Perfect Perspective (Weekly Writing Challenge)

Perfect Perspective (Weekly Writing Challenge)

 (C’mon folks, it’s Saturday afternoon.  If you haven’t looked at The Daily Post and their suggestion for the week, you’re kinda lagging behind.  Hop to!)

Let me just begin by saying that there are two sides to every story. This is my side, the right one. “ –Easy A

**********

“I can’t believe that jerk almost killed me.” 

a3500_einstein1_gCarlos tore off his ski mask angrily and stormed in the door.  His hair raged like his temper; clumps of brown follicles thrust this way and that in an unintentional homage to Einstein.  The rest of his body was not keen to rest either.  His tempest of frustration surged.  Carlos tore off his gloves and jogging shoes.  He paced back and forth in his living room as he pulled of his jogging pants and shirt.

Making his way for the shower, Carlos still couldn’t calm himself down.  He stepped into the hot water and felt the moisture stream down on him.  Normally he turned the hot water on and then tempered it with some cold for the ideal amount of heat.  Tonight, Carlos let the shower spray out stinging pellets of scorching water to fuel his fury.  His sore body yielded and relaxed under the showerhead.  The physical exhaustion was ebbing, but not Carlos’ indignation at the event.

Carlos had thought going for an evening run would be a nice source of relaxation.  He had a ski mask that he wanted to break in for the ski trip that Connie and he were taking for Christmas.  Also, it had been getting colder outside and the thought of not having dribbling snot and sweat freeze to his face held an appeal for him.  In his dark-shaded attire, Carlos had made his way around the city streets.

The first few miles had been the same as they always were.  It took Carlos a bit to get his legs warmed up and loose.  In another mile, his lungs had adjusted to the thirty degree chill.  The only problem with Carlos’ chosen route was the lack of sidewalks.  The residential streets where he lived had nice little paved strips for him to travel on.  Besides the occasional garbage can that waited patiently to be picked up by early morning sanitation workers or mailboxes that took up permanent residence at the edge of the curb, the route was obstacle-free.  However, further away from the houses and mowed lawns were the city streets.

Back when the area had first been established, jogging was probably the furthest thing from the city planners’ minds.  No one was buying running shoes or meandering about the town for exercise seventy years ago.  So it was that the sidewalks soon gave way to vehicle lanes.   Carlos loathed racing in the same lane as cars, but he hadn’t seen any viable alternatives.  He wanted his ten miles and there were only so many routes available to him.  He wasn’t about to jog the same block over and over just because some moron on his Bluetooth couldn’t yield to a pedestrian.  Regardless of his stubbornness and his determination, Carlos would have admitted that the whole thing made him nervous.  The man had long been worried about an incident just like the one that happened that night.

For the first hundred yards on the street, things had been fine.  Carlos hugged the edge of the road, trying to give the cars as much room as possible.  Some cars honked at him, others swerved into the middle lane at the last moment.  All these activities were rather normal and the intrepid runner was able to take it all in stride.  That was before the blue four-door.

In the last stretch of the street route, Carlos noticed a car coming up behind him.  The headlights cast an eerie glow over his shoulder.  Unlike the other double-lit signs of approach, these were unyielding.  As the circles of light 549787_3225555432071_1788332779_nbecame more distinct, Carlos’ fear became greater.  To his left was the inside lane of traffic which was heavily populated with more vehicles.  To his right, Carlos saw the concrete barrier that kept him from falling off the edge and plummeting down a hundred feet to the lake below.  The car continued to approach Carlos.  He knew his escaping unharmed was entirely on him.  He scurried up onto the foot-wide perch on the top of the barrier and tried to keep from falling either down the steep drop or back into the path of the car. 

Suddenly, the blue four-door noticed the pedestrian.  It honked, swerved to the left, and screeched its brakes all at the same time.  The vehicles in the middle lane also stomped on their brakes and narrowly missed the other cars when they darted across the double-yellow line and back again.  The blue four-door somehow missed colliding with any other cars.  A man threw the passenger door open and screamed to Carlos who was lowering himself from atop the concrete wall.  He ignored the curses and angry shouts when he realized that the car wasn’t going to stop and apologize.  Sure enough, the car door slammed and the blue four-door sped away.

