Monday, October 31, 2016

The Archives

#3 Westfield (outside)
"You are each on an individual tour..."
I'm going over a mental checklist, while he goes over the rules. I gaze off at the crowd around me looking into middle distance. My thoughts are consumed by the mental picture of the contents of my handlebar bag. The sun is just peaking up to our left. The pavement beneath our feet slowly becomes awash with shadows and the reflections of windows. The streetlights, second by second, lose the battle to illuminate and soon will give up entirely.
"The weather report says there will be lightning storms all day..."
He is mustachioed and gray with bushy eyebrows. Without lycra, he seems an old man with an old man's body. In lycra he does too: Shortish, hunched and pear-shaped.
"If you see a deep wide puddle, ride around it..."
There is no industry of reporting on these rides There is a magazine, there are personal blogs: these contain written first-person accounts. No third party spectates. Nowhere is it written the incredible feats of this shortish, hunched pear-shaped body.


She is fifteen years old, walking through a dusty old house. Upstairs there's bumping, grunting and thumping while a group of men maneuver a mattress down stairs and out the front door. My grand daughter wanders from the living room, through a dark dining room, towards the lights in the kitchen. A man and a woman are putting pots, pans, glasses and flatware into boxes.
"I'm just trying to understand why you don't think it's important"
"I think they just got busy and forgot, the same as with my social security card when I was three years old"
"They forgot. Over and over again, for fifty years. They just forgot"
The girl turns away from the kitchen and notices another door. She opens it. Inside there is a filing cabinet knocked over, with a drawer open and spilling papers on the floor. Medical bills, mortgage statements and car payments. As the girl sifts through she sees a file folder with stacks and stacks of colorful, folded card stock. The language on the cover of each card is French, inside there are lists of places, or checkpoints.

Next to each checkpoint is a time scrawled with initials next to them. On the back of each card, there is a name; her grandfather, an address; a P.O. Box in the town she is standing in, and a member number; 8851. She counts the cards. Over 50 of them. There is a movement by the door back to the dining room.
"It's just about 6am, have a great ride"
I mount my bike and go left out of the parking lot, looking between the queue sheet and the street signs, trying to predict how long I have till the next change in direction I'll make.

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