It is spring and I’ve been riding my bike about New York and I had an idea for a story. I’ll put the first bit up here, because it is all I’ve written for a while. I’m sorry that I am not telling you all about my life right now, but I’m busy and -I guess- hiding from it.
At 7, after the pans from the salad bar had all been washed, the fruit that didn’t sell thrown out, and the produce that would still be good tomorrow was wrapped in cleaned, bleached and dried square pans readied for 7 tomorrow morning Kiko got up the nerve to ask Mrs. Choi if he could borrow the bike. This was just six weeks ago, but it was in a different lifetime. You see Kiko works on Vesey Street, for an ambitious Korean deli that doubles as a carry out coffee shop.
“Good food cheap and fast” was his life since he made it to New York. At first he was a nervous riding the bike with the wide wire basket in traffic. After his first month he was used to the neighborhood and could calculate the best way to go to three addresses below City Hall and deliver warm food to each. He got so good at judging the width of his basket that he could, –como los negros dicen– “dip” between cars and trucks without slowing down. Once Santayana had seen him swerve down the last block of Broadway, from the Park side to Vesey on his way back to the shop. The traffic was moving, say 15 miles an hour, and Kiko “dipped” from one side to the other in less than a block, cutting between one lane to the next, first between two newspaper trucks, then in front of a cab, staying next to “un coche policial” for the time it takes a Mariachero to sing a sad laugh, before he pedaled hard to pass the undercovers and break through to the west side of Broadway.
“Ño bro, you gonna get killed like that! Tienen una isla por los cuerpos extanjeros en New York. Cuidate!” Santayana warned with mock gravity. “Besides, Mrs. Choi see you back here and she only send you out with more” he continued with an old-timer’s wisdom. His amazement was written on his face though, “but how you do that? You rolled in and out like jarabe tapatio, I could imagine the girl’s skirt following you around the yellow cabs. All you need is some music and a hat, you be ballet folklorico on a bike!”
Kiko liked the attention and felt varonil, manly in a way that he never felt in Manhattan while he delivered clam chowder blanco to rude “norteños en trajes.” There was a way that folks in Manhattan treated him like he was nothing because he didn’t speak ingles, and this work on his workaday masculinity.