The Runner

I first have to say that I do appreciate Your Honor, the opportunity to have my story heard as I’ve been made a monster by the people beyond this room,strangers now repelled by my presence or the mere mention of my name,I now miss the thrill of anonymity and how your accidents and misgivings simply slip away in the big picture of this universe,whereas due to this incident that puts me before yourself and the jury today,I am put on the front pages,at center stage.

I believe it is necessary for us to relate as people,the dossier you have of me may have described me in broad,unforgiving strokes and my height,weight and supposed crime bears no voice in narrating my true self. My first brush with competitive sport was as a swimmer at 14, I participated in both solo and team relays,didn’t always win but was always driven ahead by this brutal,excruciating wakeness from being part of the game. How it forced me to try as hard as I could, required that I invest a lot of time building the right physique and mental strength the prospect of winning required, a big part of it was intimidation, with the look and confidence I could be perceived to be unbeatable, and spent more time in the gym than with pool practice. I loved this wordless taunting,just minutes before we were due to race,in the lockeroom I just sensed that fear in my rivals,this nervous pulse displayed in their short,scrawny bodies and when the whistle was blown,that time between start and end,when there is no threat of feeling tired,when just swimming as hard and fast as I could,made me feel like I was more than human,more than I could ever be.

My parents hardly came to see me,now I can admit that I was overshadowed by my brother James,whose grades or intelligence were far beyond mine, and this is the case clear and simple,when I was young however all of this manifested in cruel,dirty forms and resulted in a number of incidents I’d rather not mention here. My dad in particular was unreserved in showing his preference,and I didn’t understand and still don’t now,how it was impossible for him to grasp that James and I were simply two different people,I couldn’t do what he did,and if he ever even tried doing what I did,I could guarantee you he’d probably just die in the process,not that I would ever wish that on him.

I later got married to a girl I dated for 3 years,Linda,there’s no way I could minimize her into a few adjectives although given the choice I’d pick sweet and loving,she had a way of observing and saw that I thrived in the quietness of things,we could talk for hours and muster that light,luminous energy that lives in touch and not language. This was before things got bad,she started working again and there was a period of maybe 2 years when both of us had things bad,and begin arguing nearly all the time,over the most petty things,and it came to a point where I just stopped being apart of it. She was still always agitated,irritable,bothered by things I could and no longer cared to fathom,forever tense and on edge,except when I watched her sleep,when she lay diffused by slumber, I loved her still.

I hope now given my background you have the idea of the person I was made to be,sure I willed for things to let me become this thing,but it has become my natural instinct to want to win,and you see on that day of the marathon,I had decided to stick to my own pace and time for all 42km, to be immersed in my own music,maintain a steady breath and step,but this man began to irk me. He appeared in the first hour,suddenly conjured next to me with a satisfied grin and eyed me hungrily,before sprinting ahead. He then appeared a few minutes later,now covered in sweat and his eyes deeply sinister,as if he was reading,assessing me and without provocation he shoved me leftwards and I nearly fell,suddenly I felt endangered,it broke my concentration and I wanted to just run past him,as far ahead as I could,and win,I felt that this would be a bigger blow,and deliver what no simple punch or kick could.

I caught up to this man,who I could now see was a tall,looming and tightly-built runner,I shot him a knowing look,pushed every muscle and joint to run a faster speed,for a while we were equals,toe-to-toe and myself completely out of breath,until eventually I won over and didn't see him for a while,until very near the finish line when he again appeared unpredictably,the sun was out and cars had been let onto the other side of the road,he came out now and I had this immediate need to put him out into the dark,out of my vision,I felt threatened and it was a visceral reaction when my hand shot out and hit him hard in the shoulder,pushing him  directly into the way of a car going downhill,the next thing I knew there was blood on the pavement and people were screaming.

I promise,Your Honor,this is what I saw that day,you don’t know the horror of finally,days after,being made familiar to what had been by then,been liberally labeled as “the victim”, I saw this picture of a small,bony kid who I was told was turning 14 that week,he had bright yellow hair and that glow of youth,this was not the man I saw that day, this could not be the one I pushed, I could not have killed a boy.

But this,as I’ve been told repeatedly,is what I’m now made to believe,it has by default become the truth,and I am having trouble accepting the personal limitations that lead me to see otherwise,my only defense is that I did not mean to do what I did,Your Honor.


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