Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 10. Unkl John and the Soviet Saddle

Today, let us toast a man who throughout his already long history has dived far deeper into the kaleidoscopic flies eye of the Universal Questions than many can or ever will; one who trekked through the deserts on literary ramblings; quested over hillsides as a Magpie Maniac; and headed out into blazing hemispheres if only just to knock on a door.
Well, it’s how I see him anyhow- even if this next incident, as set up by a long line of his twisting fortuities, led to my strife and near ruin.
He is my great Unkl Arunas, or John, and his ‘impact’ upon my time in Lithuania has already been quite literal…and it’s all to do with a faulty bike frame.
The painful procedure began at the house of a blonde Baltic cousin of mine, or perhaps she is an aunt, it is impossible to truly tell. A few weeks ago, she took me into the womb of her hospitality and home- days after the umbilical cord of my stable German existence was snapped.
Covered in the fervent placenta of my hopes and wishes, I had tossed myself blindly unto a new beginning, a fresh life, out here in Vilnius, and she, my cousin aunty, surrogated me into it slow.
Her womb stood out beside a rocky turnip farm, next to the lonely woods where tribes of homeless locals had built huts, surviving the summers on scrub mushrooms and scavenging for wildflowers which they later would sell in the city centre. Out here, between the habitats of woodpeckers, dogs and the destitute, sat the unlikely monument to comfortable lifestyle, which my cousaunt had nicknamed ‘home’.

I arrived one chilly April afternoon, treading through the trapdoors awaiting me in her treacherous parking station, and glided gradually to her glowing sill.
I sprang my pinky upon the buzzing clitoris beside her doorway. Ringaling! In a gush of movement, the labial curtains of the manor were thrust open, and this filthy baby, clutching his breast and his backpack, was guided into the peace and security of the inner sanctum.
It was white washed- like the interior of a freezer- though planted with tasteful throw-rugs, flower pots and picture frames, Atlases and brickish novels on mountaineering (the co-owner of the womb room, her husband, was a daredevil mountain climber, set upon the goal of climbing the five highest peaks of the former Soviet Republic).
Being here, I echoed the feeling of having scaled massive heights.
Here in the womb, I was sweating.
Either the heating was at volcanic temps, or I was simply longing for freedom from this chamber, suffocating.
My cousaunt lathered upon me glistening meats, syrupy wines, a smorgasbord of dripping tapas and temptations, and I thought I was lost in the gullies of comfort for a thousand years.
The heating in the room, mixed with the influx of wine, caused a schism in my system- booze going in, sweat flowing out- and it became necessary to flee, for me to travail out to the natural light, away from inside my warm cradle-
To be reborn and find my floppy feet in this new world alone.

Sorry, though not sad to see me go, my cousaunt first helped alleviate my fears of tramping down the long road out of the forest by foot.
“Come, you must borrow, borrow, borrow.”
Unknown relatives are some of the friendliest family you can ever know. Or never know.
Either way, it was all happening.
Taking me down to the bunker of her garage, she introduced me to the family slut; Loose Lucy. The bicycle.
My heroine on two-wheels.
The reason I tack to her these most unfortunate and insulting moniker had to do with her absolute usefulness rather than any lack of moral fortitude. She was a loyal, fierce force of metal, and she had done many family members before me proud, the last of whom was Unkl John.

During travels some time ago, accompanied not by his lovely wife, but with the sterling spokes of Loose Lucy, Unkl John had disappeared into the sparse green countryside of Lithuania, for many months without a sighting.
It was rumoured he had moved in with moose-men.
Upon his eventual return, my Unkl, now skirting 70, was asked by nosy relatives in angst as to his whereabouts, to which his prompt response had been,
“I swallowed a wasp and was struck by lightening, twice.”
Fair enough.
And a feasible answer; much politer than “Mind your own business.”
And all this time- whether it was her steely handlebars which had attracted the fateful electrical bolts, or if she had SAVED him from further strife- Loose Lucy had been by his side.

