I have been sick for a while, so the first run back is a big deal. I’m running a 1.4 mile loop in my neighborhood. it’s an odd course, because although i live in a modest apartment complex, it’s next to a street lined with million dollar beachfront homes. i worry that they don’t care for what appears to be a crazy homeless guy running repeatedly through the neighborhood. but it’s my neighborhood too, so i do it anyhow. can’t we all just get along?
the first lap goes ok. i know there should be a back-running-again euphoria, but mostly it’s a drudge. there’s the usual 20 mph battering ram of a wind, but this loop is the perfect solution because the mansions act as a windblock on one end, and the baptist church does the same on the other.
i circle through the apartment parking lot, get a drink of water and head out for the second loop. the new zantes feel ok in a wait and see sort of way. way too hot to get excited about the run. autopilot kicks in.
i run past the mansions again. a woman stands on the porch watching me. you rarely see people on this block. the people go into their homes through the rear, with access from an alley road, and never use the front yard. it’s like nobody lives there at all. a ghost neighborhood of fortresses.
i make the turn, run the front stretch along the church parking lot. as i head into the left turn to enter frog row, i hear it. a siren.
i look behind me. police car.
this isn’t my first rodeo. i was running loops in my apartment complex in arizona once when i was detained by heavily armed cops looking in the area for a Very Bad Guy. i apparently matched the general description of the guy (a male with a mustache). drawn guns and bulletproof vests. luckily one of the officers knew my editor and we became great pals swapping stories about him. so i know the drill.
i stop, stand perfectly still, hands to my side. the cop comes out of the car. apparently they’ve gotten a suspicious person call. i’m the suspicious person.
it has to be the damn rich people. I LIVE HERE! IT’S MY NEIGHBORHOOD TOO! my head realizes that’s just the way people are. human nature. you’re suspicious of those who aren’t like you. but my heart hates it.
i have relatives who are law enforcement officers. i sympathize with the idea of going to work each day not knowing if it will be your last. if i make a mistake, we run a correction on page 2 the next day. if they make a mistake, they hold a funeral. i sigh and wait for instructions.
do you have any id, the officer asks. i don’t carry my wallet when i run (the fallout from an unfortunate incident with something in my pants), but i always carry my phone in a small belt around my waist.
i reach down to get it. as i do, i realize in a split second what a profoundly bad idea that was. i am facing away from him. he can’t see what i’m doing.
i always wondered if you would hear the sound of the gunshot before feeling it. the answer: it’s better not to find out. i crumple and watch as the blood forms a growing pool. a guy who was watering the bushes at the church walks over to watch. just like tv, he’s thinking. my dying thought: maybe i should have just used the treadmill.
and then it’s all over. another misunderstanding in america.
but of course this incident didn’t happen at all.