The self-propelled sleuth

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 Bottom Bracket: A Sumach Mystery
A mysterious excerpt from the newly launched </I>Bottom Bracket

WHEN IT COMES to social justice, activist bicycle courier Abigail Faria has a well-earned reputation for sticking her nose into everyoneâe(TM)s business. This habit kicks in spectacularly when she tries to help a young drug-addicted prostitute who is in with a bad crowd in her Kensington Market neighbourhood. But as Abbyâe(TM)s push for information draws her towards a world of sex trade, drug trafficking and even murder, an unknown someone pushes back âe¦

From Bottom Bracket by Vivian Meyer:

As usual, I opened my eyes exactly fifteen minutes before the alarm was due to go off. Pre-empting the unholy noise, I deactivated it and rolled out of bed. With ten hours of sleep under my belt, I was feeling great. I decided to get in a quick and hard joyride and then reward myself with a visit to Overdrive Coffee Shop and, of course, a shower. My thrill of the morning was deciding which bike to ride.

My brand new roadie, the Cervello, won. This bike was not yet fully paid for but I couldnâe(TM)t wait any longer. I wanted to get a ride or two on it before the snows.

Vivian Meyer

It was a lovely morning. The fair-weather riders werenâe(TM)t out so I had the Lakeshore trail almost to myself and was able to get up to a good speed. The wind whipped my face as I inhaled deeply.

There was still the odd swan in the shallows of the lake. They always look serene against the cool blue water as they glide along, in stark contrast to the cars, which flash by unceasingly day and night on Lakeshore Boulevard. I was going about fifty clicks, and passed a few cars on the down hills. It was a great way to start the day!

On my return through the city, I had to be better behaved, watching out for my precious bike. I decided to drop it off at home before going for my coffee to avoid risking theft, although I would have enjoyed showing her off at Overdrive. It was around eight oâe(TM)clock so the market stores were almost ready to open but real business had not yet begun. There was a quiet air of expectancy. It was a lovely cool fall day and business would be good.

I raced around the corner of Baldwin onto Kensington, not anticipating any action other than the odd stationary delivery truck. Still reasonably quick but alert, I turned into the lane and stopped by my door.

I hadnâe(TM)t paid any attention to the car parked face forward further up the lane. Savvy Marketers often use that spot as a free parking space. When I heard the squeal of tires, I looked up disbelievingly as the car barrelled toward me. How could anyone drive so fast in the confines of the Market? With a lurch of the heart, I realized the car wasnâe(TM)t going to slow down.

My choices werenâe(TM)t pretty. It was me or the bike âe" a tough decision to make in a split second. Deciding to save my own skin, I sacrificed the bike, letting it go as I leapt back into the doorway, closing my eyes. To my surprise there was no sickening crunch as the car whizzed by. Instead I heard a loud bang as the bike fell against the side of the car. I did not escape unscathed because the bike bounced back at me and I received a healthy wallop across my outstretched arms. Sprawled back against the door, the bike on top of me, I heard the car tires squeal again. It took off and I lay there stunned until Maria wrenched the door open exclaiming,

âeoeHoly shit, Abby! What happened? Are you okay? I thought I heard tires squealing.âe She knelt down hurriedly and helped me lift the battered bike off.

I looked at it and cried, âeoeOh, Maria, my beautiful bike!âe

âeoeJesus, Abby, you could have been killed and you cry about your bike! Youâe(TM)re really crazy. Come on, can you get up?âe

âeoeIâe(TM)m okay, I think,âe I said flexing my arms. âeoeNothingâe(TM)s broken.âe I looked at my bike again. âeoeOn me, at least.âe

âeoeLetâe(TM)s get you inside, Abby,âe she said, helping me up. She led me into the back room and sat me down on my couch. âeoeYou might have a concussion, Abby. Shall I call an ambulance? Iâe(TM)m going to get some ice.âe

âeoeNo. No ambulance,âe I said as firmly as I could. âeoeIâe(TM)m sure Iâe(TM)ll be okay. Iâe(TM)m just a little stunned. But I really think Iâe(TM)m going to be fine.âe

She nodded but looked doubtful. âeoeYou wait here while I get the ice.âe

While Maria was gone, I checked my various moving parts. Other than my sore arms and a throbbing in my chest, I seemed fine. But I was mad as hell. How could someone be so irresponsible? What did they hope to gain, driving down the lane so fast? Didnâe(TM)t they see me? Then it began to dawn on my slow mind that perhaps this was not just some stupid, idiotic behaviour. Maybe it had been intentional! That made me even madder. What were they trying to do, kill me? Or just scare me? And who the hell were they?

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