The Story of A Bike.
Some things in the world are easy to fix:
One gets on the wrong bus,
discovers the mistake, and then
one simply gets on the right bus.
But what if you are the bus.
And, somehow (in the mysterious way
such mistakes come about), a bicycle, say,
is what you had really been meant to be?
Then it's not so easy.
Sometimes only God can make a bus, too.
And that is the story of a certain bicycle
which, by chance, happened to be born a bus...
"We'll call him Ramses!" The Depot Manager told Joe,
the lucky driver who would take Ramses out
on the first day of his job with the City.
All the other drivers were envious of Joe.
But he was the City's best driver
and had earned his place
behind the wheel of the City's newest bus.
Ramses himself didn't much care who drove him:
His engine was all roaring to go
and his bright blue chassis was
as shiny from head-lights to tail-lights as
all the sunshine waiting for him outside:
And, my, but how he longed to get out and see everything,
travel everywhere: Visions of pastures, hills,
tree-lined avenues and parks
(and parks) flashed before him--
But only in his imagination, unfortunately,
for Ramses soon discovered that the sum total of his world
would only add up to 57th Avenue, by way of
Kilmer, then back down Ruppert (and
up and down the same way over and over again
until it was time to return to the depot).
It didn't get any better the next day, either.
Or the next week. Or the next month.
Or even the next year:
Joe always drove Ramses up Kilmer to 57th Avenue,
and there he always turned around
and drove him down Ruppert until they met Kilmer again.
And at the end of each day
... that was always the end of it.
As long as there was any hope in him
that some day, maybe even at the very next corner,
Joe might suddenly get it into his head to take a turn
--for the better--
Ramses did his job for the City without any complaint.
But years passed.
And Joe never went any other way
except the same one
--not even by mistake (after all,
Joe was the City's best driver).
And yet, even if the City never shortchanged him
on parts and labor (and kept its best driver, Joe,
behind his steering wheel), with the passing years
Ramses found it harder and harder to stick to his schedule
with the same energy as before.
It made Ramses sick to think that his entire life
would be spent going around in circles!
Before you know it
he was dropping passengers off
a stop or two past their stop.
And then the rare thing was
when Ramses wasn't running late...
With the years it also became tougher and tougher
for Ramses to get up in the morning
(sometimes the maintenance crew needed half an hour
or more just to convince him to leave the depot).
But when he just stalled in the middle of his run
for no good reason. Well, that was too much
even for Joe: Ramses never saw Joe again after that.
Joe was given another bus
--A brand new one (after all, even now
Joe remained the City's best driver).
Who drove Ramses next? Peckingpot! ("Oh no!")
Peckingpot was a driver so far down the list
of bus drivers that even he himself made it a point
never to find out just how lowly-rated he was.
On their first day together
Peckingpot got Ramses out of the depot without a scratch
--But that was about the only miracle
Peckingpot managed that day:
He drove Ramses so wildly that
a policeman wrote a traffic ticket against him:
The first one Ramses had ever had anything to do with.
"New bus," Peckingpot tried to excuse his own driving.
But the policeman would have none of it:
"If that's a new bus," he told Peckingpot,
"it's been needing a new paint job and a whole new engine
since before it got out of the plant!"
And he handed Peckingpot the ticket anyway.
It's hard to tell which hurt Ramses more
--the ticket, or finding out he was already as old as all that
(for it seemed to him as if he'd
almost only been born yesterday).
Anyway, things didn't get any better
between Ramses and Peckingpot:
Peckingpot weaved through traffic with such little regard
for everything else out in the street
that it was a miracle he didn't get someone hurt!
He seem to make it a point to
pull up as far from the curb as possible
whenever he picked up someone elderly.
Then, when the person he was picking up
wasn't someone elderly, Peckingpot would come so close to the curb
that he'd scrape telephone poles and parked cars
--and never stopped to tell anyone he
was the one responsible for the damage.
A number of times he stopped in the middle of the street
and stepped out for snacks!
Oh, but Peckingpot was an even worse driver still:
He loved to cut in front of other drivers.
He ran red lights without even thinking twice about it.
And once he even rushed a bus stop so violently
that to the last possible moment everyone there
was sure he would run them over!
Ramses did everything in his power
to get the Depot Manager to give him to another driver: He stalled
(to make them put Peckingpot on another bus).
But it didn't work:
The only thing Ramses's bad behavior did
was to convince the Depot Manager that Ramses
and Peckingpot were, "Made for each other!"
(He had Peckingpot stand by until Ramses could no longer stall
and was practically pushed out the door--with Peckingpot.)
