October 14, 2009

Saturday Morning Stretches

Through a crack in the wooden shutters, a beam of light cast its golden bounty in a long thin line along the floor. It traced a narrow, razor sharp line across a pile of clothes, some magazines strewn on the floor and it raced up one leg of a bed post. It continued across the blankets and pillows tossed aside for the night and drew a line across the white, crisp linen pillowcase. As the morning continued to stand and shake off the last vestiges of darkness, long, thin golden strands of hair splayed themselves across the pillows. Soon, the thin beam began to grow in width, exposing more to the light. An ear, a cheek, an eye, a nose, and the other eye. Soon, a female shape began to stir beneath the covers. Her face would shuttle around, but in moments, the sun would catch up and catch the curve of her face.
A small brass alarm clock started to dance on the table with the same rhythm of the bell. Her eyes shot open and darted around to find the source of the blasted noise. She lifted a naked arm and slammed it on the top of the clock and it shut up immediately. A moment later, it started to go off again and this time, she sat up. Groggily, she leered at the clock and shut it off for good. Her blond hair was unkempt in a quick bun, it splayed out from underneath the elastic band. She was wearing a white wife beater that conformed fairly well but didn't suit her all too well. Her feet delicately traced around objects on the floor to a pair of short, tan Ugg boots and with one quick action of her hands, slipped them onto her feet. She stood. Her slender figure and form showed she was somewhat athletic, and her skin was tan on her fore arms, face and calves. She stared at the clock, it only looked back at her and replied 6:20 AM. Her eyes closed and her face plopped into her hand. She breathed in a heavy sigh and opened them again.
She washed up lazily, splashing water around. She looked into her reflection and did a pouty face for a moment, then winked at herself. She dressed and packed a small gym bag and slung it over her shoulder and picked up a cycle helmet and sunglasses. Locking the door behind her, she descended the stairway in the hall down to the basement. She switched the chicken switch and the lights in the garage hummed to life. Several cars revealed themselves under the dim light. Some were covered in dark tarps and their shapes left literally nothing to the imagination. The cars varied from new to rather old. She made her way over to the end of the garage where her car sat. It was her first car, it was also her parents first car, and her grandparents first car as well.
The blue Chevorlet Master six never ever seemed to break down. It had plenty of space in the back for four friends and two in front and the driver. Most of the guys she had been with were easily intimidated by her vehicle. It's partially what kept her single for the most part since alot of guys were afraid of her both on the track and in real life. She was fierce and she certainly embodied the spirit of competition.
She sidled through the narrow walk between the cars over to the storage room where before her, several tall and wide cabinet doors stretched from one end of the room to the other. Pulling a small, silver key from her pocket, it chirped as she pressed it into the lock on one of the doors. She opened the door gingerly and slowly and switched on the light inside the cabinet. Before her sat her pride and joy. It was her father's 1955 Bianchi pista, gleaming in its original mint green color, beckoning her to take it out. She pulled it off its stand and placed it in the back seat of the car. Going back to the storage room, she also pulled out a large metal toolbox and a canvas shoulder bag and also placed these in the car, but in her front seat. The car started with a renewed life as it did every saturday morning, and it rumbled backwards out of the garage. Pulling out, she then started off and drove away.
Her hands gripped the thin, wooden steering wheel with a delicacy. Her whole body seemed to melt into the carseat as she drove. She loved driving this car. In the mornings, heads would turn to watch the car rumble down with her at the wheel. Once, she had entered the car in a show and won the best preserved award. Then again, her town had only about 84 cars that regularly entered in the show. Half of which were convereted into rat rods. The car pulled into a space in at the track and she pulled the things out and locked the bike in the courtesy room. The tools and bag were place on a table in a long shed. As she set up her little repair station, other bikers soon were arriving. Some hung a brass tag on the columns by their tables to signify that they were of some note in the world of track bike racing. Not big, just of note. Carefully hanging the tools on the pegboard, a girl approached her, sporting a jersey, pants and a head of dishevelled bed hair. Looking away from the tools, she set down the meter wrench set and spoke.
"Sal."
"Jess."
"It's a good morning," she paused and breathed in, "I think I might make a personal best today."
"Oh yeah? Have your personal bests matched my personal worsts yet?"
"Yeah, funny you know. Always the big jokester you wern't you?"
"From time to time. In my spare time, I live a life."
"Hah."
Sal pulled up a bag and dumped it on the other side of the table and pegboard. Jess listened as she heard tools being clunked against the board.
"So what time were you making last week?" came from behind the board.
"Eh, I think around fifty nine seconds."
"Shit, I got to work a bit more. I'm pushing one minute one."
"Faster Sal."
The bullhorns in the long shed crackled to life with a demure voice. It spoke timidly and illegibly. The only thing that could be made out was the sound of a man's voice and whenever he said the word 'racers'. Jess walked back to the courtesy room and pulled her pista out. She walked it over to her work station and placed it up on the bike holder. She checked the tension on the chain, pressure on the tires, and made sure everything was aligned correctly.
"Jess. Jess. Jess."
"What is it Sal?"
"Look." Sal's arm stretched over the pegboard pointing in the direction of a lone cyclist warming up on the track.
"So?"
"That's Brutus Peerless over there. Don't you recgonize the red jersey?"
"So that's the great Brutus."
"Isn't he great?"
