Chapter 39, Blog 3
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
I was in the first heat, so I didn’t have to wait. The personable starter told us to take it easy, “don’t jump the gun” and added some off-color joke about ducks to relax us. Nobody laughed, except me. Maybe the others had heard the joke before. Or maybe they liked ducks. I don’t know. The starter checked his pistol. His hands quivered.
… he’s not only younger than you but twice as nervous …
“Just shut up!”
Thanks to my pre-race prep, I was in assertive mode. After I said it, I realized others were listening, including the starter. I smiled at him. He frowned.
… great, he heard you, hope there’s blanks in that gun …
Still frowning, the starter glanced at his wristwatch and had us take our marks.
They left me at the starting line.
… run tall, run fast …
… run tall, run fast …
… run tall …
I was dead last and fading.
“Just shut up – AND GO!”
I shifted up a gear and scampered after the pack. But the clutch stuck, and my track life flashed through my head: Old man throws rod, dies during semifinals.
… C’MON! GET MAD …
I passed a guy. He pulled up lame.
… well, you won’t be last …
Down the front stretch, I could smell the pack. Or was it Franz?
CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!
Bell lap. And I wasn’t even at the line yet.
I knew it would take a small miracle.
…. uggggh …
“RUFF, RUFF, RUFF … “
Inside the turn, a pack of barking athletes hunched within centimeters of the track and scared the dog doo out of me. They chased me through the curve. And no doubt cost Harry plenty of twenties. The crowd murmured. A few in the stands barked, too.
It didn’t take much.
My adrenal glands surged. My heart kicked into overdrive.
And my abused legs shifted into high.
Sweeping wide out of the turn, I ran downhill.
I caught the next two and passed.
And set up for the last turn.
Up ahead, Franz clung to fourth place.
To have a chance, I would have to steal it from him.
… DON’T pass on the curve …
“I know. I know.”
I settled in behind Franz.
… draft him, draft him …
Exiting the turn, I ran wide.
He came with me.
“Get out of the way!” I screamed.
I darted inside.
Franz veered inside.
I faked outside.
And swerved inside.
As I passed, I snagged his foot.
We tumbled in a heap.
I struggled to get up.
It was too late.
Two flew by.
And it was over.
Copyright © 2013 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang