Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Race


You know what it's like? It's like this.

You are a runner. You've been running all your life and you've finally made it to the Olympics. You've worked so hard, every day for years, giving up so many other things, because you know if you really want to make it that's what it takes.

You've had your share of obstacles too, nothing came easy. Nothing ever does come easy. Money has always been tight and for the lack of it you've had to make due, but you didn't let that get in the way. You did without the additional things that might have given you an edge, and you're fine with that. Truth be told the people you'll be racing against mostly came from the same ordinary background as you, they didn't have many extras either. And the ones that did don't seem to have been made any better runners for it. They just look more expensive, they have better lodgings, but they'll still have to get out there and push it for all they've got. Those extras won't mean a thing when it comes down to it.

Today is finally the day. It feels like a dream. The stands are filled to overflowing, the weather is perfect, a little on the hot side maybe, and the excitement is palpable. You'll be running the 200 yard dash and you're feeling good, very strong. You're ready to run like the wind. No matter what happens you'll remember this day for the rest of your life and you're grateful and happy that you made it this far. Few can make that claim. That doesn't mean you won't give it everything you've got. You will. You intend to win and after watching all the others practice over the last few days, you believe you've not only got a very good chance, you're headed for the gold. They're all good, but you're better.

They're signaling it's time to take your place. "Runners to their starting positions please, everyone else off the track". People start to scatter like ants in every direction as the track clears and the lean, muscular runners walk to their spots and take their last few stretches then test their sprint blocks. They all look anxious and wound up, they're all ready to run their hearts out. You step into your lane and head for your starting position. Just as you reach it you become aware of some kind of commotion nearby. Looking up from your feet you try to zero in on the area the noise and activity is coming from but it's difficult as many people in the stands are suddenly noisy and active in response to what ever is going on.

Then you see it. A white limousine. On the track! A long white stretch limo has driven out from under the bleachers and turned onto the track behind you and is now slowly coming close to where the racers are all standing in their places waiting for the starting gun to go off. Within a few seconds all of the runners are aware of the limousine approaching behind them and they all stand and watch in curious awe and irritation, not understanding what's going on or why their race is being delayed for some form of cheap theatrics.

The limo gently rolls to within fifteen feet of the hind most runner and stops. The driver's door quickly opens and a thin man in a black uniform hops out and scrambles around the front of the car, then back to the passenger door. He pauses briefly, then with a flourish, he grabs hold of the door handle and springs the door open. He offers his arm by holding it out and into the vehicle and a few seconds later, a man dressed in white satin running shorts and matching tank top steps out of the car and onto the track. He acts completely unaware of the crowd watching him and behaves as if nothing unusual is happening. He thanks his chauffeur and begins to walk to the last remaining open lane to take his place in the 200 yard dash. He's a runner!?

"How can this be?", you ask yourself. The man is clearly out of shape. He is visibly fat and is not muscular at all. His calves and thighs are normal, not angular and lean. He has a visible pot belly, the midriff of which is hanging over the waistline of his white satin shorts. He looks ridiculous. But no one is stopping him. He's in his place and the limousine has done a turnabout on the track and is nearly back to the place it first came in. A few seconds later it turns off the field and is gone.

Like the other runners, you're not really interested anymore at this point. All you can think about is your race, which is about to begin, any second now. The official with the starting pistol has stepped out of his shack and onto the track. The runners now all hunch down on their sprint blocks and take their well rehearsed starting positions. The official slowly raises his arm into the air, holding the pistol straight up above his head, and begins to count backwards from five.

Five - four - three - two - one! The gun fires! And you're off! You are flying. You are thinking of nothing else, hearing nothing else, are aware of nothing else but your feet pounding the track, your arms swinging with grace and speed, and your legs chopping through the air like Ginsu knives.

Which is why you didn't know what to think when you felt the searing shock of electric pain shooting through your back, through your body and out of your chest. You didn't understand the spray of bright red ensuing right behind the pain. You couldn't comprehend what was happening as you fell to the ground and laid there, sprawled across the track, paralyzed.

The stands grew still and eerily quiet. No one was moving. Jaws were dropped and all eyes were fixated somewhere on the track behind you. When you fell you landed sideways, your head lays in the dirt facing behind you. You're in agonizing pain and realize you're laying in a pool of your own blood but your eyes can't resist looking where everyone else is looking. You strain to focus and then you see what they see. All of the runners are down. But one. The man in the white satin shorts.

