Copyright© 2013 by JOHNNY SACHU
Shannon had to admit it. She was lonely. She missed her friend, Terry. He was always busy at the gamming store, now, she'd set up for him. It took a lot of hours out of their friendship, in fact, most of it, and she wished things had stayed the same for them, and her, a little while longer. She liked having someone to do things with.
What had changed was his father's insistence he get a job or got to college. At nineteen, he figured Terry needed to accomplish or do something with his life. And he may have been right. What did Shannon know? She wasn't a parent. All she really knew was, she missed him. She had set up that business for him to keep him in town, but it did bite into their time.
She was riding through the city on her Firenze, her beloved racing bike, as she thought of it. It was quick to adjust to the line of travel, on a road, very responsive and light, and beautiful to behold, she thought. Its metallic red color was so brilliant in open sunlight.
Shannon had upped the gearing on the single speed bike, recently, to a 48 tooth front sprocket. She had gotten that much stronger with her complete training program and regular rides. With the 14 tooth gear in use, now, on the rear freewheel, she had a much higher top end than it had previously had and challenged her current riding power just that little bit more.
It was cold out. Way cold. She was dressed in slim riding gear but of her own finding, in discount clothing and chain stores. But tightly confined in her winter riding gear, she still felt comfortable and loose enough to ride easily, freely, without the restriction of too tight of clothing. But she was still feeling it, the cold, mostly on her face, as it was open to the elements.
Nearing the edge of the city, she noticed a rider up ahead. Someone on a high-tec, expensive machine, or at least it looked like one from the rear. The rider was all decked out in the latest bicycle riding clothing and equipment from head to toe and seemingly all the bike shops stuff that cost ridiculous amounts of money to purchase. She didn't really care for any of the clothes. They always had advertising on them and she thought those clothes always looked way presumptuous, like a clown suit, with all their brash coloring and icons. There was even gaudy European names on each butt cheek, of this guy up ahead, for crying out loud. Her outfit, on the other hand, was all black, with white high top basketball shoes on her feet, just to keep her ankles warm.
As she approached him, at a much quicker pace, Shannon could see just how extensive all the man's gear was with a computer on his stem, very skinny high pressure tires, fancy helmet, low aerodynamic lie down bars, and a carbon fiber/aluminum frame. It was on the edge of bike technology, these days. She vaguely noticed how trim the rider was with that little butt of his rocking back and forth over the seat when she got nearer. He was riding just as hard as she was, it seemed, but she was quite a bit faster.
When she passed him, she appreciated the beautiful Specialized brand racing bike, glancing briefly the riders way, even though it looked nothing like her bike in the least. It was white, black and red in colors and with all the latest, expensive kind of tools for getting the most out of a cyclist, but quickly left the man in her wake, in spite of all the hi-tec stuff he had. She could afford and appreciate a bike like that, but it wasn't for her. She like the simplicity of her single speed.
Shannon thought she heard him shift gears and stand up out of the saddle and try to stay with or pass her, but she didn't care if he did. She didn't care if he passed her by, just so long as he didn't want to ride with her. Competition was nothing she cared about, but she never saw him in her line of sight after she'd rode by. Good! she thought.
She didn't look back till about three blocks later, when Shannon heard a car approaching from the rear, checking to make sure the car saw her. He was back there, she noted, but at least a block away. She didn't think twice about it.
Without stopping, though slowing slightly in a coast, she scooted right through the stop sign and the back street intersection, with no cross traffic approaching. She got up on her peddles again and accelerated back up to her usual speed and kept on going at a fast clip until she was miles out of the city, now onto a highway.
She let her mind wander. He was cute, just like his three-thousand dollar bike was cute. Handsome, even. But she wasn't looking for a friend. She had one, Terry, or did, but it was more on a temporary basis, now.
