Merry Christmas Eve, friends. I hope this evening finds you all blessed with love and family. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, due to several reasons that I won’t bore you with, but hopefully you aren’t holding it against me.
I’ve had my supper consisting of grilled cheese, sweet pickles, and Classic Lays potato chips, which coincidentally is not pregnancy related. It’s just the way I roll. I’ve got a steaming cup of hot cocoa excluding marshmallows beside my computer, the Christmas tree is aglow, the presents are wrapped, the pie remains unbaked and I have a Saturday story to share with you written by my dad in September of 1996.
The weather was seasonably cool as I started my morning run. The Doctor had told me to exercise a little bit, so I had started to do a small bit of roadwork.
I had been immobile for the last three weeks due to a summer cold. A medico that I saw on morning television had said there was no such thing as a summer cold, only allergies. Well, I know the difference between allergies and a summer cold, and Doc, I had a summer cold.
I used to run out on the Bertha Parker bypass but that was before I met Crazy Jack. We’ve all had dealings with old C.J. He’s the one that thinks the four-lane is the Indianapolis Speedway and the speed limits don’t apply.
Mama used to tell me, “Son, you’re going to get run over on that four-lane.” So after hitting the bar ditch a half-dozen times or so, I thought maybe Mama knows best and found me another route to get my morning exercise.
Crazy Jack—he could be anyone. Maybe he’s the teenager that Daddy let borrow the keys and he’s out to impress his friend. He might be the harried young mom trying to drive while corralling three small children. He could be the man who had a fight with his wife and is late for work, he could be the young wife talking on her cellular phone, or he could simply be “blue hair driving in my lane.” Truckers ain’t no day at the beach either.
Anyway, I was ready to resume my exercise regime after the hiatus. The morning was gray and cool. The night birds had stopped their calling and had given way to their daytime cousins when I struck out.
The first quarter-mile or so would be the toughest, it’s uphill before making a mad dash across the four-lane, then a leisurely down hill jaunt before turning and heading back uphill and taking it to the barn.
My breathing comes hard as I set out. I must find a rhythm, I tell myself, and stick to it. The traffic is fairly light at that hour so I don’t break a stride crossing and by now the beta-endorphins are pumping in my brain and my breathing evens out as I head toward the creek. I feel strong. I feel free. I wish the route was three, four miles instead of just a shade over two. I feel as if I could run forever.
“Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,” go my ragged Reeboks against the pavement. The perfect measured stride of a long distance runner. “Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,” I want to shout with great exuberance because I feel so good.
I reached the cul-de-sac that marked my turning point of my measured run, when a light stitch started in my side. I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pain that started in my trick knee. Is that the shuffling of the bear I hear? Am I bear-caught so soon. I wavered a bit in my stride.
The bear was hungry and gaining on me. I hit the steepest part of my route, and thought “only one-half more mile and it will all be over.” My breath rasping deep in my lungs, I sounded like a wind-broke horse and I struggled up and onward. I leaned into the run and tried to ignore the aches and pains that returned many-fold. My ancient legs quivered as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.
The bear has now become full-grown and his growls give me a little strength as I continue my task. My nose starts to run and I’m back on my heels at this point. The bear catches me and jumps on my back as I hit the corner turn. I’m ready to quit.
That’s when I saw her. She was a winsome young thing, unaware of anyone being around. She was dressed in nothing but a pale blue negligee with midnight blue panties. I tried, unsuccessfully, to still my rasping breath and quiet my plodding feet as she ran through the dappled grass to retrieve the morning paper.
She appeared to be reading the headlines as she stood there in the early morning sunlit yard. Then she must have heard me—-she looked up and gave a startled yelp as she saw me approaching in my tattered running shorts and shoes. She reminded me of a deer caught in the headlights of a poacher. Then she made a dash back indoors. I think an old man’s thoughts as I approach the four-lane.
My run, for all practical purposes, is over. Then I think of nothing at all because I’m back in Crazy Jack’s territory and he could be out there, loaded for bear.
Bob Briggs 1943-2011