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 THE BAG

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PostSubject: THE BAG   Mon 31 Aug 2015, 10:19

THE BAG
by
PETER "SLACKBLADDER" MORGAN



Too much confidence can be a major handicap

Waking one morn, about a week ago, I decided to spend my hard-earned wealth on a project long dear to my heart. With a new house come new possibilities, and with the discovery of a sturdy hook in the garage opportunity beckoned.

A punch bag.

Permission granted, I was told to bring something back so as to not waste a trip. Then another item was added. And another. And another. Now furnished with a list, ever growing whenever a biro or pencil came within arms length of my dear mother, I was sent on my way.
Due to my unwillingness to part with mucho beer-tokens, I do not run a car. Public transport being a marvellous if unpredictable asset, I made my way into town. I spent the first hour scouring the city for minor yet time-consuming items. Furnished with methys, plugs, a broadband promotional pamphlet and twine, I stuffed them into various pockets on my coat and congratulated myself on having the genius to wear one despite the pleasantly warm climate.
Making a stop at the bank to withdraw enough green paper to appease the owner of the sports shop I was planning on making a purchase from, I strode forth…
I had had dealings with this fellow before. Roughly a year ago I foolishly tried to barter with him over the cost of a book. I was £1 short of the £11 he was asking and I thought that the odd quid less would not damage him too much. He chased me out of the shop without pausing to hear my apologies and slammed the door shut on me as I left. But that was years ago and I was confident he would not recognise me. Even so, bartering was not on the agenda.

It is roughly a mile from the bus station to said shop, as it lies outside the main shopping district which I covered in roughly quarter of an hour. Walking the final furlong of my pilgrimage to sports Mecca, I was just in time to watch the owner lock up and walk away. Lunch time, then. Perched upon a narrow ledge, leaning against a precariously thin Perspex window, I awaited his return. Some ten minutes of introspection and a procession of blonde single mothers later, the owner returned and ushered me in.
The shop is a piece of work in itself. Housed in lower floor of an old terraced housing (think narrow, cramped and small.) he had a warehouse load of stuff crammed inside. Sports gear was stacked to the ceiling, smaller items dangled from a mass of hooks that hung like a curved cloud from the plaster. There is so little floor space available to walk on, you can only take two paces into the premises before being halted by a wall of gear. If Aladdin’s cave exists on this world, then this must surely be it. I love it so much.

He enquired as to my business and I informed him with no small amount of gusto that I would like to purchase a punch bag. His face lit up and he clambered onto his merchandise to mountaineer his way around me. Arriving at the densely packed column of punch bags, he pointed out one or two that might fit my requirements. I laid my eyes upon a mighty, leather clad behemoth and asked “How much?” And lo, the answer that returned was most agreeable to my wallet. He practically skipped around the room clapping his hands, but could not because that would mean he would plunge to almost certain death, impaled upon the hockey sticks. Instead, he channelled this pleasure into a free set of boxing mitts. Then he asked –
“Have you got a car outside?”
I scoffed: “I can’t afford that. Driving is an expensive hobby. I’ll carry it home, no worries.”
He looked at me, unsure of my ability to impersonate a Sherpa. I simply returned an encouraging smile. After the gent kindly put the future vessel of all my stress and fury into a black plastic liner and with the chains safely secured in place, I picked up my charge and squeezed out of the door. Sadly, the door was not quite wide enough, so I had to push the cargo through the doorway and reload on the pavement. With The Bag slung over my shoulder, I walked away at a merry jaunt, aware of the stares I was attracting.

