The Tarp

Folded Gray Tarp Isolated Over White Background

You know when you’re on your run and you let your mind wander, thinking about chocolate or contemplating the mysteries of the universe like how Superman cuts his hair or clips his toenails… sometimes the foot pounding knocks loose old memories upstairs. That happened to me last night and this episode came to mind.

It was a hot summer evening and I was running along, minding my own business, murdering Thunderstruck at the top of my lungs and wondering what might be causing a sucking sound I was hearing. I turned down a particularly dark stretch of road and a warm breeze hit me in the face. So I licked my fingers and wet my bald spot to cool off, as is my habit – a trick I picked up from desert animals licking their paws – and came upon a group of bushes along a block wall behind some houses. In the center of the bushes was a dark shadowed area, a perfect place for someone to hide. I quickly went through some moves in my head, ready to go “kung fu” on their ass if anyone popped out. No one did. Instead, I saw something. It was a shape on the ground.

The object was large and lumpy (traits which endear me to my wife, I’ll have you know) and as I ran, I considered what it might be. A pile of leaves? Trash that somebody dumped there? But soon I was distracted by the sucking sound again and forgot all about it… until the next run.

Two nights later, I came to the same stretch of road and, seeing the bushes, was reminded of the object. So this time I slowed down (which is virtually a stop for me) to get a better look. It had long streaks and appeared to be something twisted up. Oh, it looks like it’s just a tarp, I thought. Some landscapers probably left it there when they trimmed the bushes.

Note:  In Arizona, we xeriscape, except for the golf courses on every corner. So all the neighborhoods have gravel instead of grass to conserve water. Landscapers will sometimes put down a tarp around trees and bushes before trimming them to make clean-up easier.

I chuckled and ran on, and my imagination ran with me. Strange for them to leave that big pile there. Wouldn’t they miss their tarp? It’s been at least three days. Come to think of it, that pile was kind of long and had a slight hourglass shape to it. Maybe it’s a homeless person sleeping there and using the tarp as a blanket. It’s too hot for a blanket, though. Wait! What if it’s a BODY?! Somebody dumped a dead body there wrapped up in a tarp! – What the heck is that sucking sound?

No, I didn’t tell my wife about it. I didn’t want to alarm her.

The next evening, I packed my pepper spray, made sure my phone was charged and ventured out for a three-miler. As I approached the area, I thought about what I should do and who I could call. My Cub Scout den had just toured our city police department where we met Officer Mike. Nervous that some thugs might be hiding nearby looking for their next victim, I called out, “Don’t try anything! I know Mike!” Closer I came, slowly crunching gravel, entering the “shadow zone”. Just a few feet away now and still too hard to see through the darkness. Pepper spray in hand, I kicked it and it was surprisingly hard. It’s got rigor mortis. I tried rolling it over with my foot. It wouldn’t budge. Finally, I pulled out my phone and turned on the flashlight. It was an uprooted tree stump. I looked around to be sure no one was watching and continued running down the road as if nothing had happened, glad that I hadn’t said anything to my wife. Let’s just forget this little episode. What is that sucking sound?

Eventually, I realized the sucking sound was my shoes. There are big cavities under the heels. Who designs running shoes with suction cups on them? Spiderman? Guess they’re there for cushioning… I am a big guy and wear stability shoes with commercial grade rubber. Haven’t found any with Flubber yet so these will have to do.

Many miles of smiles to you, my friends.

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