Drat! A Phlat!

I was on my Saturday morning ride and felt that funny squishy feeling followed by the rumble-rumble of the rear wheel. Drat! A Phlat!

I was right in front of a house that looked like a set for Tobacco Road, surrounded by a fence with a gate across the dirt drive that circled around a dead Trans Am laying on its side in the weeds. A hand-painted sign on a post beside the drive warned, "Beware of Dog!" I dropped the rear wheel from the frame and leaned my bike against the hog-wire fence. With a demonic roar a black mongrel the size of a water buffalo and teeth like railroad spikes exploded from under the front porch and bounded toward me. Fortunately the fence designed to hold back full-grown hogs would keep him at a safe distance.

Thwarted in his efforts to get at my leg, he decided to take his anger out on what he could reach, which just happened to be my Brooks Pro saddle, which was against the fence. I was able to snatch the bike away just in time to save it from a good chewing and all he got for his efforts was a mouthful of wire. He raged even louder, spraying both me and the bike with dog slobber.

Just then his owner, with a room temperature IQ and wearing a T-shirt that said, "Women want me, Fish Fear me" appeared on the porch holding a TV remote in one hand and a longneck in the other. "Hey, You!" he yelled. "Stop teasing my dog."

I figured that there had to be a better place to fix a flat so I picked up my bike, the wheel and my gloves and walked across the road to the driveway of a much nicer house. No sooner than I had laid the bike on the grass and started stripping the tire off the rim than two boys about four and six came running out, followed closely by a big, happy-faced red Labrador and one of those little dog and a half long and half a dog high speed bumps. Big red had the fastest tongue in the west and he started licking every inch of bare skin while the wiener dog barked and raced in circles. The boys laid down a barrage of questions.

"Why did your tire go flat?"

"Why do you ride a bicycle?"

"Are you a grandpa?"

"Where did the air go?"

"How fast will it go?"

I was having to work standing up so Big Red couldn't lick me in the face but he was giving the rest of me a thorough slurping. While I tried to field their questions and get the new tube in place, the wiener dog grabbed one of my gloves and raced for the house.

As I began to pump up the tire, the older boy took off in a dead run for the garage and came back dragging a pink and blue kid bike with plastic streamers on the handlebars and one training wheel. "The big kids down the way rode my bike and knocked all the air out of my tires. Pump them up," he demanded.

"This pump is made for skinny tires," I told him. "You need a pump for fat tires."

While I was getting the wheel back into the frame, he was trying to hold the pump against the stem of his bike and work the pump at the same time. It just wasn't working at all.

With my bike ready to ride, I told the kids that I'd give them a dime if they would go get my other glove. The big kid pushed the little one down and raced off in the direction the wiener dog had gone. The little kid lay there on the ground screaming like he had been killed which brought their mother from the house.

"What did you do to my child?" she demanded.

Before I could answer, the little kid wailed, "Billy pushed me down."

"That's not nice, you and your brother shouldn't fight," said the mother as she headed back to the house and the little kid wiped his nose on his sleeve.

The big kid returned with my glove, completely soaked with dog drool and the leather palm pierced in hundreds of places by little sharp teeth. "Gimme my dime," shouted the big kid.

"I get one too," chimed in the little one as the wiener dog grabbed the old tube and started for the house dragging it behind.

"No you don't. I got the glove," yelled the big kid as he shoved the little one down again. Big red grabbed the other side of the tube and a tug of war ensued.

I didn't have any dimes so I got the two quarters that I keep taped inside my helmet for telephone change. I handed each kid a quarter but the big one grabbed both of them and shoved the little one down again. This time the little kid came up fighting and bit his brother on the arm.

As I rode away, the two boys were rolling around on the ground each with a headlock on the other. Big Red chased after me, dragging the wiener dog with his teeth firmly clamped on the old tube behind him.


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Copyright 2000 by Jim Foreman