by Amanda Baber
Young Tom was a peculiar character. His most distinguishing feature being that he wore a very ill-fitting bicycle helmet which wobbled up and down as he wobbled to and fro peddling with all his might. He was never without his bicycle; a fifteen-gear mountain bike with a broken spoke from that large rock he collided with and a rather mottled paintwork caused from rust from the moist, salty, sea air. Generally always in overalls, ragged and torn, but nothing else except his swimming trunks; Tom would be easy to sum up. Young at nineteen, carefree, perhaps to the point of lack of proper personal care and permanently attached to the seat of the tatty bicycle from which only the sea or a surgical procedure could remove him.
“You can’t do that!” yelled Cynthia, as Tom attempted to jump off his bicycle in motion, propelling himself from the peddles, catching his already torn overalls on the broken spoke. Sending himself into the pile of old, broken bricks in the corner of the garden, he was lucky to avoid the pit to the left of them which was full of slurry and sharp pieces of splintered wood.
Tom, you see, was an attention-loving, tragic hero relishing the fuss of his old Aunt Cynthia whilst protesting about her concern to enhance his so-called courage.
“My poor dear! Come on let’s get you inside and mend those scratches,” cooed Cynthia.
“I’m OK Cyns, don’t worry about me,” said Tom brandishing a wide smirk and limping badly for effect.
The pair of them waddled and hopped until they reached the shabby piece of loose board hardly fixed to its hinges called the front door. ‘Cyns’ proceeded to wipe the scratches with antiseptic wipes and fix sticky plasters to the very minor cuts.
The door was not fixed, despite the fact that Cyns, her husband Bill and young Tom earned enough to afford antiseptic wipes and all the things to keep them comfortable. They insisted and persisted to keep the outside begging for pity whilst the reality was as sparkling as the fine set of bone china locked in the glass cabinet, out of sight. Sympathy and attention was what they thrived on as a fix for survival; a high on other peoples’ guilt for being ‘better than them’ when all along they knew it was all a show, an act, a lie.
Tom, although unique, was also a typical student. Studying ‘Retail in the Leisure Industry’ he was lazy, drank a lot of alcohol and made no effort to keep the inside looking its best, indeed he did his utmost to keep the outside looking its worst.
He was a loner with an elder sister who had left home, married and had kids, living in Manchester. Tom had remained with those who had brought him up in Poole and his parents remained in far less desirable positions; his father in a grave, his mother in a secure mental home being described as ‘dangerously suicidal and schizophrenic’. So, I suppose Tom could not be blamed for being the self-centred bastard he actually was he just chose to follow suit rather than rebel against family tradition.
His parents had deserted him when he was a two-year-old, his aunt and uncle had corrupted him as only they knew how and Tom had lapped up the lack of not knowing ‘right from wrong’ with the delight of a spoilt child.
As the afternoon approached Tom decided to reattach his bony buttocks to his bicycle seat and rode off into Parkstone on the pavement dutifully abandoning his aimless attempt to clean his muddy boots and leaving them for Aunt Cynthia to do. As usual his totally useless bicycle helmet slid up and down, covering his eyes now and again and delivering a rather solid knock to the bridge of his nose causing a rather loud exclamation of ‘shit’ or a similar word. Thus, his wobbly ride past the shops over the uneven paving slabs went something like this:
- Tilt head backwards to avoid undesired blindfold
- Swerve to avoid pedestrian
- Tilt head forwards to avoid helmet strap strangling
- Heavy thump on the nose causing darkness to descend heftily
- ‘Shit, you stupid piece of plastic’
- Swerve to avoid pedestrian
Only this time swerve was absently disconnected from his brain.
Ploughing straight into a nearby A-board and catching a woman with his broken spoke in the nylons, it ripped a hole which immediately laddered all the way from knee to crotch in an instant. This spilled out the once controlled layers of cellulite and Tom began to wish he’d finished cleaning his boots.
A large, heavy shopping bag was thrust into his chest by a rippling, muscly, gristly object; also known as an arm.
‘You stupid, idiotic, senseless, little, precocious brat!’ yelled the rather large African woman, mustering more words into one sentence than Tom had learnt in his entire lifetime.
