Bent Words

Bent Words

April 07, 2010

Yesterday was a veritable blast from the past. At about 3:45 I returned from lunch to find Paulo laughing through his teeth and waiting at the parts counter for the tires I ordered him. Just beyond Paulo, memorably leaning against the service desk, a dark skinned mug smiled at me from below the rim of a weather beaten hat. Altmann. Fresh out of Mexico's oven.

Since I wasn't at the back window, MO popped in and the four of us congealed on the floor in front of the watercraft. Ex Fox Rep Vukovich somehow appeared out of nowhere and we began discussing the various races and rides scheduled for the upcoming weekends -- moto at Azzy, RGN hare scrambles, enduros down in Illinois. Before I could comment on the obscure gathering, Bradley Johnson, coked up on pain killers and sweating like a triathlete, grabbed me from behind. Hugs all around and hardly enough time to find out how everyone was doing.

But there was enough time, as there always is, to ask about Shane. And every single one of them did.

As though I've never said, over the past how many years, that I no longer speak with him. And maybe I haven't said that. Because, really, it's better for me not to have to explain why I don't.

"Why don't you ask him how he's doing?"

"You always seem to know, Laura."

"Well, all I know is that I haven't seen him at the track in a very long time."

"Which track?"

"Any track. Pick one."

We all looked down at the floor, reminiscing, as though we lost one of our own.

For me, it was like a slap in the face when Altmann turned toward the front doors and said, "Well, speaking of Shane..."

My heart hit my chest and dropped immediately to my stomach. I couldn't even look. I must have turned bright red because Altmann started giggling. He wasn't there. It was just a little joke.

"Wow -- you've still got it big for that guy, doncha?"

"Who me? I'm just chillin' over here," I stammered (i.e. lied).

It amazes me that someone who has been absent these several years from my life can still make my entire world stop. His name is like an earthquake -- it always takes me by surprise when it hits and never fails to leave me a feeling of instability after the initial shock.

"Nice try, Altmann. Now give him a jingle and get him back out on the dirt."

"That's a good idea -- what has he got going on now that Yates is down for the count anyhow?"

"Right. And don't forget, if you do talk to him, to report back, my friend."

And maybe that's why I keep coming back. To the shop, that is.

Written at 3:11 p.m.