“October is a transformative month,” Dylan explained from his perch upon the riding lawnmower.
“How’s that?” Denise asked.
“Well, things hit a wall fast. Kids go back to school, parents have to drive them around to soccor and ballet classes, parents stop riding. The fair weather riders hang their bikes up for the winter. And nobody is thinking about Christmas yet. And I instantly go from being indispensable and having to fight for one day a month off to being seen as a drain on the owner’s bank account. Despite all you do all summer, they secretly wish you would disappear so they don’t have to pay you all winter. It gets tense.”
“I’m sure it’s not that bad,” she said, her large eyes widening as if to dare him to argue. “So that’s why you are here for a few weeks?”
Before he had a chance to reply, the garage rumbled with bass, subsided for a few seconds; the click of drumsticks came through the wall and his friends burst into another song. Vampira. They had decided to see how many Misfits songs they could learn/remember in the week before Halloween. Despite all the soundproofing they used when they walled off a corner of the garage, he could still hear them attempting to sing along, taking turns with the stanzas.
“You should be in there helping them sing,” she shouted.
“No, you should. I think we all know I can’t sing.” He took his beer off the hood of the mower and took a drink. Gave her a playful shove towards the door. She shoved him back, hard. He fell out of the seat, landing shoulder first on the dirty cement floor. Managed not to spill a drop of beer. They laughed.
Denise was excited about the suggestion. Although she had been with Lew, the bass player, for a couple of years, like most bass players he was quiet and sulken and probably just never thought to ask her if she wanted a try at the mic. She was brash and funny, round at the hips and not afraid to throw her weight around, but she had never breeched that barrier of mixing her love of singing along in the car to throwing herself into a jam session.
She sounded good, too. They stopped after a minute of her jumping in to plug in a proper microphone. When the music again filled the air, he glanced around the garage at the collection of his oldest friends’ bikes. Lew rode an old FSR with those purplish double crown Judy forks. Called it his chopper. Denise rode a chrome 24″ cruiser from Schwinn’s 90’s BMX heyday. It reminded him that he once owned an Elf cruiser with Bullseye cranks. Kicks himself for selling that one. Sam and Len, brothers and bandmates, mostly drove pickups, but Len still occasionally broke out the steel Gary Fisher Dylan had given him before anyone started describing bikes as “fully rigid.”
He went outside to get a bit of fresh air, since a haze of cigarette smoke still permeated the garage. The temperature had been dropping all day, clouds had been moving in, but he still couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Snow. At the end of October. When growing up it would occasionally snow here around Halloween. Always depressed him. But it was a little thrilling this time. He needed this, a reminder of where he came from: a group of smartass kids standing in a circle, huddled together in a cloud of smoke and cold breath, sharpening their wits on each other. Watching the sun fall, trying to eek out another run at a skate spot. He and his friends grooming a trail through a patch of woods they were probably not allowed to be in. He stood shivering in the falling snow for awhile, thinking about building those trails, the way, when they were so young, the direction they went seemed completely in their hands.