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Mescaline Mom, Dumpster Dad and Zinc Man
By Agnetti Sheldrake, Team TIAA-CREF-5280
Zinc Man flashes between two cars, moving melodically in opposite ways. There he is again. I’m in a numb parade of bones as I take a morningpassagiata with my inept vocabulary and listening of birds. Just the cock-a-hoop morning and my whirling derby mind absorbing a controlled chaos of external influx. I thought he was gone. I know he’s homeless and crazy, and even a pervert, and I know he’s a local-legend cyclist, emerging like some nudnik superhero, but I don’t want to ride with him! Luckily this time I’m sans bike, just doing a morning reconnaissance for an espresso and a chocolate chip cookie. As I walk back to my apartment I contemplate the dynamic, interpersonal trade of my stalkers….
I swing the screen door open and watch it slowly negotiate the recoil of the spring and gain momentum, stopping it with the tip of my foot the moment before it slams. Sliding onto my saddle I feel slippery today, an animal in water, a robotic dolphin careening across the broken sidewalk to a place in time, music threading the course of my internal pitters and patters. The beginning of a ride.
I spy my buddy Charles J. (Charger) and give a spin of the finger; he looks and waves, “Oh, you got that helmet…. okay…. okay.”
His sign says “money’s for the electric, gimme a lil’ plug.”
I fly onto Colfax and my inner parade maintains its rotating drama of hips and shifts and the sex-mind’s weight.
Zinc Man’s figure emerges. He’s clad in the regular homeless-cyclist costume. His eyes are dark and shifty. He’s covered in freckles and his skin seems young (maybe the zinc didn’t just cover the spine of the nose and two spots of cheek in the ’80s). His jersey is shabby and torn, a possible fashion statement if your eye dodged his ratty-kid sand box hair. And he does seem like a child. Ageless.
His moustache is too sparse and scantily grown for a man. A Denver Spoke hat ruffles around the very tip of his head and the bill is folded like a dollar bill, straight in half. He spots me and slides the rear wheel around in a frenzy.
“Hey o’ hey there Ainge. I’ve been going to church.”
“Oh yeah, nice,” but why the hell is he telling me about church? By this point he’s not only half-wheeling me, he’s three-bike-lengthing me on the yellow line and yelling backwards.
“Yeah, reeally, I’ve been going to church. O’ Ainge, I wenta China a coup weeks agooh. Yea, with my karate class. O an s en fjo wo. Right jkf oof supp gip pad down the street from you.”
Oh my god, that’s right! I’ve seen the sign for that class, but they haven’t even gone yet. He’s scouting the neighborhood conversation references! Besides the pleasant, dewy petrichor of the post-rain afternoon, I see no hope or way out of a four-hour ride with the enigmatic mumbler.
His old Bob Jackson seems to have weathered well. The sun glints off the maroon paint, breaking where it’s chipped, somewhat similar to the way his mind must work.
I just wonder if he gives the chamois a little clean job every once in a while. Regardless of my awkward relationship with Zinc Man, he is a cyclist and a human being. He’s always a figure in my vague scenes, clasped in my mind like a dream shutter opening and closing with sudden colors and drastic undertones.
He’s going to church, went to China last week, and is my stalker.
Stalker No. 2
”It’s all just so caray-zee,” she always says. Her name is Mejo (“universal love,” in Sanskrit).
On our first date she said, “Oh, you should come over, my mom is doing mescaline with my grandfather.”
This is the point where I should have turned around, but it was all just so intrig-uing.
She took me on a tour through the house. Wooden boards covered the inside. Gigantic paintings of mushrooms bloomed out from the walls and you almost felt crushed by their feminine rambunctiousness and fairy-tale aura. The house was a cocoon, a womb collecting the brain waves and heart-throbs. You could get lost, though there is no difficulty in distinction of the shapes.
Mejo said we should go see her dad. “He plays in a band,” she said, with a hint of promise.
We drive across old train-track-land of Denver. I feel the slight tinge of old coal worker, tending to the tracks under a big dirty rusty sun, absorbing and creating, and coming to a finite resolution each day, with only a cigarette to roll and dreams to spiral in the sky in flocks of angelic light, broken muscles tended to by the breathy breeze of midnight.
We enter the house. At once there is a man sunken into the couch with a bottle of home-brew kissing his lips, brown welted pants, eye slits as the moon is a slit through the black sheath of night, but not bright and sedated, fractured and torn. We proceed down the stairs.
“Aaahhhhhaahhhhh,” another man passes us up the stairs with a yelling greeting. He’s draped in a torn flannel, barefoot, autodemonic haircut, wild, lost….
“That’s my father,” Mejo laughs.
The basement is an art jungle: Barbie dolls with electronic arms and brass heads; Giant dolls makeshift with scattered car parts and garage knickknacks. It’s a playpen for Chucky and the Tin Man.
“AAAAhhhhhhh, I’m Andre, nice to meet you,” dad says. “I hear you’re a real adrenaline junky.”
“Yeah, something like that,” I tip my head and connect with his eyes.
“I used to run marathon distances,” he offers. “This one time I was on a trail and I saw this mountain biker perched at the top of the hill… aaaahhhhhh garbage can universe trash everywhere garbage can universe universe universe.”
After a half hour of pure engaged conversation with this being, I caught onto a theme of his speaking: half rationally and half solely in random images with no particular association to the topic.
The skin on his head is tight. He looks surreal and almost dead, skin and bones, bound to the intangible and sweating the rigors and the tempest of the streets.
I turn to Mejo. “How does he eat?”
“He eats out of Dumpsters,” she explains. “Life’s too short to work for the man.”
Hence the garbage-can reference.
After this experience solidified in my mind, I decided a home situation as such can’t be very stable and though I wanted to make sadistic cryogenic Barbie dolls, I let the phone calls go by the wayside.
Mejo did not take this lightly. It started with a straw box with shells and cutouts of magazines. Then she was putting collages of her naked body behind a shower curtain, with the title: DANGER.
Now, I can’t escape.
She waits for someone to go into my apartment building then slides these trinkets under my door. It reminds me of the shitty surprise box my aunt gave me every Sunday. The only problem is, this stalker knows where the sweet Dumpsters are, and dammit, I’m hungry.
Agnetti Sheldrake is the team diarist for Team TIAA-CREF-5280.Have a thought? Wanna share it? Write a letter to WebLetters@7Dogs.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.