I never knew his name
Sam’s cycles said the shopfront sign
“no mate, Sam was the one before, the one before me.”
Two ago – got that,
but didn’t add anything more.
The premises were minute,
tiny, even by tiny house standards
the bike had to be wheeled carefully –
tiptoeing around other bikes and accessories.
Succinct, owner and premises
– “ about 20 bucks mate ”
$18.50 on collection.
And just the right quality and quantity of humour :
“ no colour doesn’t matter whatever comes ” –
a bright pink one
so colour does matter , then a laugh, and
card shark switch to black.
The business grew to new premises
more accessories and bikes
and a pretty woman on the counter,
but from the workshop he always gave a nod
a nod that said I recognise you … and thanks for coming back,
and I hope you will again.
for more than 10 years
except the last time.
He wasn’t there
nothing, nothing at all.
The café owner next door was putting out rubbish
“gone,” he said, “ closed, finished,
the big places have killed another business
no room for the little man now.”
It arrived at school with the bus –
the urgent talk.
Some claimed to have seen it
others heard of the impact.
There were no red light cameras then
or smart phones
no electronic eye to confirm or dispute
some said he was moving early
premature or tardy it made no difference
car + cyclist + red light.
Even the 11-year-olds on the bus knew it was serious,
critical – life-threatening.
We all want to know what had been witnessed
sirens, ambulance and police, then high-speed departure hospital.
Our form master began by saying we’d probably already heard –
and he had nothing to add.
90 minutes later, after a corridor visit from the principal, he did.
Perhaps the answer was on our faces,
or he wanted no doubt.
“ Yes, the boy is dead. ”
There might have been a prayer, it was a Catholic school
but recall, can’t recall.
Memory remembers just carrying on with maths,
or science or whatever lesson was in train.
No counselling, no trauma team,
no discussion, school service or special assembly.
Possibly his classmates attended the funeral – probably they did
but nothing else – it was never mentioned again.
That was how things were done in the 1970’s.
In My Life Billy Joel sang of
receiving a call from an old friend
an old friend who had once been real close.
I did, and we were, three decades before
BC – before children and wife who
didn’t think of me the right company for her husband.
Win some – lose some
I largely did.
Now, outgrown by children, abandoned by wife
that most suburban of abandonments – running off someone else
tickets to a rock concert, he has a spare
the holder unable to and I am the 15th choice
fifth actually – but truth should
own up not a great fan will go if no one else doesn’t.
Beer and fries before
park and pushed through throngs
strobe lights and dry ice
screeching soprano guitar
big tonsilled vocalist
testes descended the voice bass and drums
men in BLACK
woman in tight, tight jeans
haze and the scent of marijuana.