The Hill Climb

2 May

Running in dark

Mary came home from a long day of work and immediately changed into her running gear. It was a hard day so she really wanted a challenge. She decided to take the shorter, but very steeply inclined route behind her apartment complex. The route was a dark, 3 KM hill climb that she liked to push herself up, than coast back home with her heart pounding and thighs pumped.

She passed the guard shack at the entrance of her complex and gave a thumbs up which was in turn, returned. She rounded the perimeter wall and entered into the darkness which was the welcome mat of her challenging route. She passed a few houses and waved to the people on the porches.

There was one small obstacle, an outdoor bar she hated passing due to the drunken hoots and hollers she received as she went by. As she climbed the first incline, the Christmas lights strung on rusty poles came into view. She had already switched sides of the street to give a wider berth. She wished she could momentarily become invisible.

As she braced herself for being in full view of the bar and within earshot of the drunken grossness, she was relieved to see only two patrons at a rickety, makeshift table and the barman. She even briefly fantasized they hadn’t seen her at all.

That fantasy was shattered when she heard “Damn, dinner is fast tonight!” followed by, “Why don’t you get over here and meet the man of your dreams and sit on his face?”

Though she was skeeved out, she had heard worse. She blew by the pickled trio and forgot about them. About ten minutes later, on the second steepest incline, she heard foot steps behind her. They were far, but apparently close enough to be audible. She was worried that she was worried. Although rare, she has seen other runners on this route but something was making the hairs on her arms stand up. Her instincts were telling her something.

Mary tried to run faster but didn’t have it in the gas tank. Her lungs were burning. She had been climbing for most of the run. The plodding footsteps behind her were getting closer. She looked back and saw nothing but stumbled when she looked forward again. Fear and fatigue were making her clumsy.

Wild thoughts made the tips of her fingers tremble. Her thighs started to weaken. She starting giving into the idea that she was going to be raped, murdered and thrown into the sugar cane only to be found after the harvest.

Her heart froze over when she heard a “Hey” followed by quickening footsteps. She looked around for a weapon but found none. She thought of running into the cane but it was too thick to get far and besides, the leaves hanging from the stalks would cut her to shreds.

She resolved to be a difficult victim. She imagined that when the news spoke of her attacker, they would mention how mauled he had been by his victim. She stopped dead in her tracks and faced the approaching footsteps.

As the owner of the footsteps approached it was made apparent it was one of the patrons from the bar. She recognized him immediately as the one who called her “dinner”. His tee-shirt was drenched in sweat and his face was tomato red.

“Hey” he called again.

“What do you want?” Mary shrieked.

“Just wait” he called back, huffing and puffing.

“I’ll wait” she thought “and claw your fucking eyes out and bite your balls off”

As he came closer Mary saw he had a wild look in his eyes. He was breathing so heavy; Mary thought he might throw up. At least she had that going for her.

“Ma’am” huff, huff, huff, “You dropped your license in front of the bar”

“What?” Mary shrieked with her shaking hands making a pathetic attempt at a defensive guard.

“Shit, I ain’t run that far since high school, I might puke!” The man said “I saw your license fall from your shorts. I done lost mine once; it was a pain in the dick to replace it”

Mary slowly put her hands down. She felt the area around the small of her back, where she usually tucked her license into her compression shorts, it was gone.

“Oh my god, I don’t know what to say” she stammered. “Sorry”

“Huh?” he said, perplexed.

“I mean, thank you! Thank you so much”

“No problem, little lady. I’m gone crawl back to the bar now”

“Here, take a twenty and buy a round for your troubles” Mary offered.

“I couldn’t, wouldn’t and won’t” he refused “And sorry for hasslin’ you when you run by. We’re bored. We don’t get many people going by. We’re just joshing” he might have been blushing but it was impossible to tell, his face was burning hotter than the sun from the run.

“Oh, it’s ok” she said and offered her hand.

As he took it he looked into her eyes and said “You take care on this here hill. The world is full of crazy ass folk”

 

6 Responses to “The Hill Climb”

  1. Bruce Goodman May 2, 2019 at 4:34 pm #

    Excellent telling of an excellent yarn.

    • Ryan May 2, 2019 at 5:33 pm #

      Thanks Bruce! This hill exists behind my apartment complex. I came up with the beginning while running it at night.

  2. Eric Tonningsen May 3, 2019 at 4:05 pm #

    Interesting how a simple “Hey” can make one feel, given the setting. I felt those back of the neck hairs rising. Liked the conclusion you chose, Ryan; it obviously could have tipped another way.

    • Ryan May 3, 2019 at 5:35 pm #

      I love how you have the ability to pick out a detail in my own story that makes ME think a little deeper about it.

      I figured the story tipping the other way would have been the easy thing to do.

      As always, Eric, I appreciate you reading these things and opining. Hugs, brother!

  3. Anna Waldherr May 25, 2019 at 6:07 pm #

    Very nice.

    • Ryan May 25, 2019 at 9:56 pm #

      Thank you very much for reading it and for the kind words.

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