I went for a nice interboro bike ride yesterday but just before I got home an older man on a little girl’s bike popped out from behind a van peddaling as fast as he could. We collided head on. He went over the bars and looked like a scarecrow with bad teeth and a good haircut. I couldn’t break out of my clipless pedals and went slowly over to my left.
My wrist is sprained and I wish that I wasn’t still angry at flaco. I did not scream or threaten him, though an ugly part of me wishes that I had. I am hoping that it is not broken, though it does hurt.
By fall he was doing all of the deliveries and Santayana never took off the doctor’s gloves that the city man with the clipboard told Mrs. Choi they had to wear while they cut things for the salad bar. It seemed ridiculous to treat the red watermelon like it was un bebé, (Kiko’s first two children had been caught without them, though Simón had first touched a world covered in rubber). “It’ll be cold soon and you’ll be wearing gloves too” he chided as he rubbed lotion onto the white hands that emerged from the rubber gloves after six hours of cutting, stocking, wiping and refilling. They looked like the hands of the body they found in the river when he was six, waxy and white. He only snapped on the condones por las manos when he was fixing his bike to keep the grease off hands that were hard and brown from the handlebars and sun.
It made sense to everybody that Kiko deliver the goods because he could take soup to Murray street by the river, cut up to Leonard Street with a salad, and still get the french fries (before they got soggy) down to John street. They learned this when he and Santayana had left at the same time and Kiko had beaten him back after delivering three meals. Santayana was no slacker, but Kiko was FAST. He had the perfect combination of steering, that perfect snake-like skill, and speed. He could pass cabs with fares on empty avenues if he needed to, though the avenues were rarely un-congested.
Before this happened he had also had to figure out the streets in lower Manhattan, which were so confused they reminded him of the city plan at home, where the livestock had laid out the paths that became the streets where the men who had gone north before him had built houses, strong out of good imported cinderblocks and glass windows that kept the dew out and curtains in. Like his ability to pick the best way through a gridlocked traffic jam he learned the streets that have confused residents for centuries instinctively. He just knew where things were.