I wore a bright green pinafore dress.

StoryKettle » QUAINT » Six‑Oh‑Ate

Copyright © 2021, Michael M Wayman

It’s a long way, days, weeks, months even. Over four thousand kilometres, you know. And the rubber pads in my feet have worn out; I’ll have to replace them. My solar-brolly is real useful, it keeps my head from overheating and the solar cells charge my batteries; I just plug it in on top of my head.

I can see Fatland at last, on the other side of the bridge, I’ve reached the border. To get across the border is not easy – you need papers and money and I don’t have either. I normally walk around each border control point; but here I can’t. The border is right down there, in the ravine, along the river – there’s just this high bridge to cross and there’s the problem: the captain of the Fatland border guards.

The captain of the Fatland border guards was nasty, evil and hateful – he did not want papers – he wanted money, and lots of it. He shouted at me, I was the ugliest human being that he had ever seen. I did not correct him. It got bad, he tried to hit me. It got worse, I threw him over the parapet – feeding time for the crocodiles, or are they alligators.

And then something odd happened: all the border guards, from both countries, came up to me, one at a time and shook my hand. They sung, they shouted, they waved me on my way. And before I could forget:

Six‑Oh‑Ate:  Loading New Culture – Trafalgar Cone – Portuguese

I was expecting big, large, grandiose buildings separated by wide avenues and green parks; but no, there were slums, kilometre after kilometre. I persevered, I reached the big, large, grandiose buildings etc. in the afternoon. However I go no further, too many human beings, too much illumination, I’ll come back later in the dark. First find a base where I can fix my feet and do other repairs.

I quickly found what I was looking for: there was an old man repairing bicycles sitting outside an old hut. He was straightening a front wheel, it was mounted upside down in some old front forks, the other end of the forks was embedded in a chunk of concrete. It was not easy – you really need more than two hands to do this. I knelt down in front of him and then there were five hands – much faster.

I learnt that his name was señor Herrero, I cooked him goulash on a small bottled gas burner, I was his new assistant. He mended bicycles and sometimes made whole bicycles – there was a big pile of broken and mangled bikes – he had a small bed in his hut. I sat outside on the wooden bench and waited for a quieter part of the night.

I found it, the House of the Deputies was not far. I decided to discover the building from the inside, I pulled open a ventilation grate and I was soon in the middle. But first me, get myself in order and learn how to fix bikes.

Señor Herrero showed me how to cut a car tyre to make replacement pads for my feet. I made a steel covering plate to hide my stomach configuration switches and bolted it into place. A bit of oil and a bit of adjustment and I was in top form. “I’ll be back soon.”