Saturday was our monthly bike club. No one came out to ride with us, and one of our guys was a no show. But we rode. Despite lockdowns, mandates, or whatever, we ride. The Vietnamese, God bless them, were rallying for Trump again at the Huntington Beach pier. They’ve been there every weekend since October. They know what it’s like to lose a country.
Sunday was quiet, sad, and empty. Deep haze and clouds buried the winter sun. I took my stretch cruiser, the show bike, out early, put on my club shirt, and took a slow morning cruise. The streets were all but deserted. The few people out were slouching along with their muzzled faces shoved into cell phones, ears jammed shut with blue-tooth plugs.
Luckily, there was no one at the park, so I sat at my favorite spot, and knocked back a couple of bowls. But that served only to deepen an overall sense of gloom. So I saddled up, and just wandered, turning here or there with no thought of getting anyplace.
I cruised down Whittier Boulevard, passed the Whittwood shopping center, and slid down the side streets into the neighborhood.
I passed St. Bruno’s Catholic Church. The haze rolled in deeper, and the silver morning light grew dull.
The sun rays turned the pewter sky into the iris of an immense leaden eye with a bone white pupil staring down the world.
I rolled around the corner, and stopped, just to look at the sky. Across the street, I could see St. Bruno’s holding outdoor mass in the lunch area of the parish schoolyard. Recorded music started as the congregants lined up in their face masks to receive communion. Each received the host in his cupped hands, turned from the altar to face the street where I sat on the cruiser. Each took several steps to ensure a safe social distance, and lifted a corner of the muzzle to slide the host into the mouth, and onto the tongue.
There was something furtive and broken in the gesture. The whole scene became surreal, almost frightening. I was standing inside a tarot card. That moment could have been painted by Breughel, or Bosch.
I rolled on home and put the bike up. Buddy the Cat was in the yard, snoozing on the table in the gazebo. The haze was breaking up and the ol’ guy was enjoying the thin warmth of the January sun. I re-heated some stale coffee, sat down, and joined him.