Old Man Down

David Ralph Johnson

The State Capitol dome reflected briefly in the History Museum’s north windows as I darted by.  Its white marble curves followed the arch of the museum windows in perfect harmony. I would recall this later, but just then had no time to ponder anything but my hair-raising descent on two wheels down 12th Street and over the freeway. Destination Lowertown.


I had taken training earlier in the day on the Capitol mall to learn how to safely ride an e-Scooter. Two young Department of Public Safety staffers, fit and tech-savvy, provided instruction to me and a small group of my Department of Transportation coworkers. The whiz kids began by showing how to start an e-Scooter with a mobile phone. Sound advice followed. “Wear a suitable helmet. Test the brakes before you get rolling. Top speed of fifteen miles an hour is not the time to realize you’re missing either one.” After some questions and answers, they got on, hit the throttles, and circled us in convincing smooth steady lines.


Now it was our turn. A few daring souls gave the e-Scooters a try. I watched as they did very well, looping the mall plaza like a kettle of land hawks gliding the capitol terrain with ease.


On foot to my apartment after work, I came up to a freestanding e-Scooter. By chance, a kid zipped by riding one of the same. He was crouched to break the wind, milking as much speed out of the skinny rig as possible. Inspired, my eighteen-year-old brain kicked in and jumped my sixty-six-year-old body onto the e-Scooter platform next to me. Startup engaged, I was gone.


What an amazing ride. After mastering the 12th Street descent, I flew the city streets unfettered on electronic power sent from web-enabled heaven. The Jackson Street bikeway was reached in two minutes.  South on its two open lanes took me straight to 5th Street, then a hard left pointed me home.


The expression on my face and those of passing bystanders melded into white toothy blurs.


My pedestrian days were over. This had to be shared. I stopped a block from the apartment and rang my wife.


“Hello.”


“Theresa, look out the window.”


Pause. “Why?”


“You’ll see.”

Pause

I hung up, remounted my chariot of fire, and took off.


Theresa caught my approach from our window two stories up from Mears Park and gave me one of her what-the-heck-now-Dave waves.


Wave returned, I slowed to a crawl and readied to park. In the process, my front tire buried itself in the wood chips of a sidewalk tree and sent me crashing to the cement.


Kids on a park bench yelled, “Hey, old man down.”


I rolled and popped upright.  Hearing their alert, I scanned the area to help the old man.

Realizing the person of their concern was me, I gave them a not-to-worry thumbs up.


One kid tossed a “Nice recovery” back at me.  I felt somewhat less elderly with that.


Given no broken body parts, Theresa wasn’t too upset when I got upstairs, saying, “I thought your fall was a joke. Glad you didn't kill yourself.”


Old man down, not old man dead. So far so good in Lowertown.


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OLD MAN DOWN
Copyright © 2019 David Ralph Johnson

All Rights Reserved


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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~ David Ralph Johnson

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