I'd had a good first day of school. It was close to 9pm and I was on my way home, riding the Big Dummy, my favorite bike. The night felt warm at fifty degrees, especially considering the recent snowpacalypse, as everyone referred to the impressive snow storm that shut down the city over the holidays. For once it wasn't raining, and the wind was even calm.
I hadn't been thrilled about having to take night classes this term, but as I glided through the still air with hardly any cars in sight, I decided there might be a few perks to traveling home in the quieter hours.
I swept around a 270 degree loop that took me under the bridge I'd just crossed and headed north up Interstate. As I came into the industrial section, the peace of my ride was shattered as a nondescript dark sedan passed me and the driver yelled "HEY!" loudly through the open passenger window.
Several things happened at once: My brain shot a massive jolt of adrenaline through my entire body at roughly the speed of light. Even as I marveled at my body's survival instincts, my brain decided that neither fight nor flight was necessary, as the car kept on driving by. My bike wobbled briefly as I startled, but I recovered my line pretty quickly and stared in bewilderment. I knew what had happened, I just will never understand it. Some yahoo, definitely male, probably young, had decided it would be fun to play scare the biker.
All this went through my mind in the space of two pedal strokes and then I got really pissed. I hate stupid people and stupid mean people are the worst. Another two pedal stokes and the Universe decided to smile on me. The light turned red at Tillamook St, just 50 ft ahead.
I didn't hurry. I wanted to enjoy this. As I coasted to a stop, I reached down to the spot where my water bottle would have been. My disc brakes let out a customary squeak as I pulled up to the light and rested my left foot on the curb. The noise caused the driver to turn and look out of his still-open passenger window, so he got a good look as I reached down and lifted the 357 Magnum revolver out of the holster strapped to my down tube and pointed it carefully at his head.
"What is your problem?" I asked. My voice was light, conversational, but the look I gave him was probably very similar to the one my mom had when she pulled a knife on her ex boyfriend when I was nine. The gun was heavy, so I shifted my body sideways on the bike to face him more squarely and put my left hand up to steady it. I watched with satisfaction as his mischievous grin turned to an 'O' of surprise and whatever smart-ass remark he was about to utter died on his lips.
"Are you a dog?" I continued, keeping my voice light. I've been watching a lot of Dog Whisperer lately, do you watch that show? Lot of good dogs will get territorial in cars, did you know that? Perfectly calm till someone gets close to the window and then they just start barking their fool heads off. It can scare the heck out of somebody, especially if they didn't know the dog was in there."
He didn't say anything in response. There was just enough light from the MAX station lamps for me to see his knuckles whitening as they gripped the steering wheel.
The light turned green and I flicked my eyes down long enough to see his leg twitch.
"I wouldn't move if I were you." I said. His leg steadied on the brake. The street was deserted, no cars coming in either direction.
I resumed my train of thought. "I was thinking about it as I pulled up to the corner and the only way I could make sense of what you did back there is if you were a dog. Except now I pull up and you look pretty human to me. So now I'm thinking maybe you just think it's funny to scare bikers who are just minding their own business trying to get home after a long day of class."
"If you were a dog, Cesar--that's the Dog Whisperer--would probably say you just need a good pack leader with some calm, assertive energy. That's what he does, he just uses his pack leader mojo and in a few minutes those dogs settle right down. It's the darndest thing to watch. I never get tired of it."
But you're not a dog. You're obviously a dick who's mother never taught him the golden rule. What if I'd run off the road and hurt myself just now from being startled? Ah, but I guess you're not really the type to think of others are you? Well, here's something for you to think about and it involves you, so it should be easy for you. Ready?"
He was still as death and didn't say anything.
"I'm going to go home and post a description of your car and license plate on every bike forum I can find. And if I ever see any complaints about you--or someone with a car the same color as yours--I'm going to hunt you down and shoot you in the belly with this gun so you die slowly. Nod if you understand."
He nodded and a little spit slid down the left corner of his still-open mouth.
"Excellent!" I said. "Wow, that didn't take long at all. I think I beat Cesar's record. Maybe I should have my own show, what do you think?"
"Why don't you move along now and drive slowly and courteously to your destination."
It took a moment, but he slowly turned his head forward while still glancing nervously in my direction. He pressed gently on the gas pedal and moved forward through the light, which had cycled through to red and then green again while we chatted.
I watched him till he was past the next light and headed up the hill. I put the gun back in the holder and snapped it shut, then rubbed my right shoulder with my left hand for a moment. Man, that gun was heavy. But it came in handy on occasion.
I grabbed my water bottle off my seat tube and took a long swig before I started pedaling again. I took my time going up the hill and relished the peace of a quiet night ride home after a good first day of school.