An Entertaining Tragedy
Suburbs of Milan Italy
It was a summer night with the first scent of autumn. We watched the blue moon rise, a bit larger than usual, red turning to yellow. I walk arm in arm with my companion. I say moon gazing is more impressive than the falling stars.
(August brings San Lorenzo when many Italians spend the night outdoors looking for falling stars. This year, I saw none.)
What do you expect, she says, when observing in Milan, so close to the lights?
You’re right. I got lazy. I should have stayed all night in the mountains. Instead, I spent only a few hours in a cornfield outside the city.
There’s always next year.
In the meantime, there are the unseen forces.
What do you mean?
I mean, the full and new moons generate loads of energy, which churns the seas and the liquids in our bodies. All living things are affected.
Yes, she says. All that energy is potentially beneficial if employed usefully. And we’ll soon travel to the Adriatic; it’s full of oomph.
It’s good to have a plan, I say. I try to begin projects on the new moon and finish by the full moon.
These are anxious days before our trip, she says.
We’re overrunning our schedule, I say. The more I do, the more things happen.
I hear you, she says, like the flat tire.
Maybe you can look at it differently now that it’s all over.
You’re the writer. Write a story. Tragedy is entertainment.
The Flat Tire
Yesterday evening, I got a flat tire while visiting a library far from home. I turned the bike upside-down, looking for the hole, but there was none. My hands were black and smelled like rubber. If I pump a lot of air into the tire, will it get me to my destination?
With that intent, I stopped passing bicycles for half an hour with the perennial question: Can you lend me an air pump? I got lots of shoulder shrugs. Most people, like myself don’t bother with air pumps until they’re needed.
Finally, I found a large bicycling family with a mustached grandpa, a husky son, a slender daughter-in-law, and smiling kids who stopped and took an interest in my plight.
Grandpa aired my tire as hard as a rock, and it stayed rigid all night and all day, which led me to believe someone let the air out of my tire. So today, I was working on that premise when I took the bike out.
I chained it in the same place as the day before for a couple of hours, and when I returned, the back tire was flat. It’s always the back one.
It only goes flat here, I thought. Someone must be letting the air out of my tire.
However, this time, I brought a pump.
I filled the tire as hard as Grandpa did the day before. Then I spied on my bike from a library window while reading The Diamond Eye, an exciting historical fiction based on the true story of a female Russian sharpshooter who killed over 300 Germans on the Russian fronts in World War Two. I got so involved in the book I forgot to watch my bike. And when I left the library, the tire was flat again. Did the book make me miss the culprit letting the air out of my tires?
I pumped air into the tire yet another time, but before I got home, it went flat again. I was perplexed. Could this be a slow leak that turned into a fast leak?
I filled the tire again and peddled nonstop to the bike repair shop. When I arrived, my tire was flat again, and a sign on the door read, CLOSED FOR VACATION UNTIL SEPTEMBER 7.
I pumped air in the tire and raced home before it leaked out.