our of Macao, 1974.An interminable fortnight of racing in the malarial, South-Pacific heat. The first rest day offers me and the lads much needed respite, a chance to lick our wounds and to plan for the days ahead.
“Damage report, Ensign.”
“’M’fraid we lost four last stage, Cap’n. Two to the trots wot they picked up from the raw pork noodle vendor you ‘ad stationed at the feed zone, one wot lost his racing rig (frame, fork and sinker) to the old birds wot control the Mah Jong tables down near the pier, and one to the trannys in the red light district . ‘Twas ‘orrible, Cap’n. I saw the whole thing. They ate ‘im alive. All that was left was his epaulets, and even those was chewed on a bit.”
Damn this race. And damn these men. Tomorrow at sunrise the team time trial awaits us, and I’m one limey short of a full quart of sherbet.
“Bugger all. We line up regardless, chums. Three stalwart Englishmen are worth seven Jerrys on a bad day, bugger the UCI.”
But the UCI is a harsh, syphilis-ridden mistress.
“Four riders at zee line, or you do not race, Mr. Bond.”
Hopes, shattered. Dreams, rapidly fading. My flat in Blackpool, in arrears. But wait? What is that clamor?
From out of nowhere rides a man. A man whose pallor and expertly groomed mustache embodies 3400 years of British inbreeding. He rides his hijacked rickshaw like a man possessed, as if Old Nick himself were wheelsucking his very soul. As he rounds the corner, rear wheels drifting, I spy his pursuers: A katana-wielding opium dealer and a three-legged Madam, both crouched low behind the windscreen of their Honda Helix. The Madam screams, goads the opium dealer to twist the throttle to its’ stops, yet the pale demon impossibly pulls away.
“Dear God,” I hear myself exclaim. “Who is that man?”
With neither thought nor logic I call to the race official:
“Here’s our fourth, Fritz. We’ll see you in hell!”
The lads and I jump as he comes along, barely latching on to the wheels of his pandemonius pedicab. It’s as if we are being dragged behind the chariot of mad Phoebus Apollo, desperate to hasten the onset of the next sunrise. The red kite flag passes overhead like the Angel of Death. And then it is done. As we cross the line, victorious, I shout.
“ Who are you, moustachioed messiah?”
His voice, more gravel than asphalt, answers:
“Admiral Richard Longpour: Twice decorated, thrice disgraced.”
Not stopping to receive the spoils of his most recent palmares, Longpour continues as if on rails, careening his purloined pedicab into the front window of the nearest tavern. Amid the crunch of splintering bamboo I hear him declare,
“Barkeep! Pour me an Admiral Longpour! And make her a double!”
- 1 Box (3.75L) Cheap Red Wine (yolks separated)
- 1 Can (18oz) Original FourLoko Cranberry Lemonade
- 2 Tbsp Spirulina
- 4 Lines single-origin Colombian espresso (administered rectally)
- 15 Hours NPR per week (Terry Gross recommended. Substitute Jad Abumrad when not available)
- 1 Bad assitude