by Peter Lingard

Run, run, run, fucking run. I’m not sure what the word ‘fucking’ means, but I’ve heard people use it with what seemed like desperation, especially the dad. If I don’t want to sit here cogitating, my only option is to get into the wheel and run round and round. Actually, I stay in place while the wheel revolves, but if I close my eyes I can imagine the wheel is stationary and I am circling the globe. The places I’ve been!

If the kids are playing music, I run to the beat of some rock group whose spot in the limelight is only going to last for about two weeks. But two weeks is a long time when all you do is run in the wheel, or sit and cogitate. The grandfather’s classical music is not conducive to running; it doesn’t have the right beat for me. The parents’ tunes are all right. The kids call them golden oldies. I wonder if I’ve ever known any golden oldies? I mean, I’m golden and whomever I once knew would definitely be old by now. Do I have any kids? I suppose there’s not much point in thinking about it if I can’t remember crawling onto some cutie’s back. I’m not even sure if that’s what one should do. The kids and the parents stand front to front, go lip to lip and twist their heads about.

The grandfather, like me, has no action at all. His music is good for squatting down and looking out of the window that is close to the other side of my cage. I gaze at the garden while cymbals clash and cannons roar in the corner of the room. I try to recall days when I might have been free in the garden. Did I ever run and soak up the sun and eat bugs and keep an eye out for cats and dogs. Those cats look like vicious creatures. At least I don’t have to worry about them getting to me in this cage.

If I was once free and ate bugs and clutched onto cuties’ backs, how did I end up in here? Given the attention I get from the family I live with, I find it difficult to imagine they searched for me. That would indicate an interest on their part in who I am. At least the woman feeds me regularly. I’d kill for a fresh juicy beetle. Who am I kidding? What do I know of killing? It’s all the television I watch from the end of the cage. The kids like shows in which sex and death are featured. They also watch MTV which makes me take to the wheel, which, in turn, makes the kids laugh. “There he goes again.”

The mum and dad watch sports and news and programs they call docos. Boring. My favourite television times are when the family watches travelogues. I think of the places I’ve seen on the screen when I close my eyes and run in the wheel. The grandfather just watches whatever’s on the screen. When he enjoys something, he pesters the others to watch it. If they are too slow or too disinterested to turn their attention to the screen in time, he regales them with infinite detail of the piece they missed. Consequently, they lie. “Saw it gramps.” “Saw it dad.” Old ‘gramps’ knows they lie and it makes him sad. His sadness sends me to the wheel. Round and round. He’s sick. I think only he and I know he’s dying. Some days, I run for him. I run to let him know I care.

And when the dad went away and the mum broke down and cried, I ran for a very long time. I ran until the friction blistered my paws.

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Peter Lingard
When a youngster, Peter Lingard told his mother many fantastic tales of intrepid adventures enjoyed by him and his friends. She always said, “Go tell it to the Marines”. When he asked why, she said, “They’ve been everywhere and done everything, so they’ll want to hear about what you’ve been up to.” Of course, Peter joined the Royal Marines as soon as he was old enough and now has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of tales to tell. He has had 300+ stories and poems published, as well as having many pieces aired on Radio NAG, Queensland and 4RPH, Brisbane. Professional actors have performed some of his poetry and he has appeared as a guest on Southern FM’s program ‘Write Now’ to read and discuss his work. He recited and chatted about some of his poems on 3CR’s ‘Spoken Word’ and had a monthly spot on 3WBC (94.1FM) to read his tales. Contact him at plingaus@bigpond.com

4 thoughts on “Wheelies

  1. Wind In The Willows whimsy with a tinge of melancholy. Tasty! Which reminds me, early Egyptians raised hamsters for food. Things could be worse–or could they? AGB

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