Record 30: Temecula, Friday, July 5th, 2013. Day.
On the weekends we ride our Schwinn mountain bikes through the park and smile. Mother is the leader of the Schwinn bicycle trips and she signals where to turn left and where to turn right. She does this because she is the leader, and leaders of Schwinn bicycle trips know where we turn. We all smile. And follow.
We sip from our individually customized plastic water bottles during our rest period at the alcove, shaded by California sycamore trees. Father explains to Mother and I the history and origins of the California sycamore trees, and we listen intently. Father wipes sweat from the loose skin on his face and continues on about Platanus racemosa, expounding on bark components and the unfortunate modern manufacturing of the California sycamore for household furnishings. His eyes go wet and his voice gives a shudder. Mother rubs his back and consoles him while I sip liquid water vitamins from my plastic water bottle and pretend not to notice.
Back on the trail we peddle and sweat and Father’s eyes are probably no longer moist. I cannot tell, though. He is wearing Oakley sunglasses that he bought in the 90s. Mother signals left, and so we turn left down a loosely-graveled trail replete with divots and abnormally large metasedimentary rock deposits.
Mother shouts at us TO NOT BE AFRAID! And to USE OUR REAR BRAKES AS NEEDED SO THAT WE DO NOT CRASH AND BLEED AND DIE!
Father and I heed this advice and brake slowly, maneuvering our way past the goddamn metasedimentary rock deposits that I have already mentioned to you.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO BRAKE! Shouts Mother. DO NOT!
We make it down the jagged trail, safewad and exhilarated. Mother and Father kiss and I am hugged and high-fived and quite frankly feeling very alright with myself, until, at this very moment that I am feeling alright with myself, a park ranger man advances from a not-so-far distance on a segue with a custom red paint job, oversized wheels that surely do not adhere to the code of safe segue wheel rules, personalized stickers, chrome handlebars, and a bunch of other stupid shit. Aviator sunglasses eclipse his face and he has a toothpick in his mouth, looking like what he would look like if he were a police officer in a Terminator movie where all the police officers in the movie ride on segues.
He does nothing but stare at us and chew on his toothpick, snapping it in half with his teeth and spitting it on the ground. Littering. The man is littering on the trail. My face burns hot and flame-ish. There are signs abound with large text that clearly indicate that littering is not permitted. He must know this. He must. And for a second I wonder: what is this man’s purpose? Is he here to reprimand us? He is the one littering, after all. Or has he come from some far away police-man-segue-base where all the police officers chew toothpicks and spit them on the floor? It’s difficult for me to imagine such a place, with such a tooth-picked floor.
ARE YOU ALL AWARE THAT THIS TRAIL IS CLOSED FOR THE DAY? He asks in a shouted way.
WE WERE NOT AWARE BECAUSE THERE WERE NO SIGNS INDICATING THIS. WE ARE VERY SORRY AND APOLOGIZE BECAUSE WE FEEL THAT WE HAVE TO IN ORDER TO GET OFF SCOT FREE HERE. AND ALSO YOU ARE A LITTERER AND SHOULD PICK UP YOUR TOOTHPICKS. Says Father with the confidence of having all of his backbone.
At this moment the segue-cop’s right hand skitters into his back pocket and out with an i-something-mini-tablet-phone-computer that he taps on with the furious purpose of men who wear suits. It’s something to behold. The click-clack-tap-tap splinters my inner ear and upsets me.
WHY ARE YOU CLICK-CLACK TAPPING ON YOUR PHONE? I ask. He doesn’t answer.
SIR I HAVE ASKED YOU A QUESTION. I say.
SIR MY SON HAS ASKED YOU A QUESTION. Father says, and Mother repeats this same line with a tone of voice that’s cool.
The segue cop looks at all three of us law-abiding humans over his aviators as a small piece of receipt-sized paper prints from the top of his future i-technology. He tears it off like a douchebag and extends his arm.
THIS IS A TICKET FOR BEING ON THE TRAIL WHEN IT IS CLOSED. PAY THE $634 WITHIN A REASONABLE TIMEFRAME. He says, and my Father takes the ticket into his own hand, and then the segue cop dips his handle bars to the ground, and then back up, in a two-and-fro manner that reminds me of police officers in Terminator movies if they rode on segues and dipped their handle bars to the ground and then back up in a two an fro manner. The movement appears fluid and unforced on the rough terrain. The segue cop has done this before. He has, in all likelihood, done this frequently. Perhaps, in some likelihood, he has done this today. And so maybe this is what he does. He wears aviators and trolls the allegedly closed biking trails and types expensive tickets to families that are having a happy day.
