I was biking home down Atlantic avenue, in between traffic on the left and parked cars on the right. A large man in a yellow shirt was standing in the street outside his car, about to get in. To avoid being hit by his opening door I said, "Sir, sir!"
He replied, "The word is excuse me."
I hate to editorialize but I really should not have said, "Fuck you!"
He shouted after me, "Come back here and say that to my face!"
I hate to further editorialize, but I really, really should not have shouted back, "Your fat ass face!"
I rode fast down Atlantic, up Columbia, up Congress, and down Hicks, around gridlock traffic and through red lights—maybe a mile past the original kerfuffle. He had to have driven like a maniac to trail me, anticipate my continuing route, park, and hide in advance of my arrival.
I heard him before I saw him—if he'd not shouted, "Come here motherfucker!" as he leapt from his hiding place, I would surely have been tackled to the asphalt and held to account for my mouth. He burst out of nowhere, his face swollen with rage and expectation, lips tight and eyes wide. I was biking fast and he was sprinting toward me at a right angle. I swerved left and his fingertips pinched at my arm—he just missed me. In a fraction of a second I was past him, and I looked over my shoulder to behold my would-be attacker. His feet beat a decelerating tempo as he slowed to a defeated walk. The yellow shirt was really more gold, and the fabric was the athletic, sheer kind with lots of little perforations. His shoulders dropped and he let out the breathy "Damn!" of a linebacker who barely missed a crucial tackle.
I was wide fucking open. I raced the wrong way down several one-way streets and whipped into the parking lot of a riverside warehouse. I hid behind an empty eighteen-wheeler and paced in disbelief, trying to catch my breath—my legs were a throbbing, electric jelly. I turned my t-shirt inside out and put my sunglasses and my telltale red helmet inside my backpack. Someone leaving the warehouse began to approach me, paused, turned, and went on his way. When I judged that only maleficent coincidence could put me in harm's way again this afternoon, I biked the rest of the way home on back streets, keeping a careful inventory of all surrounding traffic at any given time.