Carlos turned off the shower and dried himself.  His anger had almost entirely dissipated, but he still couldn’t understand why the event had happened. 

Cars are supposed to yield to pedestrians.  Yeah I was a little hard to see, but that’s the social contract people sign when they get behind the wheel.  Why couldn’t they stop gabbing at each other and focus on, I dunno, the road?  There was a time when joggers weren’t required to wear headlamps and reflective gear.  What happened to letting people not die?  There are too many distractions and too many displays in cars these days.  I’m sorry, but once you start putting DVD players in vehicles, you’re just asking for trouble.

Putting on a t-shirt and his most beaten up pair of jeans, Carlos decided to relax on the couch.  He knew he wouldn’t have the television to himself for long, so he pulled out The Three Stooges.  His wife never understood the comedic brilliance that they were performing.  Carlos got it though, and he was in the mood for some laughter.

Sure enough, as the credits started to roll, the sound of Connie’s car was heard as she pulled into the garage.  The car door slammed.  The door to the garage slammed.  Finally, Connie walked through the living room and threw her bags on the counter with a mighty thud.

“Unbelievable!”

“Honey?  Connie?  Are you okay?”

“You would not guess what happened to me.  Morons, Carlos.  We’re living in a world of morons!”

“Tell me about it.  I mean, just an hour ago…”

“I’m sorry dear”, she interrupted.  “Do you mind if I go first?  I want to… I mean… I’m so angry!”

Carlos nodded without saying a word.  He had pacified himself and his wife was clearly still incensed at her day.  He turned off the television, waved her over, and let his wife collapse onto him.  Connie sighed, slumped onto the soft cushions, and let her head rest lazily on Carlos’ shoulder. 

“It’s good to be home”, Connie said with an exhausted tone.  The relieved attitude didn’t last long.

“I still don’t see how anyone could be so stupid!”  Connie leapt to her feet and started pacing in front of the television.  Nothing that flickered across the screen could dare be as animated as the enraged woman was and Carlos gave her his utmost attention.

“You remember how Stan and I had to make this presentation downtown tonight, right?  That’s where I was for the last few hours?”

Carlos only nodded, knowing the questions that would be thrown out were only rhetorical.

“Well the whole thing went great.  I expect them to offer us a contract in the next few days.  Stan and I are happy little coworkers.  We head for his car since I left mine parked at the office.  We’ve talked about his hybrid before.  I wanted to know how it handled.  I mean, how much have I spent on gas in the last six months?

“Anyway, Stan offers to let me drive his car.  He takes the passenger side, I slide behind the wheel, and we make our way back to the office.  Traffic was awful.  There was some accident by the first intersection.  It blocked things up for I don’t know how long.  Then… then came the real kicker.

“I think everything’s going to be fine.  I figure we’re through the worst of it.  But no.  I’m driving along the city road and the most incredibly asinine person gets in my way.”

Carlos started to feel a tingling down the back of his neck.  He didn’t understand what it meant at that precise moment, but he soon would.

“Someone, some complete buffoon who’s too stupid to run on a track like a smart person, decides that the street is the perfect place to get his jollies.”

After that, Carlos could only stare on in horror.

“I mean, he wasn’t even smart about it!  Was he wearing white?  No!  Was he running in the opposite direction of the cars like he’s supposed to?  Of course not.  And why would he be out jogging at night time?  Is he suicidal?  Do joggers have some sort of death wish to offset their need to be healthy?  I mean, c’mon!”

“Uh, Connie?”

“So there I am.  I’m driving a car that I’m still trying to figure out, and there’s this jogger.  In the road!  Not off to the side, not on some sidewalk.  He’s in the flippin’ road!  Doesn’t he know that there’s a massive cliff on the other side?  Of all the asinine behaviors…  And he’s wearing all black!  Who wears all black anymore?  Emo-running is the hip new thing now?  I just, I can’t even believe it.  I need to take a shower and calm down.” 

