Riding My Bike in the Rain

April 4, 2024

Trigger Warning: Gun violence, death, crime, alcohol.

 

It’s raining. The roads glimmer under the streetlights. Passing cars splash through puddles as they drive past me. My jeans are soaked. I don’t care. I am riding my bike and going fast. In second gear, my bike flies as if it is moving through the air. I almost feel like a witch on a broomstick, cackling as I fly.

I’ve never ridden my bike in the rain before, but now that I’m doing it, I think I’m hooked. The wind on my face feels amazing and so refreshing. There is a drumming in my chest with each rotation of my pedals. My eyes are wide, and I assume passersby must think I have gone insane because of the giant, toothy smile on my face. I imagine it looks forced, but it doesn’t feel forced. I really am just this happy. I feel elated. Euphoric even. I feel as if I have just won the lottery. I could holler! I could shout and scream! As I look backwards, an excited “WOO!” escapes from my throat. Quickly though, I jolt my head forward and continue onward. I’m going so fast, and I must keep going!

The moon looks brighter than I have ever seen it. Although it is pouring rain, I somehow can’t see a cloud in the sky. I have never thought of it before, but I think this must be my new favorite kind of weather: A cold and heavy rain falling from the sky in the middle of a still and quiet night. What could be better? I am fearless! I could take on the world! As long as it rains and as long as I keep pedaling, I am invincible. Nothing can catch me. I’m too fast. I’m hidden in the darkness. The rain is making windshields blurry. I am unrecognizable. 

The rain is heavy, and this makes it loud. Like the tapping of a snare drum, droplets plummet to the ground and make their presence known with a hiss as they fall and a thump as they land. Behind me, from far away, I hear sirens. I guess some unlucky cops got forced into a night shift. Must not be so bad, though. Crime is probably quieter at night. Much of a cop’s night shift must be driving around aimlessly. Patrolling. Eyes peeled for anything exciting lingering in the darkness. I consider the thought of a squad of patrol cars with sirens wailing, waking up slumbered neighborhoods, on their way to a 24 hour drive-thru to pick up a coffee to keep them awake until morning. The thought makes me laugh to myself. Perhaps that’s what the cops far behind me are doing. Those sirens, they’re all just for show anyway.

I keep pedaling. I make a sharp left at the last second, so I can rip down a back alley. The gravel spits up at my feet as I ride on the bumpy surface. I am wearing open-toed shoes, so this hurts a little bit. Some of the gravel gets stuck between the bottom of my foot and my shoe. I don’t stop to clean or brush away this gravel. I keep going, not losing pace. Individually, I take my feet off the pedals and try to shake the gravel out. The gravel is wet and heavy from the rain, so this makes it harder. I can’t slow down, so I think I must bear the uncomfortable sensation. This brings my mood down slightly. However, when a gust of wind blows on my face and pulls my hair back, I am back to smiling. I remember that everything I’m feeling right now makes me alive. I take in a cool breath and force out another “WOO!

I think the alcohol makes me bike faster. I don’t recall ever riding this fast when sober. You’re not supposed to drive a car under the influence, but is the same said about pedal bikes? Surely not, as I’m still in complete control. Yes, I’m going fast, but with the squeeze of a brake, I can stop instantly. Even so, I haven’t needed to use my brakes at all tonight. No one is in my way.  

I hear the sirens gaining on me. I take another sharp turn and continue deeper into the back alley. I see the patrol cars whiz past the back alley and continue down the main road. They didn’t see me! I’m safe! I’m invincible and invisible and on a whole other planet!

I have to wipe some of the rain off my face. Still, without stopping for even a second, I wipe across my forehead with my hoodie sleeve. I glance down at the wet sleeve. Once a white hoodie, now splotched with wet red patches. Maybe the rain will wash out some of the blood. I wipe again. The red becomes more apparent. I realize now that there must be some blood on my face. It isn’t my blood though, so I’m very minimally concerned. Still, without stopping, I tilt my head up to the sky and let the raindrops wash down from my scalp to my chin. No need to clean your dirty face in a rain such as this! Mother Nature will do it all for you! 

I need to throw up. It’s probably a combination of the bumpy ride and the amount of alcohol I’ve consumed. I haven’t thrown up once all night so far. I’m used to drinking copious amounts of liquor. What I’m not used to, however, is bombing down a gravel road at a speed faster than a car after drinking as much as I often do. 

