The scene unfolded like a silent movie. I was riding my bike on Third Street near S Street in downtown Sacramento Friday morning, a transitional area near the freeway where state offices give way to modest homes. It saw two dapper-looking men about 50. They were wearing straw hats and walking small dogs. Then I saw a tall, burly guy about 20 approaching them from the opposite direction.
The young guy, in a black T-shirt and chinos, stopped in front of the two men. They were white; he had a dark complexion. He towered over them. He waved his arms and seemed to say something to them. They edged around him. He said something over his shoulder. I rode past them, heading for home less than two miles away.
I didn’t like the scene. It didn’t look right. I swung my bike around, rode slowly back up Third Street and stopped at the corner. A young woman on a bike passed me. I didn’t see anyone else.
On the sidewalk across the street, the young guy was shouting at the men, who were now about 50 feet away. They ignored him and headed up a deserted section of S Street where a lot of state workers park their cars. The young guy left the sidewalk and cut across a grassy slope as though intending to intercept them.
I pedaled over to S Street. The two men had stopped in the street alongside a small van. The young guy stood on the grass. He was muttering and pointing a finger at them. He took a few steps toward them. I got off my bike and unzipped the sack behind the seat. I took out a 3-foot, heavy metal chain I carry to lock my bike – and for protection. I put it around my neck and pedaled toward the men as the young guy slowly approached. He stopped when he saw me and stared.
After a few seconds, he edged away from us while jabbing his arms into the air. He headed back toward Third Street, keeping an eye on us all the time.
“What happened?” I asked the men. “Did he threaten you?”
“It was crazy,” one of the men said in a whisper. “He was waving his arms. He accused us of calling him a n—–. We hadn’t said a thing to him.”
I watched the young guy continue to walk away from us. I noticed there was a driver in the van. I put my chain away. I assumed the two men would be all right. When I got to the corner of Third Street, I saw the young guy about a block away. He was talking to another young guy in a red sweatshirt. I felt a surge of anger. I was tempted to confront them. Were they a mugging team? Gay bashers? Crazies?
Instead, I headed home. It was a warm morning, and it felt good to be riding my bike. It was only my fourth outing since an accident in early August had sent me to the emergency room for stitches and surgery near my eye. I still feel a low-grade anxiety. I watch the road closely, get irritable when drivers whiz close by me, worry about making turns in traffic. But I feel more confident with each ride.
Things just happen. Life’s unpredictable. You decide how you want to live.