The Daily Hell Vol. III - Bumsville
Issue 26 - Lost And Found in Prospect Park or
Girl, Keep Yo' Cash Where You Can See It!
October 22, 2009Having stayed in my apartment the better part of the last week, today I decided to hop on my bike and do some writing out of doors. It was a breezy 68 degrees and I wanted to enjoy the sun and warmth of a jacketless early fall before it turned into the cold, wet, dismal reality of a real New York autumn.
I entered Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza and headed south
towards 9th Street where there are some picnic tables I could make
use of. I was shifting gears and beginning to pick up speed when I saw it flash
by below my tires. A blink of green and white, geometric patterns and sharp
angles amidst the chaotic cracks and lines of a bumpy charcoal grey sheet of
asphalt. In the same instant I made eye contact with Washington, he was gone.
I hit my brakes and oozed to a stop, rather than screech, as I lost my front brakes a few days ago and my rears are hanging on just barely. Fearful of losing my bounty to the next passerby, I used the last of my momentum to whip my bike to the right, hoping to ward off any other pursuers with my stern glare. An all-to-serious-looking biker in red and white spandex whom I had cleverly distracted by making him veer away to avoid hitting me was the only person nearby. “Yeah, keep moving, “I thought as I watched him pedal by.
Not wanting to wait for the wind, I gently dropped my bike without kicking the stand. I ran back to the dollar only to find that there were in fact several dollars scattered about, as well as a New York State Driver’s License.
It apparently belonged to a woman in her late 30’s, a
Christmas baby like me, who lived on Vanderbilt, a few blocks away. I felt a
bit robbed of my guilt-free money, but figured returning it to the woman would
be a bit more exciting than being productive and getting work done. I decided she must be biking, as cash and cards do not just
squeeze out of a back pocket unless as the result of some kind of repeated
action, force or pressure, like that of gyrating gluteus muscles rubbing
vigorously against a bicycle seat.
She couldn’t have passed by too long before, as money doesn’t sit on the ground too long unnoticed. Also, judging by her picture, she was a little on the pudgy side so I figured I could probably catch her.
I saddled back up and continued on my way. I wanted to get
her on this side of the park because there is a big hill I would have to go
down and a bigger hill I would have to come up on the other side. I pumped
away, overtaking most people pretty quickly, craning my neck and checking
bikers who made likely candidates and also a few thinner, more attractive
bikers who made less likely candidates, but I wanted to be thorough in my
I enjoy finding things people have lost, whether I am able to return
them or not. There is a kind of magic to them, like they have many stories to
tell but no words to tell them. They are mysteries to be solved. And naturally,
I take it upon myself to solve them. It’s the perfect outlet for my inherent
male desire to be a private eye- track down some missing dame or in this case,
track down the dame who owns some missing thing that I have found.
Approaching the downhill slope I saw a potential and coasted
after her. It was not long before I realized it was not her and just kept
coasting for lack of anything else to do. I was fairly certain at that point I
wouldn’t find her, but figured I might as well finish the loop. The 4.5 mile
loop. She’s fast for a fat girl.
In my head I began to compose the note I planned to drop off with the cash and ID at the address on her license – several versions actually, some admonishing her carelessness, some hoping to kindle her faith in the good of humanity, all signed simply, with my first and last name so that she can find me easily enough if she happens to be a millionaire dowager who wants to reward me for my honesty.
Once in Washington DC, I found a digital camera on the
ground and tracked down the owners by looking through their pictures to see
where they had been that day and figuring out where they were likely heading
next- or at least in which direction they were probably walking. We caught up
with them four blocks from where I found it. They hadn’t even noticed it was
missing- nor did they speak any English, so I couldn’t even impress upon them
the amount of deductive
problem-solving energy that I had expended upon the camera’s return. That was
the real tragedy! They never knew my brilliance! They probably thought I saw it
fall out of their pocket thirty seconds before and just picked up and handed it
to them. Dahh, stupid Germans!
I finally came to the foot of the giant uphill struggle to
the end of the loop, and kicked it into an easier gear. It is the same hill on
which the men of the Maryland Militia held off the Hessians for crucial hours
from behind a giant felled oak tree during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776. I
will concede that it was probably harder to get up then, but it is still a pain
in the ass to get up on a 3-gear bike.
I started to climb, thinking of how much smarter it would have been to have turned around and done the loop in the opposite direction when I found the money, thus meeting her halfway around, rather than chasing her like a greyhound behind an electronic rabbit.
The end of the loop was just beyond the top of the hill, and
no one really does the loop more than once. Not unless they are chasing some
crazy dame who has lost her ID. But finally, sweaty and winded, I approached
the hill’s crest and saw her. There was a garland of nylon flowers on the back
of her bike. I could see she was
wearing glasses like the ones in her picture, and her hair was up. She was standing
astride her bicycle at the very top of the hill, patting and searching the back
pockets of her Spandex pants.
She looked around her a bit and got back on, riding slowly
and unsure, no doubt distracted. I caught up with her and came along side her,
making cautious eye contact a few times as she started to pick up speed.
“Marika?” I said, still out of breath from the hill. She turned her head and looked at me as I reached out with the bills and license, and said, “here.”
She saw it and took it with a smile and obvious relief, “Oh thank you! Oh my God, thank you!” I smiled and nodded her welcome and sped up without looking back to say anything else, make awkward eye contact, or even see if she got off the path at the end of the loop.
I didn’t see the point in telling her about my chase around the park, other than fishing for praise I suppose. She seemed sufficiently appreciative of my handing it to her without knowing where exactly she dropped it- unlike those snooty Germans back in DC! I’d been tracking her for 20 minutes, but to her, she had been in trouble for less than 30 seconds. I don’t know. Maybe she would have been happier in knowing that there are some people who would go to those lengths to return her lost property. Or maybe she would have been creeped out that some sweaty guy on a bicycle had been following her around the park and planning to go to her house if he couldn’t find her there.I biked on past where I’d found the cash, into a nice small grove of pines near 9th street, sat down on the ground, and began to write.