Sorely Missing

Chapter 39, Blog 2

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


“And stop wrinkling your brow. You’re getting some deep lines etched on your forehead. Keep that up, Mister, and you’ll be old before your time.”

“Yes, Mom. Tell me about it.”

“Well …”

Harry and I slept and slept and slept. We slept through the evening and deep into the morning. It did me good. I awoke rested, refreshed – and with hardly any voices.

Despite turning the wrong way on Agate Street and an unpleasant exchange with the young man checking parking passes – old story, move on – we arrived at Hayward Field 90 minutes early for my 4:40 p.m. semifinal heat.

… so, bub, act like you’ve been here before, OK …

My anxiety level began a slow ascent. As preemptive measures, I tried visualizing a mistake-free race and sucked in some Chi. Harry pinned the bib on my back, but nothing worked.

During Tai Chi, my legs began to whine. On a pain scale of one to 10, my right leg registered a 12 and my left leg, a 13.5. They resisted most of my efforts at stretching. When I tried to put my right hand out for balance, my back launched into a spasm.

My body had become selfish.

“Shame on you. After all I have done …”

… you’re talking to yourself  again …

“You be quiet, too.”

A cool breeze broke the afternoon’s hot spell, so I sat in the middle of the warm-up track, closed my eyes and considered my fate. I rehashed how Ralphie got screwed out of his chance to compete in the Trials. I pondered Melinda’s change of heart and the sensational effort she made to get me to Eugene. I appreciated Jessie’s faith in me.

Too soon, it was go time, but something was missing. I hurried over to the track and scanned the infield. Where was Harry?

“Probably can’t watch.”

… you can’t count on anyone …

“I haven’t exactly instilled him with confidence, have I?”

Fretting each stride of the way to the starting line, I remembered I also was missing my front bib. A willowy racer with silver-stud earrings took pity and pinned it. Amused, he studied me.

“He’s old enough to be your grandma,” a voice said behind me.

I didn’t have to look.

“I love you, too, Franz,” I said, stretching my shoulders, then my hamstrings. “I thought I smelled some garbage.”

… classy …

“Jist stay outta my way, Granny, and I won’t have to hurt you.”

… and trashy …

I ignored Franz and ran through my pre-race checklist.

Sore shoulders, check.

Sore back, check.

Sore legs, check.

… brainless, double check …

And still no Harry.

Copyright © 2013 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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