Eight miles later, and fifteen miles from home, Shannon stopped beside the road and swung her leg over her Firenze's seat, at her turn around point, and very gently leaned it next to the guard rail of the road side. She sat on one of the huge wooden blocks of wood that supported and kept the guard rail in place as a barrier, pulled back her balaclava to expose her steaming head, then drank from her water bottle at a leisurely pace, watching The North Platt River flow gently by. It was peaceful there as she recovered mentally as well as physically.
She took a Cliff bar from her jacket's pocket and took a bite. It was chocolate chip, her favorite, but it always tasted a bit medicine-like. It would be enough energy, though, to get her back home or to a restaurant. The things were darn chewy, too, and it stuck to her teeth like crazy. She could just imagine the twisted faces she was making. But it gave her mouth something to do and she grinned about the thought of her chewing and fussing with her teeth.
She read all the ingredients they put in those things and wondered if all that junk was really good for you? It filled you up, satisfied your hunger, and gave you energy, but was it good food, real food, and actually good for you? There was no way of knowing, really.
Shannon laid the thought aside and leaned back, her hands on the guard rail, and watched the river a little while longer. She heard some ducks off in the distance and saw a huge flock of black birds perched in the cattails. She loved the sounds of them and the wind blowing gently through the grasses and the other plants, swaying back and forth with a gentle rhythm. She was loving this reverie, but didn't want to stay too long. She'd stiffen up and that would make it harder on herself going back.
She was about to leave when she heard the spinning of a cassette freewheel off a bicycle approaching. It was that guy she had passed in the city.
"Hello," he said, coming to a stop by her bike, a big grin on his face. "You're a hard person to catch."
"Hi," is how she replied, and got up, tucking her Cliff bar wrapper in her pocket and replacing her one water bottle in it's cage on the down tube.
"You passed me like I was standing still. I had to see what kind of a bike you had. I've never heard of a Firenze, before."
Shannon concentrated and read his mind with her ability, dipping a bit deeper into it to find out why he was talking to her. He seemed nice and genuine, though. He was quite impressed with her riding, was all, and at first sight, thought she was pretty. That was embarrassing to find out, a little, but nice too and not totally unwelcome.
"It's an entry level bike," she finally replied. "They were made back in the '1980's. They only imported them for one year. They were Italian designed and made in Taiwan but couldn't pass the government crash safety tests. I've just fixed it up a little with lighter parts," Shannon told him, trying to be half way friendly. But she really didn't want to talk to him. She wasn't in the mood, being a little tired.
"It's a single speed, too. Wow! I can't believe you dropped me like that on this thing. Do you ride a lot?"
"A little bit every day."
"How many miles do you put in?"
"I don't know. I just ride till I find a spot to turn around. I just go by how I feel."
He seemed impressed, but she didn't know why.
"You race, of course, don't you?"
"No, I don't have any interest in racing." That was men, for you, she thought. They always have to make everything they do into a competition.
"You should. You're very good."
She looked at him, into his eyes, and said a humble, "Thanks," but didn't want to hear anymore. He'd probably want to ride back with her and jabber on about things the whole way, but she didn't and would not. So she did something to his bike. Nothing destructive, just something that would delay his departure. He had a pump.
Shannon rolled her bike away from the guard rail and swung her leg over the seat and was about to leave.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Shannon," she said, in a low voice, then got up on her peddles and accelerated away.
"Darn," she heard him say behind her back, as he discovered his front tire had no air in it.
Two weeks and several days later, Shannon was on her way back from North Platte, a sizeable town to the east of Scottsbluff, on highway thirty. There were a number of banks in that town. It was about a hundred and fifty miles away, via road, from her home. She had three cardboard boxes of money in the cab with her, from three different banks, all filled with money. The bills were small, and not likely to be recorded, serial number wise.
She had amassed quite a lot of money since Terry had opened his store. She had nothing much better to do during the daylight hours, some days, so she went on these day trips to get more cash for her old age, as she thought of it. She thought she had close to two million saved up and stored in safe deposit boxes, here and there.