Some distance down the road, unpleasant memories of the “How to Move Things Safely” course I had been on resurfaced. Amongst the stultifyingly dull, banal images we were shown was a rather graphic demonstration of spinal mechanics. Chief amongst the warnings we were given was this truism “Always keep your back straight”, immediately followed by pictures of a man snapping a plastic spine by bending it this way and that. Aware that the way I was forced to carry The Bag made my back about as straight as Robert Maxwell’s tax return as well as exposing it to extreme weight, I was now very concerned for my impending future in the “Nurses Hotel” otherwise known as the back-pain clinic. Stopping to shed my burden for a few moments, I looked back to see that the distance covered was far less than I had thought. As opposed to the 400-metre mark I would have estimated, two hundred metres covered would be a generous estimate. I adopted a nonchalant stance and leaned on The Bag, trying not to look too knackered in case somebody I knew drove past. Gathering my energies once more, I picked up The Bag and walked another 100 yards. This time the urge to stop was stronger, and a sheen of sweat now covered my brow. Cursing my stupidity to wear a coat on such a warm day, I gritted my teeth and staggered another 100 yards. Now visibly knackered, I was a breathless, red-faced, sweaty mess. I had another kilometre of this to go and I was already suffering. I was stranded in a highly undesirable area where people get stabbed on a weekly basis with a hugely heavy load and in no way, shape or form, fit to defend myself if somebody wanted to relive me of my burden. Spurred by this motivation to “Move it or lose it”, be it The Bag or my vital signs, I hefted the dread Bag onto my shoulder and shuffled a pathetic 50 yards.
Ahead of me lay a most formidable obstacle. I had to descend a flight of steps, travel through an underpass known locally as “Mugger Central” and trudge up a wheelchair access slope at the other end. I glared malevolently at the steps headed toward hell and grew angry at the refusal of passers-by to lend me a hand. Here I was, a 20-year-old skinhead huffing and puffing with a heavy package wrapped in heavy plastic and not a soul in the world took pity. Damn them all. I grasped my load and awkwardly descended, aware of my spine and the long descent should I trip and fall. Having The Bag land on me at the bottom would be fine punctuation at the end of a long joke.

Few people are aware of the man known as Atlas. In Greek myth, as punishment for his sins he was made to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders for the rest of eternity. I now share a brotherly bond with this fellow, as I am quite sure that the weight of The Bag is a close match for that of Mother Earth. However, he was built like a “brick privy” whereas I look as though I was carved from a matchstick. In all, I think I have him beaten in terms of both endurance and suffering.

Distressing wobbles from The Bag interrupted this train of thought. Hurriedly balancing it upon the handrail, I caught my breath and gathered my wits. I descended the rest of the stairs in a manner that can only be described as a “controlled stumble”. Depositing my burden upon the floor, I surveyed the area with a weary eye. The graffiti-covered gauntlet lay ahead. Home to many sudden transactions of cash leaving one party richer and the other wetter, I was apprehensive. Fortune smiled upon me that day and cleared her diary of muggings and other travesties upon my person. The subway was clear and I was alone with The Bag. This was good, and it was also bad.
Struggling for each desperate yard of distance, I began to realise that carrying The Bag the extra kilometre was a distant dream. Even if I made it to the bus stop alive, I still had a lengthy trek to my front door from the nearest stop. The situation was now desperate. Time to make a phone call home for a lift.
I patted my pockets and moved into a progressive whole-body search. My ever-present mobile phone, the thing that hangs uselessly from my waist every day “just in case”, was at home. Wonderful.

Never mind, I thought. There’s always the payphone, when you can find one.

With this thought spurring me onward, I picked up The Bag and traversed a short distance in the breathless, wheezy fashion of those who are forced to carry a heavy oxygen tent. After the trudge up a slope that would have challenged a mountain goat, I lost all control of fine motor function and dropped The Bag on the floor, uncaring of the voluminous traffic that taunted me with their capacity to shop for heavy loads without having to train for six months beforehand. I wanted to cry, but my body was now holding onto every drop of water it could get, so no tears would come. I was at least 600 yards distant from the nearest phone I could think of and I had no idea how I was going to get there. Grasping at straws, I decided that a good friend or family member would spot me in my hour of need at any moment. I sat upon The Bag and patiently waited for this inevitable event. After 30 seconds of no-show, doubt began to infuse my mind. Was it possible that NOBODY I knew was driving through this section of road today? What the blazes were they playing at? Why were they not here when I needed them? I looked away from the road, half hoping that a car would pull up and a familiar voice call my name by surprise, but to my shock this did not happen.