He is still standing, in fact, he is slowly walking the track towards you, whistling, with a gun in his hand. He's shot all of the runners. They're all laying in pools of their own blood. Some are writhing in pain, others appear to be dead. As he approaches you, his eyes are focused on you. His eyes now meet your eyes. Your heart begins to pound wildly in your chest, you are terrified he is coming to finish the job. You can't move though more than anything else you want to run right now, run to get away from this mad man. You can't move a muscle. You close your eyes as they fill with hot tears.

The man in the white satin short steps down within an inch of your face, sending pieces of gravel against your cheeks and closed eyes, but he does not stop. He does not pause. He simply walks on by, whistling, and keeps on walking. He is smiling. He is swinging the gun in his hand, back and forth, back and forth in time with his stride. As the sound of his feet crunching on the gravel begins to fade you hear an automobile engine. Your eyes automatically move toward the sound, it is in the center of the field. It is the limousine. It is following behind the man in the white silk shorts, pacing him. The limousine is packed with people who are drinking champagne and calling out their cheers to the man in the white silk shorts. "Go Daniel! Go! You're in the lead! You're winning!" "Move it Daniel, you can do better than that! Shake a leg!"

You can't see Daniel but he breaks into a slow trot and within a few seconds he breaks across the finish line. As soon as he does he stops and raises both arms into the air. "Victory!", he cries out. "I've won! I've won the Olympics!"

The people in the stands are shocked into dumb silence. It is utterly surreal. Then the limousine pulls up next to Daniel and a group of very noisy, boisterous people pile out, one with an enormous magnum of champagne. A tall man pops the cork and champagne begins to shoot out, sending foam all over the others and mostly of course, all over Daniel.

"Hey! Where's my trophy?", Daniel calls out as his group continues its wild cheering and boisterous toasting with oversized champagne glasses clinking every few seconds.

An official appears on the track with a trophy holding it up over his head as he approaches Daniel and his party. "Here you go sir," he says, "you've won first place. Congratulations." The digital scoreboard comes alive blinking a completely false time that breaks all known records for the 200 yard dash. An announcer's voice tells the stadium the time and announces the official winner of the race, Daniel Silver.

As if on cue the crowd begins to go wild, cheering and whooping and hollering. It's as if nothing at all is out of the ordinary. Reporters begin to flock onto the track holding microphones, a troop of cameramen in tow behind them. All are competing for spots nearest to Daniel, microphones are popping up all around him as reporters shout out their questions. "How does it feel to win, sir?" "What are you thinking right now Daniel?" "You've broken every record Daniel, how does it feel to be number one in the whole world?"

The folks at home, watching all this on TV, are deeply disturbed. Others don't seem to notice the occasional shots of dead and dying runners in the lanes, all of them soaked in blood. No one seems to care that no ambulances are appearing, or that no help is being rendered those who's lives are slowly draining from their athletically perfect bodies.

Your mind and emotions are overwhelmed as you simultaneously realize you feel no more pain. You feel very sleepy. Your last conscious thought is to wonder if you're going to die now.

As it turns out, you didn't die. You woke up in a hospital sometime later, and you had to spend several weeks there, laying in bed, unable to move your arms or your legs or your head. They didn't know if you would be permanently paralyzed or not. Unfortunately you also couldn't move your mouth to speak or ask any questions to talk about what had happened to you, what had happened to all of the runners on the track with you. You wanted to know why this happened. You wanted to know who the man in the white silk shorts is, and why he did this to you, and what had happened to him. He had to have been arrested by now, he had to be behind bars in a cold cell stripped of his stupid white shorts. He had to be thinking about what he'd done. You wanted to see the news but could neither move to turn on the television set on the opposite wall nor ask the nurse who walked in just at that moment to turn it on for you.

She must have seen the look in your eyes, she seemed to sense your anxiety and horror and fear. "Would you like to listen to the TV for a while?", she asks you sweetly. You try to nod but nothing happens. Somehow she must have sensed you wanted it on, she picked up the remote control on a cord wrapped around one of the side rails on your bed and pushed the button. BMM came on. After a time the flash screen came on for BMM sports, Olympic wrap up. There was Daniel Silver! There he was on the track in his white shorts! But there is no gun in his hand. How can this be? Have they airbrushed it out? He was holding that gun as he walked past you, he was holding it the whole time, you were sure of it. But there is no gun in his hand on TV.

