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.
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-tire 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.