The Tale of Running Man

LCB and I have an ability to act normal that we don’t always use.

Oh, the stories we won’t but could tell.

But I will tell you that one of our occasional pastimes is to go out on the beach after dark, plop a couple of beach chairs in the sand, and watch for Running Man.

This sounds embarrassing now that I’ve committed it to the universe. When I say, just to LCB, “Hey, let’s go look for Running Man,” it sounds hilarious and maybe a tad witty (perhaps it’s part delivery). But when I write it here, the thought occurs to me that many of you might automatically place me in the camp of people who believe aliens live in their ductwork and communicate via celebrity Instagram accounts.

And I haven’t even explained it yet.

Ah, well. The only other funny stories I can think to tell today are the Stories We Could Tell but Won’t, so I guess I’m committed to the tale of Running Man.

It all started maybe five years ago. If memory serves, it was summer, and the beach was well-lit by a nearly full moon. LCB and I grabbed drinks and beach chairs and headed out to the ocean. Some time later, we were deep in conversation when, out of nowhere it seemed, we heard a whoosh sound as a shape whizzed by a few feet in front of us.

The shape looked human, but the speed seemed far beyond any natural human speed. We both leaned forward in our chairs and stared at the figure as it grew smaller and then disappeared.

“What was that?” I asked after it was beyond our view.

After going back and forth on our interpretations of what almost seemed like an apparition, we sat back and our conversation moved on to other things.

Maybe fifteen minutes later, we were still deep in discussion when the whiz by happened again, this time heading the opposite direction. He was past us almost before we heard or saw him, but this time we caught more of an outline as he passed in front of the moon’s light. His movements were so fluid he seemed to glide over the sand.

“That’s a man,” I observed, and added, “He’s running.”

LCB would be hard-pressed to figure out much of anything without me.

“I can’t even imagine what speed he’s running. That’s wild!” he said. He was right. It did look wild.

The next night, the same thing happened. And a few nights later, it happened again.

I don’t know if that man (assuming he was that) was training for something or just trying to outrun the things that sometimes chase us all, but I’d love to be able to run like that just once. I run like I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of it; this man ran like he was created for it.

We didn’t see him for a while, and then the next spring or summer one night he was there again, just as we’d begun to stop looking for him. The sudden whiz by surprised us almost as much as it did the first time.

Years have passed now, and we haven’t seen him in a long time. Once, in the distance I saw a guy I thought was Running Man, but I soon realized he was only going about twice my running speed, and thus I knew this running man was not Running Man. For whatever reason, the likelihood is that Running Man is long gone, having moved on to other things or other beaches.

But on those nights when the moon is full or nearly so, we’ll still grab chairs and head to the sand. And if there’s a sudden movement in the distance, one that stands out from any of the others on the beach, faster and more fluid somehow, one of us will say his name, and we’ll both turn and watch.

Just in case.

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