22 May 2006

Faded Seaside Glamour

I think I belong in the past – or maybe in the future… The present is definitely an awkward kind of in-between stage, which hopefully will end soon. I took a journey into the past to see if I fitted… maybe I need to go further back.

July bakes the sand to scalding and a pier stretches endlessly across green waves to somewhere over a blue horizon past the miniature sails where happiness lies.

Rippled coffee-shop glass reflects the gang back-combing their hair in motorcycle mirrors. Buddy Holly blares out “..well the little things you say and do, make me wanna…” and in the distance polka-dot girls lean on silver-painted railings snapping gum. Territory claims are staked.

A throaty rumble turns their heads. The two-wheeled source slows and threads effortlessly between the ranks of black and chrome. Calmly the tall rider twists a key and silences his steed. Confused glances shift from the dazzling machine to his black leathers and back again. He needs coffee and walks slowly into the shop.

They fall in line to follow through the neat blue chequered tables and slide onto red-topped barstools beside him.
“You up from Bournemouth mate?” Asks one.
“No.” The lone rider smiles.
“Where’d you get that fancy gear?” Eyes swivel up and down his supple tailored leathers. The contrast with their own hard black jackets and coarse jeans is sharp.
“It’s what we wear in the fut… where I come from.” He smiles again. “Cappuccino, please.” He puts a banknote on the counter.
“Talk English and I’ll serve you!” grins a girl with a blond bob, her expression switching to uncertainty as she turns the small crisp bill in her fingers.
“What’s this?” She stares in bewilderment at the unfamiliar note.
“Money? The tall stranger offers meekly. “Make it a black, no sugar…”
“Well I’ll believe you, thousands wouldn’t!” Her grin returns as she pours.

Long pointed shoes tap as Eddie Cochran starts up, “C’mon everybody!”
“I remember this.” Says the stranger.
Now the gang presses closer.
“What do you mean?” Snarls a brute with a livid scar from ear to chin. “It ain’t been on the juke no longer ’n a day. Just out, this is.”
Suspicious looks dart once more to the incongruous vivid yellow sculpture outside. Suddenly it seems a world away from the brutish black iron surrounding it.

This is wrong the tall man thinks. Where are the compassion and bright free spirits? He ignores scarface and looks toward the glittering pier with its candyfloss stall and helter-skelter and empty silver railings. The polka dots have tripped into the café and are watching this funny rivalry from a corner.

“Yer gonna have to explain or we’ll cut yer, you know!” Scarface gives two cohorts hefty claps on the back. “Us seasiders carry blades and we use ‘em. You don’t belong here country boy.” His mates unzip their jackets menacingly.

“Could always race him, I suppose.” Suggests a thug with missing fingers. “Ton-up on the beach road, pretty boy?”

“I’ll blow him off the road.” Scarface snorts.

“No I don’t think you will...” The tall man gently replies.

A girl stands alone by the pier railings as if waiting for someone. How had he missed her before? As he approaches she turns to face him and her eyes lock on his. They stand a foot apart looking and wondering… Is it, could it be?

Scarface slings a stiff leg over his oily Triumph. One sharp kick, the big twin rattles into life and blue smoke jets from the tailpipe.
“Chicken are yer?” He shouts. “Wanna bring yer friend for ballast…”

Now the tall man is back at his sleek machine. “Hold tightly.” He whispers over his shoulder as she sits behind him. “I mean tighter than tight.” He feels her arms grip his waist like a vice. Snapping down his black visor he thumbs the starter, revs and warms the bike. The gang shuffles back at the unfamiliar howl, exchanging bewildered glances.

The thug holds a red handkerchief high above his head.

“Ready?” Screams scarface.

“Ready!” Nods the stranger. And over his shoulder again, “Tight OK…tight” She squeezes his arm.



The sun lowered in the western sky as he lay on the sand, kicked off his hot boots and looked out over the once hopeful sea. The Yamaha clicked as it cooled. She had held on as he had asked but now she had faded from his reality. Probably it would always be like this. Racing brought out the hope and the possibility. Strangely he had a faint taste of coffee in his mouth this time.


sirreene said...

Hmm, I have to think. But I wanted to be here first. Mark my territory! I'll be BACK ~


"I think I belong in the past – or maybe in the future… The present is definitely an awkward kind of in-between stage, which hopefully will end soon."

Oh me too bro...me too.

Lovely story.

I see you,

Queen Neetee said...

A brilliant time twister!

Dead on story that grabs the gut.

You made your case strongly beyond emotion and the threat of want and words. And so, you have answered the question; you are too much, too knowing, and too cool for the past. The redundancy of the past would be a waste of your time...again. Most of that time regained would be lost once more to the educating of those who live fast for want of the future.

One can never escape the present without living it. And with every lesson learned, life naturally moves into the future. Only the past is reflected upon.

Your characters, their descriptions, the moods, the clothing, are all so real. It feels as if everyone there met in limbo with the crossing of desired time.

Great story! Your writing delivers right on.

I Love this little bro!

boulies said...