Now she by mine, as I sat upon her saddle.
"Woooahh, little doggy."
I waved adieu to my kindly cousaunt, and took to the pebbly roadways.
At first, Loosey was a breeze; a kindly waif, not making me peddle faster than necessary, so I could still sample the scenery, and make my way untempered.
But then I felt it; The planets were not aligned, between this bike and I.
Something was awry in the workings of Lucy- my tailbone was being tampered with.
I realised I was rocking a lot more than I should, even for riding on a path carved from dry rye bread. I tried to ignore it, this rraaattttetttt-alin’ in my brrrrrrrr-a—aaaaaaaaaaaain.
I tried by standing, to keep myself raised- then after a kilometre, like a feisty mule, she bit back-
The seat of Loose Lucy began to wobble, then to circumnavigate itself sideways, then to rock and rumble like a mechanical bullock, and I, the wobbly rodeo rider, slumped over the handlebars, and tried to steer onwards.
Panic sank in. What was wrong with this accursed invention?
Lucy was behaving erratic as a teeny on tablets, spitting gravel whichever way she pleased, and making her saddled rider lunge about, wuh, wooo, wah, performing the hooplah of a spastic circus spider.
And then the bullock hopped it up a gear.
Her seat spinning wildly now, round like a helicopter rotor, flipping and flopping- she finally gave up the ghost.
The seat snapped forward in an almighty slap, the bucking of the stubborn bitches last battle, and I brayed to the trees and to kingdom come, flew through the air, and came down amid the steam of intersection exhaust, on to my temple.
Splayed over the zebra crossing like roadkill, dazed, somewhere in the foggy distance I could hear them; the haunting calls of the moose-men.
meeeeep, meeeeep, meeeeeeeep...
Like flies around me, they bleeped and blared. But as I raised myself to haunches I relaised, the moosemen were nothing but the angry bleatings of automobiles.
I grabbed the squeaky slut, and wheeled her from the roadway.
“What in the hell is wrong with you, Lucy, you stressed out mamma?” I called out in vexation at her rough treatment.
I came up close, my red flag raised. What could be the problem?
I focused my eyes; the bolts beneath her seat springs were truly, as her namesake suggests, terribly loose. Who would leave a contraption in such a dangerous state?
And the answer stared back at me in vague recollection.
Unkl John.

As my fine Unkle is a stringent anti-copyrighter writer, offering up the marvels of his mind without asking warrant or a license, I think he will not mind me sampling a few of his words here; used only to explain the ORIGIN of all these problems with Loose old Lucy.

After a week of wondering what the hell had happened to this claptraption, by fate of forwarding I discovered THIS email, linking the troubles back to my fabled Unkl. Then I realised! It wasn't I who Lucy had bitten, but he, and right on the arse as well:

Subject: Bike trip – by Arunas Zizys

“We have found an internet point in this rather small (but with cultural pretentions) town - Sirvintos. Here is the log of the trip so far. Im sending this report to Aiste (its her bike) & to Vaidas (we are only 20k south of Rimeisiai) too. Yesterday about 20kz out of Vilnius it became apparent that the bicycle seat wasnt suitable for me & my BUM was getting progressively more painfull. Before doing a longer ride you should always do a shorter one of about 20kz befor you can know if the seat is suitable but i didnt have the opportunity to have done so. I knew from previous experience that if I get deep seated bruising ON THE BUM thats the end of the trip but we had no alternative except to go on to Maisegala where I hoped to find a bike service place to buy a new seat:instead we found a depressing small town with the only cafe closed down and derelict and plenty of unemployed youths with, apparently nothing to do other than stand about looking vacant and sometimes drinking beer. There was no bike service available so we had to continue on to here with my ARSE too painfull to allow me to apreciate the scenery along the Senaji (old) Ukmerges road. With diversions weve ridden about 60ks in my case most of it in pain. Fortunately we found a bike shop here where I was able to replace my seat with a cheap (15Lt) old soviet style seat which I was warned could fall apart at any time but at least its soft and on springs. However I find this morning after a sleapless night that i have two swellings on either side of me BUM about the size of chook eggs and I can feel a degree of deeper bone bruising. So we are trapped here 20ks short of Rimeisiai hoping that by tomorrow or the next day the swelling subsides and the bruising is only superficial. Another serious problem: Ive discovered that Andrius, having led a blameless life and therefor in possession of a clear conscience, sleeps like an innocent child except that he snores continuously, loudly, and in an extraordinary variety of ways always unpredictable. Under even the most favourable conditions I am a light sleeper and once awake find it difficult to fall asleep again. It is clear to me I cannot share a room with Andrius ever again. It took much negotiating skill to find another place for tonight without PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE (Andrius has agreed to sleep on a sofa on a DIFFERENT FLOOR) so we still pay for only one overprised (80Lt:40 OZ $$: approx 24euros) room. However the new accomodation is beutifully situated by the side of the lake & a park with much statuary. Incidently there is a bar here which operates 24 hours a day ('GERIMAY VISA PARA - 24 VALANDAS')! Im going to visit the collingwoodfc.com.au site to gloat over the 1point victory over THE DOGGIES - might help fix me arse up quicker.”

Thank you my dear Unkl. For futures sake, I pray there is never a moment where I must borrow your car- as it will no doubt ricket the already ruptured radiator of my insides into a messy pulp- but it would always make for some damn fun stories.

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