From “The Crosstown Kid”

(Forthcoming from Musa Publishing in February, 2015!)

You could see it. His eyes… They were all whites. He looked pissed. He’d sworn out a death warrant on the track, or his legs, or both, and was ready to carry it out unless they did his bidding.

It was working. He was tearing the track up. Murdering it.

“Look at that,” I said.

Jo had spotted him too, and for once in her life, she said nothing.

The Kid moved like nothing I’d ever seen. He couldn’t have been more than sixteen, maybe seventeen, but muscles like twisted ropes ran down his arms, thighs, and calves.

No coach goading him on. No fans in the bleachers. But they should have been. This kid should have had the whole fucking world watching him. You saw the Olympics. He looked like he could leave Bolt choking on his 9.6.

“I’d love to get the Doppler gun on that kid,” I said.

“Don’t know what he’s training for,” Jo said. “Dey all just shoot each udder, anyway.”

“Yeah,” I said, no longer listening to her.

I’d joined the force about eight years back. Still felt young, then. No Ironman, but I followed a pretty good regimen. Ran a couple of half-marathons in Gainesville and finished Top Thirty in the Pensacola Full. I looked at the Kid blistering around the track, showing no signs of letting up, and then looked down at my gut.

Not fat. Not yet. But it was trying. It was on its tiptoes, trying to peek its way over my belt.

Eight years. Fuck. Where’d they go?

I frowned, rubbed my belly, looked up again.

The Kid had stopped. He was cooling, walking it off, breathing hard, his hands holding his sides, his face pointed up to the late morning sun. He paused for a minute, bounced through some stretches, made his way to the opposite side of the track. He snaked out the chain link, and when I blinked, he was gone.

Jo and I looked at each other like we’d come out of a trance.

“Well,” she said, not even looking back into the park, “nothing to see here. Taco place?”


We’d seen something, all right. I couldn’t say whether it was a glimpse of my own past, or something that could’ve been. Probably I was just feeling sorry for a talented kid who was born in a part of the world where breaks come few and far between.

But I knew I had to help him. No one else would.

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