He didn't know which had embarrassed him more that night:
- Being physically unable to enter - or even desire to enter - a club alone that night [that is, without close company or the knowledge of meeting up with close company], or
- Jamming his toe into the spokes of the wheel of his host's bike - not sure how that was possible - and catapaulting over the pedaled contraption's front onto his back, onto the side of the road and not into passing traffic. At 11:30 p.m.
Blinking, He stared up into the night sky. He counted the cars that passed. One. Two. Three. In his peripheral, red and blue lights began to flash, and his ears picked up the growing sound of sirens. That and something ugly.
He lifted his head, and saw his legs tangled in the bike's body, the iPod scattered off onto the sidewalk and the cord of the ear plugs [still half-hanging from his ears] dangling from the handles. Scraping himself from the pavement, He frowned as he noticed that he had fallen only a few meters away from an occupied bus stop. Perhaps it was a good thing that two weeks prior, He had been pulled over and warned by the Adelaide Police to wear a helmet while using a 'push bike,' as it was the law.
He imagined the voices to come from the offspring of a Gremlin and one of the witches from Hocus Pocus and raised to compete with a fog horn. As he edged himself away from the traffic and the oncoming ambulance, He couldn't help but notice that the boys had done absolutely nothing but point and laugh. Yes, he knew this would turn into a funny story later, but whilst He was still in pain and under this bike and close to being hit by a car, couldn't they have waited to laugh about it later? When He was far from harm?
He knew the ambulance wasn't sent for him; he watched it pass in slow motion.
Pushing the bike up and pulling his legs from around the bike took longer than expected; this actually gave the boys enough time to give one last final point and cackle, and board the next bus and vanish into the night. He pushed the bike, realized it wouldn't move, and spent the next twenty minutes assessing what had gone wrong. Fortunately, many close friends back at his college were bike enthusiasts, and he had picked up bits and pieces of bike maintenance and care over the past years. He had learned to assess the chain, true the bike's wheels, and take apart the brake mechanism. As he examined the bike, he noticed that the dark material caking itself all over his right hand wasn't grease from the chain; blood had been gushing from his middle finger [which he should have given to the boys who had boarded the bus] and palm. Using his non-dominant hand, he removed the quick-release on the front tire and readjusted the brakes. He pedaled back home.
"That's all?" Sean asked incredulously.
He nodded. After locking up the bike [he would check the following morning for the damage done], he had gone into the bathroom and analyzed his right hand. All that he could see was a good layer of skin scraped off, here and there, but no bone showing. As for the rest of him, everything was still wiggling, albeit with a slight buzz to it [shock?].
"You got off lucky. We were biking around Mclaren Vale when I had done the same thing, but that's how I broke my wrist. Look at you, you didn't even tear your pants."
He looked down, and was surprised to find this as well. His knees hurt, but Sean was right; no tear, no blood. It bust have been a fairly graceful fall.
"You're also lucky you can clean it out with all of that and not get sick. I couldn't even watch the doctor bandage my wrist; blood makes me feel ill."
He sighed, and proceeded to wash the wounds, scrape the dirt out from the gashes, and apply hydrogen peroxide [slight burning sensation], friar's balsam [incredibly painful burning sensation, and also staining], and betadine [a brown version of Neosporin]. Once he was done, his hand looked as if he had gone to the toilet which was devoid of toilet paper and refused to wash and rinse before leaving the bathroom.
He didn't think 'lucky' was the word of choice for the night. 'Humiliating' was one candidate, another was 'excrutiating.'
It was possible these would scar, and that he was sure that he would have a somewhat entertaining story to tell at dinner parties and other social venues. He would bear proof of certain people's inability to empathize, and he would be able to make commentary on human altruism [or lack thereof]. But the one thing that had certainly made a lasting mark on him that night was that in the moment of aerial suspension, in the moment of being lifted from the bike seat, over the handles, and approaching the concrete with his head, He knew that everything was going to be fine. Sure, there were going to be some scrapes here and there - hopefully no fractures or broken bones - but things were going to be okay. Regardless of the fact He was going to perform a face plant into a considerably busy street, He was going to be able to pick himself up, and move on.