It was late, for I had been awake since 3am. It was eight at night, and I had been sitting in front of my laptop for seventeen hours. I needed a change of scenery. No. Looking at a photoblog doesn't count. I already tried that idea.
The sun had slipped down into the horizon. I am glad. The drizzle from a cool grey sky freshened the earth, and I greeted even the eager weeds with joy. For it's springtime, and I am glad for the rains, glad for the breezes that send the cool damp air around my tired limbs.
I pulled on my shoes -- the old ones -- ragged running shoes (so comfortable) that I traded for a set of new, bold blue Airwalks. Was it a betrayal? All is forgiven. I slip them on, slip out of the door, and head out into the rural neighborhood evening.
you banish winter weather,
bring salmon to the pools again,
and the bees among the heather.
If Northward you intend to blow
As you rustle so soft above me,
Godspeed be with you as you blow,
and a kiss for those who love me.
From south I come, with velvet breeze,
my word all nature blesses,
I melt the snow and I strew the breeze
with flowers and fond caresses.
I'll help you to dispel your woe;
with joy I'll take your greeting,
and bear it to your loved Mayo,
upon my wings so fleeting.
Ny Connaught, famed for wine and play,
so leal, so gay, so loving
Here's my fond kiss I send today
borne on the wind in its roving.
Those Munster folk are good and kind,
right royally they treat me
but this, this land I leave behind
With your Connacht pipes to greet me
traditional Irish tune
Thunk-Thunk Thunk-Thunk Thunk-Thunk...
My feet (hiding inside the padded running shoes) bounced sluggishly against the pavement and bounded forward. I am not a runner. I am a cyclist, and jarring my body against the hard earth feels awkward compared to the liquid thrill of skimming smoothly over the roads at 15, 20, 35 miles per hour. On on, On on, On on. I breathed deeply, and my movement became smoother.
Aerobic exercise on cool spring days is good for the soul.
I turned a corner and waved at the red truck. Mayer Locksmith, it read. I wondered how his daughters were doing. Lindsey, Melody, Nicki. She's studying piano at a conservatory in Philadelphia, I think. Wow. We have known each other since we were babies.
Waving to old friends as they drive past is sometimes a good alternative to staring at screens for long hours.
The road turned uphill, and I got the silent gossip on everybody's lives. Wow. The Gerace family built a playground -- Don's flowers are coming along -- They finally remodeled that barn.
I jogged alongside a cornfield. I could smell the rich loam, impatient to burst out with the splendor of springtime life.
My path turned a tight left corner.
There is a rule about roads that even I know. It goes like this: pedestrians belong on the left side of the road. So I jog on the left side of the road. Fine. I think the logic goes like this: pedestrians have the right to see the face of their killer. This is actually a significant benefit to jogging. Cyclists, who ride on the right side of the road, are doomed to be hit from behind. This, I suppose is so the cyclist, now a tangled into the mangled chaos of metal tubing that was once his bicycle, can read the license plate as the vehicle roars off.
So those are the rules. I know the rules, you konw the rules. My dog, if I ever had a dog, would know the rules.
I turned the corner.
There, two hundred feet in front of me, was a line of four tall guys in dark suits, walking side-by-side. Slowly, deliberately, they measured their steps as they stretched across half of the road. Behind them lay out the vast immeasurable farmland acres, rich and brown. Above them, the gray sky played poker-face. Along the sides of this inevitable convergence perched a few old suburban houses, like pebbles at the edge of an ocean of soil. Everything was grey, was dark, was brown, was grey. Dark shoes, dark suits, dark sunglasses. And the black umbrellas! I could have sworn there were four Agent Smiths in the distance, sweeping the road for me, not because I was the One, but because I was destroying their universal bleakness with my shirt, blue pants, white shoes.
They spread out wider when they saw me. I saw their actions in slow motion, timed to the surreal Thunk Thunk Thunk of my feet, an inescapable rhythm, the beating of an ancient drum, leading me to climax, to an inevitable convergence. I could have screamed, but my feet moved on.
There they were, spreading, spreading, and the line of umbrellas broke for one second. On queue, a new umbrella slid out, slowly angled down, shook restlessly, and -- POP. It was out. And up, and the unbroken canopy was restored.
They walked in unison, were they joined? Tied with single strand, like mountain climbers, cursed forever to roam the lonely streets. What? A Mormon chain gang? No. They were too dark for that, and I couldn't see their shirts underneath their overcoats and dark grey suit jackets.
I didn't want to find out. I crossed over to the other side of the road.
To my dismay, like birds of prey, they circled, reshuffled, all while facing forward, walking forward, keeping a solid line. Then one broke off, and like a falcon descending, diagonally approached me. I felt like a mouse, or perhaps a defenseless baby marmot. But I kept on jogging, kept looking ahead.
I learned from playing flight sims in high school, that the best way to avoid a pursuer is to turn into him. Could I dodge around? Press my feeble legs faster, try to outrun him? no. I don't want to be impolite. After all, he has a suit. But it's freaky. He has dark sunglasses too. What to do?
He jogged to intercept me in time. I looked forward, stony, silent, wishing desperately that I had gone mad, that these figures on the gravelly road were mere apparitions.
This one didn't have an umbrella. At least I won't have to deal with penguins, I thought. Then he pulled something out of his pocket. I winced mentally, but my stony face looked forward, like an athlete, inwardly focused, and determined.
The moment passed, and they were behind me. I sighed. I felt something in my hand. It was a trifold pamphlet. Odd. For some reason, I naturally take something held out to me. It must be an unconscious reaction. I kept jogging.
What was it? An advertisement for some closeby church. I've never been there, never heard of it. Odd.
It's amazing how weird life seems when you've been looking at a computer screen for seventeen hours.