Cynthia was watching out the large café window, writing about how we will all die, while watching someone steal her bike. It was a street bike with large thin wheels, gleaming in the insistent L.A. sun, tied to a little oblong shape stuck in a concrete block where other bikes were supposed to congregate.
She’d sat there a while, trying to come up with something to write about Sartre for school, but coming up with nothing to feed the necessary 8,000 words. So she was picking at the crumbs that remained from her blueberry muffin, idly watching the bike, when someone wearing too many coats, two backpacks, and some contraption in hand, had begun to do something to the bike. Their back was to Cynthia, so most of what she saw was the struggle to keep one of the backpacks over their shoulder while working on the bike rack.
The bike lock gave way with a disappointing swiftness. Then she watched him carefully wheel it away from the avant-garde bike rack. She saw his sunburned face for the first time, sweating under the heat of those coats. He was far too tall for the bike, and had to hunch over awkwardly—again struggling to keep both bags over his shoulder. The takeoff was slow, and his long legs had trouble with the smaller bike, looking a little bit like a clown bike. She realized, even as he moved away, that there was plenty of time to stop him, to catch up. But instead, she turned back to the notebook, wondering if somehow that would help shed some light on The Flies.