Rest Stop

Harper stalked away from the gas station leaving the others to fill the tanks. She just need a moment of calm quiet away from Josh and Erin’s constant nagging. It was obvious they didn’t want her along, and only took her because Aunt Bea insisted. Sometimes she hated that the old woman meddled so much on her behalf, it just made everyone else not want her around. She took the faded red ball cap off her head and let her hair down to feel the warm summer breeze blow through it as she crossed the empty highway. When she reached the median she sat down, placed her pistol beside her, and ran her hand along the carpet of fresh wild flowers. She reached into her bag and retrieved a  sandwich.  Peanut butter, again. She was so tired of peanut butter. She took a bite and chewed it thoughtfully as sat among the flowers, enjoying the cleanness of their scent carried with it.

The air at home was full of the choking smoke of the foundry and the fuel exhaust of the generators. Out here the sky was clear and blue, for once she didn’t feel like she was constantly suppressing a cough.The world out here seemed so beautiful and vibrant. So much more colorful and alive than behind the built up wall of grey cinder blocks and rusted iron scrap that she lived behind. Out here the only thing blocking her view of the world was the tall green of the trees.

There, at the tree line on the other side of the highway,  a deer stood staring at her. It was an enormous buck, antlers crowning it majestically. Sitting on its back was a woman, elegant and tall. She wore a sheer gown, its color just a slight shade away from the sky’s hue. Her legs both draped over the beasts right side as they casually approached Harper.

When she was small she had been raised on all the old fairy tales and as she got older she came to grips with the difference between make believe, and the ugliness and boredom of the real world. Then it all changed, everything. Oberon and his people had returned, and the new reality of things took hold day by day as she grew up in the hot noise and dust of The Circle. Now here was one of them. Beautiful and perfect, and in the flesh. This is as close as she had ever been to one, before this there had only been brief glimpses of them from the top of the wall. It was singing.

The woman sang as she approached. A faint, soft song in a voice that seemed to be part of the wind, and harmonized with the bees as they buzzed among the flowers around where Harper sat. Those beautiful sweet flowers, that used to droop and turn grey here on this strip of lawn as cars belched their filth into the world as they sped their owners up and down the flat dark roadway. Harper felt her hand brush against the pistol beside her. Ugly thing, she thought as she pushed it away, cold and ugly metal thing. Just more crude death that we carry with us, more ways to destroy. More ways to be ugly. Not like them. They are life. They are beauty. They brought back the flowers, and the birds. They didn’t just return to the world, they returned with the world.

The woman rode closer, still singing. Harper could hear it so clearly now, that beautiful song in an unknown language. She heard herself singing along, as if she had known the song all her life. The woman in blue held out her hand invitingly. Harper stood and took the offered hand, and looked up into the enchanting face, its eyes staring at her with pity and forgiveness. Harper could still hear that song of love and sweetness, even though the woman’s lips were not moving. Those pale and pink smiling lips. The other hand came into view holding a long knife. Harper was still singing along with the woman’s thoughts. She tilted her head up waiting for the cool blade against the flesh, waiting for a final and warming stroke of the razor sharpness across her throat.

Then the song ended.

It ended in a sharp crack, like thunder and a fast whisper, like silk. The beautiful whiteness of the woman’s face became marred with a streak of red velvet leaking from her temple. The clean air now smelled of burnt flesh from where the iron slug had pierced it. First the knife fell, and then the woman slid sideways off her mount. The beast shook its head and then bolted back towards the woods as another shot rang out.

Erin came running up, panting, smoke still curling from the barrel of the hunting rifle. She caught her breath for a moment.

“Fuckin’ elves!” She spat, “Be more careful and don’t wander off next time damn it. Bea ‘d have my ass if I let anything happen to you. C’mon now, Josh’s loaded up all the gas we can carry, let’s head back home.

A Singer Must Die

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

– Leonard

Leonard Cohen died last night at the age of 82.240px-Leonard_Cohen_2127.jpg

I found out about his death while taking a break from finishing the piece I intended to publish this morning. As a result I spent the remainder of my evening in tears, listening to his music and being a general plague to social media as I shoveled link after link of YouTube videos at my friends and acquaintances.

Needless to say this I did not finish that story.

