ride companion for me."

Mike doesn't move.

"Really. You could never beat me in a race. Just go."

Mike stands up, gets dressed, and leaves Katie's apartment. He doesn't know what to say, but he knows exactly what to do. He has to go and buy a better bike."

This'll end tomorrow. Swear.

Happy The Bicycle Game Day 3!