Sunday, September 7, 2008

Eight-inch shifter

This story is true.

I was living in Brighton back then. Down south, by the coast. I didn’t have, or want a job so I tried to fill my days with either drawing, getting high, or screwing my girlfriend.
Mainly the latter.
Life was sweet. Those summers seemed to blend all into one, and the winters were just forgotten.

My girlfriend had recently bought an old bike, complete with basket on the front, from the flea market up by the station. She was into the retro thing, and this fitted just fine. The brakes were useless on it, but she had some idea that I could fix them.
The truth was that, yes, Fixing the brakes on a bike would be easy for me, if I had tools, but I had no tools. I had nothing. So that was that.

Then about a week later I found myself walking home at about 3 or 4 in the morning (I can’t remember where from) When I spotted a toolbox on the street in between two parked cars. One of the cars was some piece of crap classic car on its way back to its former glory. The bodywork had been filled the passenger door replaced. The guy who was fixing it up had obviously forgotten he’d left his tools there when he’d finished for the day.

A toolbox full of tools, and me with no tools.

No. It was wrong. You don’t steal if there is direct victim.
Steal from shops, and businesses all you like, but not from people. That’s against the code.
I opened the box all the same.
There she was, an eight-inch shifter (adjustable spanner or wrench) just lying on the top.

A second later it was mine.

The next day I hopped on my BMX and went round to my girlfriends flat, shifter stuffed in my back pocket.
We fucked, I fixed her breaks, the spanner was way too big for the job really, but it got fixed, and then I left. The way I liked to do.

Ah yes, life was sweet. I owned a BMX and an eight-inch shifter, and pretty much nothing else. But on a day like today was there anything more to have?

Then I saw her.

She was worth having.

She was wearing a short dress. Mainly white, with a blue floral pattern. She was riding a bike. A girl’s mountain bike. She looked out of place though, the girls weren’t wearing those sorts of clothes, especially riding a bike. Go too fast and the whole street will know what colour your knickers are.
I wasn’t following her, she was just going my way, but something wasn’t quite right. She kept looking down at her pedals. The left pedal was wobbling badly. From where I was, riding behind her. I could see that the nut keeping the crank on was loose. She kept on riding, and I continued to not follow.
Then the nut fell off. She didn’t see it fall, but it fell all the same. I stopped, picked it up, and quickly caught up to her.
Amazingly her crank and pedal were still on. At least for a few moments more.

When the pedal and crank finally did fall off she stopped. She picked up the pedal and offered it up the rest of the bike, but it was obvious that there was nothing to keep it on.
I pulled my bike up behind her, got off and said “You having trouble?”
“Is broken.” Was all she could say in a thick French accent. French? Jesus. I suppose it did explain why she looked a little out of place.
How much of what I said would she understand? I just said “It needs a nut.” She looked down at her bike, then back at me.
I was holding out a nut in the palm of my hand. I kneeled down. Pushed the crank into position and spun the nut on. Amazingly, this nut, I had just happened to have, was the right size. I looked up at her. She looked a little puzzled.
“It needs to be tight.” I said. And pulled a large adjustable spanner from my back pocket, She looked both amazed, and amazing at the same time.
I tightened up the nut and then said “All fixed.”
She looked at me and said “Thank you.” I could see by her expression she had a couple of questions. Like, Why have you got a spanner in your pocket? How have you got a nut that fits my bike? And how come you’re just there the moment my pedal falls off?

Did she understand the word coffee? She must. All I had to do was say the word “Coffee.” In such a way as it sounded like a question, and, well, who knows.

Naw, the moment seemed too right. I wanted her to wonder how what had happened had happened, and any trip to a coffee shop would involve a conversation about this moment.

“Bye.” I said got back on my bike, and zipped off.

I glanced back to see her get back on the bike. She lifted her right leg over the frame, and the street and I saw that her knickers were blue, to match the flowers on her dress.

As for my girlfriend? She’s now my wife.

Spleenal would have done something different wouldn't he.
Not to be too delicate about it.
Half an hour later he'd be going balls deep.


BenefitScroungingScum said...

It's a better story the way you did it, even if I am fond of the randy little bugger. Spleenal that is! BG x

Anonymous said...


Raymond Amarantus said...

It was the wrench of DESTINY.

Anonymous said...

great story, even greater if you had drawn it !

Michael said...

Wow, you're such a good writer. And I really love this story, even more so for being true.

Peter Underhill said...

Nige, what kind of mountain bike will let you tighten a crank nut with an adjustable? Why, when I have a wafty crank, I need to use the 14mm socket, but even straight from the box it was too fat to fit into the recess, so I had to grind it down on the bench grinder to enable suitable access.

It was probably fate dealing a joker. Because you were unable to fully tighten the nut, she probably rode off in gallic naïvete believing her cycle was sound, rounded a corner, the crank flew off, tipping the hapless, and no doubt beautious creature headlong into the path of a pantechnicon.
After a considerable stay in hospital where they did their pitiful best to reconstruct her shattered face, she tried to resume what life society would afford the ruined wretch. Did you ever see the girl again? Well, you might have, but you didn't recognise her.
She's probably stalking the streets of Brighton this very minute looking for the 'stard responsible.

Lucky break if you ask me.
So, more importantly, have you still got the spanner?

spleenal said...

your mountain bike, and her moutain bike.
Not the same bike.

Her bike at least 15 years older for a start

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a good story about missed opportunities for sex with strange French women to make one feel full of melancholy on a rainy day.

looney said...

You know, she was probably thinking you removed the bolt and that is why you happened to have it and a wrench...which would make it much more to think about if you had slept with her.

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