Sheldonstein collected himself, stood up, and announced that he’d had enough and was going to bed. I asked him if he didn’t want to take the “monster” with him, but he said that it obviously suited me and that I should keep it. It suited me fine as I was having a lot of fun riding it in the parking lot. It was a comfort to be doing something I am very familiar with in surroundings which are all new.
Soon though, I was tired and I too went to bed. When I awoke the bike was right where I’d left it, leaning against a wall in my hotel room. Mike asked me where it came from, and I said I’d borrowed it.
I found Sheldonstein outside, packing his gear into the vehicle that would carry us to the base of the mountain. His face was bright and he seemed in much better spirits. I asked him what he wanted me to do with his bike, and he was quiet. I decided to pack up my gear and let him think about it, but when I’d done so, he was still looking pensive.
“You know what,” he said. “Why don’t you just keep the thing? I have no idea how you’ll get it back to your home, but you can figure something out.”
I said that I would find a way to ship it home. After all, it was a great unique little bike with a cool story attached. Who wouldn’t want it?
“Are you sure? You have been on this quest this whole time to find it and here it is!”
“Yes, keep it. I’m not sure that was really what my quest was about. Besides, now we have a mountain to climb.” He smiled and gestured behind him, where the top of Kili was visible floating in the air.
“Okay,” I said, “I’m glad to have it. I may even build a match for it based on a slightly smaller frame that a girl could ride.”
Sheldonstein’s eyebrows went up again in surprise, and I smiled at him. I loaded my gear into the overland vehicle, and paid the hotel’s desk clerk to keep the bike safe for me until my return.
Finally all was settled and I was ready. My roommate and traveling buddy Mike was packed, Sheldonstein was packed and smiling, and all we had to do was climb Kilimanjaro.
I thought about the match for Sheldonstein’s Monster that I would build. It would be prettier, but in the same ungainly-yet-interesting way. I would take great care to make sure it was an excellent match. Yes, great care.
The thoughts of building this bike filled me with joy, and I let out a wild laugh to express it. At the same moment, in the distance, a single bolt of lightning streaked down from the sky, and the resulting crack rolled over us a few moments later. Everyone was looking at me.
“Did you just cackle?” asked Sheldonstein.
“What, cackle? Me?” I asked. “Never!”