Anyone who has spent time with me has spent time in my life over the past twenty-some-odd years knows how much this man’s music has meant to me. From the very first time I hear Everybody Knows as part of a movie soundtrack his voice and words found a way to move me. His songs led me out of my teenage angst and, later, in many ways helped me cope with the death of my parents.  He unknowingly helped me seduce more than one young woman, and then kept me company during the times following the inevitable disintegration of those relationships.

“Well never mind, we are ugly but we have the music”

– Leonard Cohen

I forced many who tried to get to know me to also get to know his music, and I like to think that regardless of whatever opinion they may currently hold about me it made a change to their listening tastes. I took to be both a duty and an honor. I know that he, along with a few other artist has influenced my writings and the horrible poetry I spew from time to time.

I won’t go into the details of his life and times, or offer up a play-by-play of his catalogue. There are others, more qualified than myself, who have already done so.

I struggle to find just one song that would sum up his genius, and it can’t be done. But do take this as a small offering and just hope, that if you are unfamiliar with him that you’ll explore his work from there.


And I know that there are larger issues to be upset about lately, and I’m upset about those things too. But I needed to take a short time to acknowledge the loss of this great poet who has meant so much to my life.

Rest in peace Mr. Cohen.

Photo of Leonard Cohen by Rama via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0 FR)


The Tiny Things

It’s the tiny things in life.

Like, one morning I woke up and shambled to the kitchen.

I grabbed a mug.

Then, as I reached for the coffee pot, I  looked down.

There, lying at the bottom of my cup, was a dead cockroach

I stood there staring at it, in sickened disbelief for half a moment.

I rinsed out the cup and poured the coffee.

I wondered about mornings there may have been a roach in my cup.

Ones I didn’t happen find.

We should be grateful in life for tiny things. drinking-30268_640

Things that go unnoticed

Don’t you agree.



Things used to be different.

We used to get in bed early, and go to sleep late. We would wake in the late morning just to enjoy laying next to each other. Begrudgingly we’d arise, make breakfast together, then talk and laugh, listening while public radio hosted our meal. Afternoons picnicking in parks or hiking in woods nearby. Evening coffee outdoors at the cafe, making not too quiet jokes about the hippy fool with the acoustic guitar; or on the couch with our books or sharing what movies the library had to offer. Weekends looking for adventure, or telling stories of our exploits with friends. We were ourselves, beautiful, brave, and in love.

Then something broke. Inside me, or maybe you too. Something between us.The drudgery of adulthood, The stress of parenthood. The disappointments found in a mirror. The myopia of lower incomes. The shame of transgressions against ourselves. The boredom of commitment. Perhaps just a consequence of our nature.

So often now we sit, worlds apart in the small space of our lives. Doors closed tight against some unknown pain that might be on the other side.

I’m probably seeing things the wrong way again though. That’s what I have to keep telling myself anyway.

I still love you but, damn it, things used to be different.

Compliance and Liability

Waking up next to a dead man will ruin your entire day. About the only positive thing you can say about the experience is, at least you’re not him. Though, if the pounding in my skull didn’t stop soon I might consider it as a second career option. I touched my left temple as I sat up and felt the stickiness of coagulating blood. I couldn’t tell how long I’d been out for.

I looked around, took in my surroundings. From the dim light filtering down from the track lighting I could tell I was in some derelict warehouse, somewhere on the outer hub. Empty shipping crates and paper trash littered the floor. There was a gantry on the upper level that lead to a single door, probably to an office. From where I was sitting, the only other exit I could see was an enormous set of pressure doors that offered the cold vacuum of space. I turned my attention to the body of the man next to me.

He had been shot with some kind of energy weapon, the burns across his neck and chest suggested a microwaver, or maybe some low phased plasma caster. I reached for my sidearm, I figured it wouldn’t be in its holster but I checked anyway. A renewed sense of dread dawned on me as I searched poor son of a bitch.

I was under contract with the Frambanc Corporation and was sent up the wire earlier in the day to find Mr. Erad Jalhin, an investment banker, who had gone missing from block thirty-four, D Tier of LEO Station 12, a few days ago. Judging from the pass card in the corpses wallet I had just found him. Now I thought I should figure out how he became a corpse, and what we were both doing lying on the floor of an abandoned factory.  Rifling through the rest of his possessions I find a few bucks in trade notes, and a data key for the Pacifica, a casino hotel in Tier H. It wasn’t much but it was a place to start. I threw the dead man’s personal effects into my own pockets and stood up. My head swam a little as I walked along the wall looking for the exit.

