The Circle of Time



Blip: one eye open. Blackness. Except one floating digital number: 3. (a.m.) Damn.

Blip. 4 a.m. Come onnnnnn. One, two, three, four, five…jump jump jump, come on and jump you wooly bastards.

Blip blip: both eyes: wide. 5 a.m. Blackness. Still. The unbearable heaviness of the Yellow. You wouldn’t—couldn’t understand. Heavy heavy heavy. Weight.

-------6 a.m. Hmmmmmmmm. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap: fingers on headboard. Thirty days in the hole…Thirty days in the hole…got me weak in the knees…get yo-self a greasy…and rollin’ dance floor…THIRTY DAYS IN THE HOLE…(SHUT THE F--- UP! from an adjoining room.)…tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.

Flutterrrrrrrrrr, blip blip blip blip blip blip blip. Blink blink: 6:30 a.m. Light, barely. (It was December 18, only 3 days from the zenith of darkness.) Jered Gutcheck Gruber couldn’t sleep. It was his first Friday night in Yellow. Who could blame him. (Not a question.) He tossed and turned and counted sheep and sang raunchy songs by Humble Pie all night. Gutcheck Gruber would eventually sleep, but not very long; and he would wake to the light of a golden day: it was Gutcheck’s first Saturday actually wearing the Golden Fleece (though he had worn the jersey all week). He would soon wake wearing nothing but the Yellow jersey and yellow socks. He would throw back his covers, throw his yellow besocked feet over the edge of the bed and thrust them into his blue suede bed shoes, scratch himself like a mangy dog, and throw both arms in the air and shout: “I am the BIG dog of the WBL!” Then he would remember his troublesome dream. How strange he would mutter to himself. He would traipse into the kitchen, still scratching, only to be greeted by the cacophonous chorus of Ginsbergian howls edged with sheer terror: his roommates upon seeing his unholy being. They were enjoying the Saturday morning paper and a buttered croissant at the time. Were enjoying. What a long, strange night it had been. But now, it was WBL time!

The next morning, Sunday, Gutcheck would wake and open the newspaper. He would read: “Matt Turbo Gentry sent shockwaves through the peloton on yesterday’s WBL event on 18 December 2004, the Monroe Indoctrination. Throughout the 75 mile, 4-hour ride, Gentry flipped on his turbo-chargers, shifted to overdrive, and wailed up and down the roadway pulling flicked and flailing Zealots back into the fold. Turbo spent the day dropping off the back of the pack and picking up flatters (there was no sag wagon), and towing their wretched souls back to the groupetto, most times headfirst into the battering resistance of bellicose winds. Like mighty Prometheus himself, Turbo acted for no reason, no motive, other than the good of mankind. Turbo dropped back no less than five times to assist those unfortunate Zealots who had flatted, and were left as buzzard bait on the pave. The floor bosses of the WBL, as well as those roadside stragglers on the receiving end of Turbo’s philanthropic efforts, were agog with admiration for this modern day Hercules; so much so, that he was awarded one extra point for his virile display. His total tally of seven points for the year puts him into a dead draw with Jered Gutcheck Gruber in the race for the Golden Fleece of WBL 2005. The race for Yellow is on.” Gutcheck would have a strange feeling of déjà vu when he read this piece.

Fifty or sixty Saturday morning downtown denizens signed in for Monroe Indoctrination event on 18 December 2004. These holiday habitués of the WBL were rewarded with 2 points each. There was still no sprinting, and no extra points to be earned, or so they thought. The sky was an Egyptian one—warm and cloudless—and temperatures during the ride soared to a sweltering 58 degrees. Jered Gutcheck Gruber, current Boss of the blacktop, arrived at sign-in gilded in gold: his jersey, arm warmers, socks, shoes, shorts, bike, pocket watch, sunglasses and teeth were all bathed in a yellow hue. Only the thatched hut of scattered orange straw on top of his head clashed with his yellow aura. But like the advance of time itself, there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. At least he would still have Yellow at the end of the day. On this score, he was correct. Mostly.

The Zealots set sail in a southerly direction and skedaddled out of Athens by cutting a straight line between the Doric columned facades lining Milledge Avenue, and behind which are housed the imbecilic and drunken flaneurs—the pretend classicists driving SUVs. The pack glided past the faux Greeks, pedaled out of town, and shamble-doodled on through Watkinsville. The group veered to Bishop and meandered its way further south over the gentle rolling pastures of rural Oconee County. They strolled leisurely across the purling and gurgling brown waters of the Apalachee River, stripping off layers of clothing as time trekked onward, or at least as they (the Zealots) did. The pace remained gentle and the idle talk boundless for the first two hours. Some of those enjoying the warm ride in the sun as well as the idle rumors this day were: Chad Mad Arnholt on his way to San Fran (see you soon bro. Send money!), the smooth and svelte Anna Kelso dropping down from Penn, Christen and Dave Hunter on a two-wheeled tandem too!, the swarthy Rhino Barnett all the way over from Spain, Scott the Razor’s Edge dropping down from N.C., the Godfather from Greenville Jason Leslie, Phil the Pack Shouter who always has it right, Gregarious Nuthin but the truth Schisla swooping in from Murphy, N.C., Len Rockin the Slote bringing it up from Madison, and the good doctor of love himself Doc Moye cycling in from just down Prince. These fair weathered frolickers were enjoying themselves.

