Violence on a run

Violence on a run

            I was about to head out for a long run along the railroad tracks in Santa Fe last Sunday and realized that I had left my sunscreen somewhere else, well, I didn’t have any in my backpack, so I stopped a couple that was headed out in their car.

            “Excuse me do you have a little sunscreen that I could borrow?”

            They both looked and said sorry but no they didn’t have any.   I said thanks and went over by the tracks about 200 feet away and began to stretch my aching leg muscles in the intense sun.  Just then a woman ran out to the car that was now moving from the driveway to the street and she demanded the attention of the drivers.  “Hey, hey, hey!  Help!” I heard as the car stopped and the drivers listened to her frantic pleas.

            In about 15 seconds a man came out of a nearby house and began screaming at the woman.  I couldn’t hear what he said but it got my attention.  They were at odds, face to face, across the hood of the car with the occupants stuck and horrified.   He screamed at her and she responded as I stopped stretching and stood blankly to hear what was said. 

            He argued in half articulated words and seemed drunk–drunk on a Sunday morning, a lovely morning—and he walked over to confront the driver of the car.  The woman moved away.  I walked slowly towards them just as he confronted the driver and banged on their tightly closed window. 

            “What are you doing here?” he said.  “Leave us alone and go! Go away!  We don’t need you!”  He pounded on the window again and formed his hand into a form of a gun and pretended to fire it through the window at the people inside.  “Go away!”

            Horrified, I moved more closely to be a witness and to lend whatever help the people in the car might need.  I stood with my arms folded like a disciplinarian, staring at the man, trying to determine if he had a real gun or was bluffing.  I decided it was a bluff and he stared at me now.  The woman took this break in the scene of his attacking her to get into another car and drive away.  I don’t know where the other car came from but it was there at the right moment.  The couple drove around the corner and stopped their car. 

            But that left me facing the angry, drunken man; I backed away as he ranted about something or other.  I feared that he might have a real gun in his pocket or somewhere and it was just he and me and I kept my distance from him as I backed away.

            He saw that their cat was walking my way and said:  “Even the fucking cat is going with you.”  Now he was merely whining and I felt sorry for the man, but not much.  I felt more sorry for the cat.  And the woman who had left but probably would return.  I ran and waved at the other car in thanks.

            I ran for two hours and felt cleaner but very, very tired in the painfully hot sun of Santa Fe.  When I returned to the place I had started my run, there was no clue about what had happened nor where the people had gone.  It seemed like nothing had even happened until the cat came towards me, meowing.

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