Monday, March 30, 2015

The Ballad of Jack and Susan

Dedicated to my sisters, Brenda Diane and Debi Louise Tolar

Jack loved motorcycles. The faster he could make them go, the better he liked it. He especially loved racing motorcycles. He loved throwing them into the curves, rear wheel spewing up dirt, footpegs nearly dragging the ground and every ounce of his wiry frame focused on the angle of the lean, the twist of the throttle and the rush of the wind in his face.

Susan loved Jack. They were boyfriend and girlfriend or maybe husband and wife, I don't remember which. His love of speed and danger frightened her and she sometimes expressed her concern for his safety. But not wanting to nag, she most often kept her fears to herself. She most likely prayed for him.

Betty was Susan's best friend. Susan no doubt shared her fears with Betty and no doubt they prayed together for his safety. Betty almost certainly loved Jack too, but being a loyal friend, kept these feelings to herself and desired Susan's and Jack's happiness.

On the day of the big race, Susan blinked back her tears as Jack prepared to go to the track. She could not bring herself to go with him, having had some vague premonition. Jack reassured her that things would be alright, as they always were. Kissing Susan and hugging Betty, he left the house.

The race started. Jack was leading the pack as he headed into the fourth turn on the third lap. The bike's back wheel hit a clod of loose dirt kicked up on a previous lap. The motorcycle slammed to the ground then flipped, end over end.

Though he was wearing a helmet, the force of contact with the packed earth knocked Jack unconscious. The bike landed on the front wheel and the handlebars jack-knifed, causing one of them to crush Jack's ribcage, which simultaneously punctured both lung and heart. He died almost instantly.

The scene when Jack's broken body was borne home to his two women was heart-rending. Susan and Betty wept aloud over his lifeless form and no doubt expressed many feelings of regret that they had not insisted upon his refusing to participate in such a dangerous activity.

I viewed all this through slitted eyes, half closed in simulation of death. After suitable and dramatic expressions of grief and mourning, I raised up and my sisters and I began to plot the next adventure in the continuing saga of Jack and Susan.

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