There are two kinds of laughter in the world, and both are responses to honesty.
There's the joy that we feel when reality is beautiful, which is the ideal expression of laughter. Opposed is a liar's discomfort at being confronted with truth.
The story of the bike is tragic because it does not end well. It ends with me draped in saggy humility and doing that thing where I try to make the story sound as amazing and hilarious as possible so I won't feel so goddamn embarrassed at the exhaustive bathos of my daily life.
Let us begin.
Scheming with fake identities and a script, I sharpied code the length of my forearm like a Holocaust survivor cheating on a history test. We chugged a few beers and strolled lazily through the preliminary reconnaissance. We had contingency plans. We had fucking contingency plans for our contingency plans. I sweet-talked the doorwomen into letting me explore the basement and bike room of the high rise before we called the Craigslist sellers and asked to see the second bike.
Because that's the thing, you see. These "bike thieves" were selling two bikes, in case you'd forgotten considering the time chasm between posts (I got shit to do) and after I sent them an email from "Phil M. Johnson" (imminently played by Phil Not Johnson) they responded within a minute. Maybe two minutes. Fucking promptly. But that is what led me to believe the other bike was my Atticus.
I mean come on. They don't respond to my email (that I sent about an hour after they posted the advertisement), pull the women's bike Craigslist, and then speedily reply to my fake email all excited about selling.
We agreed to meet up the next day. Phil pretended he was all into that men's bike. I pretended I was all into using their bathroom (so I could get into their apartment and see if my bike was hiding there) but I was thwarted by the Chicago architects who had the fucking unmitigated temerity to design a lobby with a restroom.
Yes, we tried to pry things out of them (using statements including but not limited to musing, "so, I heard you were selling two bikes" and perky queries like, "so, did you get many offers on these?" and "so...WHERE WERE THE OTHER DRUGS GOING?" and they were all, "I don't know, I swear to god" and I was all, "SWEAR TO ME" and I dropped their asses down a zipwire in the rain and pulled them back up for more growly accusations just inches before they hit the ground because my depth perception from great heights is nonpareil, which I believe is Portuguese for "awesome.")
Whatever, it was fruitless and boring and we didn't find my bike or catch any criminals, so we went to a bar and played UNO for an hour or two, which I believe is Portuguese for "sissy poker."
If you're confused, let's agree that the details so boring that you'll just be angry with me for setting up an anti-climax, and understand that I don't have my bike. The entire situation was so boring and unfunny that we couldn't even make fun of ourselves properly, and it was all awkward attempts at self-derision that ended in half-puffs of forced chuckles. I mean, it took me two weeks to even work my way up to the hilarious discomfort of a liar.
(Oh, and if one of you is all, "you should have done this" I will fucking scalp you, because you're not giving advice. You're saying, "I am smarter than you because my way would have worked and you'd have your bike back, idiotface" to which I say, "Hey jerkoid, it's easier brainstorming workable ideas after having eliminated one already and why don't you shut the fuck up when grown folks is talkin.")
Addendum: They claimed to have sold the bike and then fake smiled their way into talking about themselves. It was two preppy yuppies, early twenties, engaged right after graduating from college. They probably belong to a gym and have all matching furniture and after they buy a house in an up-and-coming suburb with a good school district, they'll have a baby and get a labrador or a shih tzu and a car with good ratings in Consumer Reports. And their conversations will always be focused on those things: going to the gym, taking care of their house, babies, and articles from Consumer Reports.
There is nothing wrong with any of that, that's just the kind of people they are. Very safe. Not reckless. I doubt they had my bike. Unless they're in it for the big con or they're like Russian spies or something, in which case - well met, thieves. I will hunt you down.