November in Kolonia. There is cold nip in the air, and the sky is a threatening gray. It’s a bluff, of course, no rain will fall today, or tomorrow, or the next day, but the man on the bicycle doesn’t know that. He pulls his beret tight and peddles faster. All the houses look the same—the windows just so, a forest of short stocky chimneys, a lamppost in front of every third house. This is Kolonia. This is home. The old man on the bicycle has lived here all his life.
He peddles faster now, wrapping his coat tight against the cold. He’s had a nagging chest pain for a few weeks now, and a chill in his bones that won’t go away no matter how many pipes he smokes, or blankets he wears. His nephew is a doctor, who looked worried when he heard, but the old man hasn’t asked, and his nephew has kept his peace.
The streets are empty this early in the morning. The old man likes it that way. He rides to work every morning and back home again every night. This is his routine. He has done so for fifty-four years, and run down sixteen bicycles in that time. Except. He doesn’t have a job any more. He was fired eighteen months ago, but he hasn’t told anyone. He still rides his bicycle, but not to work. He just wanders, and the pain in his chest grows. It’s November in Kolonia.