by James R. Tomlinson
O’Malley’s leathery hands tremble more than ever, the interference in his head keeps time, counterclockwise, with his infirm grip of the throttle. He’s awash in the blue cataracted hue of flashing chrome. He slows down, but doesn’t stop. Not now. He leans into the handle bars, his down-turned helmet deflecting the oncoming dirt.
The squad car follows, its siren blaring, flanked by paramedics.
O’Malley loves the silence. He ditched his hearing aid minutes earlier. “I’m not deaf,” he screams at his daughter. “You needn’t shout,” she yells back. “Mummy,” he whimpers, “too much mumbo-jumbo.” Then he dismisses her with the wave of his hand—a non-symbolic gesture for curbing him like a piece of broken furniture.
“What do you mean, he’s gone? I just visited him,” she says.
The nursing home director explains their preventive measures. “Several alarms went off. Someone had’t’ve helped him.”
“On a motorbike? You mean like a scooter?”
O’Malley’s confused; he thinks he’s on a dirt bike, on a dirt path, tearing up the earth. He has to poop.
“Actually, I’ve got two bikes, Mr. O’Malley,” the healthcare intern says after changing bedpans. “The one outside your window and another one in my parent’s garage. I’m just doing this to defray the expense of motocross racing.”
“You’ve got quite a grip, Mr. O’Malley.”
His forearm weakens. He believes he’s near the finish line.
“You okay?” the policeman asks.
The paramedics wheel out a stretcher.
“I didn’t make it,” he cries.
[James R. Tomlinson teaches for the Michigan Department of Corrections. His writing has appeared in the Pebble Lake Review, Glass Fire Magazine, and Foliate Oak Online. A flash fiction story will appear in NANO Fiction this fall. He keeps a journal at jrthumbprints.blogspot.com.]