Location: marengo, il, United States

Monday, April 18, 2005

Notions of a Bicycle

The heat I undergo in this present world is a grand puzzle that must continue as one unsolvable, for it seems I have become constrained by this surrounding dark.

Also, my parts have begun to emit a mix of strong and curious odors. My fresh red rises sharp and pungent. This novel scent I find mildly irritating, but in a pleasing sort of way. My new black, a blend of synthetics, is reminiscent of something familiar; I am not sure what. Its musty aroma has alerted a choking sense deep within my frame that tempts me to buck. And then there are those motes of sweet oils that swirl through this void.

My shoulder had been dislocated earlier; loosened out of necessity. Now only this cramped darkness surrounds us. Strange vibrations keep me guessing and alert. Muffled thoughts and snatches of conversations come and go. I lay content simply to note everything.

Reflecting on my brief past while occupying this cavity is a way to busy the mind. I am somehow internally entertained by this study in the darkness. Many more questions began to form.

The others and I had met briefly, and we communicated as one before this current journey began, but the rumors concerning our future fates I found to be fanciful at the time, as well as plenteous and unhelpful. Some of the ideas put forth sounded interesting, but a bit far-fetched. After a time, some began to reverberate as patently absurd. Toward the end, not one of us could show any true authority in this matter.

Certainty and useful knowledge simply eluded the entire lot. Many were frightened, I realized. All of us were at first. Several tried to hide behind bluster and false bravery. A few tried to complain.

Those and their particular brand of disquiet disturbed even me for a time, but then I found myself being drawn to the more-brave and the positive-thinking individuals. We mutually connected, them and I. With that group I found myself concurring on all points brought fourth, and they with me. We became the encouragers.

I soon realized we few lived as an exception among the many, yet I felt not a hint of arrogance nor any self-love in our midst. That still remains true.

In all honesty, I must point out that I sensed no self-pity from any of the others. Only real fears. Real curiosities. A realness of concerns, doubts and wonders. All of the brothers and every sister each gave a voice in turn, and as a group we studied and contemplated, one after another as issues arose.

We then stood the night, and these ideas flew among us. The place had grown quiet at first, after the objects that traveled on two sticks disappeared. Afterwards, we felt free to huddle together, and to picture to ourselves.

At one point I thought.

I am looking forward.

That portrayal entered my mind first. A brother next to me agreed as another not too far away nodded in silent accord.

It is what I am naturally capable of doing.

I could have stopped there, but compound negative responses began to overwhelm me, compelling me to reason and justify, so I continued.

It makes perfect sense to do so. All about me I see an order of a particular fashion. It denotes a purpose.

Several close-by brothers agreed again.

I am not made for waste.

No you are not, they thought.

I am not designed to be static or unused.

They nodded silently.

Look at my construction. I have no doubt that I am indeed a moving wonder.

A sister across the room whimpered. I stopped, and the group listened. An uneasy future was then described by her in vivid detail. Qualms she envisioned were brought up. An absolute dismal cry for proof of something that we have no answers for arose; yet we could only stand at rest and take it in. No one disagreed or argued, nor did anyone comes to her support. Not one soul offered sympathy. I understood her to be somewhat pleased merely to complain, and complain she did. She carried on both elegantly and thoroughly in all of her remonstrations.

We all have various skills. Some appear apparent. Some must be inherent, as hers seemed to be.

A brother (one that I might describe as a cheap weakling, were I a faultfinder) took up her cry and then added to it. Several of my likes immediately pegged him as a crossover, an odd aberration; yet we allowed him to run with his thesis without judgments or harsh discrimination.

He enjoys certain rights as we all do.

His greatest fears we understood to be his expected abuse, and then future abandonment. He shared feelings of inadequacy of holding up under this perceived strain.

I could not relate to this at all.

Then another brother, a small replica of myself, interrupted him with joyous glee. An obvious impatience for life gripped his small frame. His feet looked fatter than ours, which I believe gave him lofty ideas. But all minds turned to him in unison as he chortled and began to brag, and yet we listened as he asserted his fancied future upon us.

