From Chapter 18 (Jo has just purchased a used motorcycle on which
to make her motel calls)

I pulled off the "FOR SALE" sign and tossed it in the Dumpster. The seat was a better fit than the helmet and the motor started right up. In a flurry of exhaust, I careened out of the parking lot onto 551. As usual, traffic was light. The only other vehicle was a beat-up Chevy pickup doing about forty. I passed it easily and headed for the bay. One trip to Mike's and this baby would be ready for anything.

The temperature had dropped. The wind made my face tingle and my eyes water. Goggles, gloves, and biking boots would head my next list of acquisitions.

The bay was dark. A pale streak of lavender lay across the horizon. When I shut off the bike, the motor still throbbed in my ears. I dismounted and walked to the water’s edge. The mud had frozen and the hard bumps and ruts bored through the soles of my sneakers. As I stood looking toward Delaware, there was a rustle in the reeds to my left. A great blue bird with a neck like a shepherd’s crook rose. Its wings spanned a couple of yards. Without effort, it glided--talons skimming the water--and settled onto a piece of driftwood about a hundred feet away. Drawing its wings closely into its sides, it became as still as the wood it was resting on.

For some reason, the Chrysler building came to mind. This was the time of night that its lights came on. It was my favorite building and I often paused to look up at it--like the greenest tourist. Nature wasn’t everything. Humans had done a few things, too.

The lavender streak was gone. The first stars had broken out. I straddled my bike and, keeping the motor low, trundled home at thirty mph.
Home? Since when had a two-star motel become "home"?

Since now.


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©2003 Robin Hathaway

Slight of Hand