It was approaching the end of term and I was sitting enjoying a milkshake and looking out at the town.
The buildings grew away from me as Main Road led up the hillside towards the centre at the top.
The cafe was not busy, but a steady hubbub of conversation made it seem so. I saw Suzanne, a friend, across the road and waved to her. I knew it was one way glass, and she couldn’t see, but I can’t snap the habit of waving to people.
The three men in suits next to me cracked up laughing at this. I explained to them that I quite often sat in the window and, while I knew that people couldn’t see in, it always felt polite to wave as if they could.
They didn’t understand, but they left me alone.
A few minutes later Suzanne entered the diner and sat next to me with a coffee of some kind. It smelled as though it was full of syrup and, knowing Suzanne, it might well have been.
I hadn’t seen her for a while, and she started to fill me in on a few of the things she’d been up to. She’d been at the same Polished Apples concert as me, though hadn’t seen me, and had been to a picnic with another friend Chris.
I’m not normally a fan of picnics, but Suzanne was very excited by something that had happened at that one, so I hurried back with my second milkshake so I could hear the story.
“Chris,” she explained, “is a huge fan of E.T., and had seen something online that he couldn’t resist.”
She told the story as he had told her a week beforehand.
“Not normally an impulsive spender, he made an exception on this occasion.”
He went off, she continued to show what it was, and came back a few moments later with a bicycle with a rod underneath it and a picture of the moon stuck to it.
He proceeded to retrieve a cable that had been wrapped around a tree, threaded it under the wheels and anchored it to the ground. In moments, he was on the bike and, albeit though his progress was a little wobbly, climbing into the air.
She showed me a photo. Chris, although, it was daylight, looked for all the world like he was in that scene in E.T.
As soon as she’d put her phone down after showing the picture, there was a commotion behind the diner.
We ran to see what was happening and immediately noticed people were pointing upwards. It was a man on a bicycle in the air. It was Chris.
“Isn’t that hugely dangerous?” I asked her.
She told me that the instructions said the bike should never be more than six feet off the ground even though the cable allowed for much more than that.
Chris was much higher. The college building is three floors high, and the roof, while sloping, goes higher still.
In a flash, it all happened.
Chris lost his balance, and the bike was suddenly over him, with his body dangling below. He dropped onto the roof with a thud and bounced towards the edge.
As he toppled over there was a gasp, and then a loud splash. Either by chance, or by design, there was a large butt of water to break his fall.
We ran to this butt and helped him out. He was shaking, and sodden, but seemed to have no further damage other than a few scrapes on his arms.
He borrowed my phone to ring his wife, and she picked him up fifteen minutes later, still dripping, but seemingly coming out of the initial state of shock.
For the rest of the summer, there was a bicycle hanging from a cable over the college roof and then, the day before term was due to start, it was gone.