An alarm blared and then stopped. A red light flashed over the pressure door. Someone had tried to vent the facility into space, the fail-safe had detected my presence and aborted the procedure. Who ever had put Jalhin and me in here just found out one of us was still alive. I grabbed a piece of debris and settled in behind one of the cargo crates.


The Pacifica hotel was one of those places didn’t ask too many questions of its guests. The questions it did ask could usually be answered with money. The trade notes I found on Jalhin’s body were just enough to bribe my way to finding what room the data key went to. I took the elevator up, patting the pistol, secure in the holster slung on my shoulder. I had managed to recover it from the heavy that had tried to vent me into space. I walloped him across the chin with a piece of high density plastic when he came to see why the airlock wouldn’t open. Given the circumstances of the day so far I was glad to have it back.

The last thing I remember before being introduced to the late Erad Jalhin, was being at his residence on Tier D. I had been interviewing his neighbors, most of them didn’t even know he hadn’t been home. The couple that loved across the corridor seemed to be the only ones paying attention. They told me that he had been seeing someone for the last few months, a tall woman with brown hair. Right before he disappeared they had a fight ,a few days later she stopped coming by. They couldn’t tell me her name, Nothing inside the apartment suite indicated a romantic involvement. Photographs of him in his college days, and posing with obvious business associates. No tall brunettes to be seen.  Closets full of business attire, no sign of recent overnight guests. I’ve found that most investigative findings come down to digging in the trash. There among burned out vapor cartridges and take-out containers was a business card. That’s when I heard someone moving behind me. I jammed the card into my pocket, drew my weapon and wheeled around. I was too slow, I was hit hard before I could see my attacker. When I woke I was in the warehouse.

I remembered the card as the elevator doors open. It’s still there, crumpled in the pocket of my jacket. I read it as I walk towards the hotel room. It read: Michelle Ruhlman, Security Consultant, Suite 3D Block 16 Tier H. A security consultant could mean a body-guard or a gumshoe. I wondered in what capacity Jahlin needed her. In either case I would wager that Michelle Ruhlman was the brown-haired woman who had been seen with him in the past weeks. She was also probably the woman pointing the gun at me when I stepped into the room.


Most companies now-a-days have insurance contracts on executive officers. These contracts get activated if they don’t check in with their offices every few days. The contracts have a stipulation that these “disappearances” be checked by an outside investigator to eliminate cases of fraud or corporate malfeasance.  Seven times out of ten the missing executive is shacked up with a member of the opposite sex on some off-world pleasure cruise, the other three times it’s with a member of the same-sex. This was how I made my living. You can imagine my frustration at finding this particular case turning up a corpse, requiring me to actually investigate.

Michelle Ruhlman, wasn’t happy to see me. Less happy when she found her former clients credentials in my possession. Jalhin had hired her to ferry him down the line to Earth. He was in possession of sensitive material that implicated someone in his company of shipping black market pharmaceuticals planet-side. She was planning on protecting him till he testified to the council’s magistrate. Then he began talking about blackmail. Michelle had thought she had persuaded him to reconsider and was supposed to meet him here in the hotel. Instead he ended up dead and she was out a client and the cost of two tickets downward. This is why I always operate on a retainer.

Jalhin had worked for Marikel Diversifications, they practically owned LEO 12 and good chunk of real estate back on Earth. The person he had the goods on was their Chief Operational Officer. I thought about just walking away, but if the story that Ruhlman told me got out I’d lose my license. Besides I had just enough self-respect, and professional ethics left in me to finish the job I was hired for. Also I got a bonus if I prevented the policy from being collected on.

There is this phenomena with people who try blackmail. They always think it’s clever to hide their evidence in the most dangerous possible place. Michelle told me that Jahlin had left the documents on a solid state drive, somewhere in his office. The due diligence clause in my contract meant it was necessary I attempted to retrieve the drive; since it was proof Jahlin’s death was a matter of corporate assassination, voiding the insurance policy on him.