The places he would go, the fearless daring he might possess, the steep mountains he would surely climb; all this I understood, yet at the same time his over-confidence and his pretensions only revolted me. His entire manner I found somehow distasteful. The others and I held our council, however, and so allowed him his swagger.

He continued on with records he might surely break someday, when an array of bright lights suddenly flickered overhead. The objects had returned.

Alien noises began filling the atmosphere next. The objects took to moving about the place hurriedly on their two long sticks. The foreign language that they used began to overpower our own thoughts, so we withdrew and listened in silence.

In a short space of time we soon became placed inside this darkness where I now rest. There were no protests from the others or myself. There were no good-byes. Efficiency reigned right up until the final moments where I felt myself being carted upwards, hauled about, and then after a loud slamming noise, a hushed quite settled in. The stillness continued for some moments before a loud rumbling roar began that proceeded all this vibration that I now endure.

These rumbling and tremors both continue, but as for me, I can only anticipate from here on out.

I cannot explain this. Somehow I am able to reason. This skill, this ability, this power – whatever it is, it is expanding, and shapeless new questions are now beginning to taunt me. No, this has nothing to do with peers. I am left unaffected by their theories. It’s just something I feel I need to keep inside until such time when I might express it better. It has me all curious, but determination and patience are satisfying for the present.

I can understand the objects more. At least I have absorbed some facts about them, yet it only brings to mind more questions. I knew from the outset that they formed us. We would not be here, otherwise.

Now I should state before continuing on that I would never describe the droll imaginings from two in our immediate assembly as rational thoughts. One claimed we evolved – the other proposed that we made ourselves. Only obvious fact has any real meaning to me, so those ideas are easily dismissed.

As a group, most of us understood and accepted the objects upon two sticks as our creators. The majority seems to revere them, to hold a sense of awe and wonder at their abilities, but I must admit that I presently am having some suspicions. These doubts stems from many deliberations the objects themselves entertain, and of which I have had time to mull over and reconsider.

I recall purposeful ideas coming from them, in the beginning. Cogent steps, sensible plans, an injunction set down; laws and specific commands to be followed. But interspersed among all this cohesion I now visualize other ideas, separate and random thoughts, confusing bursts of unrelated things that I first took as untranslatable, and therefore above my initial and limited understanding. I have now come to realize that some of it was pure nonsense, and as a result, I must confess it has shaken my foundation.

Understand that I do trust with absolute certainty what information I have gathered so far. But these unstable and puzzling things must be identified as just that.

Some thoughts they carried around I can only depict as intense cravings for some of the other objects. I am at a loss what that means exactly, yet these were strong feelings held by many of these creatures. In some of them it seemed playful or innocent; in a few it struck me as something evil or malevolent. I do know that it made me uncomfortable while examining them.

I was surprised to sense hidden hostilities in almost all of the objects. Petty annoyances. Criticisms. Grievances. Complaints of so many things I have yet to understand. I received ideas of rights violated, but that holds no meaning to me as of yet.

Then there were the desires put forth by many to act revengeful toward others, or be held above other objects in some sort of value or worth. It seemed to give the things an intense pleasure to stay focused on this one.

A peculiar few craved after intakes of large amounts of a mood-altering liquid sustenance. This theme occurred often but remains inexplicable to me.

Strangest yet was the over-all impression that they believe each one to be different and special and original in all of their varied perceptions. I cannot explain any of this reasoning, nor justify why the objects would play in such peculiar areas. I only know the thoughts they think. One thing I have decided is that they all are odd.

I should note that some acted more kind and gentle than others. This gives me hope, for I have concluded that I am utilitarian in design. I am meant to help, somehow.

We suddenly have arrived. We all know. I feel murmurs from my kind now.

Jostling again. Tossed about. A yell and a shout. An object is in a big hurry. It wants to be some other place. It is impatient; uncaring. Six of us ride separate but together as it pushes us each to a place in its mind, anxious to be rid of us. Its two sticks labor beneath it as it guides us along and thinks. It only wants to score tonight. Another strange idea, and a stranger thing to desire. There is much to learn about these objects.