"What about him is?"
"He's the only guy here worthy of pro who refuses pro every time. Just look at him.
"Yeah so?"
"Christ Jess. Is there any girl left in you at all?"
"Yeah, the parts that work I suppose."
"Not that way. Dont you ever have... you know?"
"You mean that thing ditzy thing girls do over Zac Efron cardboard cutouts?"
"Precisely."
"Well I do."
"Who?"
"Brick."
"You like Brick? Seriously?" Sal stared over at Jess for a moment. She turned her head away and chuckled. "Who would have thought? The fastest girl at the track is in love with the slowest man at the track. Brick Tamarack! Ha!"
"You called me?" came a voice from behind Sal. Caught surprised, Sal turned around and blushed in embarassement.
Brick Tamarack isn't fast for several reasons. He's so muscular, he weighs down his bike with his mass. As well as being muscular, he doesn't have too many fast twitch muscles. Usually, the fastest track sprinters would lap him before he finished. But something about Brick was different from the small, thin skinny guys who usually won saturday morning stretches. He was charming, he never rubbed winning into anyone's face, mostly on account of that he never won. When asked why he kept going to stretches, he only would reply, 'I like the feeling of being on the track on a fixie. You should too.' You would never believe how many high school girls started fixed gear riding because of that little magic phrase. What bugged the hardcore bikers was he called everyone's bikes fixies rather than track or pursuit bikes. Jess didn't mind. She actually got a little enjoyment when Sal would blow up at Brick, chastising him and telling him to call it a 'track' bike.
"Uh. No Brick... why on earth would we call you?"
"Well, I thought I heard my name and laughing."
"Well, you'd better go and clean your ears then shouldn't you?
"Um. I suppose."
"Brick wait." Jess interrupted.
"Hi Jess. What's on your mind?"
"There's this thing. I've been meaning to ask you."
"I like the feeling of being on the track on a fixie. You should too. Well, I know you do at least."
"Pardon?"
"Oh, your question wasn't what I thought it was going to be was it?"
"Nope you big dope. What I wanted to ask you was if after stretches, would you want to get coffee?"
"With you?"
"No, with the prince of Nepal."
"Really?"
"No. Me."
"Gosh. I'd like that. Sure."
Brick turned in a semi-circle and stared at his foot for a moment. His large calves didn't really seem to suit his small feet squashed into clip shoes.
"Allright Brick, get on with getting ready."
"Sure thing." Brick turned back to his table to work on his bike.
"I can't believe you asked him out to coffee."
"Yeah? So?"
"Gah. You're crazy Jess."
The bullhorns came to life one more time. This time, the voice was clearer. Obviously someone with experience.
"Will the following racers please line up for stretch one: Amaraz, Colbern, Custin, Hornby and Leitmarte." Five bikers emerged from the long shed and with their bikes in tow, walked them over to the starting line. Each one of them pulled from the ground, a round bent bar and held their bikes in standing place. They clambered onto their machines. A resounding beep was heard and a small honda motorscooter appeared on the track from the center and the cycles were off in a line behind the scooter. They circled the track four times then the motorbike disappeared off the track and the racers were off. For sixty pulsing seconds, the bikers pursuited the leader and in the end, Leitmarte won. After finishing, he rolled the bike over to his staff who promptly began to work on it. He walked in his lycra one piece over to Jess.
"Impressive no?"
"No."
"Come on Jess. Fastest man? Fastest woman?"
"Pierre, what the hell are you at?"
"You know?"
"I have a slight incantation, and I'm slightly sick with it as well."
"Well, you know what to expect then."
"Yeah, fast on track, fast in bed. I'll pass."
"Don't pass on this." Pierre tried to flex. His arms didn't really change too much, but his legs nearly came through the material.
"Nope, you're right. There's nothing more irresistable than a man in a one piece lycra suit."
"What is it most irresistable about me then?"
"The nuts."
"What?" She kicked him and he doubled over in pain. Sal laughed.
"Nice one Jess."
"Thanks. Do you want Pierre?"
"Maybe. It sounds like a reasonable name to yell in bed."
"Yuck."
Again, the horn screeched to life and a voice was heard again. "Will the following please approach the starting line. Brennan, Moreschi, Olav, Tamarack and Tscherpin."
"Jess, looks like we're in the same stretch with Bricky-poo."
"Pipe it."
Jess, Sal, Brick and the two other bikers approached the lines. The stays were lifted and the bikes secured for take off. Brick was placed in front this time and Jess in back. The beep resounded, and they took off behind the little motorscooter. Three laps, down, the clock ticked. The bike disappeared and the pursuit began. Jess began to catch the lead, but for some reason, Brick was moving really fast! She pressed her legs harder against pedals, by now she was neck and neck with Brick, but she she was on the blue one and he was on the white. The turn came marking 600 yards. The bank would put Jess behind him but she caught up again, this time, wedging herself in front of him. A loud resounding beep was heard again. A voice came onto the bullhorns. "Brennan, fifty three seconds, Tamarack, fifty four point six seconds, Moreschi, fifty five point one, Olav, fifty five point three, Tscherpin, fifty six even."
Tired, Jess stared at Brick's sweating face. "What happened Brick? I didn't know you could move like that."
"It's... it's... I-I-I... I've been practicing." He panted and spit. "I'm going to be honest with you. I had a crush on you. But I didn't think the fastest girl in the 'drome would ever go with the slowest guy there."
"Brick, you big sweet thing."
"hy-eugh..."
"Brick, you dont need to impress me like that. You already impress me in other ways."
"Do I?"
They walked the bikes off the track and passed the next stretch as they walked in the opposite direction.
"So. Coffee eh?"
"Yes Brick. The liquid I've been drinking since I was twelve."
"Oh wow."
"Where's your car?"
"I rode here."
"On your *ahem* fixie?"
"Yeah."
Jess laughed a little. "Ok, grab my tools and we'll put the bikes in the back of my car."
They loaded the car and drove away.

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