The Marikel offices were one of the few freestanding structures on LEO 12. They were four expansive buildings each covering several blocks surrounding the central  well of Tier B winding their way up to become the major features of the A Tier, which was reserved for penthouses for the highest officials of the corporate council and private pleasure dens. Erad’s office was about halfway up the western column. Merikel had state of the art security. The good news was that since he hadn’t been reported dead yet his pass card was still able to get me into the building. Provided I avoided speaking with any of the guards, I’d be able to get in and back out with little problem.

This was largely true on the way up, aside from a few sidelong glances from secretaries, and a brief hold up with a stuck elevator there wasn’t any trouble. It took a little time to locate the drive I was looking for, I eventually found it taped to the underside of his desk drawer. I decided against booting up the files to find out who might have killed Jalhin, there would be plenty of time for that on my way back down the line. I’d fulfilled my contract or I would once I reported Jahlin’s death to the council authorities, and to Frambanc’s liability office.

I walked casually back down the hall making sure to keep my face down as I passed the security cameras. I made it to the elevators and breathed a sigh of relief as the doors closed. I pushed the button to return to the lobby, but was surprised to find the car was travelling upward. I drew the gun from under my jacket. I didn’t figure it was going to help much but it would be nice to have for moral support.

The doors slid open and I was greeted by four thugs with Marikel security I.D.’s. The look on their faces seemed to indicate that handing my gun over would be proper ettiquette in this situation. They led me down an empty hall to an executive suite. Once inside I was pushed into a chair. I was seated across a man who introduced himself a Dominick Tael. He offered apologies for me ending up in the warehouse earlier in the morning. He had been hoping for a couple more days before the policy on him activated. He had hoped to only be disposing of one body. He wasn’t really concerned with the company collecting. He made me a simple offer, I gave him the information he was being blackmailed with, report that I hadn’t found Jalhin. I’d get to walk away, he’d see to it that I’d get a sizable payout when the policy on Erad was cashed. It was a good offer. I thought it over carefully, seeing as how the alternative seemed to involve another chance at being sent out an airlock.

The door slid open and four blaster shots barked into the room. MIchelle was a good shot. All of the corporate goons were on the ground, smoldering slightly. I stood up, decked Tael a good one in the jaw, and started toward the door. As I walked I explained that I had to decline his offer. I already had a deal, with Ms. Ruhlman. Half my bonus if she made sure I got out of the building safe and sound.

This was written in response to yet another challenge over at Terribleminds. Opening sentence written by lisacle

The Man Without Fear | A Review of Marvel’s Daredevil Series

I said I was going to spend the weekend binge watching Daredevil. Well that’s what I did, and as a result of my drooling at a nicely dark and violent drama streamed into my bedroom, I have gotten a bit behind on my intended projects so I’ll be playing catch up for the next week or so writing wise. I suppose it says something that I can manage to quit drinking only to end up spending the weekend consuming hours upon hours of streaming video, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Anyway since I obviously squandered my usual productive time over the weekend I thought it might be a novel experience to write a review of the series. Since I am new to this I guess I should warn that this article may become spoilerish as I go. But I promise only ish.

Now I’ve never been a comic book guy. I mean I read comics as a kid from time to time, but aside from the twelve months I had a mail order subscription to The Avengers in about fifth grade I never really followed them. To be honest most of my early exposure to the Marvel and DC franchises was through the Saturday morning cartoons of the seventies and eighties. I have grown to enjoy the superhero narratives but I never got too attached to a particular title to worry about canon. This lets me watch adaptations without caring if they are true the original and instead focus on whether they are entertaining.

Daredevil is most definitely entertaining.  Over thirteen episodes there is a clear, driven story that lets the primary characters evolve. Flashbacks are used well throughout the series and tell the back story in a convincing way, without seriously taking you out of the story. The look of the show has the dark, gritty look that a lot of modern tellings superhero stories are adopting. There is a refreshing absence of star contrasts between light and dark however. Most of the day shots are either interior or otherwise not overly lit.

The character of Matt Murdock/ Daredevil (played by Charlie Cox), though blind is gifted with preternatural awareness, making him in some ways superhuman but is in neither invincible, nor infallible. His decision to become a vigilante pushes him into a world where he clearly struggles with moral judgments and is led to question his conviction in that decision. The physical violence has a nice cinematic look to it while still portraying the physical and emotional toll it takes the combatants.

