Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Drunken Pennyfarthing Society

Step, step, right, left. Tick, tock they hear the clock. “It’s time,” one says, down alleys and ways, rapping on doors and cast iron gates. A hand emerges like shadow or soot, top hat in hand, then arm and then foot. In full fluid motion his body appears, and waits for the others as they travel near. One by one, like a parade of ants, they walk and they sway and sing their strange chants.

In a slow, snaking line, the Drunken Pennyfarthing Society slithers on by. No one speaks near this fortnight procession, and no one knows why. Men stay inside to hide their shame, for they have not been invited to join this strange gang. But they watch from their windows and curse their own names.

What the Society does, no one can say, for fear keeps their curiosity stationed at bay. None wish to provoke this strange, tall lot, for none wish their husbands’ jealous blood to run hot. But on this very night, a very small boy, goes out to search for a missing, small toy. He ends up on their trail, so follows the train, and hopes the sights will begin to explain.

Through dark alleyways and past dark doors, the Drunken Pennyfarthing Society ambles on to the shores, where canals twist and wind, and sparkle no more. One by one, each gangling man kneels down in the grime, and produces what else, but a bottle of wine. The very small boy begins to grow weary, ‘til a sound stops his eyes from becoming too bleary.

A crackle and a click ring out from the din, and there in front of him a wheel starts to spin, a wheel out of nowhere, out of thin air. With a splash and a splatter, a slosh and a squirt, these men slide down off the riverbank’s dirt. First into the channel, and into the depths, then up through the surface came a crowd of bike handles! Then top hats and tails and rubber and steel, and finally no less then giant bike wheels!

Out of the waters they rise to the top, on their bicycles glistening with drips and drops. The Drunken Pennyfarthing Society set off through the night, and the little boy watched until they were all out of sight.


Inspiration: Shayne Gray's "Drunken Pennyfarthing Society"

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