The nausea hits me all at once like a sucker punch to the gut, and I nearly crash my bike with the force at which the vomit is expelled from inside me. I rarely throw up. I never get illnesses, and alcohol rarely has such an effect on me. Or, at least, if it does, I never have any memory of it. My stomach is made of solid steel. Even earlier tonight, before I got on my bike and was still at the party, people all around me were puking and fainting and bleeding, and I didn’t feel even a quiver in my insides. Just the need to get up and go.

This isn’t actually my bike. Or, it might be now. Someone at the party brought it and stored it on the front porch. It was the quickest option I could think of. I saw the bike and took the opportunity. I felt so rushed that I didn’t even grab any of my stuff before hightailing it out of there. I left some beers in the fridge and had a phone charger plugged into the wall. I also left my gun there. After it fired, I just dropped it. It isn’t registered in my name though, so I’m not worried.

I hear sirens again. Still pedaling, I straighten my upper body and make myself taller. Not only can I hear the sirens, but as I gaze across a backyard, I see the red and blue lights. It’s a visual that I was very much hoping not to see, and my stomach churns again. I puke all over the front of my hoodie. It’s now stained with blood and puke, and I don’t think the rain will help me much now.

The cops are still on the main road. They don’t know I’m in the back alley. I just have to stay here. In the catacombs. Then they won’t ever find me.

With another sharp turn, I plunge myself deeper into the heart of this back alley, further and further away from paved roads, deeper and deeper into the wet gravel encapsulated in darkness. I am invincible. I am invisible. I am on a whole other planet.

But the planet is not infinite in size, and soon, I drop off the side and am hurled into the vastness of outer space. In reality, I crash my bike into a barricade. Sirens threaten to burst my eardrums, and I am completely disabled by the flashing red and blue lights. I fall off my bike. Still, I have legs, and I can run. I push myself up from the ground, gravel in my teeth, and sprint the opposite way of the barricade I crashed into. I run as fast as my intoxicated body will allow. Both of my shoes fly off. I keep running. I have to.

And then, deja vu hits me as I crash into another barricade. They’ve got me on both ends. I hit the ground hard but not because I fell, but rather because I was slammed down. I wonder if my nose is broken from the impact. I feel several bodies on me now. Or at least, it feels like several bodies. I cannot win this fight.

The handcuffs are placed around my wrists. I close my eyes. I want to disappear. I want to get out of this place.

Be careful what you wish for. Next, I find myself shoved into the back of a police car. When the officer closes the door, I try the handle, but it doesn’t budge. It won’t open from the inside. Again, now for a third time, I vomit all over the front of my once white hoodie. With my hands cuffed behind me, it’s really the only place I can do it.

My face is bruised, and my feet are blistering badly.

“It wasn’t me,” I tell the cop, “I’m just a kid.”

It’s true. I’m just barely eighteen years old.

“And so was the victim. Fifteen years old, did you know that? Fifteen years old!”

But he looked so much older with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of rotgut whiskey in the other.

“He didn’t die right away either.” says the cop.

“What happens to me now?” I ask.

The cop tells me to shut up and stop wasting my breath. But I have one more question.

“Did you grab my bike at least? I just really like riding my bike. Especially in the rain.”

“You won’t ever get on a bike again.”

Then, all of a sudden, I start to cry.

“Weep all you want. Nothing you do back there will compare to the sound of the mother’s cries when we had to tell her that her son was dead.” says the cop.

And then I think of my mom. She didn’t know I was going out. She wanted me to lay off the drinking. She begged me to stay home. I snuck out.

“Will you tell my mom that I’m sorry?” I ask, weeping.

“Kid, if you think that’ll do any good at this point, you’re delusional.”

He was right. I was delusional. I was drunk. I was stupid. And now my life had been taken away from me just as I took away the life of a fifteen-year-old kid at a party.

 

Gillian Corsiatto hails from Alberta, Canada, right between two major cities: Calgary and Edmonton. She has been a lifelong writer, and her first book Duck Light was published in 2021. Since then, she has been motivated to keep at her writing and further it into an established career, even branching out into writing for the theatre. Currently, a sequel to Duck Light is underway, but she still pumps out scripts and short stories whenever an idea creeps into her mind. You can find her mostly at her writing desk, probably with a cat in her lap, and maybe even spinning a fidget spinner. She thinks those are still cool.

 

Featured image by Florian Korrasch.

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