Eleanor: Part III

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Previously: Part I | Part II

Two and a half steps past the gate I ran full-bore into a small man hauling a pullcart overflowing with oranges. I saw him about a half-step before we collided —  not enough time to avoid impact but time enough to lead with my hip. This instead of colliding mid-stride and kneeing him in his bits. Or delivering an elbow to the jaw.

He was balancing the cart on two wheels, holding the handles and wheeling west. I came at him out the gate heading southeast at a forty five degree angle. I narrowly avoided impaling myself on the nearer of the two handles. There was no way around it. I cracked him good.

We crashed backwards into the cart, momentarily joined at hip and mid-section. The orange trough was probably a meter wide, a meter point five long, four oranges deep at edge and closer to eight high in the center. The cart tipped back, the handles flew skyward and the far-back corner smacked the curb.

We bounced off the cart and I fell onto the cement. I landed mostly on my back and tumbled into the gutter. The cart, which had been momentarily teetering up into the air on its back edge, came swinging back down onto it”s two wheels. As it tottered back and forth and righted itself — now almost entirely orange-less — one of the handles whacked me on the thigh.

I don”t know exactly how it unfolded for the other man once we went down. I don”t imagine it was graceful; he must have been startled as hell. By the time I gathered my wits and sat up he was standing beside his cart, looking into the street and absently rubbing his right elbow. Neither of us seemed to be hurt. I stood and began to register the havoc.

Oranges were everywhere. There must have been about five hundred or maybe a million of them rolling into the gutter and the intersection beyond, a confluence of two relatively residential roads and an eight-lane east/west arterial behemoth that feeds a major business district. The intersection is a goddamn monster. Three roads, 13 lanes. Four blocks to the east was Eleanor”s office.

It was the morning commute. To say there were a whole shitload of cars, bicycles and pedestrians would be to grossly oversimplify the reality. The northwest corner looked like some dyspotian underground OJ factory, the streets puking discarded citrus rinds.

I have no idea what I said in those first moments. Probably something along the lines of “OMFG I am so, so sorry,” followed by a series of guttural noises meant to convey the same.

But I would be lying if I pretended that even then I was considering the situation in terms of anything besides Eleanor and our budding romance. The man and I were not hurt and my purpose remained the same.

I could hear the oranges squish-squishing away under the tires of passing cars. There was honking. The crowd grew. I stood there, panting, but nothing hurt particularly. The man, who had been staring vacantly at his cart, the decimated oranges and some kind of middle distance, focused his attention on me for the first time, and said, basically, “What are you, some kind of idiot?” All in all he seemed pretty relaxed about the whole situation. There was a horseshoe of bystanders behind him. I noticed that one of them was holding a bundle of scallions. Another a pink bag of mushrooms and bell peppers.

I reached into my pocket. I handed him my card, the only thing I carry while running, save a house key. No wallet, no actual phone. I imagined he would be calling me shortly. Dawdling was over. The thought of Eleanor slipping away was unthinkable. Not to mention the various realities surrounding my “legal status”. A prolonged wait for official mediation from neighborhood authorities was completely out of the question.

So I said, meekly, “Call me.” There was no more I could offer him.

“I”ll call you back.” He stared at me. “I have to go now.”

I turned and nosed between an old man in pajamas and a woman with a tiny dog in her arms. The orange vendor said something. I stepped into the street and ran. I didn”t look back. It got louder behind me, but I wasn”t listening.

I heard only: Eleanor, Eleanor, Eleanor. Every step. I weaved through oncoming traffic. I made my way across the road. I didn”t see her, but I remembered. Her mouth turned up, haggling, her palms raised. A high forehead.

I knew she was just a ways ahead. Or maybe a ways behind. Legs gripping the dusty motorcycle. She was somewhere along the way heading east. Around the bend, just out of sight, was her office. In that moment I kept my head up and my legs moving, the oranges and the accompanying bustle rolling, roiling, and retreating behind me.

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  1. Eleanor: Part II | Roger Presents: - September 17, 2013

    […] Next: Part III […]

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