Tuesday, October 07, 1997

There Is No Finish Line


[first inflicted on an unsuspecting audience in 1997]

We arrive at a resting state. Objects have assumed their entropic limits. The green Tassel-headed Korn anticipates its mortal end before the sharp knives in the harvest time. We are now, of course, above THE FARTRESS OF SOLITUDE.

Our Tortured Young UltraRunner sits and ponders the spectacle before him.

He is wearing his Hat. It shades his fevered brow from the Brightness before him. All of his silver and bronze buckles, the plaques, conspire to refract the piercing brightness of the track-lighting from their awesomeness. He should be happy, but his countenance is furrowed. He is wrestling with the weighty thought that at the End of The Last Great Race, There Is No Finish Line.

He hadn't expected this. He expected a round of thunderous applause at the AC100 awards ceremony. All he heard was the pounding of distant surf when he put the milk carton up to his ear. He had his speech ready, trimmed it down to a brisk 14 minutes. He included citations to Gawd, Ultrarunning, Pacers [uh strike that, make it Official Trail Safety Companions] Race Directors, and even Aid-Stations had been figured in. Then those goddamned Indians hogged the spotlight, and goshamighty, it was hot!

The worm of doubt did a slow lazy turn. He began to reflect backwards...back in the night...when it was Dark...before the Dawn.

[slow fade in as we watch the shuffling Jaybird descend the inky blackness into the remote depths of Idle Hour Cyn. He can hear the fragmnents of irreverent guffaws and conversation. He is annoyed at this and yet relieved...a source of conflict no doubt].

Our Hero, the bike-short'd and mattress-tagged D'Artagnan, is accompanied by his faithful retainer and bondsman Porthole [or is it Asshole?]. Their shuffling of feet is accompanied by a ghostly clanking of sabers. D'Artagnan's Hat is turned backwards so he can Revel in Gawd's handiwork in the starry firmament. He stumbles over a rock. A curse is emitted.

Lights come in view. A voice bellows "RUNNER!" People scurry. He is relieved to see that they will do his bidding. A man holding a clip-board bellows his number. Gosh, he sure is loud. Maybe he recognizes Who He's Talking To. He collapses into a chair.

Porthole commences a recon of the tables. He notes the Skoal, squeezable CheezWHiz, MilkBones and Spam. He settles for some watermelon.

[we now have set the stage for a tableau bouffant]

PORTHOLE: "Well, Dart-Bum, Howdya feel?"

[PORTHOLE leans back in the chair, quaffs some Gatorade from a flagon. The boisterous sounds of a 17th century French country aid-station are in the background. A wild pig runs thru the throng.]

JAYBIRD: "Tired. Real tired."

[Jaybird takes a metaphorical pull from the invisible Lucky. Metaphysical smoke curls from his nostrils in lazy coils. Curls, coils, it's all in the accent...]

"I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for the Last Great Race. At this point I have 583 miles on my legs."

PORTHOLE nods sagely. This guy can talk some deep shit, dewd. In 5.5 Miles he'd be saying pretty much the same, only it would be 589 miles. Well, time to get rolling...

[The camera pulls back to reveal aid station volunteers contemplating This Epic Scene of Male Bonding with enigmatically composed faces. Inwardly they are screaming with laughter; it doesn't get any better than this.]

PORTHOLE: Well, liege, shall we Kicke Ye Olde Butt?

JAYBIRD: Well spoken Porthole, or is it Asshole?

PORTHOLE: You need to finish, then we'll discuss it.

[High fives, hearty manly guffaws all around]

As JAYBIRD rose, he decided he'd make one final play. He walked up to the Clipboard Man, and manfully introduced himself. Dale Carnegie woulda loved it. The Clipboard Man said "Nice to meet you too", gave the proffered hand the squeeze while looking over his shoulder. More flashlights bobbed into view. He then bellowed "RUNNER!"

Jaybirds ears rang for a while thereafter. He shuffled out of IDLE-HOUR with his hiker's pole and PORTHOLE in tow. Nobody really was impressed. The thought floundered in the morass of pain and suffering, and sank to the pit of his brain. He had to finish, he'd deal with Mr Trail Safety later.