Look, there he is. His hair flowing in the air, or at least the half mullet that’s sticking out from underneath his baseball cap, as he rolls down the hill on his Persian green bike, a Peugeot. He’s on his way to … well, nowhere to be honest. He just hopped on his bike and rode around for a while, and here he is now, a walkman clipped to the waist of his shorts, listening to music and taking in a perfect summer’s day. Just as comes to the edge of town and rides by the car dealership he’ll buy his first car from a couple of years later, he hears computer making beeps and bleeps.
He puts his hands back on the handlebar and turns up the volume. He’s never really listened to the song before.
“Good evening. This is the intergalactic operator. Can I help you?”
“Yes. I’m trying to reach flight commander P.R. Johnson, on Mars, flight 2-4-7”
There he is again, on his bike, hair sticking out from underneath his cap as he rolls down a hill in another town. The bike is now black and the handlebar is different. Long gone is the drop bar, as are the days of him riding a bike without hands. He looks just like the kid on the Peugeot … or at least he resembles him, maybe he’s a relative. He turns right and starts pedaling up a hill, and hears a familiar sound. He turns up the volume on his iPhone, and adjusts his headphones. It’s the familiar but now long gone sound of a computer dialling, beeping and bleeping. And then a greeting from the intergalactic operator. He smiles and stops at the traffic lights at the edge of town.
Hi darling! How are you doing?
Hey baby, were you sleeping?
Oh I’m sorry, but I’ve been really missing you!
Hi darling! How’s the weather?
Say baby, is that cold better now?
Oh I’m sorry, is there someone there with you?
Instead of riding straight ahead along the river, he crosses the street and chooses another route along a gravel path that takes him past the graveyard. No-one he knows is buried there – at least not yet – and he pedals a little harder to get to the paved street as quickly as possible. He can’t see it but he knows his bike kicks up a little cloud of dust after him, and he thinks it’s a little bit cool because it’s as if that’s saying, “Look out, world! I’m coming through.” He’s not going anywhere specifically, and he’s not looking for anyone in particular … or so he keeps telling himself. His Peugeot hits the pavement, and he turns left. He takes his hands off the handlebar.
Now, when I look at the clouds across the moon here in the night
I just hope and pray that soon, oh baby, you’ll hurry home to me
Hi darling, the kids say they love you.
Instead of turning to the right like he would if he was going to work, he continues straight ahead and thinks of a buddy who used to have his office in the corner. As he passes a restaurant he always recommends to others he realizes he’s only been there once, back when his son was a toddler – and he’s a teenager now. Oh, but one day he’ll take the family back there, and he’ll show his son to the owner and he’ll tell him, now look at the boy. “He’s a man, man.” And then he laughs a little because he’s just quoted Austin Powers in his thoughts. He makes a mental note to tell that to his wife when he gets home. Now he’s just riding around, not going anywhere specifically.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation, but we are experiencing violent storm conditions in the asteroid belt at this time. We may lose this valuable deep space communication link. Please, be as brief as possible. Thank you.”
Now he’s gone past the record store, the other store that also sells records but isn’t a record store, the movie theatre and the grocery store and the shoe store. He cuts across the market square and steers his Peugeot toward the ice cream stand in the corner. He’s made up his mind long before he gets to the stand – one scoop strawberry, one scoop vanilla – but when he gets closer he sees that the usual salesperson’s not there. She’s not working today. He accelerates and turns left, along the street that cuts through the town. Why not? He’s just riding around. Right?
“Hello? Hello, operator? Yes, we’ve lost the connection! Could you try again please?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we’ve lost contact with Mars 2-4-7 at this time.”
Now the black bike rolls down the street that takes him right to the center of town. To his right, there’s a park, a beautiful park, and to his left there’s a movie theatre … wait, there are signs on the window. “You’ll see something exciting here SOON”, it reads. He shakes his head because he’s certain that they’re not talking about a coming movie attraction but he puts it out of his mind because it’s such a beautiful summer’s day and he’s not really going anywhere, or looking for anyone in particular. As the song comes to an end, he suddenly thinks about that kid on his Persian green Peugeot and he chuckles. He skips back to the beginning of the song and turns up the volume.
The connection is still alive.