Weaving and gunning, he whipped it down Fell, timing it just right, so he hit the synchronized lights just as they changed, right on the edge of out-of-control. Divisidaro, Fillmore, Steiner flashed by: boom, boom, boom, George cruising Lili through each light as it turned green, one after another, like magic.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it coming, some big American junker-mobile running the light. That bastard’s gonna hit me, George thought, he’s gonna run that light, and he’s gonna hit me.
Imagine the smallest split of a second you can. Now split that an infinite number of times. That’s how long it took for George to think all that.
George’s eyes were wide as CD’s, utterly concentrated, totally focused. If he had not been, he would have died. If he’d had to, at this moment, he could have lifted a refrigerator off a loved one.
The driver of the American junker was drunk. His name was Ozwaldo Grzylwrsklnzwzykoski, aka Oz Grizzly. He had been drinking beer, then vodka, then beer, then vodka. He had somehow driven from Las Vegas, where he had been drinking with a relative who offered him a job breaking a man’s knees in Lodi, California. Oz was going to check into the Royal Viking Hotel, where he planned to dry out and have sex with several transgender sex workers. He actually should have been making a right turn, in which case this incident would have never happened. But he was so stoopid drunk, he ran the red, right at George, so blurred he couldn’t even focus on the steering wheel right in front of his eyes.
George lifted Lili’s front tire off the pavement. That, combined with the heavy screeching back-tire breaking, caused her to skid away from the Oz mobile.
Oz churned oblivious through the light, completely unaware he was perilously close to manslaughtering U vehicularly.
Lili seemed to be defying gravity itself as she flew sideways on Fell towards Market St.
And just as it looked inevitable that Lili was going to slam head first into the back panel of the passenger side of the Oz mobile, God seemed to intervene. Or maybe it was just George being all he could be.
Either way, George managed to get Lili to just clip the back of the Oz mobile’s passenger side bumper.
This stopped Lili’s forward momentum just enough so that with George flying forward at the same speed he had been, he flew over the handlebars down Fell St, head first.
Joseph Plantune, aka Joey, a homeless man who believed that aliens were coming for him imminently, looked up from the trash can he was mining, and saw a George flying through the air. He didn’t notice Lili or the Oz mobile. All he saw was the flying George. Head first. This caused Joey to sprint down Geary away from Fell, screaming, “You’ll never take me aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!”
Holy shit, George thought, I’m flying through the air. With the greatest of ease. Hey, I’m even making a joke as I fly through the air. He seemed to fly forever, flying, floating parallel to the ground, headfirst. If only I had a cape, I could be Superman.
Then George realized he was gong to come down and hit the pavement. He did something smart now. Instead of thinking, he let his body take over. George was lucky that way. His body just naturally took over when it had to. When all around him were losing their heads he was inhabiting his body.
And his body, like most all bodies, knew exactly what to do.
And his body did it.
As it came down, George’s body naturally tucked, his shoulder rolling down towards the road, his helmeted head shielded by his right arm coming up, and as gravity took over, plummeting him towards blacktop, he landed on the flat of his forearm, rolling forward in a moving ball of humanity like a tumbler in thick black leather.
George’s body was all loosey-goosey, easy-jointed as it made contact.
And somehow he managed keep his roll going, as if he had been coached from an early age by a brilliant but cruel Rumanian gymnastic coach.
And when the roll was over, he popped up on his feet and stood there facing away from Geary St.
Stood on his two feet in his two boots.
Wait a minute, he thought, how did that happen? Did that happen? Did I just fly through the air, and do some crazy stunt man shit? How the hell did I do that? It wasn’t you, stoopid. That was God. God just saved me. Sent you a message. Do your job. Look after the boy. Thank you God, and I will not ever forget that you saved my life here. From now on, I do the right thing. Sex is highly over-rated. George made a note to himself: have that tattooed on your penis, young man.
Then he had a thought that moved him to action.
Please God, just one more thing, I swear this is the last thing I’ll ever ask for: let Lili be okay.
George turned and ran back towards Geary.
There she was.
Lying on her side.
Battered and bruised.
That beautiful old lady, scraped and scuffed.
He reached her, got down on his knees.
Put his hand on her, feeling for a pulse.
Oh please, be okay.
What a night.
This is the worse night of my life.
I did this.
This is my fault.
If I had just minded my business and not been chasing my tail, he wouldn’t have gone skag hunting and Lili would be sitting under her cover where she belongs, having sweet Indian dreams.
Somebody beat me to it.
George stroked her violated tank, gouged deep in the belly.
George ran his hands over her twisted front fender.
George let his fingers linger on her twisted handlebars.
George couldn’t bring himself to touch her scratched to hell forks, shock absorbed in shock.
Sadly he got himself to his feet.
With forlorn care, he lifted her to her wheels.
He slipped down her kick-stand and gingerly leaned her that way.
Lili groaned as her bent gnarled mass her rested on her stand.
She’s upright anyway, George thought.
He straddled her, without resting any way on her seat.
Looking at her handlebars was like seeing an injury victim with a badly broken leg, where the shinbone is pointing one way, and the foot is pointing the other.
Carefully, lovingly, George put his hands on her handlebars, and with the touch of an expert chiropractor, he pulled them back towards their natural resting place, like twisted a neck to bring it into alignment.
To George’s surprise, the handlebars moves easily back into place. In fact, they slid too far, so they were out of kilter the other way. Very easy he slid them back so they were centered.
Okay, George smiled, maybe it’s not so dire. Maybe she’s okay. Maybe we can coax her back to life. Maybe she’s just got a sprained hip and some minor contusions. Maybe there’s just a lot of blood from some superficial wounds.
George now dismounted and went to the front of Lili. He could now see that her front fender was bent badly, but if he was very tender with her, he could twist it back enough to be able to drive her, then take her to the shop and get her all shiny and new, like a virgin Indian touched for the very first time.
George took her into his hands and softly manipulated Lili, bending the metal so that it moved away from the tire. It did. It worked. It was an ugly raw wound, but at least it looked more normal now, and would not interfere with her smooth rolling.
George went back around and straddled Lili once more.
Barely breathing, he touched the key still hanging in its hole. He turned it into the Off position. He stopped and heaved a deep sigh.
I mean it Lord, if you give me this one thing, make this one thing okay, and I will never let you down again. Let her come one. Let their be light.
George switched the key back into the On position.
Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, she turned on, the front headlight shooting out a beam of white into the black night.
Okay, said George, that’s it, you win. From now on, no shit, it’s the straight and narrow for me, no bullshit.
George then calmly, moved the lever out for better access, and my his foot primed her a couple of times, while giving her a little taste of gas with the hand accelerator.
He snorted three quick blasts of breath, and kicked down on the lever.
Lili sputtered and spurted, like a heavy smoker trying to wake up in the morning.
But George nursed her into consciousness by opening the choke on the left of the engine, pulling out the knobby pin so the engine gasped air and gas and the pistons sprung to life, pumping like porn stars as Lili finally righted herself and purred.
Oh Lord, thank you, now I know everything’s gonna be alright, George thought.
And he really believed it.