As the pack crossed the borders of Walton County, the sun nailed Gutcheck right between the eyes. Gutcheck, riding at the helm of the group, yammered nonstop. He was gripped in the throes of a pedantic display of superficial erudition; he skimmed his spoon over only the top of the waters, read only the back covers of books: “Zeno believed time was like an arrow, that is, linear. His famous paradox proved the quick and agile Achilles could never catch the lazy tortoise. He proved motion doesn’t exist. One can never get from point A to point B. I am a disciple of Zeno. Only I exist. It started when I was born in a sad little hovel…” The unfortunate Zealots who were within earshot of the tendentious earbasher were driven off the cliff and over the edge: they became deaf, dumb, depressed and mute, at least temporarily. If they’d had a gun, blood would have been spilled. Instead, they sliced their tires, intentionally. It was the only way to escape Gutcheck’s mad diatribe about time. First one, then another, and another, and another. And each time there was Matt Turbo Gentry dropping back, ready to lend a helping leg. Turbo did it all: he stripped the tire from the rear, changed the flat, pumped like a lunatic, then towed the wretched and forgotten sinner back to the pack. Turbo was disproving Zeno’s, and Gutcheck’s, theory time after time after time: he made it to point B, the rear of the group, each and every time. Gutcheck, at the front, was unaware that Turbo, like cyclical time, was looping back again and again and again. He may have been dreaming.

Turbo continued with his magnanimous display until the president of Libertania, Sir David Nixon, flatted with 10 miles to go. When Turbo pulled el presidente back into the fold with 7 miles to go, a buzzer went off in the pack. Like Pavlov’s salivating dogs, the guys and gals at the front, for no other reason than the sheer joy of hammering, pinned their ears back and let it rip. Caution was thrown to the wind, then trampled underfoot. The line of riders stretched down the roadway in a single file quivering line of pain. Every so often, a tear in the line would occur and those on the wrong side of the split went blowing out the back. There were no points, no prizes, for this spontaneous display of brute strength. The only vantage was the ecstasy experienced by the rapid firing of a million endorphins fulminating through the synapses of the nervous system like exploding fireworks. The Zealots were like heroine addicts, longing for speed and in dire straights for a kilo of pain.

As the shredded group rolled into town in bits and pieces, fragments and shards, each Zealot shivered in an orgasmic frenzy of satisfaction; other than the stops and starts caused by a multitude of flats, it was yet another salutary day on top of the saddle; 5 miles of electrifying satisfaction with the accelerator pressed to the floorboard, belly to the ground—ventre a terre at the end of the day. (Afterwards, the Board announced a sag wagon should be present the remainder of the winter.)

That evening, Turbo was informed he had been awarded an extra point. He cackled with the satisfaction of a fast-talking, slick-haired rooster turned loose for the evening in a wayward henhouse. He was elated. But there was much he didn’t know, like Gruber: The Yellow jersey, saddled with the cumbersome baggage of fame and fortune, can crush its holder like time itself collapsing inside a black hole—into nothing: no matter, no space, no density; you don’t exist; you are only a memory knocking about in another Zealot’s mind. Such has been the cruel fate, the perfidious destiny, of many temporary possessors of the Golden Fleece. Whether or not these two new Yellow jersey holders’ reign as superintendents of the pack is only fleeting, remains to be seen; other aspirants are trying to kill them.

At least Gutcheck made the most of his first week on the throne: he signed a six-figure deal as a pharmaceutical company’s new spokesperson for a new erectile malfunction medication. Its former spokesperson, the Spaniard Rhino Barnett, was given a pink slip. Word in the locker rooms of both genders was that he could no longer fan the fires of passion; his musty cupboard was bare and overrun with hairy spiders. Luckily for the blind old mottled Spaniard, Gutcheck Gruber was on hand to lead him far out into the pasture, out beyond the crest of the hill, and then shoot him in the head with a large caliber handgun. Poor Rhino. No wonder he was hammering; he had much to prove.

Blip………..ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-yeeeeeeeeeeeee-ummmmmm…………Blip blip: Both eyes open. Barely. 8 a.m. Gutcheck had finally fallen asleep. Deep. But now he was awake. He threw back his covers, threw his yellow besocked feet over the edge of the bed and thrust them into his blue suede bed shoes, scratched himself like a mangy dog, and threw both arms into the air and shouted: “I am the BIG dog of the WBL.” He then remembered his troublesome dream. How strange he muttered to himself. How very strange. He could hear his roommates in the kitchen.

How Strange Indeed.

(The WBL)