The graphics said, "Olympic recap: Stunning win breaks all records. Daniel Silver, son of a major banking family, sweeps all previous record times into history. Silver wins the gold!" The broadcast is showing all of the runners in their starting positions, it is showing the official fire the starting pistol, it is showing all of the runners taking off down the track like lightening. But then it cuts away! It cuts away! What are they doing? The next thing they show is Daniel Silver breaking through the finish line and raising his arms into the air! Now they are showing the stadium going wild! Now comes a shot of the official handing Daniel Silver the enormous trophy, and next a scene of a ceremony where he received a gold medal placed over his head and laid upon his chubby chest.

Oh!! It's an interview now!

"That was one hell of a race Daniel, you've broken the all time world record for the 200 yard dash How did you do it?"

"A lot of hard work Trevor, a lot of dedication and long hours and sacrifice. I earned it Trevor, and I knew I would."

"You realize you're the fastest runner in the world now? How does it feel to be famous for that?"

Silver laughs then says, "It feels great." He grins widely exposing his teeth.

The sports segment is over. They're off to a new topic. You are stunned. You are horrified and overwhelmed. Not a word had been said about the bloody shootings and murder of your fellow runners. Nothing was said about their condition, or how many of them even lived. The man in the white silk shorts wasn't even arrested! He's been lauded as a hero! They're acting like he won it fair and square! They're pretending that he didn't murder all of the other runners and then just casually walk the length of the track, gun in hand.

Your blood pressure shoots through the roof, signaling the nurses desk. You are enraged and confused. It makes no sense. The man is a murder and they're all covering for him. Thousands of witnesses saw it and they just changed the facts, airbrushed out the murder weapon, failed to show the carnage, and re-ran segments to make it look like Daniel was in the race and won it. It's all a big fat lie. And he is getting away with it, and they are all helping him get away with it! It simply does not make sense.

Tears flood up into your eyes as the room goes blurry. A nurse injects you with something and you fall asleep.

Over the next few days your outrage grows. You have to concentrate on your health, you want to walk again. But no matter what, you want justice. You want Silver stripped of his stolen gold medal and you want him arrested for murder and attempted murder and you want the truth to come out! You want to see that man behind bars! But you called the police and they wouldn't listen. You phoned all of the papers and all of the news channels and none of them would speak to you. One of the guys from BMM even called you a liar and threatened to sue you for harassment if you didn't quit calling their station. A liar! They're calling you a liar!? Are they insane? You've got the proof for everything you're saying! You were there! You know what happened! And they must know what happened too since they airbrushed the gun away and pretended the track wasn't soaked in blood! How dare they?

The FBI wasn't interested in talking to you. Neither was the CIA or the Justice Department or the Sheriff's Office or the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, they threatened to come out and arrest you for threatening Daniel Silver's life when you'd done nothing of the kind! They're all insane! They are all protecting this murderer, this liar, this psychopath, cheater, scum bag vicious brutal killer!

You break into tears of rage for the hundredth time. It never gets easier. It's impossible to understand why they are doing this. Your justice is not coming. Silver will get away with it and he will go down in history as the world's fastest runner, breaking all existing records, and people are already claiming to remember seeing him win the race. They were there, they say, they saw it themselves! They're calling you crazy, saying you're a liar or delusional. They know, they saw it with their own eyes.

You begin to wonder what kind of world you live in, and if you really care to live in it at all. Nothing makes sense, it's all ugly, it's all a lie. They're all liars. Your heart is broken, and so is your faith, and so is your ability to find yourself and your peace and your place in a strange world that should not exist but does. It's taken over the world you grew up in and lived in and killed it.

A few weeks later you were watching the TV one day and saw Daniel Silver at the White House meeting the president. They gave him some sort of prize or present and made a big fuss out of his visit. Daniel's a beloved hero now, all over the world. He's got money coming in hand over fist, thousands and millions of dollars in offers for books and appearances and product endorsements and speeches and they even want to make a movie about his life. You are struck by how bizarre and stupid it all is. This is nothing but pornography. You want nothing to do with it.