I have long been a fan of Vincent D’Onofrio who plays Wilson Fisk a.k.a. King Pin. He does not disappoint in his portrayal of a socially awkward criminal mastermind, traumatized by an abusive childhood. The character is clearly a monster but is allowed moments where his human element is allowed to flick across his face. This is something more easily accomplished in reverse, and speaks the ability of both the actor and screenwriter.

Overall a great job by the entire supporting cast. The character of Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) goes a bit further than the usual comic relief sidekick I have grown used to seeing in this type of show. While he does provide appropriate moments of levity I don’t find it to be in a typical or ham-handed way. Additionally as the story progresses there are moments when he provides excellent dramatic support. I hope that there is further opportunity for this if they decided to film a second season.

My only problem with the show is the treatment of the female characters. The performances are good, quite good, however there are some issues. The character of Karen Page (Debra Ann Woll) is introduced as a damsel in distress plot point in the first episode and joins the cast as the secretary of the law firm of Nelson and Murdock after being saved from her predicament first by the lawyers and later by Daredevil. She spends much of the series coping with trauma, and being a part-time romantic interest for Foggy, a piece of the story that seems to get dropped at some point.

Claire (Rosario Dawson), an E.R. nurse on her day off finds the hero badly injured and aids him in her apartment. This character is later kidnapped, and terrorized only to be saved by Daredevil. Afterwards she is sequestered in his apartment for her own protection, where their relationship becomes romantic in an almost Stockholm-Syndromesque way. This character seems to fall by the wayside after this relationship is tossed aside.

Lastly, Fisk’s romantic interest, Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer) is presented as a strong, capable and independent woman. She quickly comes to terms with King Pin’s monstrous plans and decides to join in and support him in his endeavors. Their relationship is ultimately viewed as a weakness in Fisk and his plans by his associates.

Even as an amateur writer I am aware all characters are ultimately plot points, they need relationships romantic or otherwise, and these relationships often become weaknesses. For this story though I found the women’s roles were often being defined by the men they were associated with. These characters did have their strong points, hopefully that will be further explored if the series continues.

Marvel’s Daredevil is available streaming on Netflix

Well that’s it. That’s what I did with my weekend.

Happy Monday

Acciddents Happen

And so, due to a episode of spastic incompetence on my part,  I managed to push the wrong  friggin button and accidentally post the piece of fiction that I planned on publishing this day two days ago. I thought I was just saving it as a draft. Instead it went out unfinished, and unedited, and unnoticed by me until morning. A simple mistake, one that I could easily prevent in the future, I probably won’t though.

Anyway even though it annoyed me to no end I decided to just leave it and just let it ride. Unfortunately it is part of a serial(ish) and I had to double check some continuity issues, and while I had it up on the blocks I went back and did some work on it and I’m a little happier about the situation. That particular scene, Coffee Talk can be found here.

If you’ve already read that part the index for the rest of the serial is here.

If you’re already caught up, or don’t give a crap, and still want want some thing else to read there’s always the library.

Or you can check out Catastrophe Jones’ latest serial DeathWatch over at her site. I Finally caught up with it and highly recommend it.

In the meantime I’m just going to go binge watch Daredevil. I’ll see you on Monday.

My Stalker

I don’t want to alarm anyone or, freak you out but I am fairly certain that I have a stalker.

Well stalkers really, maybe.

See there’s two of them, sort of. I wasn’t sure at first but, every where I go they are there. I’ve noticed them at the supermarket, at department stores, sometimes at restaurants. I’ve even caught them hovering around at work once or twice. They obviously have been watching me for sometime, they know my schedule and my preferred travel routes. Sometimes, when I go places, instead of simply following me they are already there, just waiting for me when I arrive.

I’m not paranoid. It’s not just a coincidence. Frankly readers, I am starting to get more than a bit worried.

I know it sounds crazy.

Seriously, I think I am being followed by Seals and Crofts.

You'd be a little creeped out too if you knew these guys were watching you.

You’d be a little creeped out too if you knew these guys were watching you.

Why would this seventies soft rock duo and smooth music pioneers go to such lengths to shadow my every move? Well… to be honest I am not sure.

I can, however be sure that everywhere I go I will be haunted by the gentle melodies of their 1972 pop hit Summer Breeze.


