Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Security by Mike Imondi
The bicycle looked like it grew straight from the ground, a sprouting of sorts, a sign all by itself, too high for anyone to reach. We searched the park for other clues of fantastic behavior, but the only other fantastic behavior happened between our thumbs, entwined with the rest of our fingers, the roots of continued growing.
I learned once in high school about friction and surfaces and—shit, what was it called?—the place where two objects meet. We met in the park that day on a blanket, the ground under us jabbing at our bottoms every so often. We were quietly uncomfortable under a too-hot sun, the backs of our shirts stuck with sweat.
“That’s a safe spot,” I said, considering the bicycle’s perch on a street sign.
She wordlessly agreed, a small noise, maybe pitched for only me to hear, escaping from somewhere inside of her. It was like that between us often: the smallness of the intimate, the miracle of insideness.
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Dirac by Bill
This hand too high, so I cannot feel any kind of authority. Inescapable and anemic sense of knowing, slowly draining, rain washing down the sides of it, dirt slowly building up on the bottom edges and spreading out. Spun round once on atomic rotation, twice, unreachable, cycling toward a tunnel in the sky, drawing down the heavens and passing it through the weave of the planet. Riding risen into the evening, legendary warriors standing atop narrow spans, in seiza, leaving behind any knowing, abandoning awareness, unburdened by thought and ready to go.
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Man, Things Were Getting Good, by Beth
The night had been work, dinner with friends, a bottle of wine on Fitzie’s fire escape. The stack of ones Chuck gave her when she cashed out was too thick for her jeans pocket. She loved the regulars at the restaurant: Matt with the long eyelashes and the moleskine next to his place setting, Carly with rockabilly hair and a green bowling ball bag, Kevin sharing a clove cigarette with her on her fifteen-minute break.
It was the first night that didn’t end up too cool for short sleeves. Everything was thick with that early-summer heat, the smell of asphalt and jasmine as they sat on the back steps smoking, and she licked her lips and watched the woods for fireflies.
Dinner was the new guac and basil burger on special, browned just through but juicy. Chuck comped all her friends as a thank you for the double she’d worked a couple days before. She flirted with Jimmy, the new dishwasher, before they left, because it made her feel that everything was hers, everything could be conquered.
They watched The Last Picture Show for the hundredth time over at Fitzie’s, all of them crowded together on the couch, the smooth skin of their legs and arms brushing against each other, tangling in different combinations over and over. And then after the movie, on the fire escape, she sat with her legs dangling, looking far away to the quiet lights of Center City. They passed the bottle of chianti, hand to hand, mouth to mouth, and she could still taste everything from earlier in the night, the clove and the basil, the butterscotch cannoli she’d sneaked when she first got in. They talked about going down the shore on Friday, about Andrew’s band’s show at Johnny Brenda’s next week. And just before it was time to get on her bike and head home, Dino put his hand on her waist, just for a minute, as he kissed her cheek goodbye. She could smell the spice of his cologne, and she wanted to grab his bicep and squeeze it hard, run her hand down his arm and hook her fingers around his leather belt and pull. But that would be another night. She could wait.
* * *
In the early haze of the next morning, a dog-walker found her. Naked and splayed behind her stepfather’s townhouse, bruises all over, she looked like she’d tried to crawl into the bushes at the edge of the parking lot.
Seven days later, the police made their arrest. The kid had confessed after fifteen minutes of questioning. It was random, he said. He saw her bike and wanted to steal it, she fought back, and then it all went bad.
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The Conversation by Alan
There was this guy that I met when I was in New Orleans. I was 23 or 26. It was Mardi Gras, pre-hurricane and the metaphors that came afterwards. We were young enough to drive around the world but not old enough to understand where we were going. The guy I met was protesting the festivities; he had no beads. Only a sign that read, “God will still forgive you,” or something like that. We ditched our car for rented bikes that day of the trip though we didn’t get very far.
We got to talking about music somehow. Me being a musician and an Aries sometimes does that…forces a conversation. But isn’t every conversation at least a little forced. And if not forced, perhaps jostled? Anyway, we got to talking about music, and he told me that God made the B and the Bb and every other note every created sound the way they do because they’re perfect and so is he. And when I say “he,” I mean “He” as in God.
