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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Some strange vibes emanating from a very senior runner, attract the attention of a group of young men and women, who come to believe that he possess some special knowledge . . . and advice.

Submitted: July 13, 2016

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Submitted: July 13, 2016




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two


Not one minute later, calls came in from all the gang who had recruited a half dozen more to keep the chain of visual contact unbroken.

Almost ten hours later, the air was cooling off, as the sea breezes gliding through the Gate were softening the heat.

Ralph, an English major from Peoria, who’s a friend of Penny’s, reported that he was down the East Bay Trail at Lake Chabot and that TM was slowing  and eating and drinking goodies from two pouches on his belt; one back and one on his left side.

“Hey, man; is this a nighter; we going to track this dude by moonlight?

“The night is coming in fast down here—especially in the foothills; there’s nothing but the hills; you know, the park; so man—hey; wait; Jesus H., TM  has put on a head lamp; you know, how the miners wear in the mine.. . . now what do I do; should we just assume he’s running back the same trail?”

I hesitated; “how the hell did he get to Chabot?”

“Jewel told me—or Janice; that TM had made a left on Park and had run all the way to the hills around Redwood Park; somewhere like that; then gone right; like right to here; in Chabot.”

I began to wonder if we should just wait for him tomorrow when he comes along Oxford again and just assume he ran all night.

However, I quickly realized that TM would probably stop at his house and sleep before setting out and coming by Edward’s again . . . or maybe, he wouldn’t.


“Hey guys; what do you think; is TM going to just go home to some place in Berkeley or Kensington and crash; then go along Oxford toward us tomorrow; or do you think he’s doing an over-nighter; should we drop the tail?”

Eight of us were hooked into Ralph and all but one of us said no; in unison.

We wanted to be sure; maybe he lived in Hayward or San Leandro; some place along the route from Lake Chabot back to Berkeley—or all the way to Richmond.

Jesus; it could be anywhere along that route.

Both Nicky and Janice were surprisingly excited at the prospect of TM running all night.

“Wah!” effused Nicky, “my Prof who lectures about geriatrics would be blown away by my paper; even if TM stops in Hayward or San Leandro—and he’ll go nuts if I documented a guy TM’s age running all night.”

Janice cut in; “I’m in; but what do you think this guy’s — TM, is doing? Is he training for something; doing it on a bet; man!, I want to stay on this guy if only to find out just why he’s doingthis.”

Geoff was the one no vote. Geoff’s decision to exit our experiment—or whatever it was becoming—was, unfortunately, based on solid reason.

“Does it really matter why he’s doing this?

"Okay, let’s say he’s training for a marathon—or even an Ultra; so what; and if he’s doing this just for fun, he’s nuts.


Nonetheless, all the rest of us wanted to scratch that itch of the ‘unknown’ and we all gave each other the times we were available that night to keep up the tail.

Johnny knew where we could get a couple of head lamps; not very big, but enough to give whoever was following, a look at the trail.

Janice wondered what would happen if TM realized he was being followed.

Ralph said ‘okay’ in a cheery tone and resumed his tail.


Well, TM did run all that night, along the East Bay Regional Park trail, thirty-one miles; plus all the preliminary miles. 

From Wildcat Canyon in Richmond he came back up off the trail just past the Little Farm, to Grizzly Peak and down Euclid Avenue where he entered the top flat of a frame and stucco structure.

The top flat had an enormous window overlooking the Bay all the way out through the Golden Gate to the Farallones.

A guy named Mark, a buddy of Jewel’s on the Cross Country team, reported the location and we all thanked him and told him to get some sleep.

Janice was next up and we told her the same.

But, what is she saying now?

“He’s just come out again; he wasn’t in there more than five minutes. And he’s running again down Euclid,’ pausing, “should I pick him up again?”

No one spoke up right away.

The silence seemed to be permanent.

“I vote we keep on him,” George stated with some serious weight behind his statement, “this guy is unreal; I think this is some kind of defining moment’; or something like that.”

Jewel spoke up, “Hey, we’ve been on this for hours; all of us; let’s keep it going,” after a moment, “ I think we’re on to something here; I have no idea what, but we’re all in this together and maybe it’s like some group thing; like Esalen; or some such,”

“Or Jonestown,” piped up Mark. I later met Mark and we became great friends; an architecture major; very bright.

Only a few laughed.

I think by that time we were all a bit rummy from lack of sleep; and too many beers.

Jewel laughed and continued, “we don’t now how long this guy can do this ; I say let’s go.”

Murmurs of agreement rippled through the ether.

And so the watch was kept.

TM went around another lap of his route making the total mileage close to a hundred.


We all met for pizza and beers at LeVal’s following the second evening stint when TM reentered the Euclid Ave flat.

He didn’t come into our orbit again until later in that round: number three.

No one suggested a second round of tailing; but everyone stated vigorously that we should somehow meet this guy and find out what he was about and what he was up to.

After two more pitchers and another pizza, we all; all twelve of us; tossed around various ways to approach him and get him talking .

The guys voted unanimously that one of the women should approach him; with our first choice being Penny, who was the best looking and the other women didn’t need a weatherman; and so the final vote was unanimous and Penny became ‘the chosen one’ to approach TM and get him to Laval’s where we could all hear his story.

After the beers wore off and as the night wore on, a plan was finally formulated; and it was a really good one; foolproof; dignified; frightening to Penny; the rest of us were relieved that we didn’t have to run after TM again and that Penny was perfectly righteous in being frightened.

“That’s good,” nodded Jack; a newbie; a pre-med guy; brought to the group by Mark a few days after the completion of our tailing effort, “that’s the expected reaction and perfectly normal.”

Jack was obviously going to do the two extra years to become a psychiatrist.

Penny launched a weak smile in his direction, holding back the absolute lights-out beamer she harbored in her heart; she went out with him the next night and they’re now a serious item.

But before Penny could take all of Jack’s time, Penny had her ‘mission’.


End of Chapter Two

© Copyright 2019 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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