Apartment 301

stories culled from a life on the fringes

Damon E Walters

Damon E Walters
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
November 08
Born in Anacostia, Washington DC. AKA Daniel E Walsh, changed for all the standard reasons.


FEBRUARY 19, 2012 2:55PM

GNS: The Re-Cycle

Rate: 18 Flag



An evening snow fell wet and heavy covering Northeast Minneapolis in fresh white. The air was warm for January. I took advantage of the warmth to go out to the garage and bundle some cardboard for the next day's city recycling pick-up.  The garage was cluttered. I looked for a few other things to put on the curb. 

The nice night would bring out more pickers than usual. The curbsides of Minneapolis feed an underground economy of scrappers. Things left on the curbside, especially those with a high metal content, are quickly whisked away.

The things of life we accrue have a certain time span; after they have outlived their usefulness and the bright idea that some-day-I-can-use-this dims the time comes to part with them.

That box of teacups that your departed grandmother gave to you, and you have no plans to use, is probably something that you wouldn't rush out to the curb on her passing, but after a respectable interlude might find its way there. Still though, there can be a sentimental pull.

The soft snow shower continued with fat flakes floating in the yellow light above the garage door. My eyes fell upon my son's bicycle.

The bike had come over from his mother's house in one of his surprises. My son was not the most athletic kid. He was awkward and shy, not a sports participant. He was teased at school, but always carried himself with an enviable confidence. When he hit his mid teens there were some changes  - he made friends, the teasing ceased, he joined after-school activities.

Another surprise occurred when I picked up my kids at their mom's house and he was not there. "He rode his bike," his sister said. What! I didn't know he had a bike. The distance between the houses was just six miles through residential streets. The shock in our little world was that he would take on a challenge that was so out of character.

The trip may have been the maiden voyage of the new bike. It was certainly the last. A small mechanical problem prevented a return. The bike sat in my garages for almost a decade and through three moves. He never inquired about the bike, but as each move came I found myself unable to part with the pride-inducing item.


On this snowy night I decided that the bicycle's time had come. My son was in his twenties now and the bike was too small. I rolled it down to the street leaving a line in the snow beside my footprints. I propped the bike at a nice angle. The red bike glowed in the light of a streetlamp. I hoped someone who really wanted the bike, as a bike and could make the repair, would come along. The thought that it might simply be scrapped bothered me. I felt a tug on my heart as I turned away.

That sentimental feeling lasted as long as it took me to notice the driveway needed shoveling.

Inside the house I busied myself with nightly routines.

The doorbell chimed. We live in a century-old house and the doorbell rings like a church bell.

A young woman was at the door.

"Hi, I'm Jessica, your new neighbor from across the street." There is an apartment building over there. In the three years I've lived here I have met some of the residents usually as we push one vehicle or another out of the snow. They, the residents, were a jumble of Jessicas, Jasons, Jennys and Jareds – we live American lives, too busy for the social niceties of times past.

"Say, did you put that bike out there for anyone to take?"  she asked.

"I've donated it to the night," I said. 

"My nephew had his bike stolen last summer at a party. He's saving his babysitting money to buy a new one. He's thirteen and he would really appreciate it."

I told her she was welcome, but that the bike did have a mechanical problem.

"No worries, my husband's a mechanic. He can fix anything."

I ducked back into the warm house. The gleaming old/new bicycle had found the perfect home. The spirit had carried forward, recycled in that new urban way. Moisture formed at the corner of my eye.

 "You're crying," my wife said.

"Naw, it's just a snowflake."


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treasures in the scrap heap ~

thanks for the Leo...and for the bridge and the skyline.

you're a triple threat, what with your words, fotos and música ~
Rust never sleeps but in the hands of a good mechanic, the bike rolls on ... Such a sweet story. Great ending.
You ole' softy you! What a nice thing to do. Pass it forward, that's nice.

Now there's a guy who can stop the rain by complain-in!

Beautiful. A very evocative story. I enjoyed the description and I understood the emotion. Really nice.
Sweet departure from the noir I'm accustomed to from you, Damon, and that never disappoints. Neither did this.
Damn! Was this fiction? Fact? Either way you can write a sentimental piece just as good as a noir story. R
Awesome read. Your story just raised some old ghosts for me. Rated
Your post inspired me to listen to "Garbage Man" by The Cramps.
"Do you Understand? I'm a garbage man."
Thank you for the comments.
Now that we know from Jeremiah Horrigan's cover piece (highly recommended) that The Editor has a name, Jack, one can see that even this chainsawed version would not make it past his angry desk.
c22 - Leo would know a warm snow
ah what an old softie you are..and quite a wit, too:
""I've donated it to the night," quite well put.
as if you had chosen just the right intersection
of timespaces
to put it out there...

well written & well done! I hope you see the bike zooming
along the local streets...
nicely done. contest-worthy material, just gotta find the right one.

he says as he opens up the letter telling him that somebody named Alyse Ameluxen Karapetkova has won the 2011 Orange Buzzsaw chapbook contest--and he didn't.
Deftly told Damon. You do have a knack for vividly bringing scenes to life.
Excellent... thanks for reminding me to include my kid's bike story in my blog.

thanks for the additional comments - another "warm" snow this morning
I can feel the boys joy when he finds out about the bike.
I used to live in N.E. Minneapolis in the late 70's
you give it the feel I remember
rated with love
Image of the red bike sitting in the snow glowing with love underneath a street lamp is wonderful. I can see you peeking out the window to see if it's alright and still there. My daughter's teenage bike still sits in our garage, too, and she is in her 20s. For the same reason, I can't give it away.
I liked this short snapshot. Kids and bikes--wonderful memories and now it continues on....
rp, Cynthia & Doc - thanks