‘Kid you’re stupid, you must be.’
Karl didn’t answer his father.
‘Three days in a row. What have I told you about cycling on glass?’
Again Karl didn’t answer his father; he was worried that he’d tell him what really happened, how it hadn’t been his fault. Instead he quietly handed him the glue. His father put a thin layer of it around the hole on the tube, rubbing it to make a spot large enough for the patch. He picked the patch up off the table and put it on the tube. He told Karl to push on it while he took a beer from the fridge. The patch felt cold but Karl held it down making sure that his fingers didn’t slip.
‘I’m not fixing another one. You’re on your own next time.’
He cracked open the beer and took a gulp before sitting back down on the chair.
‘Is it ready yet? Here, hand it to me.’
Karl handed the tube back to his father and when he was sure that the patch was secure, his father pumped some air into the tube. Not much but enough to put some shape on it. He held his hand over the hole where the patch was to feel for air, there was none coming out. He unscrewed the pump and deflated the tube before putting it back on the wheel. He eased the tyre around the tube and moving slowly around the wheel pushed the sides of the tyre into the rim. When the tyre was back on the wheel he handed the wheel to Karl and told him to pump it up. Karl twisted the connection into the valve and started pumping. He didn’t pump it for long, his arms started to ache.
‘Come on, put some effort into it.’
Karl started to pump again, this time taking it slower until he couldn’t pump the tyre any more. His father took the wheel off him and felt the tyre.
‘Soft, just like you. I’ll show you how to pump a tyre.’
He started to apply pressure on the pump, up and down, smiling at Karl as he pumped. After a few pumps of air he managed to harden the tyre. He removed the pump and pulled the front of the bike towards his legs. Easing the wheel between the forks he asked Karl to hand him the nuts.
‘I’ll tighten the nuts son, we can’t have you passing out.’
He grabbed a spanner off the table and put the nut that Karl had handed him on the wheel. He tightened it. He then asked Karl for the second nut. Karl handed it to his father and again he tightened the nut as tight as he could. Taking another gulp of his beer he spun the wheel of the bike with his free hand and then lifted it up and turned it around so that the saddle faced Karl.
‘Take it out into the yard and give it a spin.’
Karl thanked his father, he was happy that his bike was fixed again. He pushed the bike through the living room, into the hall and out to the front yard. Once outside he got up on the saddle and steered the bike towards the bottom of the yard. He thought about his father. He might be a little mean every now and then but he wasn’t as mean as the kids who kept puncturing his tyre.