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Hundreds of Pieces of White Foam Fill the Frame [Manuscript Monday]


[image courtesy of – please note the white helmet in this frame. Thank you.]

They pull off. It has been five hours of rolling hills since Telluride. The day is still very young, and they know they can keep going. They are beginning to know their strength; their muscles are mending and appreciating the day off in Cortez peppered with forty mile mountain rides from town to town. They are like engines, rhythmic in motion, up and down. Tiring less and less frequently. They know, but don’t speak about it, that they can explode through Colorado.

But they don’t.

They chew granola bars outside a bike shop before going inside.

The owner is kind and personable. The way he speaks is of a man who yearns for the road but knows his duty at home, in Montrose. Bills, or maybe a family that relies upon his business.

Michael buys a cycling cap that says COLOMBIA across the front for no other reason than that he’d seen other riders wearing similar tiny caps.

Louis buys a new helmet.

Michael hadn’t noticed the one he’d worn until now. It is the same large off-white piece of glue and Styrofoam, without the plastic covering, that he’d worn for an entire year. Commuting and training rides alike, he’d always had it. Now, it had become one piece of dirty foam just getting dirtier. You could write your name in it with your fingernails and flecks of white foam would lodge under your nails and disintegrate into the air. Sweat and exposure to the sun had been doing it in for months.

“Alice told me I had to get a new one. She,” he laughs, “She said if I didn’t then she wouldn’t pick me up from the airport when we get home.”

Michael smiles with him.

“I told her I’d just ride home alone then. And then she said I had just get used to being alone then.”

They laugh together, and in the parking lot outside the bike shop Louis holds up his old, dying relic. He watches and reflects upon it.

“You know,” he says. “We should destroy this thing. Like, have an explosion ceremony to commemorate all of its work well done. Kept me alive this long, it’s the least we can do.”

Michael slides the camera out of his back pocket and waits as Louis pans across the semi-empty lot for something ignitable.

“On second thought. I’ll just rip it apart with my hands and throw it on the ground. All on camera. I’ll say something about the helmet and break it over my knee. I don’t know. We’ll see. Spontaneity.”

Michael is rolling.

Louis walks into the frame and there are people in the distance with shopping carts going into a grocery store. The sky is grey, and blue. Louis has his side to the camera and then throws his leg around and stares at the ground, the old crusty helmet held up like a sacred book in his palms.

“This helmet would probably have saved my life if it needed to.”

Michael laughs behind the camera.

“It is only right and good that it would receive a departing smash upon the pavement like it was destined to. Nothing in it but air and the memory of how it held my head safe from becoming an obliterated melon upon the pavement.”

A few seconds of silence.

“And now,” says Louis with the helmet, rising upward to the sun which conveniently streams out across the parking lot, making rain upon car windshields glisten like diamonds, he brings the helmet into the air. His arms are wound tight above his head, stretched like rubber bands. “Now we watch it fall.”

Hundreds of pieces of white foam fill the frame. A black strap with white lines of days of salt and sweat is the only piece that remains intact.

Louis is quiet. He brings his eyes to Michael, to the camera still rolling. He steps forward and says,

“This is what touring the US is all about.” 

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