We were riding bikes Sunday afternoon down the residential main street of our small town USA. I watched a half block up the street as a fellow on a bike–appearing at first no different than all the other bikers out enjoying the summer afternoon–veered unsteadily off the boulevard and into a front yard where the collapsed with the bike and “UMPH,” down he went. It was a rude landing.
That picture was so incongruous that I could hardly digest what I witnessed. I had never seen a grown-up just fall off a bike for no apparent reason! Fascinated, and drawing closer since we were cycling in the same direction, I watched him struggle to his feet, unsteady and wobbling, an open gash on the side of his forehead (he had obviously fallen a few times before!), picking the bike up–or trying to, since he stumbled and fell with it several times as he strained to resume his course.
By this time, I figured something was seriously wrong with this dude. He was a middle-aged fellow–about my age, perhaps a little younger but showing lots of mileage in the lines on his face–wearing long khakis or jeans (on a hot summer afternoon when everybody else on bikes wore shorts) and a baseball cap. His eyes were DEFINITELY not right–glassy, glazey, glarey. By the time we rode up beside him, he had tried vainly five or six times to remount, each time falling down miserably with the bike on top of him.
I knew he was in trouble, so I addressed him–”Do you need some help? Do you want me to call somebody?”
He insisted with surprising clarity, “I don’t need any help” (although he obviously did!). When I suggested that he wasn’t able to ride, he insisted, “I’ll get on this bike.”
On the seventh or eighth try, ride he did, although his progress was wobbly and uncertain. Two or three cars coming up behind him almost struck him as he reeled uncertainly from one side of the street to the other. I used my cell phone by this time to call the cops, b/c this was not a pleasant scenario unfolding before my eyes!
About a block and a half down the street, as his body tilted backward in the seat and the bike veered sharply toward the edge of the street, he struck the curb and went overboard again. He landed rudely, sprawling flat on his posterior in a flower bed (better to land in a bed of flowers than a bed of rocks?), but the scene that resides in my memory is more like a cartoon.
Shame on me, but it was really uncanny, after just calling the police to alert them about this dangerous situation, to see this guy land on his posterior like he did — I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Oh, well–We rode on, since he had rejected our offers to help earlier and hoping the police were on their way. We saw him again about 10 minutes later, continuing his perilous, meandering course on a side street, and just a moment later we saw the police cruiser wandering in and out of the streets, apparently looking for the guy. Whether they found him or not, I don’t know.
All this to say that it sure is funny to see a man drunk or high-on-drugs fall of a bike. I know the situation itself was not funny, but the pictures that keep replaying in my mind are kind of like a cartoon–a surreal cartoon, one so realistic and at the same time incredulous–but it really happened–right here on Park Avenue in Eunice, Small Town America, Louisiana!