The Last Hurrah

He washed his face and said nothing. Absolutely nothing to himself. Looked in the mirror. Turned his head to the left, chin out, and to the right, sucking in his jaw line, and stood there for a moment. He was not what he used to be.

The once thin waist line had now become loose flabby flesh. His chest had become teats, rolls of fat flabbed under his arms, the neck that was a single column now doubled in size. A gray beard helped hide it.

If we’re not careful, there’s a transition the body goes through. And now at fifty-three, that transition was in full effect thanks to years of neglect.

He’d taken off and put on over a hundred pounds three times in his life. It was a constant battle. In his twenties and thirties the young man ran over five miles a day. Neighbors would laugh as he had a cigarette in one hand and a Slimfast in the other while stretching, preparing for his run.

This married man, whose ring never fit, would run through the streets of Chicago at various times. Mostly around seven in the morning when the rest of America was going off to office jobs, schools to teach at, construction sites, climbing into Kendals and Peterbilts with packages of powdered donuts on dashboards.

But, not this man. He bent over and twisted his lean body into that of a pretzel, placing one foot at a time up on the back stoop and slowly holding his hands on his ankles and keeping it there for the count of thirty. He’d shake the legs out and do it again.

There were also those nights when he could not sleep. And, without waking his wife at two or three in the morning, would take off on his run then as the North side bars were closing, pouring the drunks and the broken hearted out into the streets to catch cabs, eat burritos, all night diners along Broadway, Halsted, Clark, where the self abused would drink pots of coffee loaded with sugar and cream.

He’d run along North Clark towards Halsted and turn right. The amateur athlete ran in the streets, avoiding the buckets of dirty water being tossed onto the sidewalks and the people waiting for their sober moment to come.

Running south on Halsted past the bars, the busses, the yellow cabs, the boutique shops, grocery stores, down towards Lake Street where the day laborers were lining up to get their shekels, past the sign on the brick wall that read Fresh Killed Lamb.

And, it was fresh killed lamb. The son of God looking over the whores, pimps, pool hustlers, junkies, drunks, the sick and the lame, and Michael as he ran home to toast and honey.

And now he sits alone in a rented room looking out windows, listening to the trains run throughout the night, watching green and red neon glow in the dark. Sleeping most of his days away while night is spent in silence.

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