I arrived ahead of time, as I had every Saturday for the past five years. Jerry’s Rent and Repair Bike Shoppe, a grungy, badass hole in the wall, had become our favorite weekend dive. It took us away from the day to day uncertainty of our way of life, if only for a few hours. We both felt the oppression of our reality being lifted during the times we spent at the shop and cycling throughout the city on our tried and true rentals – a three-speed Traveler for Terry and a 10-speed Varsity for myself. During these times, it almost seemed like we could last forever. Somehow it was never enough.
I approached the counter where I was greeted by Jerry, owner and ‘whatever the shop happened to need at the time’ manager.
“How’s it hangin’, Steve?” he smiled as he shot me a deuce.
“Fab man, just fab! Love the new bandana, man!”
“Shall I get your ride ready for you?” He asked heading toward a long row of rentals resting along the north side of the shop.
“Not yet, man. Don’t know if we’ll be groovin’ today.
A look of confusion crossed his face. “I can dig it. Find me when you’re ready.”
I looked down at my watch. Terry was five minutes late. This was not unlike him, and I wondered whether it signaled the start to another otherwise normal day or if it was to be the end of an era – our era. As I meandered around the shop, past the long line of beloved bicycles waiting for their annual service, I wondered what my life would be like without this place. I tried my best to remind myself that Terry was just late…
I strolled by Jerry’s white and blue transistor radio chained to his Remington cash register. I smiled as I recalled him muttering something about the boob tube never being able to overtake the old Marconi. With the ability to reach so many people, I was sure he was onto something. The radio sprung to life as I rolled the dial to the right and adjusted the antenna. The reception was remarkable today - I could make out almost every word amongst the static!
The big news stories of the day reached out to pull me in. Exactly four weeks had passed since America had managed to land a man on the moon! The gruesome facts in the ‘Manson murders’, as they were being called, were just coming to light across the nation and the world. The newest bit of interesting broadcast, unlikely to turn into much of anything, was a massive traffic jam as people headed to the annual Woodstock Fair in upstate New York. I suspected it was something added just to fill the feed. The announcer faded as the Fab Four came to life in front of me.
‘Can’t buy me love, love
Can’t buy me love…..
Cos I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.’
I took a seat at a bench in the corner and pulled a single blank check from the back pocket of my faded Levi bell bottoms. I stared blankly at it as I passed it back and forth between my sweaty palms. I knew that what I had to offer to Terry was unconventional to say the least. It was the only way I could think of that he might consider staying in my life. The past years had been very difficult as we had watched the rise in the feminism movement and the anti-war faction and almost anything that spoke to the freedom we all so longed for, but only for some of us. There had been faint rumblings of a man named Milk and others like him. These were brave men, unlike myself, who we dreamed would make our lives important as well. Until then, the only hope I had was the single blank check staring up at me from my hopeful hands.
I checked my watch once again. The Seiko suggested that Terry was already half an hour late. This was not unlike the love of my life; however, we had fought more often over the last several months and unless there was a way that both of us could be committed to this relationship, I figured that it had run its course. I would never have imagined myself in this predicament as I had loved only women up until the time I was thirty-one. I knew from the moment that Terry and I met that things going to be different.
The idea of offering him everything I had with a single signature on a lone blank check had come to me only recently. I struggled to understand what exactly I was trying to do. I only knew that I was willing to offer him all my worldly possessions to get him to stay. I pulled a ballpoint pen out of my back pocket. As I gazed down at my name and address, I thought about how many times Terry and I had discussed this becoming his address as well. I dated the check, August 16th, 1968, and noticed that my writing was barely legible. Was what I was willing to offer going to be enough?
Terry was now 40 minutes late and I feared that he was not coming. I hung my head and the first tear landed. I used it to smear the date. The second tear was used to erase Terry’s name. It was unlikely that this check, which held my hopes and dreams only five minutes ago, would last long enough for Terry to show his face.
I looked up and my eyes locked with Terry’s. As he made his way towards me, I took one last look at what remained of the emaciated check. I placed it back into the deep pocket of my Levi’s. The Fab Four had been right all along.
Dr. Victoria Jones is a surgical oncologist who lives with her two adorable sons, Logan and Lucas, conceived via donor insemination. She has published extensively in scientific journals, and won research, teaching, and mentoring awards. She enjoys any type of learning and/or self-development, travel, cooking, and wine. She spends her free time transporting her children back and forth between their myriad of exciting activities.