‘You fat arsed tart!’ was all he managed to say, before wrenching himself, his bicycle and part of the A-board (a letter ‘E’ from ‘Reptile and Aquatic Centre’ to be exact) from the pavement. Riding off down, what was to Tom, the newly discovered tarmacked surface, called a road.
Now, this little incident, was soon wiped from Tom’s brain and soon he had remounted the pavement happily beginning his whole routine again. Wobble, head up, wobble, head down, wobble, swerve; then, it happened. While performing his ‘head down’ procedure, inadvertently staring at his groin, a lamp post emerged from out of nowhere, namely the footpath.
Thud, shatter, crack, snap, whoosh, Ah!!!!!! The bicycle helmet hit the lamp post whilst in its proper position – halfway between head up and head down. It shattered, thus serving its purpose and avoided Tom’s skull from doing the same thing had he not been wearing it. What followed was Tom falling to the ground, landing on his bony buttocks but also on his arm which cracked as it broke under the pressure of his weight on it.
The broken spoke then made contact with lamppost as the bike sailed over Tom’s crumpled form. Then it snapped completely off from the wheel. It soared through the air narrowly missing Tom’s nose and then, and only then, pierced the same woman he had collided with earlier in the chest.
The shoppers stopped shopping. The tourists stopped looking like tourists and became an astonished audience of people with gaping holes in their faces as their mouths dropped open. Tom lay on the ground moaning with pain. The woman fell to the ground causing vibrations. Then, there was silence. She didn’t move. Tom twitched occasionally from the sharp contact of shattered bicycle helmet pricking his bony buttocks. The audience started to stir and talk and then panic.
One person called an ambulance. Another attended to Tom. One knelt by the woman and covered her and the spoke protruding from her enormous breasts with their jacket making her look like a miniature marquee. The others either stood in the background trying not to get involved or became embarrassed and tried to appear inconspicuous and uninterested even though they were highly visible and very interested.
Sirens sounded and an ambulance pulled up. Tom was stretchered and taken inside it. The woman was studied and investigated and prodded and probed until the female paramedic cut open her silky dress carefully revealing the sight beneath. A pool of blood had formed around the woman’s head where she had cracked it open on the pavement. The other paramedic was administering oxygen and examining the nasty wound. Suddenly the female attendant put her arms around the voluptuous chest as though enveloping the woman in a sympathetic hug. But when she came up for air she brought with her a piece of plastic as the woman’s breasts totally came off. Her transvestite’s clothing was revealed in the paramedic’s arms with straps for fastening round the back.
Broken spoke had impregnated himself in the piece of plastic, so the death defying rascal hadn’t injured the woman (man) at all. Indeed, it seemed the only injury was the blow to the head.
After six weeks in plaster, no bicycle and no bicycle helmet, Tom had begun to take a look at his life from a different angle. Eight weeks from the accident he had got a proper job, given up his aimless student life and begun to rebel against his family. Ten weeks passed and he had become a respectable, young gentleman and had completed his community service.
Christmas approached. Tom was now living in his own flat, working in an up-market restaurant and learning to drive. When Christmas day was upon him he dug out his notebook, went to the local florists and performed his annual ritual. Two years ago, you see, he had been in an accident and it had changed his outlook. As he carefully picked his way through the grassy mounds with his flowers and note in hand he came to a halt before a stone which said: ‘Alex Donald Henry Silver, murdered in an unusual incident 5th May 2000, aged 52’. No word of love, no word of personality, just dead and forgotten. Only Tom remembered him. The lovable transvestite killed shortly after he had recovered from his accident. In the short time he had spoken with Tom, there had grown a loving friendship. Placing his note and flowers upon the grave Tom walked away with tears trickling over his flattened nose.
Christmas is upon us once again. I am a success now, I’ve smartened up my act, I’m living independently and I am falling in love with a beautiful girl. I think I can say that I have grown up. That’s what you taught me. All the best. I loved you.
It flitted in the breeze, the flowers shone in the sunlight and the grassy mounds glistened in the snow. Young Tom had learnt a valuable lesson and as his bony buttocks disappeared into the distance you could tell that he was now a decent fella.
About the author
Amanda has been writing since she was a child with ongoing work in horror, poetry, short stories and non-fiction. Author of the Missy Dog series for good causes, her book ‘Missy and the Whitts’ is the first one, about her dog Missy who dreams about real history.