Our friend George from Big Pine Key has been struck off his tricycle, a hit and run as it’s known. He is not dead but suffers a coagulating mess on his right shin.

Since the hit he has been housebound and tending to the wound. He’s a soldier. He makes light of it. 

Less offensive to him than the injury itself was the behavior of the offender not stopping to ask after his wellbeing.

‘He never touched his brakes,’ said George, with a certain disbelief as he massaged the pain from his blemished leg, ‘and he smashed my ride!’

He tells me his greatest pleasure is pedaling around his neighborhood and calling out hellos to friends and picking up the daily newspapers to read at the west end of Lime Street with its view of the mangrove islands.

I packed him and his cane into my car and we went to the bicycle repair shop. I walked him in and met the workers. Local lads, slim and dirty and young who treated him like the dignified elder he is, they politely kid with him, evidently pleased to see him.

‘This is my granddaughter Betty,’ George points at me with his cane and tells me he will ride himself home. I waved from the doorway and dislocated from the scene. That hit and run stayed on my mind. An out-of-towner? Locals don’t behave like this.

A while later, early one morning, I rolled on by to check on him and all signs of life were in order although he was not outside. His wheelchair was parked directly beside the front door along with his tricycle, easily within reach. An orderly gentleman. 

My extraordinary friend David Wolkowsky told me the secret to a long life is, ‘No big shocks’! 

Thus I elected not to strike George’s front door and instead placed a book of mine on the seat of his chariot, with a note and a chunk of coral to hold it down.