Squeaking along on my bike story

Part 3

He got there at about 5 or so Monday through Friday and started cutting and prepping the salad bar. That means that he had to get on the F-Train at Sutphin Boulevard at before 4 for the hour-plus long ride in. The Newspapers, in English or Spanish, that he could buy (and read) had no-where near enough words to occupy him for that long ride, even if he read every word about the antics of his hometown team in their latest losing season (they even lost to Club America with their playeras that have the big yellow BIMBO across the chest!). The fare and the paper cost him two and a half hours and four dollars and fifty cents each and every day. That was the pay for his first hour at work, gone, just getting there. While it was more than he could make in a day at home, on the days that someone needed him to work, it would still be better spend on the kids.

Kiko el Proxímo, his first son’s first bike had cost less than that, though it was used. He treasured the picture of little Kiko with the matt blue bike with pink showing through the scratches like white toothy smile scratched into his wide brown face. When he had left Kikito was three and took seriously the responsibility of being the man of the house after Dad had gone north. The bike was proof positive that he had done an excellent job for the years his father was away. He had fabricated a basket of coat-hangers for the front of his bike like the picture of Dad that had been sent home. When he was six he could ride the mile into town to get harina de maiz for his mother and carry it back in the basket like his father’s in New York.

When the days got longer in that first April he asked Mrs. Choi if he could take the bike home. He had been fixing it and buying things to keep the ratty Wall Mart bike funcional for the entire winter. When the bike shop above Canal asked for more than $10 to fix something Mrs. Choi did the calculations and paid Kiko an extra hour or two to fabricate something out of common hardware and packaging materials that would work at the cost of time and friction. She was apoplectic when she learned how much the tires he had worn out delivering thousands of dollars of food a week would cost to replace. After the third flat she relented and let him buy and replace them with tires so knobby that they looked like the pre-911 skyline. To her thicker was better, though Kiko knew the friction slowed him down for the first few hundred delivieries.

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One response to “Squeaking along on my bike story

  1. Where’s he going?

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