George had just made the left turn onto Lakeside Drive. Up ahead was the right turn onto Robin Hood Drive. Up ahead also, somewhere in hiding at the last house on the left prior to the turn, waited the gathering of dogs that are always eager to get the adrenaline flowing inside any cyclist who dares to penetrate their self-proclaimed domain. George knows, no matter how much he attempts to cycle in “stealth mode,” those dogs will sense him approaching and give him a good run for his money. And there was no reason for him to expect anything different today.
George and his bike were making no noise whatsoever as they pedaled within range of the property – well, unless you take into consideration the sound of George’s heart beating loudly inside his chest. Then sure enough, with less than a hundred feet to go, the silence of the afternoon was shattered with the abrupt commencement of half-a-dozen yapping dogs making a dash across the yard in a trajectory that would have them intercepting George at precisely the point where he would need to slow slightly to make that right turn. Unable to see around the dense growth of trees at that location, George just prayed that there would be no cars approaching from the north because he knew he would be swinging wide and fast.
As he got closer to the corner, George knew it was going to be a close call. Those dogs were really on their game today. As George began the lean to make the turn, the pack of dogs crossed the drainage ditch and hit the pavement. They were going to be on top of him at any second. George zipped around the corner – being able to see far enough up the road to confirm that there were no approaching vehicles; he stood up on the pedals and gave it everything he had. The dogs were giving it everything they had also – right up until the point where all at once one of them started yelping in an entirely different manner than that of actively chasing an intruding cyclist. It was more like the yelp of it being the attacked rather than being the attacker. George could immediately sense that the game had drastically changed behind him. The barking of the dogs was quickly beginning to fade, indicating to George that they had decided to forsake the chase.
George pedaled a few more feet down the road, then coasted and cranked his head around to take a look behind. At the precise moment that George was able to focus in the distance on the dogs all headed for the safety of their front porch, his vision was immediately drawn downward just as an alligator was leaping up off of the pavement and snapping at the rear wheel of his bicycle.
“WHAT THE… !” exclaimed George, as he tried frantically to get his feet once again spinning the pedals with full force. “Where in blazes did an alligator come from?”
In a split second, George had picked the pace up to over twenty-five as he wound his way along Robin Hood Drive – the alligator always within ten to fifteen feet behind him. Several local residents were out working in their yards; children were playing in their driveways or near the edge of the road. George started shouting out warnings, “Watch out! Get back! There’s an alligator coming!” Every few yards or so, the alligator would lunge again and snap at George’s rear wheel.
George was coming up on the intersection at Joseph Road. For the last couple of blocks, the alligator had been closing the gap and George could feel the alligator’s breath on his ankles each time it snapped at his wheel. In hopes to increase the gap, George made the split-second decision to make the hairpin left turn onto Joseph Road. Swinging wide and without slowing at all, George ran off the road on the far side of Joseph only slightly as he made the turn but quickly got his tires back up on the pavement. The alligator was quick to see what George was up to so it veered diagonally off-road through an empty lot on the left prior to the intersection in order to intercept George after he had made the left turn. (Obviously a little trick it had learned from watching the dogs.) As the alligator was scurrying across the lot, a groundhog poked its head up out of its hole to see what the commotion was all about. It quickly dove back down just as the alligator came trampling overhead. George was heading west on Joseph Road, once again pounding the pedals in the fiercest of all sprints. Just as the alligator was leaping across the drainage ditch to land on the asphalt right at George’s precise location…
An eastbound garbage truck flattened the alligator right there on Joseph Road.
It was about 5:15 pm when George rolled his bicycle into the garage then walked on into the house. Louise, his wife, was in the kitchen watering the plants on the window sill.
“Oh my God, you are not going to believe what happened to me on my bike ride today,” started in George. He then proceeded to tell the story in great length and detail – the dogs, the alligator, the garbage truck – blow by blow; turn by turn. Louise listened tentatively and didn’t interrupt or say a word until George finished with, “So what’s for dinner?”
“What’s for dinner?” echoed Louise. “What do you mean, what’s for dinner? Aren’t you taking me out for dinner tonight?”
“Am I supposed to take you out to dinner tonight?’ questioned George.
“It’s Valentine’s Day, George. You always take me out to eat on Valentine’s Day.”
“Are you kidding me? You forgot that today was Valentine’s Day?
“I’m sorry. Yes, I guess I did. I mean, it’s not like it’s a major holiday – like your birthday or Christmas or something.”
With that remark, Louise threw the watering can, still half full of water, at her husband. Not expecting such a response, it caught George off guard and hit him square in the forehead with the spout jabbing into his right eye. Louise reached into the sink and grabbed a coffee cup and threw that at him too. George was able to step aside in time and the cup smashed against the wall behind him. As he turned to look at the shattered coffee cup, Louise quickly threw a second cup that caught him smack dab on the side of his head, leaving a big gash across his cheek. She threw a wet dishtowel at him. She threw a spatula. She grabbed the sponge that had been lying in a pan full of bacon grease and she threw that him. She threw the pan at him too.
“Good grief,” thought George, as he was trying to avoid the onslaught of projectiles, “why didn’t I do the dishes from breakfast this morning before I went on my bike ride?”
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU FORGOT VALENTINE’S DAY!” shouted Louise then she stormed off into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.
Obviously George was not having a good day and more than likely he did not…
Enjoy the Ride!
You've just read Part Three of
The Groundhog Pentalogy:
Happy Valentine’s Day Again