Christopher McPhail rode his bike to Brevard Community College on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Always spotted him on my drive to work. Puffing and pumping and sweating on his Huffy. Taking up too much room on the shoulder. Everybody knew him by sight because no post-adolescents rode bikes in Melbourne, Florida.
Christopher was roughly six foot six inches tall and weighed about a hundred pounds. Sported auburn hair cut like a bowl. Had a row of oddly spaced chickpeas for teeth. He must’ve been twenty-one or twenty-two. Give or take five years.
I know his name because he was always doing his homework at the Java Shack. He’d walk in on stilts, clutching his bike helmet, and stare at the menu for a long time. Dripping sweat all over the counter. He’d order a panini, pick a spot by the window, and play on his laptop for a few hours.
One time, a cashier named Carmen interrupted my smoke break to tell me that a customer wanted to speak to me. He had a complaint. I told her to tell him to wait it out another five minutes so that I could finish my cigarette. She complied.
A minute later, a cashier named Rebecca interrupted my smoke break to tell me that a customer wanted to speak to me. He had a complaint. I explained that Carmen had just told me about his complaint and that I would be inside to deal with it as soon as I was done with my cigarette.
Rebecca said that this was a different customer. I told her to just go on inside and I’d be right behind her. Once I was finished with my smoke.
Just as I was about done, a cashier named Alina interrupted my smoke break to tell me that there was a herd of customers who wanted to speak to me. I put out my cigarette and went inside.
There were thirteen retirees pacing in front of the bakery. An old man in golf gear ushered me close. He said, I don’t wanna jump to any conclusions. But I do believe that young man over there is, uh, is…
I asked the old man to explain what the young man was doing. He winced and pointed to the dining room.
All was quiet, save the sound of jazz on the muzak. Six old ladies had pulled together a couple of tables to play bridge. Their Tuesday afternoon ritual.
But they weren’t jovial. They were frozen. Eyes bulging, clutching their cards, staring at Christopher McPhail.
Christopher McPhail was in his usual spot, staring at his computer with the whites of his eyes. His bike shorts were hiked and his wiener was exposed and he was voraciously masturbating. Like a novice camper trying to start a fire with a wet twig.
They’d never said anything in shift supervisor training about how to handle sexual deviants. So I marched over to him. Tried to look intimidating. Bit the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing and crying and puking.
Christopher noticed me approaching and slammed his laptop shut. He sunk into his chair. I pointed a finger in his face and told him not to ever ever come back ever. If I caught him in the Java Shack or anywhere in the shopping center I would have him arrested.
He agreed to never come back. Put away his wiener and his laptop and left. I made Kevin, the busboy, bleach the table and chair.
I never saw Christopher McPhail riding his bike on Wickham Road again.