With all your might you push down on the remote control and turn the television off for the last time. You never watch it again. You decide to get on with your life, and you do. Everything has changed although everything looks exactly the same. The thing that's really different is knowing what few people know, and understanding that it's always been like this and it always will be. The scum of the earth are protected and privileged precisely because they are scum and they are thugs and they have no capacity for decency or honor or true human qualities. You will live in spite of them and pay them no mind ever again.

And so it was.

That's what it's like.

4 comments:

  1. BINGO!! What a cathartic, metaphorical Pièce de résistance!
    “Everything has changed although everything looks exactly the same.” is exactly how I felt when Reagan became president. Even today, I cringe while writing Reagan and president in the same sentence. I had an inkling even then that it was a harbinger; of far worse people and things to come, whose immensity I couldn’t begin to foresee. The difference between then, and the conclusion of bush II, is as a minnow to a whale. And now it’s a global infection. I told all my friends back in ‘80 that if Ronnie Ray-guns became president I was leaving the country. And I did, running all the way to Machu Picchu before I felt sufficiently cleansed. I didn’t return to the U.S. for close to a year. The problem is, though, where can we run to now? I cannot believe how thoroughly such a tiny minority has trashed such a huge portion of this planet. I fear this beast has grown to the point where it is unstoppable. Where can we go to escape these scum, who seem to exert their foul influence on a global scale? Where can one go breath fresh air, to eat wholesome food, to live, and be left, in peace?

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  2. BINGO!! What a cathartic, metaphorical Pièce de résistance!
    “Everything has changed although everything looks exactly the same.” is exactly how I felt when Reagan became president. Even today, I cringe while writing Reagan and president in the same sentence. I had an inkling even then that it was a harbinger; of far worse people and things to come, whose immensity I couldn’t begin to foresee. The difference between then, and the conclusion of bush II, is as a minnow to a whale. And now it’s a global infection. I told all my friends back in ‘80 that if Ronnie Ray-guns became president I was leaving the country. And I did, running all the way to Machu Picchu before I felt sufficiently cleansed. I didn’t return to the U.S. for close to a year. The problem is, though, where can we run to now? I cannot believe how thoroughly such a tiny minority has trashed such a huge portion of this planet. I fear this beast has grown to the point where it is unstoppable. Where can we go to escape these scum, who seem to exert their foul influence on a global scale? Where can one go breath fresh air, to eat wholesome food, to live, and be left, in peace?

    ReplyDelete
  3. JC,

    This is why I decided to support the space program. I was hoping we could put all those degenerate morons on space ships and send them off to their own planet so they'll leave ours alone. They are such puke.

    I remember everytime I saw Reagan on TV this image would strongly come to mind that he was made out of wood like a puppet, and his mouth was a cut out around his lips and chin that dropped up and down when he spoke. I had no idea how accurate I was. When I told others about it they just laughed. It's not funny. We haven't had a leader since they murdered JFK and RFK and MLK.

    Thugs and liars make lousy leaders. If all the "leaders" suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth, the world would breathe a great sigh of relief. It would be like cutting off all the power of evil and cruelty and greed and sociopathy with the flip of a switch. The feeling of sudden calm would be palpable and global. People would stand up and stretch and start smiling again. Maybe we'd have a great big global bar-B-Q to celebrate. Would it not be wild if all the good decent sane folk were in charge? Wouldn't it be amazing if things were fair and justice was just and folks were nice to each other and didn't act like psychotic spoiled children with machine guns? Can we get a vote for that? Probably not.

    A friend told me something last week that I should pass along. She said there was a sign in an Irish kitchen she saw that said, "Learn to suffer". Not a bad idea. In fact there is so much to it that I need to do a piece on it. If we could get really good at suffering it wouldn't hurt anymore. Is there something there to explore? Hard to say. It's such a repellant idea it would be hard to sell but still I think there's something in there worth digging out and taking a look at. It's on my 'to do' list.

    Ang

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  4. I've also had a hard time with idea of suffering. The first so called noble truth. Suffering by your own hands or by your own internal struggle can be seen as noble. It's the suffering we experience at the hands of others that I cannot bring myself to accept.

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