Orville drifted off and awoke several times
throughout the night feeling tense and confused.
He knew now why people often had trouble sleeping
when they felt terrible. It wasn’t a punishment;
it was a defense mechanism.
Doom stretched across eight restless hours
was better than a concentrated burst
of doom upon awakening.
— Sean Adams, “The Heap”
And then it got serious. They shut down the basketball court.
Mister Pants had marveled at how the daily basketball game next to his running course was considered an essential service. Ten guys, swapping sweat and spit and blood while slamming into each other for an hour or so. The problem with The System was that it required people to abide by it.
Until it didn’t.
In addition to the crime scene tape around the perimeter, tape covered both baskets. The playground was also shut down. Damn 4-year-olds unable to grasp the concept of social distancing. The severity of the situation became clear when THE GOVERNOR ORDERED NAIL SALONS AND TATTOO PARLORS (apparently the last of the truly essential businesses) TO CLOSE!!! Everyone would suffer equally from this point on.
The bird loop, of course, was unscathed, despite the impossibility of runners keeping 6 feet of separation on a 3-foot-wide sidewalk. Much crime scene tape would be required to mark off 17 miles of running path.
As he ran, Mister Pants wrestled with the issue of masks. The CDC said everyone should wear them in public, but did that apply to runners? He didn’t look forward to restricted breathing and looking like a desperado or Galen Rupp, but wanted to do his part for humanity now that he had given up on recycling and social justice and season two of Virgin River.
The news had brought a glimmer of hope: The rate of vermin increase in his state had slowed. Mister Pants assumed it was mostly from his diligent efforts to be a bitter recluse for the past 63 years, but others probably contributed as well. Nah, it was mostly him.
He worried that he was cracking up. Was that a good sign, to at least realize it? Or would it be better to muddle along blissfully unaware? He didn’t know anymore. Another night with no sleep; another day with no end in sight. Doom stretched across eight hours, give or take a Hallmark movie. He didn’t like this new person, but had not kept the receipt and therefore was unable to ask for a refund or exchange. Life should be more like Running Warehouse.
Joni Mitchell ran with him in her first legitimate outing. A 6 miler. No mask, no hoops, no hopes. Just running. In France they kiss on Main Street, she said. That was a long time ago. Maybe one can still kiss if wearing a desperado mask and comes across someone willing to smooch Galen Rull, although running on Main street again was at least a semester away.
Twenty days of life treated as a reality show as more and more people get voted off the island. Mister Pants had no idea what to do.
The evil Pastis offered the solution: more cheese.
Always question Pastis. But never doubt Pig.