Connie sighed and stopped pacing.  She looked at her husband, took a deep breath, and kissed him. 

“I’m glad I’m home.  Would you be a darling and cook dinner while I scrub this atrocious night off of me?  Thanks.”

“Uh, honey?  What kind of a car does Stan drive?”

“I told you”, she said as she made her way down the hallway.  “It’s a hybrid.”

“What kind?”  Carlos could feel himself twitch with fear as he asked the dreaded question.

13203533121548009075ski-mask-psd7675-md“I don’t know, Carlos.  It’s a hybrid.  His is blue.  It’s a four-door.  What do you want me to tell you?  And why is that new ski mask I bought you on the floor?  What have you been up to?”

As the Wheel Turns

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

As the Wheel Turns

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” -Henry Ford

Tootsie didn’t understand what had happened to her relationship with Pete.  At first, it had all been so promising.  He had been attentive when she had first moved in.  Pete had held her tight and traced his fingers lightly over her chin while she drifted off to sleep.  Tootsie had woken up to meals that Pete had prepared just for her.  He would read her stories and keep her company until the wee small hours of the morning.  Yes, things had all started so happily for a lad and his hamster.

Then, as inevitably happens, Pete grew weary of Tootsie’s presence.  He would let a comment slip about the jowls around Tootsie’s neck.  He stopped feeding her expensive food and let her nibble on whatever morsels lay around the house.

When she had first moved in, Tootsie had been allowed free roam of their shared living space. Now she was confined to a metal cage.  She felt it terribly unfair that Pete was allowed to strap on his jogging shoes and run around outside, but Tootsie was expected to be content with her tiny world.  Pete was the one making jokes to his friends about how chubby Tootsie looked, but she was the one trapped with an exercise wheel and no other activities.  Tootsie wondered how inspired Pete would be to keep in shape if he were trapped running on the same boring machine hour after hour, every day.

Tootsie took a sip from the giant water bottle and took in a few stale drops of water.  The sweat from her morning stroll around the wheel was dripping down her body, matting clumps of hair together.  She wanted some sort of fun before she began yet another stroll around the circular treadmill later in the afternoon.  She had long ago wondered if all this exercise was really worth the benefits.  She knew that she could still squeeze through an empty cardboard tube.  Paper towels, toilet paper; she was up for any tiny obstacle that was placed in her path.  Yet, as she looked in her smudged mirror with the blue plastic frame that only slightly cheered up her drab environment, Tootsie saw no difference in her appearance.  She still appeared, as Pete so succinctly put it, like a giant fluffed up furball.

Staring at the clock on the wall, Tootsie tried to slow down her heart rate.  Her goal was always the same.  She wanted her heart to beat at the same tempo as the second hand.  If it was a good enough goal for Pete, then it was fine for her.  Yet, try as she might, the thump-thump sound of her chest was always ticking away much faster than any clock.  She closed her eyes, took deep breaths, tried to picture a white pearl in front of her nose in a black room; none of it worked.  As healthy as Tootsie should have been with her maddening exercise routine, she just couldn’t seem to measure up to Pete’s goals.

Maybe that was what was keeping them apart, Tootsie wondered.  When they had started spending so much time together, Pete’s attentions had been focused solely on his precious hamster.  Tootsie had thought that she was Pete’s entire world.  He laughed as she burrowed underneath her bedding, made sure her water was fresh, and generally watched her every adorable move.  But Tootsie had to admit that upon second thought, there had been signs that his attention had been waning.  Pete had other things on his mind.  He had work, friends, television, and books.  All Tootsie had were her cage and Pete’s affections.  She still liked having Pete around, but she wanted more.  Pete had started off holding the key to her heart, and now he wouldn’t even unlock the cage.

In desperation at her state, Tootsie crawled into the corner of her living quarters.  She was in no mood to eat or exercise.  She simply wanted to the world to make sense.  She wanted the same amount of attention that she had once gotten.  Why couldn’t anyone make Tootsie the center of her world?

Little did she know, Tootsie’s unheard pleadings were about to be answered.  Pete opened the apartment door at that moment with a paper bag in his hand and a smile on his face.  He walked straight to Tootsie’s cage as he reached inside the sack.

