Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Sixty
27th October 1973
It being a Saturday, Sophie went out for a ride with the hope of covering as much ground before it started to get dark, and she would need to head for home. She had also headed south into an unfamiliar part of her own neighborhood. She had heard that the best adventures could be found without having to go too far.
The new bicycle was amazing. Doug had said that he had ordered the parts for the group-set from Shimano, a Japanese company that no one Sophie had talked to had heard of. In reply to that Doug said that they had made some key innovations according to a friend of his who lived in Australia. Once Sophie got it out on the road and felt the surge of power every time she shifted speeds, she realized that the Italian designed group-set on her Bianchi was clunky by comparison as she shifted smoothly between gears. Doug had also told her that a red bicycle would go faster. Sophie figured that he was probably pulling her leg with that last part.
Steering her bicycle through a portion of the road that was cracked and irregular, Sophie tried to steer around the worst portion with limited success. Winter was coming and she remembered how difficult to ride it was most days. Ziska said that Sophie needed to think of something else to do over the winter before she pointed out an article in one of the magazines that Tatiana had given her that she had not gotten around to reading about a men’s cycling team in Warsaw that lifted weights once the weather got cold. That was decidedly not what Sophie wanted to be doing and it was a bit embarrassing that Ziska had found that article before she had. Kat had finally come home the week before, when Sophie got the chance, she would need to get Kat’s opinion on the subject.
Rounding a corner, Sophie saw that the houses on this street all seemed run down and dirty, she could hear the sounds of a busy road on the other side of the houses. There was also broken glass on the surface of the street, and she had to slow so that she wouldn’t ride through it. A single shard of glass could ruin her day if she had to walk her bike home and try to patch the innertube. That was when she passed a chain-link fence that enclosed a small garden that was largely overgrown. She was shocked when a bottle flew over the fence, narrowly missing her head, before smashing when it hit the asphalt. Sophie veered onto the far side of the street and increased her speed, getting broken glass in the tires would the least of her problems if that had hit her. As if on cue, a second bottle flew over the fence, smashed on the pavement and she could hear a man’s voice drunkenly yelling at her. As Sophie sped away, she made mental note to never come back this way in the future.
“Fucking stuck-up bitch!” Sepp’s father bellowed, “Get back here and I’ll show you what’s what!”
“Will you cut that out” Sepp said sharply, horrified by his father’s behavior. The fact that his father had just chased off Sophie before Sepp could screw up the courage to get her attention, even as horrified as he was about what her reaction might be when she saw where he lived, as she had passed by his house just made it worse. As it was, he could hear the clicking sounds her bicycle made fading in the distance probably going as fast as she possibly could. He could only hope that she had not seen him before his father started throwing beer bottles at her.
“You saw that bike she was riding?” Sepp’s father said, his words slurred as he walked on unsteady feet back to the chairs that were on the front porch. “That is at least two weeks pay for an honest man, probably three. There is not a chance in Hell that girl made that herself. Her parents just gave it two to her. No one gives people like us a damned thing.”
Sepp held his tongue in response to that. He could think of countless times when his father had been perfectly happy helping himself at the expense of Sepp and his brothers.
“I saw that in Mexico” Sepp’s father said, “Poor people killing poor people, while that girl’s parents made a killing.”
It was something that Sepp’s father talked about constantly when he was drunk. What he had seen with the Army in Mexico, and it was a big part of the reason why Sepp was desperately trying to get into University. If that fell through, then his options would be very limited.
“You don’t know who she is” Sepp replied.
“I bet you are stupid enough to want to know her” Sepp’s father said with a drunken chuckle, “With how she was dressed and all.”
Sepp hadn’t really considered that, but Sophie had been wearing clothes that were appropriate for the season, so were not particularly revealing. However, because that was cycling attire, it was as light as was practical and rather tight so that it wouldn’t get in her way. Sepp was reminded of how Sophie was a rather fit girl who he had found attractive before he had gotten a chance to talk to her and found out that she had a sharp edge to her despite living on a posh street and going to a fancy school.
Sepp and his father fell into an uncomfortable silence. Sepp’s mother had insisted that he needed to stay with his father to keep him from doing something stupid, something of a lost cause. Sepp had known it was coming after his father had woken up and decided that he needed some hair of the dog that had bit him, which had quickly become the whole hound. Sepp had been on the phone trying to pick up an extra shift at Benno’s to avoid having to do this.