Fahrrad: A True Story

I went for a bike ride to a nearby wetlands in the Adelaide Hills today. I do this couple-a-k ride as often as I can (actually, that’s a straight-up lie; but I do try to get out there), but haven’t put foot to pedal in quite a while. It’s winter here, and that means that in the space of two minutes it can go from beautiful and sunny to apocalyptic downpour. Not fun for cycling. I caught a lucky streak of sunshine though, so I went for a ride to hang out with the ducks and swallows and Gods of the Marsh (do man-made lakes have spirits?).
Either way, I was coming through these wetlands and was stopped by a young kid on another bike. He seemed a bit lost, or perhaps just a bit aimless.
He asked me, “Can you see that?”
I said: What?
“Can you see that? It’s in the water there?”
Meeting this kid was some sort of weird out-of-the timeline thing. Like, it didn’t seem real. I’d stepped through the trees and entered the Black Lodge. I was surprised this boy wasn’t speaking in reverse.
I asked again, “What are you looking for. I can’t see anything.” It was true. I couldn’t see anything. I could see a damn thing and it annoyed me.
The cream coloured water was completely flat, still and stagnant. There wasn’t anything there.
“It’s that black thing. Can you see it? It’s right there.” He was very insistent that I see this black thing.
“I’m sorry, buddy. I can’t see anything.”
“It’s right there, look. That black thing. It’s so strange. How strange.”
At that stage I thought I’d spent enough time in this bizarre, metaphor filled universe and began to pedal uphill. “Yep, very strange.” I said and left him.
But he didn’t leave. He followed me, repeating over and over again ,“How strange. It’s really strange.”
I pedaled harder and harder up the steep hill, often one that beat me before I could reach the top. This time, however, I didn’t look back. The strange child was following me still! What did he want? Is this an omen?
“How strange?”
I pedaled harder and harder. A self-imposed workout the day before had my legs burning already, but also gave me that little extra strength I needed to escape the absurdity.
I could hear him giving up. The ringing of his bike began to fade away. The breath down the back of my neck left. I heard the kids laboured breathing as he tried to push himself up the hill behind me. What did he want?! Leave me alone!
And I did it. For the first time in months I made it up the hill, pedaling all the way. It was an achievement powered by strangeness, encouraged by the everyday weird.
I don’t know why the kid was there alone and why he was stopping strangers to look into the nearby pond and see the thing that only he could see. I can only explain the way the event made me feel (a bit like Dale Cooper after his first talk to The Man From Another Place), and appreciate how I finally made it up the hill, despite the pain.
Hopefully someone reading this can find the profound meaning here. I can’t.


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