The Summer of Run: “Just Move Forward”

This is from Essay #4, which is a treatise on my first major run of the summer. I was camped at the base of Mt. Pisgah, just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. This particular mountain is nearly one-mile high, and the run I was about to try was 3,600 feet along a 6.5 mile route (13 miles total round trip).

The title of the essay: Just Move Forward comes from a lesson my parents taught me about how to finish what you start. This snippet is from the beginning of Act 2, where I lay out the violent side of my addiction, and touch on some of the nasty darkness that enveloped me as I hurtled towards oblivion.

“Listen, you don’t need to be a fucking bitch about this. I just wanted to talk with you, you stupid cunt,” he said, rather unexpectedly.

The two girls were taken aback, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. There’s a fine line between stepping in to help a woman out of a jam, and stepping in when she doesn’t need you. I’m not exactly sure where the line is, but it seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of bitch and cunt getting used in the same sentence.

“Hey man,” I said from the seat. “There’s no need for that. We’re all just having fun here. My friend is having a rough night, and we’re just trying to relax a bit. No harm, no foul.”

That’s when he turned to me.

“What the fuck do you think you’re going to do about it.”


No sooner had the last word come out of his mouth than I’d leaped out of my chair, grabbed an empty plastic pitcher, and smashed it against the side of this stranger’s head. He staggered back, slightly, giving me enough time to come across the table, and land a series of blows to his head that knocked him to the floor.

He curled on the floor, a half moon, and moaned a bit as I grabbed the glasses off our table and dumped the beer across his body.

“That’s what the fuck I’m going to do about it, you fucking asshole,” I said as I kicked him again for good measure. My hands started to ache, the knuckles on three of my fingers on my right hand swelled.

I looked at the two girls at my table for a long beat, unsure of what had just happened, but positive that whatever just went down, I should be somewhere else very quickly. I hugged Abigail. I shook her friend’s hand, told her it was nice to meet her, and that I wished her luck. I walked to the bartender, paid for the drinks, and told him I’d not be coming back anymore. As I walked outside, I looked at my swollen hands. They were shaking. I could still feel the fleshy part of his face crumpling as I hit him. My stomach turned over, and I threw up on Third Street, just a half block south of Market Street.

I wanted to turn around, to go back inside to make sure whoever I’d just knocked out was okay. I wanted to go tell the girls that I had more control over my rage than that. I wanted to rewind time, to go back and erase the feeling of my hand hitting his face. I wanted everything to disappear.

But I couldn’t do any of that. The Demons were out in full force, busted through the dam walls I’d constructed to keep them back. Tomorrow I’d try to rebuild them again, the same as I did every morning. Not tonight. Tonight, my engine was revved, my mind spinning at breakneck speed trying to run away from itself. My skin crawled. I wanted to be anywhere but inside my head, and the only way I knew how to do that was to find a bar.

The enemy was always at my gate, one moment away from breaking down the walls and tearing through the real world. I never knew what would set it off. Tonight was easy. Tomorrow, it could be a misplaced set of keys. Whatever the trigger, the reaction was always the same: a massive, chaotic eruption that devastated the landscape around me.

That night I was lost. I left San Francisco, drove to The Mallard in the East Bay, a bar about five minutes from my apartment, and proceeded to drink shots of whiskey until everything went black.

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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