She had taken her other bike, the old sooped up Schwinn bicycle with her, something like a grown up BMX bike, and rode it all over the city of North Platte for training and just plain fun. It had been a blast discovering new places. It was always fun visiting a new town, stealing money, riding, eating, just stuff she did for herself. It was totally self indulgent, she knew, but who was she going to share it with, the police?
Coming back into Scottsbluff, Shannon felt a little tired and hungry. She realized she was too tired to cook that evening for herself, and drove to the one diner she'd visited that first day in town. It was comforting to be there, being relaxed and low key, plus, they had good food.
She walked in and noticed the booths were mostly empty, as was the rest of the counter chairs, and she chose a booth where it would be easy for the waitress to bring her, her food. She could only imagine how hard it was to waitress. According to her high school sociology teacher, waitressing was one the highest stress jobs in the world. She didn't want to make it any harder on them than was necessary.
She ordered a halibut steak with mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables, a side salad, and a large milk, plus two biscuits with real butter and jam. Riding her bike burned a lot of calories, especially in the cold.
She was drifting in her head, looking out the window at the cars going by when someone stopped beside her table.
"Shannon, right?" asked this rather good looking guy, pointing his finger at her and smiling.
She almost used her powers of influence, like she had on the three bank's managers, she'd visited today, telling them to fill a box with money and give it to her, and wanted to tell this joker to leave and forget her when it donned on Shannon, it was that guy on the hi-tec bike, she'd seen a while back, east of town. She was too surprised to tell him to get lost and he sat down while asking...
"Mind if I sit with you?"
She was sure he'd been leaving. Why he stopped was beyond her. She didn't want to talk to him, especially. Yes, he was very good looking, but she didn't need to make friends or be recognized out of her own little sphere she tried very hard to protect.
Her ability to read minds came into play right away and she took in his thoughts and found him to be a pretty up and up kind of guy.
His name was Val Christensen, short for Valiant. A first name he hated. He had no prurient thoughts about her, right then, in his mind. He was simply curious about the girl that had injured his ego, to some extent, smoking him on the road and leaving him in the dust with her cheap bike. It was still vividly in his mind. He'd thought he was a pretty good rider up until that day, she read in his mind and that made he grin inwardly. He wanted to get to know her and go on rides with her, thinking she was cute. That seemed to be it, though, at the moment.
But she knew boys. Eventually they'd want to touch you and hopefully have sex. That's all they ever seemed to have on their minds. And that wasn't in her game plan. She'd tolerate this guy only so long, probably.
"So, are you still riding?"
"Yes. Every day, usually."
There was a silence between them and the harmless exchange was not unpleasant.
"How about you," she asked, surprising herself. She really didn't' care.
"I try to get out four or five times a week. My job won't let me get away every day. There's always seminars, after hour meetings, thing like that."
"What do you do?" She couldn't believe she was talking to this guy. He was so pretty, though, what could it hurt for now, huh?
"I'm a loan officer at a First Nebraska Bank, here in town."
She had kept her mind active and dipped once more into his. He was single and twenty-three years old. Good, she thought. At least he isn't some creep trying to cheat on his wife but the fact that he worked in a bank, interested her.
She used her silent powers of suggestion to make him tell her about his job; if he had access to the security tapes, could he erase them, and asked if he could bring her money? It, she figured, would be easier than getting money by herself, but would it be safer? That's why she kept having him tell her about his job. She wanted to know more about the internal workings of the day to day routines...
"I can't believe I'm telling you all this. I'm talking like a criminal, too, bringing you money. Where did that come from, I wonder? You're not interested in these kinds of things, are you?"
"I don't mind listening," she said out loud, smiling at him, and he went on to tell her, through her telepathic suggestions, of course, of how money was routed and what kind of money was unrecorded and when and what denomination bills did get recorded.
It seems she had been going about it correctly. It wasn't until they were twenties that serial numbers were recorded for each branch. The used one's, five's, and ten dollar denominations were counted, but the serial numbers never were recorded. They sent them to the treasury for destruction, as she'd suspected, and then returned with new replacement bills. There was no trace ability to them. That was great to know.