$634 IS QUITE UNREASONABLE! My Father yells.
I CARE NOT! Says the segue cop, whose backend now faces Mother, Father, and I.
SIR THIS IS UNREASONABLE! Says Mother, who is looking foolish now since Father already acknowledged the unreasonableness of the expensive ticket.
I CARE NOT! The segue cop says again and chortles condescendingly to himself. GET OFF THE CLOSED TRAIL! He says, his voice screamswept and pleasantly flustered. He starts to segue off, but calls out: AND REMEMBER NOT TO TEXT WHILE YOU BIKE OR YOU COULD GET A TICKET FROM THE POLICE!
His voice evaporates and my Father kills the receipt-ticket with the mashed tightening of his fist. He pants and huffs and paces and pushes his bike onto the trail.
BE CAREFUL THAT’S A SCHWINN! Mother says to Father.
FUCK SCHWINN IN HIS SCHWINN ASS! Father insists.
Father lowers his foot with force onto the bicycle frame. He does this again and again.
PLEASE STOP! Mother screams. OR DON’T BUT I’M NOT BUYING YOU A SPECIAL NEW BIKE!
GRRRAAAWWWRRR! My Father gurgles from his throat chamber, and I laugh at him to his face and then say:
EVERYONE STOP CLAMORING!
And they do, and Mother, Father, and I can all hear the strangled hum of a segue approaching from a distance that, quite frankly, cannot be far away. I look above the line of trees and distinguish the segue cop barreling toward us; as fast as segue police can barrel, that is.
WELL THIS IS JUST WONDERFUL! Shouts my Father, waving his arms through the air in a brisk frustration, aiming at nothing in particular.
CALM DOWN! Shouts my Mother, one-upping my Father in the modulation category.
IF WE KEEP OUR VOICES DOWN MAYBE HE WON’T SEE OR HEAR US!
I know this to be untrue, sadly, because I can see the segue cop, crushing through ambrosia psilostachya and waving in our collective direction. I direct my parents’ attention to the segue cop, his waving hand, and a chilly smile on his face that reveals blunted, spaced-out teeth with gaps the size of off-brand, whole-wheat multigrain cereal Os.
HEY EVERYONE! JUST WAIT THERE, PLEASE! THANKS! Are the segue cop’s words to us.
My Father’s face is red, and it has not been burned by the sun. He applies far too much sunscreen for that to be even a remote possibility. This shade of red, a deep cardinal, only surfaces and fans out high across his cheekbones when his rage hemorrhages into something like turbulent savagery. This is bad. This is when he gets violent. This is when bikes get broken.
HEY FAMILY! JUST WAIT THERE SO I CAN PRINT YOU OUT ANOTHER TICKET FOR FOREST DISTURBANCE! THANKS! Screeches the segue cop through his cereal O teeth.
My Father raises his foot.
DEAR PLEASE DO NOT! My Mother bellows, but it’s too late.
My Father is gone, blind, into a seizure of punches and kicks, all swooping and barnstorming in multiple directions at once. My eyes well up at the damage he is causing his Schwinn. I watch like people when they watch things that happen in slow motion, and feel a plummeting sadness in my stomach. It sticks and lingers in my intestines until I shake it away and come to. The bicycle frame is now dismembered and limp and resembling something like industrial waste. The Schwinn logo is darkened and obscured by dirt and other shit from my Father’s New Balance runners. My Mother is upset and teary. My Father is coming down now, mellowing, his eyes scanning the wreckage he has caused.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? My Mother asks, wistful, remembering past days when the Schwinn was untarnished and rideable.
My Father observes the now-twisted and warped remains of his favorite bicycle. His face is comatose and limp. I consider asking him if he’s alright now, or, relaxed really, now that he’s expended so much energy on Schwinn destruction, but instead I say nothing and avoid eye contact, directing my gaze to the loose gravel beneath me, and feeling a kind of bicycle-loss-grief that squeezes my innards, making me nauseous, and for a moment I fear the sensation of nausea in the future. I fear that it will remind me of this day when my Father Hulked down on his bicycle.
OH HEY THERE AGAIN. The segue cop says like an asshole. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU SMASHED THAT BIKE UP PRETTY GOOD. He chuckles and prints out another ticket.