December 19, 2011

Spitting distance

Over the tracks

When I picked up Little Biker Boy, I could tell he was in a difficult mood. He stomped out of the little apartment where he lives with his mother without saying goodbye to her. Then he began telling me a fictional story about the life he’d had when he lived with his father. “I owned two snowmobiles. No, three snowmobiles, all to myself. And we used to race them.”

I’d planned to bring him home to my house to help decorate our Christmas tree, but I could see right away that his mood wasn’t a good fit for a living room filled musical instruments, boxes of fragile Christmas tree ornaments, and laptop computers balanced on small tables.

So instead, we went to the green bridge. It’s a pedestrian bridge that rises up three floors above the railroad tracks. To climb it, you walk up cage-like tunnels made of metal grates, first one, then another, and then a third. The fourth tunnel goes across the railroad tracks, high enough that even a double-decker train can pass underneath. When you run up and down, the metal shakes and rattles. The scariest part is that you can look down through the metal and get an incredible sensation of height.

Little Biker Boy ran ahead of me, yelling as he went up the metal ramps. He kicked metal grates and they rattled. At the very top, he stopped and looked down. “It’s so scary when you look down,” he said. He and I are both afraid of heights. We walked across cautiously, looking down whenever we wanted a shot of adrenaline. At the very middle we stopped. Five tracks lay beneath us, and when we walked, the metal bridge shook under our feet.

“Look!” Little Biker said. In this distance, we could see the light of an approaching train. It came rumbling and clanking toward us, moving fast through the big train yard and then swerving on the track that led right below our feet.

The whistle blew. Little Biker Boy yelled, but I couldn’t hear anything he was saying. We both jumped up and down on the rattling bridge. It felt like the whole town was shaking. The train whooshed by underneath us, car after car: yellow, orange, brown, red.

Little Biker Boy lay down on the grate and spit. His saliva landed on the top of the train. We could both see the mark as the train passed through. He laughed and stood up again, and we watched as the train kept coming, car after car.

After the train had gone through, we climbed down the other side of the bridge. “I spit on a train!” Little Biker Boy kept saying. That was apparently the accomplishment he needed to shift into a better mood.

The green bridge


Melissa Sarno said...

I love your Little Biker Boy stories. You always tell things so simply and wonderfully. He is a 'character' I always think about.

Anonymous said...

If you´re looking for a way to use up some of his energy you should check into There´s a bunch around town, start with some easy ones to get him hooked and then i´m sure he´ll enjoy spending much more time searching for the harder ones. There´s a google map function on the website that makes it easy to find the general area of the cache without a gps and if you write down the hint you can usually find the majority of them. I´ve already found the majority of them near us so let me know and I can give you some clues if you´re having trouble with any.

PS. tell everyone I said hi.


liz said...

I read about Biker Boy, then I go home to hug my son extra hard. Hard enough to send the hug up to train-track village and settle around Biker Boy.

jo(e) said...

Pirate Boy: Nice to hear from you! And that's a good idea. Maybe that's a project he and I can start in the new year.

merrytait said...

You are wonderful to do this. I feel that way myself sometimes, and I wish I had you to take me to spit on the train!!!

Kyla said...

Haha! Oh, the things that bring joy.

Ink said...

Ha! That's so great. Whatever works. ;)