Has anyone else noticed themselves being mysteriously followed by some song or artist?

Image of Seals and Crofts from Wikimedia Commons
 and is in the public domain.

Life and Its Little Ironies

Ironies, contradictions, incongruities, disparities, call them what you like life is full of these amusing little gems. Recently some of the small contradictions of life have been in the forefront of my brain.

For instance, I recently took my family out for a late Sunday breakfast. I wouldn’t call it a brunch because of the setting. It was one of those twenty-four hour, breakfast all day that I so love. Upon walking in, while I was day dreaming about the prospects of a country fried steak and two eggs over easy with a side of home fries and a buttermilk biscuit, we passed an innocent little gumball machine. My daughter took immediate note of this, because it apparently dispensed what was apparently the cadilac of bubble gum. By the time our order was taken I found myself explaining to my child that she couldn’t have any candy unless she ate her pancakes first.

2417434820_1cc7e9c0cb_mIn other words I was telling her, “No, I won’t let you have this wad of bubblegum, wrapped in a candy shell and impregnated with dozens of crunchy sugar bits. But, if you’re good and eat your plate of fried batter smothered in strawberry syrup, maybe you can have some later.” Apparently good parenting is about putting your foot down about what type of glucose delivery vehicle is acceptable at a given hour of the day.

One day I was going through the motions at work when it finally dawned on me; I was hired to do a job based on skills and experience that I rarely if at all use in any capacity that I have held during my tenure there.  Oddly I left a position which fueled my passion and creativity, because this one seemed to offer a wider range of experience and Bracethe prospect of better pay. While this has been marginally true I now seem trapped in monotony to ensure a modicum of financial security.

This startling revelation was probably induced by the bitterness I feel due to having resorted to wearing a brace on my wrist for repetitive strain. In other words I have started using a device to enable me to continue working in a field which is injurious to myself. I mean beyond the cuts, burns, and bruises that I have long since accepted as being part of putting in an honest day’s work.

Did I mention I sold my truck. That evil, foul-smelling, expensive mode of conveyance. That one and a half ton monument to my laziness. Yes well, I foisted it off on someone else. Doing so I bid farewell (though most likely not goodbye) to the constant expense of pouring gasoline down into an ever thirstier hole. I also am now rid of its ample cargo bed. See I have to move soon. I sold the damned thing to cover my moving expenses, but I sure as hell could use it when the day comes and I have to haul all my families crap across town.

I do suppose it is for the best in the long run. I have no excuses left about whether I am going to ride my bike for my daily commute. Ninety degree heat or thunderstorms be damned. I could use the exercise, I know that for sure. I might even lose some of the excess baggage around the waist that’s been pissing me off lately too

On a final note only a bit of fairly shallow introspection is needed to see I use my writing in a cathartic way. It remains the cheapest and most effective way I have for staving off my depression. Life gets in the way sometimes, and my little fits spiral outward. The tricky part is that if I fly too far from my center I become nearly paralyzed with fear, sadness and self doubt. Hover too close and I become complacent, lazy and unmotivated. It would lead me to the foregone conclusion that in order for me to accomplish something that makes me happy, the universe first requires that I partake in a certain amount of prescribed misery.

I suspect that life quite enjoys its little ironies. I have to admit it can be amusing if you look at from the right angles.

At any rate, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately

Happy Monday.

Top left image: Strawberry Pancakes @ IHOP by Ankur Gulati (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The scraped knee …a childhood right of passage.

Megan L. from Meaningful Mommy writes about her daughters first bike injury for Bicycle Stories Month

Meaningful Mommy

A right of passage, a badge of honor, a childhood stepping stone. We’re headed out for our family after dinner bike ride/dog walk. A beautiful spring evening. Trying to burn a few adult calories and some kid energy before bedtime. I have the dog and daddy has Audrey on the push trike. Nora is flying ahead on her bike having become braver “now that she’s five” she tells us. She has always been a careful child, since infancy she has been able to calculate risk like a pro. But her bike riding confidence has slowly been building. Though she always stops at a street and walks her bike across. She also makes sure she’s only far enough ahead to feellike a big girlbut still be in our sights. I don’t worry (much). Tonight was just another bike ride. Laughing, smiling, until… I saw the wobble, the lean, the dreaded handlebar…

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