She says, I’ve got a darkness
That I have to feed, I’ve got a sadness
That grows up around me like a weed
And I’m not hurting anyone.
— the prophet ani

Hole in your shoe? Just keep running.

She’s on the soccer loop again, slowly walking laps in the park on the same course as me. Hands clasped behind her back, casually dressed, totally unassuming.

Except for one thing: She’s incessantly screaming a string of obscenities that would make a sailor blush. Sorry, J.T.


Something isn’t wired right in her brain. She talks constantly to someone who’s not there. Her vocabulary seems to be built largely around the F word, shouted repeatedly, with various phrases and expletives interspersed. She has the innocuous appearance of just another walker, but there’s a glitch in the jukebox in her head, stuck on a song that is in need of a parental advisory label. So, so sad.

It’s easy to tell newcomers on the loop. They’re the ones guarding their private parts as she goes by. “CUT OFF HIS BALLS AND SHOVE THEM UP HIS ASS!!!” I pass her several times, and she’s screaming the same thing on every loop, a phrase I’ve never heard her use before. What is she thinking?

I wonder if she knows what she’s saying or its effect on passersby. Is she in a different place, oblivious to the startled old people and foo-foo dogs sharing the route?

The regulars just give her space. There’s room for everyone here in our little pack of outcasts. She never acknowledges me as she stares straight ahead in her trance. A week of storms has left the park battered and waterlogged, but the sun is finally out. The dark cloud hovering over her never subsides. A darkness that she has to feed.

And yet, she persists.

Nobody’s perfect. We all have our quirks, our problems, our timeworn songs clattering along in the jukebox of our minds. Holes in our metaphorical shoes. What can you do?

Just keep running.

And maybe watch out for your balls. Just in case.

About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
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