When I first found him, he told me that he couldn’t be trusted. I should have listened. I didn’t, though. Everybody talks about themselves like they’re a real bad guy. I figured I wouldn’t pay attention, because it was just his way of talking himself up.
It wasn’t though. I really shouldn’t have trusted him. He was trying to save me from trust, but I wouldn’t let him.
His name was Lionel, and the first time I met him he was tied to a boulder outside my house. Of course, he was asking to get untied. The obvious question was to ask what he’d been tied up for, but I already didn’t trust him, and so it didn’t seem worthwhile to listen to more made-up stories which is all I figured I was going to get.
There was rain coming down. I always like rain. Calms me down. And so, I was both calm and skeptical when I found him. But I untied him and felt silly for doing it. I sighed at myself, shook my head and untied him anyway.
And then he stood up and shook out his arms. Being tied up, they were a little bit asleep. He thanked me profusely and shook my hand once his arms were awake again. I shook his hand and then he asked if he could get something to eat from me.
I couldn’t very well free him, and then leave him to starve between the houses, so I brought him home and fed him. He had a cheese sandwich, and I gave him some iced tea to drink. He was appreciative, and it went down well. He admired my model airplanes, which made me like him more. I wondered if I should start trusting him as well. But I didn’t.
I knew he might not really like my airplanes. And I knew that while he was happy for food, maybe he didn’t really like cheese, it was just better than nothing. And then I decided that I should ask him why he had been tied up. Maybe there’d just been some bad guys who’d tied him up. Or maybe he was the bad guy, which is why they’d tied him to the boulder. I didn’t know what to believe, but it still felt like I should get his side of the story.
So, I asked him, and he told me that he’d been trying to steal a bike. But the chain had come off right away, and so the guy that he’d been trying to steal it from had tied him to the boulder.
That put me in an awkward position. Did I trust him because he’d told me the truth? Or should I be wary because he’d been trying to steal? I had no one around to ask about it, so I wound up asking him.
He said that I should still be wary. I still didn’t really know who he was. Though he had told me what the boulder was all about, perhaps it had been much worse, and he just hadn’t told me about it. And, as he’d told me right off the bat, I shouldn’t really be trusting him.
The problem I had was that he kept being straight with me. He wasn’t even trying to convince me to trust him, which ironically, made him more trustworthy. He kept telling me to be careful, which made me feel more secure.
So, when he said he needed to go collect some things that had fallen out of his pocket while he was tied to the boulder, I believed him. I shouldn’t have, but I did.
I don’t actually know if anything had ever fallen out of his pockets, but while he was outside, he snuck around the side of the house and took my bike. And the chain didn’t fall off or anything, so he was able to ride it away easily. I took good care of my stuff, and that was my undoing. If I’d been laxer about bike maintenance, something might have broken on it, and that would have stopped him.
As it was, I was still sitting at my table and just happened to look up while he was riding by the front of my house making his getaway. My instinct was to go outside and shout at him, and I did stand and head outside.
But then I just watched his receding figure as he pedalled away. I didn’t know what to shout anyway, so I didn’t do it. He’d warned me to be careful himself. He never specifically told me that he was going to steal my bike, but it wasn’t completely unexpected.
I felt violated, but also very stupid. And I felt that because I was stupid, I should also keep my mouth shut. So, I just watched him as he pedalled away, and then, when he was gone, I went back inside and made myself a cheese sandwich and some iced tea. I liked both, even if he hadn’t.