Thursday, July 30, 2009

Safe Passage through the Devil's Crossroad

I had this friend – no, wait – let me correct that – I had an evil twin named Bryan. My twin since the fifth grade. There was so much life in him, and trouble. Mischief really. The stories, they are legion, and Bryan, he is legend.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about life lately. My usual view is it’s this merry go round in a sketchy traveling carnival. It operates at totally unsafe speeds, without safety checks, and if you get too close it sucks you into its reckless orbit, hurdy-gurdy music blaring while the Carnies laugh madly.

Unsafe speeds got me to thinking about my evil twin, and put me in a mind of one of our escapades.

Bryan had this ten speed. And he was tall, a real lanky kid, with an overdeveloped sense of adventure and no awareness of his own mortality. Where we lived, there was this huge intersection, created by two giant major 4 to 5 lane roads that came together. There was a flotilla of traffic lights over head sending signals to the Mothership in code no human could interpret. And there were cars, NYC style drivers, who felt red was optional as long as you honked your horn while passing through.

Unfortunately, the bowling alley was a block beyond this little section of death. And we liked to go there, because it was an underground bowling alley and they had an elevator with a giant red button that had STOP carved deep into the plastic coating and lettered in thick black paint. There was no elevator attendant, so you know, we’d ride this thing up and down periodically hammering the stop button and bringing the rig to a grinding halt between floors. The best part was the clanging alarm that sounded off the minute all motion stopped. For this alone, we’d brave the devil’s crossroad on our ten speeds. Trouble has a strong call, and good sense, well, it just doesn’t speak up sometimes.

So there we are one day, casting about for something to do and we decide of course, it must be the bowling alley. We can ride the elevator and hit the stop button. We hop on the bikes and tear off into the traffic. We’re riding in tandem, gearing up for our approach to the deadly passage, and Bryan leans over to me with precarious balance and says, quite casually as though it’s no big deal at all, “My brakes don’t work.” Then, with a laugh, he pours on the speed and careens into the midst of the churning chaos of cars filling the abyss. His feet are down, dragging the macadam, and at the top of his lungs, between bouts of laughter, he’s screaming “NO BRAKES!!!!! NO BRAKES!!!!!” as the momentum of the speed burst sails him through the dangerous seas. Horns honk, cars skid, Bryan makes it to the other side, unscathed.

Everyone needs an evil twin. And to ride a ten speed, if only once, with no brakes and faith the universe will get you to the other side unscathed.

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