Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Bicycle...


  1. MEMORIES: Part 1

    A bicycle.

    In its pristine state the chrome shone brilliantly. The paint was blue, and crisp; clean lines were its accent, striped and scripted. Handle bars stood proudly with pure white grips and rainbow streamers to carry the breeze of its speed, more for effect than purpose. Spoked rims continuing the chrome to its circuitous conclusion. It gave the illusion of grace and style. The bicycle knew by the smiles it beckoned that it was favored. Loved. Not to mention the wheels that moved it; big balloons of black vulcanization. It was a bicycle after all; it was two-tired!

    Inanimate object such as this had surprisingly good memories.

    The first one, a boy. He was Billy… or Bobby? It didn’t matter. Early impressions were the most telling. Seven years of age; ready to lose a wheel to gain his independence. No tricycle could move him any longer. NO! A big bike for a big boy! Billy carried a rag in his pocket. The dust it would send flying would never get a chance to land and rest on those bright fenders. Billy (…or WAS it Bobby?) called it “FLASH” because in the blur of pumping pedals, that’s all anyone ever saw. He polished the chrome and filled the tires with his hand pump. Bobby smiled at the sight of it. (Or Billy did!)

    But there came a day when Billy grew bored with its lumbering bulkiness. All his friends had sleek racing machines. Banana seats with wheelie bars and high-rise handle bars. Metallic flake paint, fire engine red and fast. And Bob (Bill?) wanted all of that. He craved the speed; he demanded style. He wanted something else. And in that instance, “FLASH” became trash in his eyes. The boy refused to ride it. The bicycle became mud-caked and the chrome became tarnished and pitted. It remained a two-tired memory.

    A younger sister presumed the next recollection. Lisa was her name. The bicycle was sure of it! Lisa’s father cleaned up what Bob had left to fester. The chrome was stripped and shined. Its frame was disassembled and painted. Pink. A proper girl’s bike. Handle bars lowered and the streamers extended in their pinkness. A large basket was attached to the front and carried all of Lisa’s ‘babies’. Dolls loved to ride too! And they kept memories of their own. Lisa loved HER bicycle; the bicycle did not mind being pink.

    Children never stay little and in awe of the world. Lisa also grew. And although she still rode the bike, she started to forget how dear that two-tired friend had been. Lisa rode the bicycle up curbs, jarring the frame and twisting the steering bars. She was daring; riding with no hands while she expertly popped large sugar bubbles, making even more. There was one day when she came home excitedly, dismounting the bicycle while it continued moving forward amidst her screams and squeals. The front screen door slammed behind Lisa as the bicycle slammed into the tree, falling behind her father’s car.

    Some sounds are harder to forget than most. And this was one the bicycle would not soon relinquish. This gentle two-tired cycle was no match for four bulky, horsepower driven rings of rubber. A crunch accompanied by a terse “Son-of-a-bitch!” filled the air. Dad dragged Lisa’s broken bicycle to the curb for the trash. Lisa gained a boyfriend, leaving an old friend behind.


  2. MEMORIES: Part 2

    Its absence went without notice. No one cared that its destiny lied buried in some deserted landfill. No one cared… except maybe James. He saw something there. Stopping his pick-up truck alongside the curb where the bicycle rested, James lifted the discarded heap of metal and rubber. Placing it tenderly in the back of his vehicle with dreams that with a little polish and a lot of paint, all that remained was for James to re-tired the bicycle never thinking to retire it.

    Caroline rode her “new” bicycle next to James’ own refurbished one. Treks along tree-lined streets brought friendly waves and fond greetings. Caroline pedaled gently, a slow pace was the grace she paid to her ride. Another memory; the bicycle noticed a change in the woman. She had grown round in her middle and walked with a distinct waddle. Most prominently, it was felt in the strain she presented to the two tires.

    The worst day. Caroline had much difficulty finishing her ride with James. She stopped at the end of their driveway calling James’ name. The husband rushed to her, helping Caroline into his truck. He hurriedly rested the bicycle against the side of the garage, and sped away with his wife. This last memory burdened the bicycle. James would return hours later tired and worn, sadly red-faced and morose. He was alone.

    The bicycle felt his desolation. It remained in that spot, left in the elements to tarnish. Rust became its color. Weeds, overgrown and thick, wound their way around the spokes of the wheels and the paint became sun-bleached and faded. It became harder to recall the last time it had moved. No “FLASH”. No thoughts of Bobby (or Billy?), or Lisa or James. It had forgotten Caroline. It had seen more than enough.

    The bicycle was too tired.


    He collected things. Not things you and I would consider normal like baseball cards or shells. No, he collected what he would find on his daily rides.

