Episode 37. Part IV – The Big Day

Max takes off fast and the crowd goes wild…like he’s fucking
Superman. Okay, so he’s running  easily…but there’s a long way to
go, and I’ve never seen him do
anything but jog with his team…non-stop laughing and grab-assing.
It’ll be just my luck he’s a super runner.

I pick up may pace and close the gap…my stride feels comfortable.
Suddenly, two lacrosse jocks appear on either side. “Hey, ass wipe,”
says, “we’ll teach you to rat on your classmates!”

I’m about to deny the ratting charge, when the opposite guy hip-checks me
and I fall hard….right on my knees. Shit! They laugh and take off as I
scramble up. Glance back to see the thundering hordes closing in. In panic,
I take off as fast as I can…gotta make up time…regain rhythm. My
knee’s are burning, but I run through the pain…close the gap again,
keeping an eye out for intruders. Max is already slowing. No way he’ll
do five miles.

I fall in behind him…regain a comfortable pace. Max is breathing
hard…glancing back at me. All I have to do is wait…plus fend
off attacks.

I hear the horde getting closer. Suddenly realize it’s not them, but
more bullshit…jocks coming from the sidelines, sneaking through the
trees…throwing acorns and shit. It’s not Max I have to worry about,
but all the fucking fiends! Pick up the pace, big time, so I don’t get
swallowed up.

Hear the crunch of gravel beside me…Oh shit! Turn to find a friendly
face, Chip Lopez, a soccer player, and good runner. He grins.
“I’ll be your bodyguard. Lacrosse guys are assholes!”

“Thanks, dude!” I cry. What a relief…restores my faith in humanity!  We
pass 100th street…see Max limping along up ahead.

“You’ll pass him in no time!” Chip says as lacrosse fuckers try to block
our way, but he charges them. “Get the fuck out of our way!” He yells,
like a fucking bull, and they quickly retreat.

In seconds, Max is so close I can see the sweat on his back. He’s
struggling…rhythm totally gone.

Then, we see a serious roadblock ahead. Two moms with strollers,
talking on their
cells. Gives me an idea.

“Come on!” I yell to Chip. “Now’s our chance!”

We power past Max…detour around the strollers, and the path is totally
clear in front of us. We pump our fists! “Awesome! Freedom!”

The exhilaration gives me a burst of energy and I surge ahead. Even Chip
falls back. “Go for it, dude,” he yells.

I cruise along, figuring it’s a piece of cake from here on. My feet eat up
the path, and I make it to the halfway mark, no problem. Turm toward home,
then spy trouble on my left. More lacrosse creeps coming through the
trees. Another ambush!

Pick up my pace, but they’re fresh, like they just got out of a taxi.
Before I know it, they’re surrounding me, controlling my pace….slowing me
to a walk…I try to power through, but they butt and shove…make
it impossible to do shit.

Max goes plodding by. “Thanks, guys!” He gasps, gives me the finger.

God, I’m frustrated! “Come on!” I yell. “This is chicken shit!”
But it only makes things worse…get punched and kneed. All I can
do is hobble as they hurl insults.

One, like, checks me…yells: “You disgust me, you fucking queer!” Then,
they all chime in: “You’re a disgrace to the school! You run like a
fucking girl!”
Yada yada…

Then I get a fist in the face…my legs crumple and I black out.

My eyes pop open…the tormenters are gone…people are surrounding me trying
to help. Shit! Wonder how long I’ve been out. Where’s Max. I scramble
up…nose bleeding. Stagger a few feet then, somehow, find my stride. Chip
appears again. Apologizes for not helping…explains they were fucking
with him too. Tries to cheer me up: “Way to go, dude. You gotta keep going
for all the underdogs in the fucking school!”

Everything hurts, but my legs still work and I
charge ahead.

“You look like shit, dude,” Chip says.

I glance down. My nose is bleeding real bad…my shirt’s disgusting, and my
knees are raw, but surprisingly, from adrenaline or something, I’m
picking up speed…run with my head back, pincing my nose to stop the
gusher. Thankfully it slows.

After a quarter mile, I’m re-oriented. Chip drops away, and I spy Max way
ahead…still a half mile left, but I’m gaining fast. His stride is
totally gone…
he’s, like, staggering. My hopes rise…then I notice lacrosse players
lining both
sides of the route…a fucking gauntlet! And the minute I’m between them,
they fuck with me…throw water balloons and tennis balls.

Suddenly, I hear a familiar voice. “Stop this instant! No bad
sportsmanship!” It’s the headmaster’s restoring order. “Step back! Let
the boy run!”

I see the finish line ahead and charge forward. Max has a big lead, but
he’s going so fucking slow…like he’s standing still. Before I know
it, he’s a foot away. Think of yelling obscenities, but not gonna play
his game. The fucker’s weaving back and forth to block me, but he’s
totally wasted. I pretend I’m passing on one side, then scoot by on the
other…sprint as fast as I can. Suddenly, there are scattered cheers. Not
everyone’s against me, but have no desire to stop and listen to
hypocritical bullshit. Cross the finish line and keep going…leave the
bewildered crowd behind, and head for Harlem as fast as I can.

*To be continued…* read next episode!