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There were two things I prized at Evan’s, the repair shop where I worked. First, there was the old radio.

Someone brought it in on one of the first days of my employment. I was a kid then, inexperienced. But even then I saw the value of an antique like that.

It wasn’t just valuable; it was beautiful too. Gleaming chrome, aged surface, fancy dials. The kind of object that made you look at it and say, “That is a nice radio.”

It was a little worn-out when we took it, so I made it my personal task to fix it up. This meant days of polishing after hours, carefully so as not to scratch anything. Tinkering with the mechanics inside—all the little boxes and wires—twiddling with the dials and the antenna. Not being paid at all, but I didn’t mind. It was just me working on it.

I transformed that radio from something that would have sat on a dust-clouded shelf in the back of the store to a shining triumph displayed front and center in the window, under the fizzling neon lights.

The second of my valued objects at the shop was a bike, which was pretty much to be expected since those were mainly what we sold. It had a silver wrought-wire basket and clean gears. Light teal paint covered its body and neck. Unlike the radio, this didn’t need too much repair work—the paint wasn’t chipping and the handlebars were nicely cushioned—but I did clean it frequently. The bike, too, was placed on prime display to customers. Occasionally I took it out for a spin on a dusty summer day through our small downtown, the gray buildings rising around me, pleased with the bike’s smooth coasting. The pedals spun satisfactorily and without screeching.

People came in and looked at these two objects of mine once in awhile. My manager, Jay, always directed customers to me when they made an inquiry. I advised them as best I could but was always secretly a little bit relieved when they didn’t come through with a purchase, which in turn would lead to sheepish guilt. No need to be selfish with the products.

It was a rainy day in November when things changed, for the better or the worse depends on how you look at it. It was dark out, but not night; it was the kind of dark that comes from rain clouds. Our digital clock on the counter read one-thirty in blocky red numbers.

My hands smelled like money, grungy and sharp—I was counting money at the cash register. The bell ding-ed as the front door was pulled open. I called out a hello but didn’t look up for fear of losing the numbers in my head.

I heard some clanking and figured whoever was here was checking out something up front. It was only when I heard the sound of the rain pattering on the pavement outside again that I looked up. That person left pretty quick—

My prized things were gone. The bike, the radio. Out the door—into the rain!

I ran to the door, which was swinging rapidly shut. I could see someone on my bike with the radio in the basket, legs pumping as they furiously pedaled away.

Seizing another bike sitting by the door—a good fast one—I shoved it out the front of the store. I was instantly barraged with blasts of gusting wind and water. I simultaneously squinted my eyes and leapt on the bike. Its tires skidded on the sleek cement; I sped after the thief.

The rain picked up intensity the farther and faster I rode. Water streamed into my eyes, running own my cheeks and off the bridge of my nose like tears or sweat. Lights flashed past my vision as I pedaled more swiftly, bright stars beaming through the rain.

I could see the thief ahead, occasionally throwing a quick glance over his shoulder back at me. He was dark-headed, his short hair plastered to his temples.

The bridge was in front of us. I could see it about a quarter mile away. It was a wooden, slightly rickety structure extending across the Thompson River, connecting downtown to the farmland. As we drew closer, I saw that the river underneath was roaring and foaming, churned into a frenzy by the pouring rain.

If he made it over the bridge, it would be all over. I thought of how much the water was already ruining the radio and was even more determined to get it back.

We were only a couple hundred meters from the bridge now, me about ten yards behind the thief. I sped up, my lungs working, legs burning, heart pounding, water flying past—

Alerted, he glanced back one last time. He lost focus and his front wheel caught on one of the beginning planks of the bridge. Miraculously, he didn’t flip head over heels but popped into the air, pedals still spinning. He hung suspended for a moment in time—everything slowing down, the water droplets shooting off him and catching the city lights behind us—then with a twangy thunk bounced back to earth, swerving and speeding away. At impact something was tossed from his basket.

I skidded to a stop at the foot of the bridge, jarring my body. Bending down to pick up the fallen radio, I almost changed my mind and ran back to my borrowed bike to attempt to continue the chase. But oh, let him have it, I thought. For all I knew, he needed it more than I did. Besides, I wouldn’t have been able to carry the radio with me, anyway.

I observed my radio—not really mine. Apparently some people saw its value. Someone could respectably buy it any day. I’d have to get rid of my petty attachment and just be proud of my handiwork.

However, it sure wasn’t in top shape now. I smiled while standing there soaked. Another stretch of working on this high-maintenance antique seemed to be in order. That was me—the repair boy! Mr. Fix-it. The handy guy.

With the box-like radio under my arm, I wheeled the bike back toward town, toward glowing lights, pavement and neon signs. Toward Evan’s: elbow grease and gears and all sizes of wrenches.

I’d better get back to work.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

Brookealee said...
Mar. 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm:
You kept me on the edge of my seat in the middle there! I really liked some of the descriptive language you used. The end kept me hanging a little bit, and I was slightly confused that such an adventure could come and go with so little impact on the main character, but it was still a worthwhile read. Thanks so much for sharing! :)
To_the_Sea replied...
Aug. 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm :
Thank you!  I'm glad you thought it was worthwhile. :)
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PenPaperAddiction said...
Mar. 25, 2012 at 10:01 am:
The story's ending was a bit abrupt, and I never really saw that there was a true "moral" or "purpose" in the end... Maybe if the guy on the bike had been the repair boy in the future? As a symbol of how selfish he was being with the items. Anyway, excellent writing otherwise! You really have a way with words that capture the reader's imagination. My head wouldn't stop spinning with images. Thank you for an enjoyable read! :)
TotheSea replied...
Mar. 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm :
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the imagery. Thank you for commenting - I appreciate the feedback.
TotheSea replied...
May 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm :
The theme I was going for was that material things aren't everything, that you've got to let go of them, and selfishness, eventually.
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