“I thought you could use a little pick-me up”, Pete teased.  “I know I haven’t been around much, but hopefully this’ll help.”

Tootsie heard a squeak come from the bag.  She hunched nervously in the corner, not sure what to expect.  Pete opened the cage door, placed his other fist inside, and then closed the squeaky latch once more.

There, much to Tootsie’s delight; was a male hamster.  And he was quite cute.

“Hey there”, the Hamster said as he winked one of his brown eyes.  “I’m Hugh.  How you doin’?”

“I’m fine”, Tootsie found herself saying.  “Much better now that you’re here.”

On that day Tootsie’s lonely and cramped world opened up.  All kinds of possibilities were now hers to explore.

A Running Commentary

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

A Running Commentary

Jerry the Jogger is ready to go.  He puts his shoes on and wonders why his left shoe must always fit tighter than his right.  He empties his pockets of everything.  He wears only shorts, a simple t-shirt, and a wristband to hold his key.  Without another thought, Jerry the Jogger is ready to go.

Nothing stops Jerry the Jogger.  He sprints away from his front porch and heads out into the world.  The streets are empty; the sidewalks are his to command.  Jerry the Jogger has to admit that it is a rather pleasant morning, even if the sun is too lazy to full get out of bed.  The day has already started to warm up and it seems like the blue skies will shine brightly.  None of this slows down Jerry the Jogger.

Feeling the lungs in his chest finally warm up, Jerry the Jogger quickens his pace.  His mission is simple.  He must run, run quickly, and run skillfully.  There are no other people out yet to compete with.  The tasks and demands of the day can wait a bit longer.  Jerry the Jogger simply likes being outside.

Lone Jogger by Kim Newberg

A car delivering newspapers swerves all over the road.  Jerry the Jogger is undeterred.  He watches as the late 80’s hatchback tosses one bundle out the window, drives to the opposite of the street crossing the double yellow line without hesitating and deposits another bundle.  Jerry the Jogger sees the car coming towards him but does not change course.  The car and he have undergone this game of chicken before and Jerry the Jogger has yet to lose.  The car sees him, flicks its lights, and drives on.  The intrepid runner does not pause to wave.  Nothing can slow down Jerry the Jogger.

The typical obstacles present themselves.  A giant puddle from yesterday’s rain offers to “cool him off”, but Jerry the Jogger declines the invitation.  Tree branches sag down and threaten to scratch him in the face, but he skillfully avoids contact.  A crack looms in the pavement ahead, but he knows exactly where it is and how far it juts up off the ground.  Jerry the Jogger is fearless and yields to nothing.

A surprise greets Jerry the Jogger.  As the sun makes its full presence over the horizon, a new sight comes his way.  Two female runners approach.  They are in their late twenties and look very lovely in their running gear.  They pass with a smile and simultaneous “Hi” greetings, but Jerry the Jogger only nods and waves.  There is no time for distractions.  There is only the road.  Jerry the Jogger will not be distracted.

Nothing stops Jerry the Jogger, nothing.  Not even the cute cat that meows at him from across the street.  It does not matter that the cat is looking pretty adorable.  Jerry the Jogger cannot take time to stop and notice how the cat has cute little white spots on his feet that look like four matching white socks.  Jerry the Jogger rationalizes that he has a cat at home that he can go home and talk to.  Jerry the Jogger tries to avoid slowing down and crossing the street.  He tells himself t

hat he shouldn’t be walking to the cat slowly, quietly, as the cat walks up to him in reply.  Jerry the Jogger has a reputation of focus to maintain.  He shouldn’t be kneeling next to the cat and scratching its next; even though the neck really is quite soft.  Seriously, how does this cat get its neck to be so fluffy?  It’s like a cloud.  He reaches to scratch the cat on the back only to have the feline flee.

Fine.  Jerry the Jogger has other matters to attend to.  The cat was merely one more thing to take him away from his exercise.  Jerry the Jogger has to stay fit.  Jerry the Jogger is on a mission.  Jerry the Jogger stops for no one!  Well, except the occasional cat.

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