By Dustin Michael-Edward Davenport
No way am I able to keep pace with Murphy’s manic cycling.
From a distance I can see the serpentine knots of his dreadlocks bouncing against his back as he effortlessly floats down the road. Weaving between cars, running his hand along the side of a bus, cautiously swerving to avoid pedestrians without sacrificing his innate momentum.
Rarely does he ever steer with his hands, instead allowing the subtle shifts of his body to direct him around a corner or navigate a congested intersection. Occasionally he’ll glance over his shoulder to make sure I’m still here, briefly waving as he refastens the straps of his rucksack.
After the last time I had complained about my inability to keep pace, Murphy had offered to switch bikes to prove that it wouldn’t make any difference. He was right. Murphy cycles with the same unfailing intensity on my shitty Schwinn Cruiser as he had on his custom Fuji Roubaix.
My frustration quickly morphs into resentment.
For Murphy’s easeful energy. For Murphy’s inherent ability to excel at everything which I struggle to prove myself adequate. For the carefree way Murphy flows through life, manifesting this unconscious assurance that his environment will somehow shape itself around his presence.
As I approach the base of a steep incline, having lost Murphy over the curve of the hill, I dismount my bike and begin walking it along the side of the road. I’m about halfway up the gravel stretch when I hear the nasal blare of a car horn followed by a chorus of screeching tires.
When I reach the top of the hill I stare down at a cluster of cars scattered across the road. I hop back on my bike and quickly coast to the bottom. Weaving between cars, dodging around bystanders studying the savage scene, bunny-hopping over a glistening spray of broken glass.
Murphy’s body is partially obscured by the half dozen people that surround him. I ditch my bike behind the car he had struck and rush over to the crowd. His mangled frame is as contorted as the Schwinn Cruiser that lay twenty feet ahead, the handlebars twisted into an abstract horseshoe. I kneel beside him and can see that he’s still breathing, the gnarly tendrils of his dreadlocks quivering on his chest. “Dumbass kid thought he owned the road,” someone says.
My name is Dustin Michael-Edward Davenport. I am thirty-two years old and live in Chicago, IL. Selections of my work have appeared in The Cost of Paper, STORGY, Ampersand Review, Bartleby Snopes, among others.