The opening of this incredibly well written piece, makes me think of how interesting it would be if we could live in a place of flux, where past is present and future merges with past. Interesting how you make this concept come so alive here. I especially like how you brought in this mystery girl who we never really find out about. "They stand a foot apart looking and wondering...Is it, could it be?" The unanswered question here (where does he know her from?) and how "she had held on as he had asked, but now she had faded from his reality," makes for a truly haunting ending and aids in forcing the final image into the ever more present era. Well done bro Virgo, and thank you!

Perfect Virgo said...

Sirreene - just like pitching base camp, now you have to push for the summit. Come on, leg up, you can do it :)

JJ - glad you liked the story and yes, the in-between stage is frustrating. I think they call it life!

Neetee - thanks for your very thoughtful and objective words. Yep, I knew when I started to write this I was honouring the past and enjoying some memories. Every time I approach a crossroads in the present I stare hard at the past to see if I can learn from it. The one thing I have learned is that the past is a well-written book full of life-like errors of judgement and periods of sadness. It is a natural urge to think of changing some aspects but maybe we should concentrate on improving the future... No harm in speculating once in a while. :) I am pleased it seemed real.

Boulies - well thank you! I fiddled with the technicalities of this for half a day before it felt right, implausible dialogue can be ruinous. I have always been fascinated by the prospect of time travel so the possible interaction of people whose lifespans never overlapped in real life is alluring. I am a dreamer where concepts like time-shifting, regression and even reincarnation are concerned. Potential human connections are limitless. The girl is both real, a memory and a fantasy and for me, makes the whole point of the story.

I decided to avoid a description of the race itself as that may or may not have happened. I did want to bring attention back to the present day, so jumping to the final scene was one way of bending reality while also hinting at memories.

finnegan said...

"I am a dreamer where concepts like time-shifting, regression and even reincarnation are concerned. Potential human connections are limitless. The girl is both real, a memory and a fantasy and for me, makes the whole point of the story."

I thought I'd pick up on the thread from this reply to Boulies, since it hits at what I find most fascinating about the realm of human imagination. Namely that as adults, we often crave that certain deep, free-spirited connection to our souls which we had in our youth; that side of ourselves which is so often at odds with the bugaboo present.

And so when I read something as starkly lit and well-crafted as this, I am moved to reflect on my own need to defragment my dreams..."where concepts like time-shifting, regression...reincarnation...potential human connections...are limitless."

Perfect Virgo said...

Finn - brilliant observation. I like the contrast you draw between my urge to tie loose ends and your need to defragment dreams. Some things we might like to alter if we could but mostly these visits to the past are just to luxuriate in the nostalgia, the feeling that it was better then. However our hero sounds a a darker note when he wonders "where are the bright free spirits?" So the quest continues.

Neetee is quite right (as she so often is!) the past has an air of redundancy about it - rather like me and my work-free laziness! It has happened and we can't change it.

Boulies is also right, the amazing prospect of bringing together characters from different times is a nice dream.

So there we are... everyone is right! We all enjoy past, present and future in the correct proportions.

sirreene said...

back? present, GONE ~
it's that swift!

Anonymous said...

this is beautifully written, and i enjoyed it immensely. it made me think thick thoughts. thank-you.

boulies said...

One of my first favorite films as a kid, alongside the "Wizard of Oz", was "The Time Machine." I for one believe that if we click our heals three times, spin till we're dizzy, and flap our arms till it hurts, we might be able to fly backwards and still be back home on time for the morning paper to arrive. A little wishful thinking seems to carry me a long way; especially if I sprinkle a little magic on top. Had fun reading yours and Neetees and Finns comments and to be included. Thanks!

Perfect Virgo said...

Sirreene - so is that your definition of the speed of life? Blink and you miss it... What do you reckon the biker gang would have made of Blink-182 on the jukebox? "...all the small things!" I remember you are a fan of the Delorean and its astounding capabilities but that has 4 wheels!

Jane - I'm very pleased this short tale spoke to you and thank you for your kind compliments. I think one aspect of the past you and I might choose to change would be a legitimate aspiration. But let me think on that - without experiences how would we be able to think such thick thoughts. Your smart alliteration lends the thought an even denser texture.

Boulies - yes, these comment threads are getting long. Don't think they will rival Finn's though! There is always room for a touch of magic around here. Today I'm treading in unknown territory called the future (thankfully I have a bag of useful memories.)

Cocaine Jesus said...

hey! doctor who on a bike. next time you visit the fifties take me with you for it is but a fading child's memory now. i would have loved to have been there to hear buddy holly playing on a box.
what a blast that would have been.
tast bit o' writing PV. i enjoyed this immensely! (now don't go telling me off about my spelling, you may be bigger than me...but ;))

Perfect Virgo said...

CJ - I'm just happy to have your comments, spell 'em any way you like ol' chap! We would have a blast in any musical era we chose to revisit, of that I am sure. So set the coordinates my fellow time-traveller and let's surf the space/time continuum.

doughgirl said...

both real a memory and a fantasy to me....

This is such reality a memory of what i wanted as a child, the reality of what could be and is and a fantasy of hoping someday it will happen....

a soulmate in fron tof your eyes, a blast from the past and a dream of something yet to come true..

Perfect Virgo said...

DG - past and present, fact and fantasy blending into one... I threw in beach, music and bikes to give it some street credibility.

You have your finger right on the pulse as usual, I was thinking about the concept of soulmates just today. Now I write and continue to "dream of something yet to come..."