There are two bikes available at anytime here at our Workaway location. Being free of use, they’re naturally a little grungy. After using them several times it’s become an unspoken rule: I take the bike that has functioning gears and is in more or less decent shape, and Billy gets The Piss. I call it The Piss because it’s definitely the worst bike here.
It’s an Osaka city bike, the kind you can rent from a rack for a couple of hours. How it got from Osaka to Chiang Mai is a mystery, but I’m happy to speculate. My theory is that the bike is sentient, much like how the Ring in The Lord of the Rings is sentient. Tired of frustrating bikers in Osaka, it willed itself to be taken aboard a ferry and shipped off to Chiang Mai, where there are plenty of westerners for it to torment.
The seat on The Piss is weirdly low; Billy tried to raise it but to no avail, and after a few minutes he gave up. The malevolent will of The Piss will not be moved unless compelled by some higher demonic force.
I felt so bad for Billy that first time out. I was trailing behind him and could only watch as his tall frame hunched over the squat bicycle. He peddled furiously, but The Piss has no gears, yet another sign that this bike has been blessed by Satan. Not helping was the flat back tire, which appeared to melt in the scorching mid-day sun. The overall image was that of a gorilla riding a tricycle, and The Piss was pleased; it had found its next victim.
When we got back to the apartment we searched for an air compressor. The lack of gears and low seat couldn’t be changed, but at least we could try to fill the back tire. We searched the shed where all the miscellaneous stuff is kept. The shed, aptly named the Ghost Shed, yielded nothing. “Looks like we’re just going to have to live with it,” I said. Billy was still rummaging in the corners. I could detect the panic in his voice when he replied “There’s got to be one. There’s got to…” His voice trailed off as his hopes of a comfortable bike ride sailed away into oblivion.
I felt like a pastor then, leading the grieving away from the grave yard. He looked back once more at the Ghost Shed. In his eyes was either contempt or resignation, I’ll never know which.
We could just switch bikes from time to time; we would share The Piss like siblings sharing household chores. But there is a higher demonic power at work here. The Piss has chosen Billy. I can’t mess with that. It would be like trying to take away the prized stuffed mouse from some bitchy old house cat and replacing it with a new mouse toy. The cat would shoot you a look that says “This does not please me. I had just gotten that toy to the appropriate level of disrepair. Prepare for the new bed sheets to be shat on.”
If anything, I would end up suffering more than Billy if I were to suddenly start using The Piss, and Billy being the stellar best friend that he is wouldn’t want that to happen. So I feel admiration when I bike behind him and watch the knees and elbows show wrestle with the little bicycle. Admiration, and frustration that I cannot successfully bike and take pictures.