And It Went Poof!

Chapter 40, Blog 1

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang

chuckwells2008@gmail.com

 

I got up and jogged the last 30, surreal meters as the crowd sat in stunned, nightmarish silence, just like at Terre Haute.

Franz followed. He cussed at me like he invented it.

“You old, f*%#+&’ sonuvabitch!”

“You’re nuthin’ but a f*%#+&’ asshole!”

“What the f*%#+&’ hell were ya f*%#+&’ thinkin’?”

I should have decked him. What did I have to lose?

Locked in shock, my brain bumped its way through swirling images. The endless visualization sessions, the early morning fights with Harry, the bitching from provincial legs too sore to see beyond the next workout.

The Olympics?

… now you see Beijing, now you don’t .. .

I didn’t think I hit my head in the fall, but I had all the symptoms of a concussion. Maybe I did hit it. My thinking felt cockeyed. As an afterthought, I waved at the west grandstands as I walked circles to cool down and waited for Harry to wheel up.

… the old guy must be heartbroken …

… or ready to kick your stupid ass …

Maybe it was post-traumatic shock. I didn’t feel any pain – but my legs felt wet. I looked down to see seeping streams of blood. I didn’t feel the multiple bruises, cuts and scrapes – not yet.

Harry was nowhere to be seen, too ashamed, I thought. Franz was still in my face, begging to be beheaded. I ignored him.

A white-bearded official in a green polo shirt, khaki shorts and University of Oregon baseball cap led me away. The crowd grumbled. Was it disbelief or disgust? A smattering of “boos” serenaded me as I wandered up the front stretch on the way to the Bowerman Building. Off in the distance, I could hear Franz whining, pleading his case. Back in Bowerman, I was led behind the press area to a dank cubicle near a locker room. My guide said I needed to make a statement.

… a statement? For finishing second last…

I didn’t know what to say. I could barely comprehend what had happened. I knew my dream was over, but I couldn’t wake up. I felt something on my left temple. I touched it. More blood.

“I did hit my head.”

My patient host assured me it was a superficial cut and pointed to a chair. Seated, I gazed at the TV monitor while one of the 800-meter finalists taking questions in the press area droned on. I watched the replay of the first heat. It was obvious. Franz had tackled me. I jumped to my feet and knocked over the chair.

“I’m gonna kill him!”

Copyright © 2013 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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