I took up running because Marathon Man scared me when I was a boy. And still, I’ve been haunted by the idea of lying naked in a filled tub while the lights in my apartment suddenly go off and people begin to whisper. I’ve been haunted by malicious dentistry and by a sharp blade puncturing my fleshy belly, letting everything leak out slowly. I’ve been haunted by twenty-six point two miles coming at me all at once. I loathe running and I adore running. I loathe it just before I begin it. I adore its concept just after I finish. I loathe what it does to people. Their chemistry. Disgusting body odors and runner’s diarrhea. How it makes them climb upon others to tell their tall tales of conquering that which a long time ago killed a man named Phidippides on his mission to Athens.
Today I flew a kite on an open baseball field by a church while drinking from a pint bottle of ouzo. At mid day some preacher man stepped out onto the field with a large group of high school students in tow, went to the center field fence, and began to preach in the sunshine, his voice piercing the clean, crisp air. He screamed about the immorality of homosexuality, the immorality of extra marital affairs, pre-marital sex. The high school kids seemed to agree. The girls were wearing tight, short shorts, tight tops. Most of them had big tits and were proud of showing them off. They walked with their backs slightly arched like awkward birds of paradise displaying their goods. The boys were clad in fitted, print t-shirts, baggy cargo shorts–probably to hide their erections. They were all small framed; little men alongside blossoming women. They were all kids being indoctrinated. I just flew my kite and drank and listened to the preacher cut the beautiful silence that had been there just before he led them all out.
I don’t know if it’s safe. The question has always seemed to me much like the math problem O’Brien keeps asking Winston in room 101 while holding up various fingers. I drank ouzo and wished someone would strap a rat-filled cage to the preacher’s face. I didn’t feel sorry for the teens, though. I hated them, in fact. I hated the girls especially, because I knew the boys wouldn’t give a fuck about any of the shit the preacher was yelling about. Men don’t have morals. We just want to fuck. But I hated the girls for processing the garbage being spewed from this diminutive pederast gesticulating with ersatz passion by a fucking decrepit center field fence in the suburbs of an anonymous town. We all belonged there, though.
That evening I ran alongside a smelly creek, which undulated through a very bad neighborhood. I was accosted by two loose pit bulls who just wanted to join along for a bit, before breaking off to sniff some dried goose shit, or the tracks of an escaped convict frantically cutting a path through the nearby woods. I don’t know if it’s safe. And I don’t care how many fingers O’Brien is holding up. I am mortified of being accosted while naked and vulnerable in a tub. I don’t know if anything is safe.