John Otterbacher
Author, Speaker and Adventurer

Scotch Tape


     When I swing into a parking lot to turn around, my boot slides on loose gravel.  My bike and I pitch to the left and over, my helmet hard against the asphalt.  I kill the engine, crawl out from under the bike and muscle it upright.

     When I reach up to release the chin strap on my helmet, blood is dripping off the fingers of my right hand.  I pull a handkerchief from my hip pocket and press hard into the seam on the top of my hand.

     I work the damaged turn signal back in place and try to breathe away the heaviness in my chest.  It doesn’t work.  I pop a nitro under my tongue and walk slowly to the end of the parking lot, trying to let go of the self-recrimination I’m so good at.

     I slip out of my jacket to avoid getting it bloody and drape it over the handlebar.  When I lift the handkerchief, the blood begins to seep again, and doesn’t want to stop.  I press the handkerchief back down and walk over to the party store. I glance around when I enter, see no one, and move quickly to the restroom, locking the door behind me.

     I pick some of the gravel out of the cut and turn the faucet up high to finish the job.  I replace the handkerchief with paper towels and press hard.  I check my elbow in the mirror, the beginning of the bruise.

     I lift the paper towels to check my hand, still bleeding down the fine line of the cut.  I pull down fresh paper towels.

     I am in the restroom for a long time, something not lost on the counter clerk when I emerge.  She gives me a good looking over, the scuffed jeans, the helmet wedged under my arm.  Her eyes narrow when they go to the towels I am pressing against the back of my hand.

      “Sorry to bother you,” nodding at my hand, “but I took a spill out there and I have an owie.”

      Her annoyance gives way to a suppressed smile.

     “Boys!” and a stage-worthy sigh.  She wags her head, lips pressed tight.  “I’ve got two of them at home.”

      “I’m wondering if you have some band-aids or tape, something to stop the bleeding.”

      “I’m sorry,” what looks like concern.  “Went looking for band-aids a couple days ago.  We’ve got nothing.”

     “Duct tape? Anything?”  Almost sheepish now.

     “Geez, I am sorry.  Don’t have that either.”

      It’s a small cut, but a bleeder.  I’ve got to close it enough to climb back on my bike.

     “How about scotch tape?”

     “We do have some of that I think.”  She rifles through a drawer under the counter.

     “Ah,” satisfaction floods her face.

                                                                               What Remains, page 16



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Awards for Sailing Grace

Best New Non-Fiction Book, National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist, Best Book Awards, USA Book News Winner, Michigan Notable Book Awards

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