The Old Man and the Seat

Nick took his bike down from the rack and wheeled it out of the shed. He had many bikes but this was his favourite. It was a good bicycle, one of the best. He loved the clean lines, the pale blue colour, the shiny components.

Nick was old and tired. His hair growing thin, his skin dark and tanned, no excess fat, slim muscled legs, strong calves. He poured a daiquiri from the jug and the salty spirit moistened his lips. He removed a fat Cuban cigar from his top pocket, bit the end off and stuck it in his mouth, rolling it around with his tongue before dipping it in the oily flame from his Zippo.

The bicycle was his friend. He remembered the good times, the best of times. Those were good times when they rode to Les Invalides and drank good coffee by the Seine and when it was dark they rode home again. They didn’t have lights but  they weren’t afraid, they were never afraid except for Scott who was always afraid and kept falling over.

Nick cleaned his bicycle carefully, using a toothbrush on the cassette and an old rag to polish the metal. He loved how it shone in the weak sunlight. Now it was true and honest and clean and it was good.

Nick sat down on his garden chair. It was worn and brown and cracked. He wished he had kept it in better condition, like his bicycle. His bicycle was true and honest like a man, a good man but his garden seat was a woman, soft and uncertain and changeable. Nick grew wistful as he gazed at the cloudless sky and thought of seats.

Nick looked at his bicycle and then he looked at his chair. He looked at the saddle. It was a brown Brooks saddle, worn and faded but the shape fit him perfectly, he could lose the bicycle but not the saddle. He would keep the saddle and they would grow old together and keep each other warm. He stroked the hard leather, his fingers catching on the shiny rivets. Bicycles could be changed and replaced, they didn’t last but a good saddle was a seat forever.

His wife joined him in the garden with a cup of tea.

‘Look Pilar,’ said Nick, stroking the saddle. ‘Is she not fine?’

‘Yes, she is fine,’ said Pilar. ‘She is very fine.  But I prefer a Fizik.’

With apologies to Ernest Hemingway

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