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 glace 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 sdown 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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