Pedro Ávila

It was a typical Memorial Day Saturday in the East Bay – dry, hot and quiet. One of those days where you can be in the sun or the shade and not really know the difference. At least where I was, biking out in the back roads of the hills between Moraga and Hayward, where the strange folk of the redwoods live.

The hills were starting to get steep there on the Moraga side when a van rounded the bend, headed in my direction. A green minivan, to be exact, and I would describe it later to the police sergeant as, “a typical soccer mom ride.” But I wasn’t worried at that point. The weird communities in the hills that live in the dark shade of the woods and only come out for Bar Mitsvahs, First Communions and 83 cent sales at REI don’t tend to be dangerous people. And besides, I seldom suspect arbitrary people of insanity. But maybe I should.

The vehicle passes me at clocking roughly 50 kilometers an hour. Moments before it did I felt the two wet impacts against my chest like exploding beer cans or worse. BOOM! WHAMMO!

The wind was stolen from me and my orientation disappeared. But my grip on the handlebar tightened with the sudden shock which is the only thing that prevented me from being hurled into the thicket of dry branches and broken thorns on the side of the pavement. I somehow managed to slow the bike down before I stumble off of it onto the poorly shorn weeds between the road and the pit of branches next to it. I collapsed, half of my body still on the pavement. There was a strange, light sugary smell in the air.

What the hell was that? I wondered.

“oowwwwwwwwww,” I said, my mouth continuing the line of thought. And why the hell is everything sticky?

I looked up at my chest and didn’t see red, which suprised me. I’d figured that the wetness of the impact had to be the blood that would’ve been pouring out of my chest cavity after being hit with that shotgun round, or at least with that beer can that exploded on my chest at that speed.

But everything was white. Loads of creamy spillage that made it look like a hippopotomus had just explosively ejaculated all over me. I didn’t even know hippos could explosively ejaculate.

“Aw, what the fuck?” I said to the dry expanse around me. I looked around the rest of my body for any other wounds but found that the pain was focused only on my chest, radiating outwards along with the rest of the viscousy white liquid that smelled strangely of wheat yogurt.

I looked back to the spot where I was hit and sure enough two yogurt containers lay strewn on the road and in the weeds, totally exploded. My bike looked OK except that it was covered in as much Activa Wheat yogurt as I was. The sun is baking the yogurt on me on that black asphalt and the previously pleasant smell was turning sour before my very nostrils.

I peeled my shirt off and examined my chest. A little tender and red, but no bleeding. A ‘Dannon’ logo was stamped just above my right nipple, but I was fine. My breath was returning to me.

“Huh,” I said out loud, “Assault with a dairy weapon.”

I laughed out loud like an idiot on the road. I was still laughing when somebody drove by and tried to offer a hand. I considered the very strong possibility that I am way beyond helping.

Pedro Ávila Pedro Ávila

For a reasonably sane & productive member of society (arguable, but let’s not complicate things), I’m far too mobile and unrooted. I travel quite a bit for a job that is simultaneously my greatest privilege and my worst burden.

So I write. And I write. Travel pieces, political journalism (a stretch from ranting but, still), short stories, poetry and other such riff-raff. I contribute to a handful of publications and will probably just keep going until something gives out, or someone gives in.


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