Marley is curled in my lap. So, I feel almost guilty in writing this.
The other day, the breeze into which I’d pedaled
to Point Lookout lapped against my back for my ride home. Hardly a cloud besmudged the clear, bright
sky that would soon blaze with the sunset.
Even the splintered, blistered houses that had weathered the harshest
winter in decades just a year after Superstorm Sandy tore at them floated
through my vision like images from a dream.
From a patch of cement and shrubs in front of one
of those houses, a big black cat darted into my path. If you are a cyclist, you have had hundreds,
if not thousands, of such encounters with felines. And, to the extent that I thought about it, I
expected this one to be simply another.
If you are a cyclist, you also know that cats
almost invariably run as close as they can to your front wheel, then cut at a
sharp angle away from it.
Note that I used the word “almost”. The black cat (You can’t make this up!) wasn’t
one of the invariables. He/she actually
ran straight into my front wheel, and glanced off it.
My front wheel made a U-turn to my right. The rest of the bike, and I, didn’t
follow: It stuttered and teetered on the
pavement. I flung my left leg out. But
it did not stop me from tumbling into the back of a parked car.
The sky hadn’t yet grown dark, but I saw
stars. A gust of steel lashed against my
side. And the leg that couldn’t break my
fall flung to the side and left my right calf to take a blow against the car’s
“Are you OK?
Are you OK?” A young Caribbean-Indian
woman ran toward me. “Are you
hurt?” I couldn’t talk; I could just
barely inhale without feeling a stab under my rib cage. She pulled my water bottle out of its cage on
my bike. “Here, take a drink.” I sucked at the nozzle; after I swallowed, my
next breath came easier. “How do you
“OK, I think.”
“Just take it easy.”
She crouched beside me while a man—her boyfriend or husband, I guessed—watched
from a nearby porch. He held a cell
phone. “Is she all right?” he yelled.
The woman and I both nodded.
“Where did the cat go?” I wondered. “Does it belong to anybody here?”
“I don’t know”.
I think she saw my frustration. “I hope it’s OK.” I meant that, even though a part of me was
damning it. “Don’t worry about it,” she
commanded. “Can you get home all right.”
“Yeah, I think so.
The bruises are just starting to appear. But I’ve felt the pain, just under my rib
cage, every time I’ve bent over to pick up something or feed my cats. Hopefully, it’ll fade: I want to ride, and I don’t want Marley or
Max to go hungry! At least, they’ll
never run into my wheel.