Your Royal Highness

Chapter 34, Blog 2

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


Thursday evening, Ralphie, cast, crutches and all, lumbered by with a Budweiser 12-pack. He rode with Nicky, who carted in a six-pack of Michelob. Frank brought his usual case of Coors Light. Harry’s poker pals carried in a couple of bottles of homemade, blueberry wine for their card game.

Sensing my quest was all but over, Melinda invited her friends and even her mother, Dedra, to take part in the wake. Sheila from The Times came over to cover the final chapter and write my track obituary.

Before I knew it, our house was packed with people yacking, drinking and waiting on pizzas from Tony’s. I marveled at all the happy faces. We hadn’t hosted that many since New Year’s Eve three years ago when our house caught on fire. That’s a story that will remain untold – at least until the lawsuits play out.

For me, the waves of noise covered my head like water in the deep end of a pool. It seemed official. In its sleep, my Olympic dream died a peaceful death. But everyone was making the best of it. Shannon played her Katie Perry CDs. There was music. There was chatter. There was laughter. Everybody was having a good time, except me.

“Go ahead, have a freakin’ beer,” said Ralphie, limping here and there on his crutches. “Have a freakin’ beer. Ya ain’t trainin’ no more, no how.”

Without thinking, I shook my head no. All during my journey, I had resisted the temptation and abstained. It was now second nature. No beer here or near.

“C’mon, ya earned it,” said Ralphie, waving a Budweiser in my face. “Whut? Ya still a track Princess or sumpthin?”

Braced by his crutches, Ralphie bowed awkwardly before me.

“I’m at yar service, yar royal highness,” mocked Ralphie.

That did it. For some stupid reason, that pissed me off. It shouldn’t have, but it did. I ripped the Bud out of his hand and guzzled it. Three seconds. No more feeling sorry for myself. No one else gave a damn. Why should I?

… enjoy yourself, you loser …

“Just shuddup.”

My, oh my, that golden taste. How I had missed it. And that beer buzz. That easy, light-headed, mind-numbing buzz. I went without it for how long? And for what? My 15 minutes ran out weeks ago. Three beers later – yes, three beers – I was plastered on the sofa and ready to burst into tears.

Except I was too busy laughing at myself.

“You piss-poor, pathetic track Princess.”

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

Luck Be A Princess Tomorrow

Chapter 30, Blog 4

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


“Crossed electrons?” I asked. “Is that even possible? My physics lessons escape me at the moment. All I know is electrons are negatively charged and …”

“Here is a lesson in logic,” my coach said. “Did they ask your age?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Probably saw your age and put you in the Master’s race. That’s my guess,” said Harry.

“They shouldn’t even be asking my age. I should never have put that down,” I said, warping into indignant mode. “I’m not going to get to run tomorrow, am I?”

“Well, I am still working on it,” Harry said with resignation. “The head honcho, name’s Anthony or Andrew, I cannot remember. Anyway, he said if one of the runners fails to show tomorrow, you could … ”

“And how likely is that?” I snapped.

Coolly, Harry stared me into submission and bit his lower lip.

“Right now, Charlie, it’s the best we’ve got.”

“It’s not going to happen, is it?”

“You will be here tomorrow, and you will be ready,” said Harry.

We drove back to the motel and took Melinda and the girls to Cracker Barrel. Harry told everyone about the snafu. Melinda thought it was the funniest thing this side of the Mississippi. The girls didn’t know what to say, so they giggled through dinner. I was one green bean away from searching for a river to jump in.

For more than a year, I had sacrificed and almost lost my family only to be herded into a Master’s race. Now, I had to be back at the track by noon Saturday, sit tight, stay loose and see if someone would have second thoughts about running a couple of laps in the beautiful Iowa sunshine. It sucked more than Terre Haute, and I told Harry it sucked. I could tell he was about ready to snap, too.

“Just shut up, Princess. Just shut up,” he said.


“Yes, Princess. You heard me,” Harry said. “You remind me of a royal pain in the ass sprinter I used to train in Louisville.”

“Was she good?” I asked, not really caring.

“She was dynamite,” said Harry. “But she had the IQ of a walnut.”

“I’ve got the IQ of a walnut?”

“Most times, Charlie, you don’t even have the shell.”

“Harry, did I ever tell you, you’re my hero?”

“Like I used to tell her: Just shut up and run,” said Harry. “Jesus, you make it sound like you’re working for NASA.”

“NASA should be so lucky.”

I sure wasn’t.

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

// //