I hear a laughing protest from the street and look up from the page of my notebook. Through the slats in the gate and the gaps in the pyracanthas I watch a man and woman with gray hair and bright white shirts ride by on a tandem bicycle. The man is steering. “I want to get off now,” I hear the woman say as they move beyond the hedge.
I hear breathless laughing as he turns the bike around, the kind of deep, uncontrollable, almost soundless laughter that clenches the belly and brings tears to the eyes. I glimpse them again as they ride past, heading west now. I see the tall curved handlebars, like the Sting-Rays of my youth, imagine her disorientation, gripping them but unable to steer. Then her laughter breaks free, rolls out into the afternoon, sunlight spilling across the road. “Now I can’t stop laughing,” I hear her say as they ride away, flickers of white behind the wooden gate, brave adventurers on a bicycle built for two. They disappear, and I sit in the courtyard looking off in their direction. Now I can’t stop smiling.
[Tandem bike photograph by bert_m_b/Courtesy Flickr.]