Casting my sullen gaze about, I spotted a marvellous thing. An interesting thing about desperation is that it gives the sufferer 20/20 vision. I saw a payphone through the open door of a bar, in an unlit corner, at 150 yards. I could make out the keypad.

Joy

Relief

Rapture

Peculiarly, it was at this moment of true ecstasy that clarity was granted also. Flashes of realisation came to me with each beat of my palpitating heart…

BOOM - I had just moved house…
BOOM - My home phone number has changed…
BOOM - The phone will be connected tomorrow…
BOOM – Tomorrow…
BOOM – Dumbass…

I now know how a man dying of thirst in the desert feels when he finds oasis closed for maintenance. I had this beast; this monstrosity clad in the hide of a cow; this punishment for some unimaginably terrible sin I will surely commit in the future; this leaden weight manacled to me by the fact I had paid for it; this Bag; and I had to get it home. Not a lifeline to clutch to, not a straw to grasp, not a stroke of luck.

Then, like a vision from Heaven, the most divine thing crossed my sight. A taxi borne upon a cloud of providence sailed past me, the fare sat in the back reading a newspaper and looking smug. I cared not. The seed had been planted for an idea of breathtaking audacity. I was going to call for a cab with the phone I can see from here. Genius.
With the strength of the insane, I half-dragged, half rolled The Bag toward the phone, gibbering the numbers of local taxi firms as I went. Arriving with surprising haste at the entrance to the bar, I shoved and heaved The Bag into a corner and stood there, head thrown back in triumph and basking in the luxury that is air conditioning. In a voice that has hitherto been the sole property of fugitives and cigar-chomping comedians, I asked if I could use the phone. Wary of the fool wearing a heavy coat on such a lovely day, carrying a hugely suspicious package and possessor of a face redder and wetter than a super-tanker made by Ferrari, the barkeep nodded his approval.

Muttering an endless mantra of taxi numbers, I stabbed carefully at the keypad with a crooked finger and smeared my forehead against the wallpaper to clear my sight.
“Ted’s Taxis”
“Hello! I’d like a taxi to pick me up from the-”
“Hello?”
(louder) “Hello! I’d like a taxi please-”
“Is anybody there?”
“Yes! I’d like a taxi from the-”
Click.

I screeched my fury at the defective handset and waved it angrily in the air, drawing breath to hurl heinous insults at the device that offered such hope yet snatched it away from my very grasp. How dare it! How dare it draw me this close to home only to deny me at the final hurdle! Deciding upon the best way to punish this beastly, horrid thing so as to save the next poor soul from the heartbreak I had just experienced, a small voice in the corner of my mind spoke quickly whilst my fury was winding up for the final assault.

Money.

Muh-Nee.

Put a coin in the slot, ya dingbat.

With an arm raised to dash out the brains of this electronic tormentor, I froze and a small delirious laugh escaped my lips. With a crazed smile firmly attached to my face, I dialled the number and put the coin in the slot, just like the man said. A moment later, a taxi was ordered and I was at the beginning of the end. Home was now only minutes away rather than hours. In 30 minutes, I could be drinking fluids. Magic.
With the bemused expression that accompanies dehydration and exhaustion, I sank to the floor and beamed happily at the oak panelling that lay opposite me. The taxi driver was very understanding and even dragged The Bag into his car for me. I arrived home, gave the saviour of the day a tip and contemplated what I had learned from the days happenings.

The lesson is this: Ants are strong little beggars. Give them the respect they deserve.

_________________
Check Six,
Den
=======
Dennis Martin
----------------
DenCQB@Yahoo.co.uk
Website WWW.CQBServices.com
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