I listened for awhile, and then I asked him about the other notes. And when he didn’t understand, I said that there were hundreds, millions, billions of other notes in between a B and a Bb. He asked me why he couldn’t see them on the piano. This made me happy because we were really getting into it now, and I responded by telling him to think about halving a piece of paper continuously, forever.
“That’s impossible,” he told me.
“Not if you believe,” I said.
We kept at it for hours. Man, sometimes I think we’re still there. Bikes left suspended against a wall or a post; the music from the bands endlessly spinning; us inventing ways to convince each other; the invisible still invisible, reposed despite the parade.
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Joe Mike Explains to His Boss Why He Was Late For Work by Johanna
“I'm sorry, Mr. Wong. I know. I'm late again. Well, it's a really interesting story. I mean, you're never gonna believe it.
“Okay, well, you know how those poles have been showing up overnight all over the city since the Chinese occupation, I mean, Chinese Liberation. Yeah? Well, I thought someone was just sticking them in the ground for some kind of sick joke or something, but actually, it's more like they are sprouting up. Yeah, just coming right out of the ground. I know this because one sprouted, or sprung up, from the sidewalk last night right under my bike, took it 12 feet into the air, broke the lock and everything. Yeah, crazy, right?
Well, ever since oil was outlawed for American citizens, I mean, American subjects, and the Great Urban Migration and everything, I can't afford any means of transportation other than my bike. I asked my neighbor Lisa if I could borrow hers, but she had a flat tire. She directed me to Leroy who spent, like, half an hour just going at that pole, solid as steel, with his hacksaw while Lisa and I stood ready to catch the bike should it fall, but he just couldn't get through that shit, I mean, pipe. Then, this homeless guy, I mean, a comrade, was watching us and said we should climb on each others' shoulders and push the bike off the pole and then he would catch it. Well, it's not like me to take advice from just some guy off the street who looks like he hasn't bathed in a month, but I was desperate and didn't have any better ideas. So, I got on Leroy's shoulders and Lisa got on mine and pushed the bike off toward the, uh, comrade guy and he actually caught it. We were cheering for, like, a second before he took off on my bike laughing like a crazy dude. I chased him for a while, but he was way faster than me. I always said that bike was fast...
“Yeah, I'm almost at the end of my story. Anyway, I borrowed some money from Leroy to take the light rail, which will probably take me the better half of next month's salary to pay off. No, sir, I don't mean to say that you don't pay me good here, the pay is good and all. Just that, you know, I'm an American capitalist pig and all, spending my money on fast food and porn and, anyway, I'm going to borrow my brother's bike until I can save up for a new one and...
“What's that, sir? I'm fired? Oh, shit.”
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In Memoriam by Lyle
The man told his children the story of the statue. His story started:
Early one morning Rosdahl rode his bike to work, in the dark, as usual, even in the summer months. Rain. He had tried hooking his umbrella under the right side of the handle bar as he rode, but fell. He spent quite some time in a ditch by the road. His leg healed and he went on. He limped. He sold his bicycle because he thought it might kill him. Though he didn’t really care about life, he also didn’t want to die. At work his limp became worse and he had to push himself around on his wooden desk chair. He pushed himself backwards with his one good leg and the chair legs screeched along the wooden floorboards. Soon he found himself at the bottom of the stairwell looking up. Somehow the chair had stayed under him during the tumble and his back had been broken by the back of the chair. After several hours, he turned himself, turtle on its back, so that he lay prone. Using his clawed and tortured fingers, he pulled himself toward the exit.
This was his memorial, the man told his children, shrunken, dead children.
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Vondelparkpaniekaanval by Forrest
Oh tame thineself, tourist horse’s constipation were it expelled mid-trot. This lone terrible verliezer from Champs-Élysées carries dispatch for only thine superlative and pedals he alongside and twixt flowers steaming, “Vonderfullest Thou!”—would it not be finer to succumb for a cycle riot’s sake, or be worse in thine own dirty bathwater? But truly very sorry appears our modest evening dog park. If thou arrive there rose-laden of another alias less dry, perhaps a leash will falsen thee for Cranial Dutch then?