THE PRINT VERSION of RIDE: Short Fiction About Bicycles is now for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and I don’t actually know where else. Hopefully I can find an indie source to link to, as well.
It includes “Night Ride,” my first crime fiction for sale since Ellery Queen’s published “Dead Gray,” which you can get for free if you’re an Amazon Prime member (or for 99¢ if you’re not).
Night Ride is long for a short story, about 50 pages, and it takes place in Inwood, where I live. (Inwood’s at the top of Manhattan.) It’s about fathers and sons. Here’s the beginning:
AT THE TOP OF THE RISE he waits for the signal from the bottom, and when he hears GO! he lets off the brake and pushes the pedals. It’s not a big chainwheel he’s got, so his feet are spinning at top speed in about three seconds—but by then he’s already flying.
Last weekend he ﬂashed past the dip at the bottom and got twenty feet up the other side before he had to stand out of the saddle. You had to stand when you climbed because it gave your legs more power.
This time he’s going to hit the uphill with great strength, pump right up it, even the steep part, and then take the curve at the top without stopping, all the way behind the trees where no one can see him.
GO GO GO GO the words whip past his ear and make him grin, sun and shadows strobing in his eyes, and then he’s ten feet up the shallow grade, twenty, thirty, the bike slowing so soon on the steep part and he’s up out of the saddle, fists clamped around the rubberized grips, King of the Mountains, polka-dot jersey. He chants:
GO GO GO GO! behind him. YOU CAN DO IT YOU CAN DO IT CLIMB LITTLE MAN CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB!
Bobby is six.
His daddy’s cheering for him. He climbs, climbs, climbs, conquers the little part where it’s steepest and you have to push your legs hard instead of just riding your bike, and then he’s out of sight where Daddy can’t see him, which is a great joke.
Walking up the paved pathway toward him is an old man.
“Hey, Bobby,” the old man says. “Remember me?”
Bobby’s still looking at him when he hears his daddy’s bike come rolling up behind him.
“Dad,” his daddy says.
“Bob-by!” says his grandpa to his daddy.
“HOW’S HE DOING in school?” the old man asked, leaning in the kitchen doorway with a beer dangling.
“All right.” Robert rinsing a pan.
“His teachers all love him. They call him ‘The Cool Kid’.”
“Cool kid, huh? Sounds like he’s getting more pussy than you.”
Robert set the pan on a dish towel and unscrewed an orange sippy cup. “He’s six, dad.”
“Never too young. Less there’s something funny about him. You getting any?”
“Me? I got a kid.”
“Oh I dunno.” Robert Senior’s voice took on a lilt. “Didn’t slow me down…”
Water ran, dishes clanked. His father looked at the walls—the messes of water damage and the gulleys of cracks along the corners.
“So,” Robert said, “where you thinking you’re gonna stay?”
The next voice was Bobby’s, saying, “Grandpa, this is my bike wrench.”
“Oh yeah?” the old man said as Robert turned to check the interaction. “No shit.”
“What,” his dad said, and the direct confrontation he’d been waiting for flared in the beered-up brown eyes. “Dad what.”
A keg waited to be touched off.
Robert said, “Hey Bobby, whyn’t you show your Granddad all your tools?”
“Yeah! Grandpa, come on!”
“He carries ’em all around.” Turning back to the dishes. “Knows lots of stuff, how to fix a flat. He’s a strong little dude, but his hands are little so I gotta help him get the bead off the rim.”
“Yeah, I’m a strong little dude.”
“Yeah really, Buster Brown, you think so?”
“Yeah, I’m really strong.” Bobby looked up at his Grandpa, so loving and happy, and Robert Junior’s heart broke.
“You’ve made a friend today!” Bobby said.
I’ve been talking up the anthology as a whole, but that’s my story in it.