with apologies to Ogden Nash...
Man I'd love to know the, uh, "context" of that picture! Mr. G., do you know things that you aren't saying?
No idea, sorry. One of several sent to me. I understand this was part of a set of "postcards" included in a Classic Motor Cycle magazine decades ago. I posted it simply because it feels like snow today. You're welcome to invent a story though!
Thank you, I shall. Chapter 1:The legless but indomitable Captain Doakes had, of urgent necessity, left his wheelchair behind during the rout of Komsomolsk-upon-Amur. When the fleeing garrison paused eventually to catch its collective breath, the captain skipped nimbly on frost-blackened knuckles to an idling "combination" whose pilot was taking solace in a brew-up and an "officers only" factory-rolled cigarette.Such were Doakes's powers of persuasion -- comprising, in equal part, his badge of rank and his inborn sense of natural entitlement -- that "Cece" Hanrahan, the despatch rider (as his own insignia revealed him to be), agreed immediately, though more or less unintelligibly, in the ghastly guttural ape-speech of Donegal, to carry him in the machine's sidecar.In motion once more, his manly buttocks well ajounce with every rut and boulder they encountered, the captain snorted almost happily. This was his first motorcycle ride; but, as we shall see, it would hardly be his last. [Continued overleaf]
I'm waiting for the overleaf! That's quite the picture you've painted...
Oh, I'm definitely subscribing to this too !
Though nearly numb from the constant hammering of the rocky goat path on the bottom of the poorly sprung sidecar in which he rode Captain Doakes could feel the prodding of the revolver on his thigh. It had taken some time to get used to the sidearm, preferring his gold plated sabre, a gift from his father on the day of his commission, but that had now become a metal insult, its grand length mocking the diminutive stubs of his legs. Hard enough commanding from a sitting position,he would not have the sword dragging in arrears like the hind leg of a lame dog. He touched the pistol lightly, taking some comfort from its heft, but that comfort was matched by a discomfort. A discomfort caused by an imbalance due to the shortage of cartridges in the off-side of his belt. He thought back over the travails of the last three days, it was not the spent cartridges but the spent lives that gripped his jaw. The squadron had lost many men, good and true, in that campaign, not least his own beloved batman, Percy. The thought of a future without his valet and confidant (and even friend) began to moisten the captain's eye.Having no use for emotion Doakes forced his concentration away from such thought. The clattering,smoking cacophony next to his right ear was an easy distraction. He wasn't enamored of mechanical travel, preferring the horse of a gentleman. Ironic, considering that at horseback is how he had lost his legs. It was a bullet from a Hun rifle that shattered his left leg on it's way to piercing the chest of his regal white mount and companion, Hannibal. Mercifully, the gallant beast died instantly but in falling crushed the rider's right leg and rendered him unconscious. Two and a half feverish months in hospital had resulted in the amputation of both gangrenous legs(and some would say what little good humor Doakes possessed) and required every bit of intestinal fortitude he could muster to avoid the despair and self pity of his ward mates, some of whom had simply given in and taken the coward's path. He would not be one of them and through sheer will fought his way out of the medical unit and (figuratively) stepped on anyone in his way until he had convinced the war department that he deserved to be returned to his command.For the second time in as many minutes Captain Doakes shook away thoughts of reminiscence - useless thoughts since he could no more change the past than he could affect the rising and setting of the sun. The very sun which now, obscured behind a leaden sky, processed unerringly across the firmament taunting him with the advance of time, an element over which he had no control and of which he a distinct want. Doakes looked again at the iron contraption propelling him along and, appreciating the speed of travel began to realize that despite the smoke and din this was in fact a useful tool - and perhaps subconsciously compared the iron beast to his own iron personality. Noticing the subtle and deft control input by the experienced hand of dispatch rider Hanrahan, the captain realized that despite its foreboding odors and sounds the motorcycle could be just another puzzle set before him, seemingly mysterious as the Latin texts of his schoolboy days and just as simple when the key is found. Yes, much like bending his mind and body to the mastery of marksmanship when it became necessary Doakes could see the usefulness of this machine. He preferred the quieter travel of horseback, but now welcomed the speed of internal combustion in the pursuit of this errand, upon whose outcome rode the very lives of every man in the garrison behind him.To be continued in our next edition.
Nearly an hour of steady riding through the barren snow fields above the tree line were taking a toll on despatch rider Cece Hanrahan. Lacking the protective windshield and body of the sidecar on his near-side he could scarcely feel his toes, and his fingers were all but wooden twigs with which he barely controlled the motorcycle combination carrying him and Captain Doakes up the mountain. With miles to go before even cresting the summit and many more before they would descend to a more temperate altitude,he was suspicious upon spying a hut near the road and seeing the wisp of smoke from the chimney suspected himself of inventing a mirage. But no mirage it was, and both men were tempted to prostrate themselves before the shed of salvation as they were so close to succumbing to the frigid temperature that it seemed to have been set here by a higher power. Wishing nothing more than to stumble directly into the glorious warmth awaiting inside the shack Hanrahan knew that the legless Captain in the sidecar would be nearly helpless without his aid and though he could barely move his numb legs he gingerly lifted Doakes from the sidecar as if he were his own brother, not a superior officer who had forced him to discard the first cigarette and hot tea he had seen in days to take up this hellish journey. For this was the way he had been taught. A proper up-bringing by his too-soon deceased mother had instilled in him a respect for all living things - even self important officers.Staggering under the weight of his passenger and the fatigue of too many days of fighting Hanrahan approached the door and with no free hand regretfully rapped on it with his booted foot. Months of war had left him with no real knowledge of where he was in the world, he only knew he was far from home and he hoped that his bedraggled appearance and some meager hand gestures would convey the need of life-giving warmth and shelter. But when the door was opened by a small child the heavenly whispers of warmth were accompanied by an even more faint whisper of a familiar scent. Scientists tell us that the sense of smell is most closely related to memory and this smell, though faint was distinctly and immediately transmitted to his brain and he knew that the two half frozen travelers would be welcomed as countrymen, for the delicious odor was none other than the unmistakable scent of a boiling pudding.And another memory hit Cece Hanrahan like the blow of a blacksmith's hammer. A memory lost in the horrors of war came crashing back to him. Today's date - for today, he suddenly realized, was the twenty-fifth of December - Christmas Day.
... For it was on a Christmas morning dark and drear, a cheerless sunless snowless sopping forenoon of copious gelid rain that froze the orphan and the carthorse alike, that the High Court -- convened in special session despite the holiday, with Judge Dyre presiding -- had presented the doughty half-corporal's mother with a verdict (Guilty) and a sentence (Ninety-nine Years' Hard Labor, to be served at the infamous Arctic Circle Banana Farm Project, and that to be followed by her Public Hanging with No Pants On). Poor Cece, only twelve years of age at the time, had never had an opportunity to make amends to the saintly hag for throwing a glass of whisky in her face.
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