Distance


I first met Distance the night Theodore Roosevelt set up an assault course behind Elkhorn Ranch and was offering a prize of the winner’s weight in Maine oysters to whoever completed it in the fastest time.

No contest, I said, stretching my calf muscles against the wall of the utility shed.

You haven’t got a hope, said Neal Cassady, warming up with one handed push ups in the dirt.

Who even invited you? I asked.

Teddy put an open call on Craigslist, he said.

Who’s this? asked Mulatu Astatke as he pushed out twenty Geneva squats while indicating with his eyebrows a tall, lank figure loping towards us.

No idea, I said.

That’s Distance, said Teddy, stuffing his mouth with garlic mushrooms.

Should you be eating before the race? I asked.

I’m not competing, he said, that’s for you bums.

You wearing that for the race? I asked Distance, indicating the back-end of a horse costume he was wearing.

It’s how I’m going to win, he said.

Bullshit, said Neal. You can’t run in that.  

Who’s running?  said Distance. This is an assault course.  

Alright you lollygaggers, said Teddy, get yourselves to the starting line while I load this here starting pistol.  

All in all, there were twenty of us lined up ready to take on the formidable course that Teddy had set up.  There were underground mine fields, sheer walls of barbed wire cargo netting, hopscotch balance beams and all manner of fiendish trips, traps, impediments and hurdles for us to test ourselves on.  I admit, I was nervous.  

How do you know Teddy?  I asked Distance as he fuelled himself with concentrated ant chowder.  

I played the dirge at his wife’s funeral, he said. Not that it’s any of your business.  

No need for the attitude, I said.  

There’s every need, he said.  

We’ll see, I said.  

You should have covered your nipples, he said.  

I told you, said Neal.  

Will all of you just shut up? shouted Salman Rushdie while he slavered seal grease over his muscular forearms and chest.  

Do you only write dirges?  I whispered to Distance.  

Mostly I make Dubstep, he replied, in a low voice.  

I’d like to hear some, I replied.  

He produced a pocket gramophone from somewhere deep in his half a horse costume.  

Here, he said, listen while we race.  

I will, I said.  

BANG! said the gun held in Teddy’s hand.  

As we set off, the strains of Awaken from the Ep Awaken(2019) blasted into my ears and my conscious brain took a backseat while my body, pumped with adrenaline and dopamine, thrashing itself through the assault course.  Afterwards, when I had come to my senses around the bonfire, I thanked Distance for his music.  

You liked it?  he asked.  

Couldn’t you tell?  I asked.  

I thought you were having a stroke, he said.  

Stroke?  I said, I was on fire, I burned that race down!

We both lost the race, said Distance. It was me that held the stick between your teeth to stop you biting your tongue.  

I didn’t win?  I asked.  

Suck it, losers!  shouted Neal as he danced around the bonfire showering himself with Maine oysters.  

How does he even know how to use Craigslist? I spat. He'd never seen the internet before he met me.  

You want to know who has the front end? asked Distance, indicating his costume.  

Does it matter? I asked.  

It will, he said, and we’ve been friends ever since. 




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