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Harry, the guy with wires in his pockets [Manuscript Monday]

[In case you’re just joining, about a month ago I began sharing excerpts from a book I’m planning to have finished by the end of this year. Enjoy!]

The voice of a man comes from behind. He is mumbling aloud like carrying on conversation. 

“Prescott, a bike-friendly town. That’s right. Friendly to our kind. That’s right.”

They turn.

His baseball cap is smudged with grease and dirt, and he wears a red flannel over-shirt and cargo shorts stuffed with wires. Wires? For what exactly…? He has enormous, leather work boots.

Louis speaks up first.

“Are you local?”

“You bet I am! Been here a long time too…” the man says, grinning. “I actually live just over that hill.” He points.

They attempt to make out a hill, or a mountain, or something resembling, but only find rooftops of nearby buildings.

“My truck broke down in those hills on my way to New Mexico,” he goes on.  “And I never really got around to fixing it. I just sorta stayed here. That was about ten years ago.” He laughs. His forearms recline upon his handlebars. He is in no rush to get anywhere soon. He points at their bags and asks where they’re going.

“New York,” Michael says casually, not sure how much should be revealed to a man with wires in his pockets.

“No kidding! The whole way? That’s excellent. You know, there’s this guy you should really meet. He’s just down here at a bar. Name is Ryan, and he is going for Virginia in a couple days. I’m sure he’d love to meet you.” With that he fits his clunky boots upon his pedals and starts moving down the street, motioning for them to follow.

They shrug and pedal along after him.

They lean their bikes against a ledge outside the bar. Their new friend assures that they will be fine and that Presskit is not the kind of place to worry about your bike.

Michael studies the man’s old Schwinn, duct tape around the handlebars and dirt built up in the cassette. Then he looks at his bike, then at Louis who shrugs again.

“Did he ever say his name?”

“No. Err, maybe. I don’t remember.”

Inside, an old man with a cowboy hat and a leather bolo tie is singing country songs on a stage faced directly at the front door. The bar is set up on the left with neon lights and dozens of half empty liquor bottles along the back wall.

Ryan is near the end of the bar and they follow their way to his barstool.

He clutches an untouched beer with his right hand and gives his best ear to the man with wires in his pockets, watching his hands moving up at down and then motioning to them.

“Hey!” Ryan yells. “Fellow travelers!” He is extremely happy to meet them. He starts talking about the trip he is about to take. He stutters on occasion, stopping to find his words. He talks particularly about the Rockies, and Missouri.

“A ride of a lifetime, guys!” He says. “Ride of a lifetime.” He holds his glass in the air and brings it down before taking a long drink.

Michael laughs and pretends to cheers him.

Four days earlier they dipped their back tires in the Pacific Ocean. Only in dreams do people dip their tires in the ocean, roll into Prescott and share yet-to-be-had tour stories, with imaginary beers, with two strangers.

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