Midwife in the Tire Swing

Intermezzo 1—Lucy’s Bicycle

Explosives would hold the horizon of Lucy’s fantasy life for the next two years, before testicular murmurings signaled the awareness of a second softer sex in the box of his being. His attention drifted from the wizardry that made unwanted structures disappear to learning to balance and ride his new bike, the better to overtake the feminine eternal, which often fled. The balloon tire Schwinn, with Lucy’s feet steering the handlebars, would cannonade down the approaches to the Hobart’s hill as far as the dogleg where it joined the state road. There Mrs. Moira Schultz, a widow who did not flee, was maintained by her two surviving sons until the world-wide financial ruin that heralded the end of the Jazz Age. Then she took in boarders and the structure so lovingly framed and shingled by her husband for their new Packard, the first in town, became home to a household of raccoons.

Lucy Hobart first felt freedom on his bicycle—an elevated pulse and a throbbing in his loins that would never be equaled by sex. Twelve years later he had same feelings when airborne, hunkered over a bombsight or his knees locked around a .50 caliber machine gun, staring back at plumes of destruction hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars had rained upon the Enemy. Edward, a Schultz son from far New Hampshire, came and shot the raccoons on the Thanksgiving before he mounted the troop train at Bangor for service in the South Pacific. The raccoons returned, Edward did not.

The first stirrings of lust went unheralded. Rev. Phil leVoid at the Willipaq (3rd) Baptist had hinted that love, lust, sex might find the same physical outlet, but did not mention bicycles or the raining of murder from the sky. A wetness in the drawers; this was a mystery to be explored. Grasping himself tighter, Lucian Hobart cried out once, “This is for you, God! Remember thy children, Israel.” This was not at age twelve. Those same twelve years had to pass yet again. He was alone at barracks with the set of blurry pornography that circulated through the flight group. Jehovah, ineffable, unnameable, accepted his load without comment. What then was this freedom? Try as he might, Lucy could not arrive at a better word.

Describe what you have just felt. Please be brief. Penmanship counts for 20 points.

Lucy and the Schwinn negotiated the gravel approaches to the Schultz homestead again and again, back pedaling his New Departure bicycle brake to a slamming halt against Mrs. Schultz’s overhead garage doors. The doors splintered. This went on for eighteen months. The garage collapsed the next summer.

Lucy was called before his parents. “He’s such a little boy,” said Mrs. Schultz. “Such a tiny child could not have caused so much damage.” The telltale odor of dynamite was not remarked on. Older boys were pursued and brought to justice for the compromising of the garage’s verticality. Lucy regularly brought fruit baskets of Northern Spies and cider apples in season by way of an apology. Moira Schultz, widow, like the Old Testament God of Hosts, was silent as to the appropriateness of Lucy’s offerings.

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