WEATHER: Sticky — high of 96. Humidity of 400%.
MILES THIS WEEK: 14.
WHERE TO: Lincoln Park, Nats Stadium, Hains Point, home.
Chapter 6: Hell Hath No Fury
That morning, as soon as she got home from Rod’s apartment, Jessica tore her clothing off, dressed in her running clothes, and went for a 20-mile anger run. It felt great, except for the part about having been suckered by Douchy McDoucherson.
Well, it felt great for the most part. Except for the nagging pain in her knee starting at mile 16. Shit. Not this again.
Upon returning, she retrieved the foam roller from the bag from Rundezvous Sports and placed it in the center of the room, on the floor. Gingerly, she lay sideways upon it and shifted her full weight onto her IT band, when-
The roller disintegrated beneath her into a pile of little foam pellets, sending Jessica crashing to the floor. The downstairs neighbor rammed the ceiling with a broom handle, his standard move when Jessica did anything more strenuous than shift her weight on the couch.
Speaking of weight…
“I’m a big fat ginormous heifer!” she sobbed.
Her phone rang. She sniffled and crawled over to the table where it lay. It was her mom.
“Hi, Mom,” she choked out, hoping for comfort.
“You are still single!” said Mom. “Also, I’m feeling very groovy today. Did you know that you can fashion a dress out of a transparent shower curtain? It’s awful sweaty, though.”
“Baaaaaaaaaaaa!” bawled Jessica, hurling her phone at the wall. “Baaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha…” she continued, fumbling through the Rundezvous bag for the receipt. No-good overpriced bastards. $15 for a piece of foam that was probably manufactored for 0.00003 cents in a warehouse somewhere in Taiwan by a preschooler.
Well, bullshit! thought Jessica. BULLSHIT! If she had to be a single heifer, she would at least be one with $15 more to spend. Most likely on tequila, the way things were looking.
She gathered up the mutilated remainders of her foam roller, along with the receipt, hopped in her MG and sped to the running store, where she screeched furiously to a halt and strode purposefully inside…where–fabulous–that same checkout guy was waiting with alacrity, ready to serve her.
“You came back!” he said, cheerfully.
“Yes, I came back,” said Jessica. “And before you can ask me if I want to join your running club, no I do NOT want to join your running club, because I am my OWN running club, and I am JUST FLIPPING FINE!”
“You seem like it,” said checkout guy, bemused.
“Yes, yes I DO, you wiseass. And FURTHERMORE, I do not want your free race fliers for Turkey Trots in November or Jingle Bell 1-milers in December or Cupid 4-milers in February, nor do I want your free copy of whatever random-ass running publication put together by chimps with typewriters in an office in Muncie, Indiana or some shit like that that you are plugging this month.” She was beginning to lose her breath.
“OK…so the problem is…”
Jessica’s eyes welled again as she gained momentum, en route to her breaking point. “ALL I want” — and here she squinted at his nametag — “Ryan, is for you to deal with THIS…” and here she dumped the bag of foamy bits onto the counter, the receipt fluttering to the floor, “…because I DEMAND SATISFACTION, and I am NOT A SATISFIED CUSTOMER. I am a very VOLATILE customer, if you must know, and I do not have the time to put up with your CROCK of-“
“This shipment must have been defective,” said Ryan.
“You know what’s defective? Your FACE is defective!”
“Let me see the receipt,” said Ryan quietly.
Jessica stopped short, inhaled, and picked up the receipt, face-down on the floor. There was writing on the back of it that she had not yet noticed. It read:
“Roses are red
Nikes suck ass.
This is my way
of making a pass.
And then, below that, it listed a phone number, a small heart, and the signature “Ryan.”
“I wrote it as I checked you out last time. Had you really not noticed?” he asked gently.
Jessica realized that she was crying, tears rolling down her cheeks. This man, this Ryan man, had poetry in his soul, and he had likewise seen the beauty in her soul from Day One. Oh, what a fool she had been, yes, but she knew NOW that-
Rod strode through the front door — right THROUGH it, literally — having kicked the glass in.
“I have stalked my woman-prey and have found her, and now I have come here to retrieve this beautiful piece of woman-flesh!” roared Rod.
“Dude. That door was unlocked, you know…” began Ryan, as Rod picked up the foam roller and began mercilessly beating Ryan’s face with the blunt end.
“Hey! