Tonight as I rode across the small foot bridge that spanned the canal in Huntington Park - something seemed out of sorts. I don't know if it was some physical sign that alerted me or something deeper, more esoteric - but I knew something was missing. I instinctively reached down and grabbed my stem and immediately ascertained the significance of my loss. My bell was gone. Oh - the base was there, but somehow the nut that held the bell in place had worked loose and fallen away and the bell had followed suit. Earlier as I unlocked my bike, I hung the cable on my handlebars instead of tucking it away in my messenger bag. The cable must have rubbed against the bell and worked it loose.
It wasn't a huge economic loss. I couldn't have paid more than $5 for the thing nigh on 20 years ago. However - it was nigh on 20 years ago. 20 years of riding to and from work. 20 years of dinging. 20 years of sending forth its cheerful tone to strangers, friends, fellow cyclist, pedestrians, squirrels, cats, rabbits, dogs and Lord knows who and what else. Sometimes I would ding out a familiar tune or two. Sometimes I would just give it a ding just to let it know I was there. Sometimes I would just give it a ding to make sure it was there.
If it be true that every time a bell rings an angel gets its wing, then that bell hath filled the heavenlies with flight. I've heard that bell ring so much through the years that there is no doubt that were I to hear it among a multitude of bells, it would be but a moment before I sifted through the cacophony of dings and embraced it.
As I brought my bike to a stop and pondered my loss, there was no doubt as to my next course of action. It did not matter if I were caught in a torrential downpour - I was going back for that bell. It did not matter if a blizzard threatened to engulf me - I was going back for that bell. It did not matter if a tornado bore down upon me - I was going back for that bell. It did not matter if the footbridge was lined with flesh eating zombies - I was going back for that bell.
I slid the light off my handlebars and slowly walked back to the bridge. As I swept the light back forth, words are woefully inadequate to describe my elation as the beam reflected the metallic blue gleam of my bell. I rushed toward it in the dark and cradled it in my tender hand. I continued to slowly traverse the bridge and what to my wondering eyes did I behold but the very nut that for nigh on 20 years held my bell in place. I placed my beloved treasures in my pocket and made my way back to my bike.
Immediately upon arriving home, I put my bike in the repair stand, took a beer from the frig and reattached the bell. Satisfied with my handiwork, I exited the garage. As I turned off the light and just before I closed the door - I heard it. It was a familiar ding that I thought I would never hear again. The garage was dark and empty. There was no one present to flick the hammer and ring the bell. Yet it's unmistakable ding still echoed faintly in the dark. I can't explain it - I don't even care to. All I know is - my bell was lost and now it was found!!