Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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First he used to do it in the house.
Right in the middle of the living room,
or sometimes in the kitchen. And go
through his routine. My mother would
stare absently at the floor. And I would
usually smile and clap my hands.
Later on, he started doing it in
restaurants. Sometimes on sidewalks,
I remember once he did it in the middle
of a crosswalk. Some guy honked his horn
and called him a name. My mother grabbed
Roy by the arm and pulled him all the
way over to the corner.
It was August, so it was a hot day. And
when we got to the corner, he had really
started sweating. My mother took out one
of her lacy handkerchiefs from her
pocketbook and tried to mop his brow
with it. As she cleaned him up, he
stopped moving for a minute, until she
was done. And then, as we waited for the
crossing light to change, he took hold
of her hand.
The light changed. And we walked back
across the street. When we got to the
other side, he bent down, looking at me,
put his index finger to his temple, and
made a quick stirring motion. And in a
startlingly clear voice said, while
pointing at his temple, All gone.
Then he smiled his kind of foolish
smile, and made a pistol with his hand
and pointed it at his head. And as we
walked down the street, he kept saying,
Shoot me. I wish somebody would shoot
me. I was away when he died. But it was
not long after this happened.
Steve De France