Three houses down; that was the length of my leash on a bicycle.
I was a beginner and loving the freedom my new wheels gave me. Our street didn’t have sidewalks, at least not down by my house. Still, it was safe.
The third house was approaching. I was on the edge of the road traveling opposite traffic. A car was coming from behind me as I turned into the middle of the road. I was startled when the driver beeped at me. Not a hello beep but an angry one.
Back home, I came to a stop against the side steps. This was the only way I could end a bike ride without crashing to stop. We had a long driveway. Mom was outside and I was about to go in for a glass of water when a police car pulled all the way up to the house. This was an incredible sight for me. The officer spoke with my mom and I didn’t quite understand what it was all about. Finally, he approached me. Mom just stood off to the side.
Mesmerized by the uniform, holster and all, I didn’t pay one bit of attention to a word he said. But I caught the gist. It was a lecture about bicycling safety. I was intimidated to say the least. In my mind, when you do something wrong and the police come, there’s but one conclusion – jail!
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I squeaked out.
The officer paused, looked at my mom and she said to be quick.
I was quick all right. I sprinted to my bedroom, grabbed underwear, a shirt, my favorite stuffed animal (a monkey) and then found a towel in the bathroom in which to wrap it all up. I only had cartoons and kids’ shows as a guide, so in lieu of a stick to tie it to, I improvised and used a yard stick. I slipped out another door and was headed for the woods when my mom saw me.
“What are you doing? Where are you going?”
When I stopped and turned, the yardstick snapped and my sack flung to the ground.
Now I really did have to use the bathroom.
Instead, I had to listen to the rest of the safety lecture and then got the bonus lecture on running away. It all seemed so threatening to me. As the black and white pulled out of the driveway, I remember being very surprised that I wasn’t in cuffs in the backseat.
After my bust I felt on the lam, always looking over my shoulder.
By Rocco Satullo, author of a memoir and novel