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The blue wire

A never ending epilogue or part 2,5 of my Two Volcano Sprint race report

 

While waiting at a bar, one of those endless loops of waiting for a room, for something to eat, for something to drink, for a person who speaks my language or any language at all, waiting for the toilet key, waiting for something you have already forgotten, I look at the cash register in front of my eyes. It's old, gray, and it's glowing blue display reads 13:19. Somehow it looks like one of those bombs in movies, where James Bond then cuts a single random wire and everything is fine.

As the man behind the bar, in no hurry, calls his wife and treats another customer, I stare at the cash register display. The minutes become sharp-edged shrapnels, piercing everything around me, my thin skin a last fragment of personhood that hardly dares to oppose them, each second seems to hurt, my body just a relic from better days. But the display remains the same: 13:19

What the heck, can my sense of time really be mangled to such a degree? I stand in confused astonishment, staring at the display.

That poor guy behind the counter, I think to myself, I shouldn't stress him so much, my time structure has fallen apart, it seems, minutes become a whole eternity while children's laughter and a woman's voice come from the back of a room somewhere behind the bar.

I'm certain this will take a while, I understand the elements too well. Most of the time you already know it as soon as you enter a place - be it a bar, a supermarket, a hotel - whether it'll be quick or whether you have to be patient. Every time I get off my bike a clock starts ticking in my head and some days the ticking becomes a tinny beat, on others an efficient, precise tick tick, like an egg timer or a bomb. Just like James Bond then tries to cut the right wire so that everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, so that everything goes on, red, green or the blue one after all?- So I try, often desperately, to do the right things, to develop a mysterious formula to move forward as quickly as possible, to get back on the bike as quickly as possible, or even to go to bed as quickly as possible, to take a shower in a rush.The process in the hotel room always the same, arriving, undressing, charging electronic devices, realizing that you don't have a WiFi password or that there is no WiFi anyway despite a password, stuffing something to eat into your mouth while moving your aching body towards the shower.

Then the moment when the beating, the ticking suddenly appears to stop, for a short instance a sensation of warmth mixed with streaks of dirt, sometimes blood, sometimes grey, sometimes muddy brown, sometimes black.

A baptism when the warm water runs over your head, over your burning face with closed eyes and you forget your name for a moment, the wires, the ticking, everything calm, everything new, everything flows.

13:19, impossible, my daydream of a salvational shower abruptly turns into a sharp pain deep down in my stomach. I would like to scream at the man, but I'm too weak and too polite, after all it's not his fault that I chose this misery for myself. He remains unimpressed by my telephone gesture, something I thought would be internationally valid but he doesn't seem to understand, nor remember the phone call, where I tried to explain how I desperately need a room asap, every word a mix of broken English and something that was supposed to sound like Italian, at least that's what I hoped, but apparently, it didn't.

I leave, annoyed but with sincere respect walking past two elderly women, towards my bike where I have a look at my phone.

13:35 it says and I smile, I knew it, it couldn't be true, time doesn't stand still for so long, only for the blink of an eye, sometimes, when you don't pay attention, under a shower, with tiny pieces of raw soil between your toes, and everything flows, but this one was too obvious.

I feel a ticking next to my temples, next to my tired smile and I push my bike out of the bar, looking for the right wire, the right hotel. On the other side of the road a man waves out of a window, making the international gesture for “telephone” and while I push my bike across the street, the ticking starts to fade. The blue wire, I think, it's always the blue wire. And everything goes on.


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