A brother next to me agrees, and yet we six smile together in anticipation. We are all to be released soon.

Motions stop. I hear a world sliding about, and a thump, and then a sister lays on one side. A brother quickly follows. Then another, and then two more. And soon I am the last, and I land laying atop us all.

The object takes a tool…no, a weapon, as he imagines, and the instrument begins to slice into my wrap. One end of my world becomes flooded with light. Fresh cool air enters. Something grasps my front foot. I get jerked forward, wrestled and pulled on. My shoulder rubs against the edge of this inside world, and then suddenly I am freed from it. The object hastily lowers my third leg, and then it stands me roughly aside.

My front foot feels out of kilter with my shoulder, which swings loosely about for a moment before becoming stilled. Connections have lost tightness. One of my feet has gone flat. My disarray doesn’t bother the object at all, nor me.

My Old World gets tossed aside. The alien then quickly slashes into my sister’s barrier. Light enters her cradle. She is removed and set next to me. Her fears climb to a new high. I soon stand next to her but focus on the future as before. This object is working fast and without regard. Are we invisible to this creature?

As it stands the last of us up, we all notice another object as it approaches. This one has a well-rehearsed plan in mind, and it seems much calmer. My sister begins to moan.

The first object wants only to depart from here. It isn’t aware that I know about the hidden weapon. It concealed the thing deep inside a pocket near the top of one of its walking sticks, and yet it attempts to conceal guilt from the other object by distracting it with loud sounds and various bending actions of its two higher but smaller sticks.

Deception; a feigned interest in the other’s affairs – I see this ploy and wonder why the more-pleasant one doesn’t. Then I notice that one's attention is mainly on us. It isn’t really listening to the thieving one.

It acts meticulous as it fastens and adjusts and tightens each of us. My shoulder becomes secure again. A hiss, and then my foot feels full and firm once more. It takes its time and exhibits a strong liking for not only its task, but for us as well. It gains our respect. It is also called Juan by the vocal object.


The Juan surprises me suddenly. A strong wish for the other to go jump into a vague body of water just now crosses his mind. What is the significance of that, I wonder? Yes, these creatures are odd, indeed. I shall enjoy learning more about them in the future.

For us bicycles are a curious lot, and keenly aware.


Blogger Jay said...

There is a fine line between seeing humanity where there isn't and simply being off one's rocker. Way to redefine, Harry.

Fascinating encounter, as always.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Jodie said...

Well worth the wait. :) And I know I will be thinking of this when I take my bike out next weekend...

11:48 AM  
Blogger Ned said...

The writing in this piece is so precise, sharp and clean. A look at ourselves as we might appear to another consciousness, how difficult humanity is to understand. As the bicycle searches for understanding of its own creation and purpose, we see ourselves, striving for understanding. How wonderful if we could all find ourselves to be created to serve a purpose and to help.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Excellent, a truly wonderful post. How clearly you hold on to the character of the narrator, our friendly bicycle. How expertly the search for understanding is handled. A brilliant piece.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Stranger Ken said...

Good to hear from you again, Harry and I'm sorry to be disagreeable ... but ... while I agree that the writing is excellent, as Ned says, the subject matter seems to me to be clever but contrived, much ado about nothing. This will probably cause me to be cast forever into cyberdarkness, but ...

2:59 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Heh, not a chance, Ken. And honestly, you nailed the contrived part accurate...what some of us won't do with a sheet of paper, eh?

3:04 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Au contraire, the piece is about the human condition. I thought that's what we were all writing about...

5:15 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

But being artificial is, after all, part of the human condition.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Mad said...

Brilliant Mr Way! Brilliant I really enjoyed that.

3:22 AM  
Blogger Ned said...

That was the word I missed, Brilliant. I don't think you can write a comment on Harry's blog without using the word brilliant. Oh and inventive, did I mention inventive? and creative? and just so darned impressive. Brilliant.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

I was sort of hoping for brilliantly contrived.

12:00 AM  
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