een thinking of Athos a lot recently, the oldest, wisest, drunkest, and darkest of the famous Musketeers. In the recent BBC adaptation, Athos is played handily Tom Burke, who might be a wee bit young and drunk on demand. No, for my money, it was Oliver Reed back in the 70s who hit it on the head, portraying the man who’d once been the Count de la Fère before he’d hung his wife for the thief she was and sank into low-class oblivion as a lowly musketeer. There have been other Athoses of course, including John Malkovich, which is all I’ll say about that.
I love the character, frankly. In fact, all the Musketeers work for me – they are the perfect balance of heroes. But Athos I identify with for reasons I don’t quite get. I guess I connect with having a moody backstory and wish I could be more like him (silently dealing with emotions and the past, rather than blogging openly about it as is the way of the twenty-first century). He is the glue that holds that entire literary world together.
All of these thoughts would have beneath even blogging about had I not dreamed of my late father last night. The dream was long and vivid and strange and disturbing. The thing was, when I did wake, while I was feeding my yowling cat and putting on my bike clothes, I thought it over more. I suppose saddling a horse before a somewhat dangerous mission gives a hero time to reflect, as did I as I settled my saddlebags over my rear carrier and slipped on my gloves and helmet. Suddenly I was looking at the sum of my relationship with my old man, which never quite reached the level of understanding I’d desired. We watched movies together and cofounded a club that is still around twenty-five years later, but we just didn’t click. At least, it didn’t click in that Hollywood way.
I rode along dawn-hinted streets, silent aside from the clicking and creaking of my aged Cannondale. I fingered that feeling in my mind, that thought if my dad and all the small disappointments of our relationship. Time to think without a radio, without the rush of vehicular commute, just an aging man with his thoughts. Hooked south onto Ferncreek to meet my young co-rider and here he came, helloing to me, serpentining in traffic in dark clothing and no running lights. My d’Artagnan, I suppose. And yes, I felt old, but like Athos, I felt comfortable in my place.
Just backstory. Just ghosts.