Before the run, look up and to my right, to the dimly lit front window of the apartment where I and my wife live. There is no movement, no motion to indicate that anything is going on there. One light is on, off to the right of the window, venetian blinds drawn, one slat out of place, pulled on too many times and permanently out of place.
Light from the streetlight shines dully on my hooded sweatshirt, hood down, revealing to anyone who passed, stains that won’t wash out from previous runs and outings at various eateries from other days and the words “NEW YORK RANGERS” across my chest, my black hat covered in cat fur, blue sweatpants, and grey and orange beaten trail shoes, stained from months of long running to a much deeper shade of grey than the manufacturer intended.
My wife is just under and beyond the window, writing words for complete strangers for money, like all good writers do. Standing on the sidewalk in front of my house, I wave to the window, even though I know no one is looking. Wave goodbye to the person who isn’t there, who isn’t waving back. She’s busy, and I am as well. I’m OK with that.
I level my gaze, and look up the street to scan the incoming traffic. There are two pairs of headlights shining brightly in the distance, light dancing and glancing off of the street and the other cars. The cars are staying still, the cars are not moving.
I look at my stopwatch, zeroed out, ready to start.
The cool winter breeze is coming in at my back, it is too cool to carry any scents along with it, or my nose is too stuffed, one of the two. The street lights afford only minimal lighting, enough if you are underneath them but nothing approaching enough light to do anything significant except lose the house-keys that you’ve dropped, and not trip over the dimly lit pile of garbage that is sitting in the darkness, just past the cone of light that emanates from above.
I’m ready to run. So. Go. Start the stopwatch as I lift my left foot to begin.
With the first step one of the cars that was sitting parked with lights on decides to come down the street. In five steps I am a quarter way across the street, and he is just pulling out from in front of his apartment, 7 or 8 doors up. His semi-expensive looking Beemer looks like an animal waiting to pounce, the cars body a sleek but dull burnished grey, headlights set low and wide shine like hunters eyes reflecting a deep hungry malice. But for all that, he is too far away to be a danger to me. I turn to look at the lights coming at me. The sound of his motor humming is not quite the hunter in the shadow sound that one would think would come from a car that looks like that. It sounds quiet. Not too quiet, a good quiet, like the first notes of the New York Philharmonic playing Beethoven’s Fourth symphony.
Then he honks his horn. It sounds weak and pathetic in the distance.
Drivers like horns, they are loud toys in the hands of loud people who enjoy being loud. I toss the moloich at him, devil horns, pinky finger and index finger extended, thumb holding the other two down, straight at him, and quietly mouth the words “fuck off” at him. Two can play this horns game. Mine is quieter, but is meaner and means more.
In ten strides, I am across the street. The wind picks up and changes direction like it always does. It is rare for a winter night but it is in my face at this point, trying to slap some sense into me, trying to convince me that running is too hard to do in cold weather…
That’s it for tonight, America. G’night.