Last time in this space, I told you about the Big German who terrorized the cyclists of early Portland's Union Avenue. Though the story of the menace of the Big German and the plot hatched by the cyclists to hire an amateur pugilist to confront him and give him a dose of his own medicine was reported in The Oregonian, the outcome was not. The Big German and the Agile Swede were lost to time. Or so it was believed. We now resume the story where we left off…
The Agile Swede made slow but steady progress up the hill on Union Avenue, pedaling the rickety bicycle given to him by the cyclists as advance payment for undertaking their mission. When he arrived at the area where many claimed to have been accosted, no one was there, certainly not some hulking behemoth lying like a dead animal in the middle of the road.
Out of breath, perspiring under the late-May sun, the Swede dismounted and continued on foot. This was his third trip along Union Avenue. He was beginning to wonder if there actually was a Big German, or if it was all a ruse and the cyclists were off somewhere having a laugh at his expense. After all, he had already tried to elicit an accurate description from them many times, but they consistently could provide only three details: that he's big, he's German and he'll be found lying in the middle of the road. Everything else was suspiciously vague.
After walking for about an hour, trying to remember everything they had told him about the Big German and mold it all into one coherent form, a voice behind him boomed, "Guten tag." He turned, and could scarcely believe what he saw. The source of the voice was none other than a massive young blond man lying placidly on his back in the middle of the road. He yawned, appearing as though he might have just woken from a nap. His lower half was covered with a blanket, an amalgam of brown and gray wool that camouflaged him with the road while also seeming severely unpleasant on a sultry afternoon.
Unsure of how to ask what he was doing there, the Swede blurted, "Are you the Big German?"
The man stood and folded his blanket. "Big German? What is that?"
"I'm looking for a fellow who lies in the road and waits for bicyclists. They say he's a Big German."
"Are you sure they said 'Big German'? Maybe you misheard them. Maybe they said 'bigger man'?" The Big German laughed uproariously at his joke, then stopped and looked gravely at the Swede. "Regardless, I am Austrian, not German. Therefore, it could not be me."
Growing increasingly uneasy in the presence of the Big German, the Swede thought about hopping onto the seat of his bicycle and pedaling as fast as he could. However, he noticed that both of his tires were flat and he would not get far. The Big German noticed this, too.
"What a pity," said the Big German, advancing toward the Swede. "Do not worry. Although we're far from town, I can help you fix this. Come along. I have very many spare parts for bicycle."
TO BE CONTINUED…