The cops were coming. We saw them cooking across the courtyard, tires spitting up grass, lights rotating as if someone had just been murdered. We stalled. Just for a second. And then split in four directions.
Don was a good kid. To me at least. I don’t remember exactly how many fights he had gotten into. Or how many girls he’d slept with well before he turned sixteen. Or how many times he’d been caught stealing from the local K-Mart. But he was my friend. A good one too. Someone that would always take my side in an argument, or in the midst of going to fisticuffs, or the night my step-dad and I got into a fight in the front yard. An embarrasing ordeal with neighbors looking on. Don and his mom took me in, letting me spend the evening at their apartment.
Together, Don and I split from the group. The other four split up individually.
Pedalling as fast as we could, we headed into the commons of the University. There, we could easily swerve in between buildings, or so we thought, evading the single patrol car that followed us. Free and clear. We had it. Until my chain fell off my sprocket.
‘Grab that shit and run!,’ Don screamed as he slowed his pace to keep an eye on me.
I grabbed my bars, positioned myself beside my bike, and sprinted like a gazelle.
‘Just take off Don, haul ass!’
Don looked back at me. He looked forward. Then turned back one last time.
For once, it was my chance to look out for him. I owed him this.
He pedaled off, gaining what seemed to be ten yards a second. Why was everything in slow motion? Don trailing off. The cop, in a patrol car behind me, somehow not catching up. Why does life seem to slow in a panic? Are we being punished by our senses? Our body warns itself, ‘Take it all in, you deserve it.’
Internal, hard love: situations like this will teach you to avoid mistakes. In this instance, those life lessons were perpetual.
My pants fell to my ankles. With my chain off my bike, could escape have gotten any worse? Pants off. Chain off. I was still, somehow, evading capture.
‘Grab him?’ I heard behind me, a bellowing voice over a megaphone trailed in front of the patrol car. In my periphery, two students, polo’s tucked in, hurdled some brush. Losing speed, energy, but mostly luck, I was tackled by both of them and instantly pinned under four hundred pounds of combined weight. This was the falling action.
The police officer lifted me by my right arm as his cuffs clicked into final submission. Reaching down, he gently pulled up my pants. Here, in the center of the University, I was put on display. A feather weight in a criminal ring, an embarrassing amateur. Soaken wet from sweat, with dry sand littering my face and hair, I crumbled underneath the cop. “You’re under arrest.’