Back On Track

Chapter 11 , Blog 1

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


That Ralphie, he made me so damned mad.

So mad I was ready to take it out on anybody I ran across – or with.

“OK, muscles, you sorry bastards, enough coddling. We’ve got a job to do.



Sssssssstttttttrrrrrreeettttttccccchhhhhh, like you mean it.

The time off did help my legs. The ankle sprain was low and 98 percent healed with only a few twinges. Damn, I used to be such a fast healer. What the hell, happened? Yeah, yeah, don’t tell me. I knew, but I didn’t have any time to dwell on it.

After jogging the block three times, I called it a day. My key objective was more online research. It was becoming addictive. Calling up the website, I searched for a running club to join. The closest to Valparaiso was the Porter County Sheriff’s Police.

Sheriff’s Police?

That was it. I emailed the contact for some info. And I’m still waiting for an answer.

Then I threw on street clothes and a coat, and drove over to Valparaiso High School. Bless her heart, Mrs. Fuqua was right. I should run on a better track, one without ice or potholes.  I was not only an alum there, but I knew the track coach. Boy oh boy, did I know the coach.

School was under way, so I registered at the office, got my guest pass and marveled how the high school students looked like children. The coach, well, he was the biggest kid of them all. Long-haired, rotund and forever jolly, Coach Rockard welcomed me, almost calling me by my real name. If Rockard wore a red suit instead of his old, green track sweats, he could have been Santa’s brother. Thirty years ago, he was just a youngster out of Indiana State when he took over the VHS program. Me? I was a know-nothing twig.

“Fred, ya knucklehead,” he said. “What’s up?”

This “knucklehead” wanted to qualify for the Olympics, I said with a straight face. I sat back and waited for Coach to stroke out. Instead, his craggy face beamed amusement. Except for the gray-flecked hair, he hadn’t changed. His irrepressible spirit and Kentuckian cadence tripped me back to 1977 for all of 30 blissful seconds.

“The Olympics, huh? Ya don’t say.”

“That’s right,” I said. “Crazy, no?”

Rockard twirled his shaggy beard in his fingers, leaned back in his chair and glowed. Nothing ever surprised him.

“Better later than never, I guess,” he said. “What can I do to help?”

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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