THE UN­DER­TAKER

Back Street Heroes - - STAR LETTER -

Back when an old hearse car­ried spare mo­tor­cy­cle parts for West Coun­try

Bik­ers, one fate­ful night heavy brak­ing killed the un­der­taker as the heavy metal crushed him against his wheel.

How much of one’s life is found in pud­dles?

The calm, still wa­ter re­flects all that is beau­ti­ful, dis­tant stars, the moon, the pas­sage of clouds, street lights glow or­ange in its cold em­brace.

We gaze into them when love is lost, we gaze into them afresh when new love found, and mar­vel at the shim­mer­ing pat­terns, seek­ing clues and signs that her­ald a fu­ture.

Clear and fresh, with new be­gin­nings, but there are no fresh starts in life, we are a part of all we have been and know.

And so through these false mir­rors the Un­der­taker creeps, heavy tyres shat­ter the

sur­face, de­stroy the dreams, mov­ing the oa­sis to a new tar­mac dell where oth­ers can gaze into its shal­low depths to read false mes­sages and way­ward signs.

Fac­ing re­al­ity is hard so, as the hearse glides through the arch, we feel the shiver of our own mor­tal­ity strike like a ham­mer as, oh so softly, so gen­tly, our lives ebb away and be­come shad­ows, a re­proach for all we might have done and been.

The silk, black body gen­tly moves with mes­meris­ing growl, and purrs a mel­low note of me­nace that be­lies the wal­nut dash, and rich leather seats that give il­lu­sions of se­cu­rity. Up­front the greased black hair, the im­pas­sive eyes, be­neath hooked brows carry death, dis­mem­bered parts of what was whole, gen­tly rest in oil, and await their res­ur­rec­tion not by the hands of Christ,

but by those who shun his name.

So through an­cient lanes the old hearse creaks its metal load, old sprock­ets, cogs, rear fend­ers, and the like, greased chains, head­lamp shells, and rims.

Each part car­ries the ghost of those who rode the mother bike, who found in life that for­tune swiftly turns, death is shock­ing – un­planned and so abrupt. And bike crash car­nage seems the worst, where all the friends and patches in the world can­not dis­guise the bru­tal truth.

Fi­nally draw­ing up be­neath the creak­ing sign, the Green Man lies be­neath the moon.

Furtive shad­ows reach into the steely depths, trade their wares, then van­ish back into the pa­gan throng.

The Un­der­taker moves, the crunch of gravel ob­scures the screech of slid­ing metal, cig­a­rette glow­ing faintly, the

pur­veyor of death ac­cel­er­ates into the night. More power, metal shifts, more pace as he cranks the gears, more speed as hurtling through the high-banked sunken lanes, sweat drips from his brood­ing brow.

Mo­men­tum moves apace, the dead weight moves and screams against the rac­ing steed as hurled through corners, dry earth show­ers, and sparks fly out be­hind as speed and power all con­sumes.

The dif­fer­en­tial shrieks its tor­ment as rusted car­bu­ret­tors des­per­ately suck air to feed fuel-starved lungs, the wind­screen blazes sil­ver as sprock­ets slide and roar, scream­ing tyres leave their tor­tured rims, and over­shoot ‘Wicked Cor­ner’.

Tear­ing, rend­ing Satan’s laugh­ter – ob­scene, hys­ter­i­cal, all per­vad­ing he joins his load.

MARK PINCHIN

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