“I saw you running on Rankin road, Inder. There’s no pavement on that road. Somebody could’ve run you over. That’s crazy…What made you–?”
I put my hands on my knees and pant out. “Don’t ask.”
My colleague pats my back. “No reason is worth the risk– eeeew” He rubbed his hand on his blue dungarees and adjusts his hard hat. “How long was your run?”
A bead of sweat traces a path from my forehead to the tip of my nose. It dangles off the tip and splatters on the asphalt. Another one lands on top of it. “Thirteen.” I cough out.
“Dude, You did a half-marathon before you started work? On a Tuesday? How many times have you run thirteen miles?”
“Then why today? And before work” He points with his index finger to his temple and twirls his finger around, making the cuckoo sound.
The day had started as any other.
The jarring tone had awoken me up from deep slumber. 4:15 The amber readout out of the clock was the only light in my bedroom. After my daily ablutions, I was about to insert the earplugs when my brother called to remind me he was coming to my apartment for picking up his documents.
I pushed my phone into my pocket, set my stopwatch to 0:00:00:00. I spot jogged to warm up. The new smart phone slapped my thigh. This is going to be an intrusion when I jog. I tossed my phone on the table and shut the door. Then I pushed it open to ensure I left the door open for my brother while I was at the gym.
The two-mile jog to the gym was over before the first drop of sweat made an appearance. The abs workout went per usual. An hour later I jogged back to my apartment. With one final check of the elapsed time on my watch I had twisted the door-knob and pushed in the door.
Resistance. The jarring microsecond it took to realize that you I’d been screwed. I tried it again. Darnit. He locked it. I slapped my pockets, expecting to hear the sweet jingle of the keys that lay on the other side of the bulky door.
“Arggghhhh,” I threw my head in the air. 0603, my watch read. I kicked the door a few times, cussed my brother again, rechecked my pockets and was done with my hissy-fit. Okay Inder, relax. The office can give you a duplicate key, but they open at eight. I can call my brother and ask him to take me to his house. Darn it No phone. Maybe I can use a pay-phone. Okay , no quarters. Maybe I can wake up the neighbor and ask for a phone. Yep- best idea yet.
I stopped my knuckles from rapping at the neighbors door an inch before they made contact. Gosh. I don’t know my own brothers number. What was it 281-423 or is it 632…I rubbed my temples. I remember his land-line number from fifteen years ago. Smart phones, my ass.
The thirty seconds it takes to realize that you one is completely and utterly screwed lasts five minutes. I leaned against the door and slid down till my butt hit the coarse foot-mat. No car, no money, no phone, no keys, no friends and an office that was thirteen miles away. That’s how one gets royally–
“–Run for it” My crazy brain chimed in.
“Shut the fuck up.” I punched my forehead with two fingers.
“What are you options? Sit here for another two hours? You’d be at the office by then.”
“Don’t do this? I’m done listening to you.” I wrapped myself in my arms.
“Listen, I’ve always been your friend. We–”
“Na na nana na na…”
“–It’s only thirteen measly miles. You will never know if you can do it till you try.”
“The stupid shit that you come up with, it’s-it’s…”
“I said shut the fuck up.” I slammed the back of my head on the door.
“Come on, Inder. It’ll be fun. It’s a challenge. Are you chicken? Bwuck bwuck bwuck.”
“I’m not falling for that shit anymore.”
“That’s okay. Didn’t think you could do it anyway. Your capacity is a forty-five minute run every week. Your heart or muscles can’t endure a half-marathon. Let’s just wimp out.”
I jump to my feet. “Wimp out?” I reset my watch.
At mile eight my lungs began to give out. By mile nine my thighs felt like they’ve been split down the middle. By Mile eleven my shin had just been stabbed with a switchblade. By Mile twelve the world moved in and out of focus.
Fuck you, brain. Cars zipped by me less than a foot away from my weary legs. I pushed my watch in my face 02:04:11:51. My wrist lolled back by my side.
Aha, the railway line. Just beyond it lays the employee entrance. I made it. I willed my legs to keep moving for the last 0.1 mile.
The faux-leather on my chair is stuck to my thighs. The musty smell of sweat permeates my office. I read the email I’ve typed up-
…and you locked me out of the apartment. I found my way to office but I really need you to come pick me up over lunch. I can shower at work but I have no change of clothes. I have a big project meeting after lunch. Please be at the office at 11 am…
I searched my office for a stray shirt till I come across a red tee.
What a lucky day…Yay…Hold on… Never mind, that’s my Halloween outfit from last year… Gay biker? What were you thinking? I stab my index finger to my forehead.
“Dude, That was a cool dress. The pink spray paint in your hair. The head-band and the The skin-tight T-shirt that said I’m so gay I –”
“–Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up.”
The icon for new email pops up on my computer. “Afternoon meeting moved up to 10:00 AM.”
I hold the t-shirt in my hand. This can’t be happening. It’s either this or nothing.
I press my folder close to my chest as I enter the conference room. My manager has the floor. “…and the parts we have tested have a cycle time of under six seconds. Inder, please hand me the brochures.”
My ears start burning. I peel the folder from my chest and handed it to him. My manager’s jaw drops. His finger waved at my red t-shirt.
I’M SO GAY, I SHIT RAINBOWS.