    Every day was an adventure for Tony, and he set out on it joyfully. Each morning it was his responsibility to do the shopping; bread from the baker, fish from the docks, greens from the market. It did not vary much, life was fairly simple in his village. He enjoyed the responsibility and took it seriously, but it was the ride he loved.

    The old bicycle had been a gift for his twelfth birthday. The accident later that year stopped any further maturing of his brain as the body continued to grow. The first thing that brought him a smile when he could get around again was the bike.

    Now he rode every day, rain or shine, stopping whenever something caught his eye. He picked up scraps of paper, broken pieces of pottery, plant trimmings … whatever looked out of the ordinary or out of place. He was fascinated by his findings and loved to show them off.

    Everyone loved seeing him coming and they would always ask "What have you found today, Tony?" His perpetual smile would grow even larger and he would show them with pride. His explanations were usually fantastical and unrelated to the objects real purpose. But, when he finished everyone liked his idea better.

    Tony collected oddities and friends along his bike paths. What he was remembered for years later when his bike was finally put away were not the things collected, but the joy he spread with them.

  4. Mark, a spectacular piece. The simplicity of the story carries this piece. Please make sure you check back starting Monday. We are in the process of re-tooling Flashy Fiction, and would love to have you continue to feature your work with us.

  5. It doesn’t matter about the bike.

    The body, now that might present a problem in a day or two, when the tide decides to come in just right. There weren’t exactly volumes of books written on the subject, and he’d done the best he could when the situation presented itself as…difficult. Perhaps the old bike chains did not a sinking cinderblock make, but time would tell.

    The bike itself is another matter entirely. Some student cramming over at the library. A meandering shopper who finally couldn’t balance it all and had to head home on foot. A surfer, lingering long down at the beach. The village is small, but there is enough foot and two-wheeled traffic that an abandoned copper Schwinn won’t cause any alarms for at least a week.

    His mind floats back to the body. Is itfloating? He’d tied the chains tight. Right? He closes his eyes and sees her again,
    (You’ll never see her again, the voice in his head whispers)
    vibrant in the cornflower blue dress, and bare feet. Who rides a bike barefoot? But it had made it easy to wrap the chains once…twice…three
    times around her ankles, before tossing her into the
    (one if by land, two if by)

    A song thrums through his head. Bicycle, bicycle, I can ride a bicycle. And boy, could she. Graceful, like some elegant gazelle on wheels, raven hair streaming out behind her. Smile as big as the perfect sunny day she rode out of. Straight into his heart. And his arms. And his boat. Of course, the smile hadn’t exactly made it all the way into his arms, or his boat. But no matter.

    The only things that matter now are his own red cycle, waiting on the path, and the hoagie he’s gonna grab on the way out of town. And the delicate silver locket in his pocket.

    Something to remember her by.

  6. Nice De. You weave a yarn yourself, Girl! I love it.

  7. Wow, de!! Love this, for real!! You should be writing novels , too! Smiles!!

  8. Liked the details and the pace of the story. I kept hearing William Holden's voice from "Sunset Boulevard" reading this.

    Quite the talent, you are.

  9. The sky was bluer than she had seen in several days. The rain and gloom of early spring had been wearing on them both. The warmth of the sunshine would be good for him.

    Parking her bike along the side of the house as she did every day, Lily carried her basket of fresh bread and fruit up to his flat. Letting herself in, she began to softly hum the melody of the glorious day -- hope and joy permeating each note. She smiled as she thought about her tune being carried to his ears, filling his dreams with her song.

    Breakfast tray in hand, Lily wound her way to the back bedroom. Again a smile graced her face as she saw the light streaming through the parted curtains. He had been awake at some point and saw the sunshine, because it was now resting on his beautiful, peaceful face. She didn’t want to disturb his rest; quietly placing the tray on the bed next to him, she was the paper in his hand.

    Carefully sliding the paper from his grip she read his barely legible words:

    Your love has carried me through dark days. It is very fitting that the sun would shine today, as I know my days here in this world are ending. On sunbeams and smiles will I be ushered from this life to the next. Remember my words, sweet daughter:


    battles surge
    all around…a world
    where wars are
    fought; and can-
    cer kills; yet…
    my hope rests in this: life’s
    not just a dead end

    I love you.


  10. Paula, a very powerful piece. I can feel teh sun, and the despair in reading a father's note. Penned in love and searching for understanding. Remember his words, sweet daughter! A good start at Flashy Fiction!

  11. SO beautiful! This speaks so clearly, Paula. Thank you.

  12. Wonderful, Paula. I love the way you wove the poem in. Nice work.

  13. Walt, Hannah, and De...

    Thank you for your words of encouragement regarding my first foray into flash fiction! (Darn if I didn't see a typo as soon as I was clicking publish!)

    I look forward to exploring this creative outlet some more! ...especially with so many friends leading the way.

    hugs all around,