Friday, September 27, 2013

A Broken Bicycle


Grace and I are in Midwest City, Oklahoma, for the Rose State writing conference. So how do we pass the time before Opening Ceremonies?  We do a writing exercise. The prompt: You wake up by the side of the road lying next to a bicycle with no memory and no wallet. What happens in the next hour?   Page 52 from 642 Things to Write About.
   “Hey, mister.”
   The funny little man seems to be talking to me.
   “What’s your name?” he asks.
   My name. Odd, but I can’t think what my name is. I think it’s something common like Bill or John. I don’t know.
   “That’s my bicycle you know.”
   He’s glaring at me like I’ve done something wrong. Actually I didn’t know it was his bicycle. What do I care whose bicycle it is?
   He’s shaking the mangled bike at me. “Look at that.”
   I can see it’s broken. What has that got to do with me? My head hurts.
   “You’re responsible.” His face is as red as his hair.
   “Look. I’m really sorry.” What else can I say? I don’t know how I’m responsible. I’ll give him a few bucks to fix the damn thing. It looks old anyway. Well, shit. My wallet’s gone.
Maybe he’ll let me catch it tomorrow. “I’m sorry.”
   “You said that already. I want to know what you’re going to do about it.”
   He looks threatening. Like someone less than five feet tall can look threatening. And wearing bright green pants? I don’t think so.
   “Don’t laugh at me, mister,” he says.
   Maybe he is dangerous.
   “No. No, of course not.” I need to sit down. My head really hurts and I think I’m going to be sick. It doesn’t seem funny to me either.
   “Do you see that kettle?” He’s pointing at an old iron kettle. Not huge, but maybe a three-gallon size.
   “Yes,” I say. “It’s broken, too.”
   “I know it’s broken, too,” he says and clouds up like he’s going to cry.
   In fact, the sky has clouded up, too.
   He sits next to me and blubbers, “The gold’s all gone.”
   “I’m sorry,” I say. And I really am, but I don’t know what he’s talking about. I really don’t.
   And the next thing I know lights are flashing and this big guy in a uniform is bent over me asking, “What’s your name?”
Check out Graces take on this writing prompt at

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