Not even billowing great clouds of black smoke worked:
It backfired, in fact, because Peckingpot actually enjoyed
polluting the air! And so it looked as if it would be
Peckingpot and Ramses from then on... till the end.
And so it was until Ramses could stand it no more
and on one particularly cold morning
... something snapped in Ramses
(although only he himself noticed it):
Something which had long been rotten and rusty inside him.
That morning Ramses's head spun so terribly that
as soon as he stepped outside
he rammed the massive block of granite
which stood by the depot's entrance!
The accident made no impression on Peckingpot,
of course: He always just kept going after such things.
But it made Ramses realize how little time was left
if he was ever going to see more of the world
than Kilmer (up to 57th Avenue) then back down Ruppert:
That morning Ramses waited patiently until
he and Peckingpot got to Kilmer and 57th Avenue
without anyone else on board...
Then, there where he had always turned
(and returned the way he'd come):
Ramses simply kept going, and going
--and even picking up speed as he went along!
"Help!" Peckingpot hollered
when he discovered that
he could spin Ramses's steering wheel all he liked
and Ramses still kept going straight ahead.
Peckingpot slammed on the brakes next.
But Ramses just kept going!
Even after Peckingpot janked the emergency brakes so hard it hurt
(and busses seldom feel pain) Ramses still kept going.
Peckingpot just stuck his head out the window after that
and hollered so horribly as they went
that people were able to tell Ramses was coming
a mile or more before they could even tell he was a bus
--So far away was Peckingpot heard hollering!
Through everything that followed next,
all of the near-misses and near-crashes,
the yelling and the hollering, the turns (so tight
that his whole body seem to twist), all through the pain,
and the horns of a thousand cars, and the thousands
of policemen that soon joined the chase after him
... Ramses just kept going.
And, oh, how glorious it all was, too!
For the first time in his life,
every street that Ramses travelled
showed him something he had never seen before:
It felt so natural to Ramses
that he was now sure it was what he had really been born for
--And had never been able to do until now!
New people everywhere, new places,
new faces, new everything!
It was the most wonderful run of his life!
Until all four of his tires were shot dead flat
right out from under him (that is).
Then Ramses pulled up to his last stop, limping.
And he let off his final passenger
... Peckingpot (all shaky and angry):
"It's a bad bus," he told the policemen
(in case his own driving was suspect).
"Yes," one of the policemen replied:
"It'll be the junk yard now for the old heap."
"Good riddance!" Was Peckingpot's last goodbye
to Ramses: "It should have been done years ago!"
And Ramses closed his eyes.
(He had seen all he was going to see
of this world.) Or so he thought.
But then something quite mysterious
made him open his eyes (briefly, just for a peek)
as he was being carried off in the jaws of
the powerful towing crane that was taking him
--to the junk yard, he imagined
(exactly as Peckingpot had hoped).
The towing crane was stuck in traffic.
And, by chance, just then
Ramses had come to a stop in front of a bicycle shop.
There, in its display window, stood
a gorgeous bright blue bicycle:
A bicycle which, for some reason or another,
reminded him of when he
had been as shiny blue and young as that!
And, as odd as this may sound,
suddenly Ramses couldn't get rid of the crazy idea
that that bright blue bicycle on display
in that shop was... him!
It was equipt with every last bit of spiff and polish
he would have wanted on himself, too
(had he been lucky enough to have been born a bicycle
as beautiful as that one), and the thought that,
somehow, he was that bicycle
grew stronger and strenger still:
"Ah!" A golden bell, a leather pack, a silver horn,
and bravely bright lights
--white in the front, red in the back: "Wow!"
It even had a sparkling new air pump attached to it!
And a mirror as clear as if it wasn't even there at all!
With equipment like that
Ramses could have travelled the world end to end
and never looked back!
It was absolutely, positively THE bicycle
Ramses would've picked to have been born as
(had he been asked).
Why, just the thought of wandering every hill, pasture,
every tree-lined avenue and park in the world
(every last one of them for the first time ever)
as that shiny bright blue bike
... brought a smile to his heart
that was even warmer than the one which had comforted him
the first time his engine had roared to life!
How odd, thought Ramses, how strange
that the thought of wandering the world
as the bright blue bike on that display window
should have been a warmth like that of being born!
But stranger still was
how all the time Ramses was held in the jaws
of that great towing crane
there in front of that bicycle shop
(like a baby being borne by the stork to its birth)
there never was and never could there have been
a better bicycle in all the world
than the one Ramses was
and would be, from that moment on,
always and forever.
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