He had stayed here too long. Jack asked for his bicycle, and they all took him to the garage while still gushing apologies. As the garage door opened a young raccoon startled everyone as it darted from behind the lawn mower and out across the yard to the trees beyond. Jack’s bicycle had been waiting patiently in the garage, although its rear wheel was sitting in a pool of fresh raccoon pee.
This brought about a fresh round of cheers from the children and shoulder shrugs from the rest.
With a quick wave and a mumbled thank you, Jack stood on the pedals and rolled down the driveway which was just long enough for him to realize that he was still lost and didn’t know which way to go. The early morning sun was hiding behind a dull gray sheet of clouds and provided no clues, but Jack wasn’t about to turn around and head back up the drive to ask for directions.
Going on instinct, he turned left and cruised up the street, taking it as far as he could before turning onto another street, and then another. Wandering around aimlessly was getting more and more frustrating, until suddenly Jack heard the “Phssss phssss phssss phssss phssss” sound of a flat tire.
“Great,” thought Jack. “Just what I need now.” But as he slowed and moved toward the curb, another rider passed him, grinning and laughing. Jack looked down at his tires and saw that he didn’t have a flat after all. The other rider up ahead had made the sounds of air leaking from a tire to trick Jack.
Forgetting everything else for the moment, Jack began chasing the other rider. The practical joker had been looking over his shoulder and was ready for this. He picked up the pace, but not in time to keep Jack from jumping to his rear wheel and sitting in his draft. Try as he might, the other rider couldn’t drop Jack or shake him off of his rear wheel. Sister Kim had taught Jack well.
Finally, near the outskirts of town, the other rider slowed down and Jack pulled along side him. “Hey, jerk. What’s the big idea?” yelled Jack between breaths.
The other rider ignored Jack’s insult and instead of answering Jack’s question, he simply said, “Hey, you’re pretty strong. I haven’t seen you riding around here before.”
Jack was still ticked off and said, “Whatever. Now I’m really lost.”
“Where are you headed?” asked the other rider.
Jack replied cautiously, “I’m supposed to head west.”
“How far are you going?” came the reply.
“Oh, pretty far, pretty far west,” said Jack evasively.
“Hmm,” said the other rider.
And as they passed a sign showing the towns of Prairie City, Monroe, and Pella ahead, the stranger said, “My name is Scott Dickson. I know a short cut. It only adds about ten miles. What’s your name?”
to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]