Beng Kidney is just like you. He rides for the lifestyle and to stay ahead of the shadow of the existential wave that looms above, cresting from the asphalt and shimmering with the screens of smartphones.

There’s a little Kidney in us all.

There’s a part of crashing that I enjoy, which is fortunate, because I tend to crash a lot. Once the shrieking blur of motion settles you can look up at the canopy or down into the dirt with clarity, feeling the intimacy of the still earth.

For the instant you’re unhurt and disassociated you lie above yourself, with silence pressing the pain away. A tiny beetle crawls over a tiny flower in your tiny little world.

I try to milk this moment for as long as the internal chemistry allows, trying to soak in the detail of a twig or a grubby seagull overhead.

But the sickness comes eventually, deep in the gut, and the pains worm their way into the mind from multiple angles.

Immediately you’ll have to unwrap your leg from around some witches root, or untie the reef knot that you’ve formed with your bike. Gently, slowly, rediscovering each limb and joint, testing for the blunt, powerful pain of a snapped bone, slight flexions and extensions, and when the primary survey is complete you can sit up, grimacing for pain or effect.

Now your friends are gathered around, cracking up and calling you a penis. Feeling a bit green, blood oozes from your knee and elbow, but you straighten your bars and wobble off down the trail.

Small traumas are good for the health, demystifying violence and pain which otherwise swirl in a frenzy of extreme media that colours the impression that injury and death play in abstract concert, that a man can be either healthy or ruined. They conduct the systemic symphony that slows time, recruits muscle and redistributes your special fluids.

They fortify us in modest increments (and we are modest people), and show us small parts of the reality of ourselves (including our secret meats).

Around the plughole the water turns pink as the wounds are reopened with gentle scrubbing. They screech as antiseptic bites into the exposed nerve tips. Blood peeks through multiple dressings and sticks to my jeans.

Next time I’ll wear my fucking kneepads.

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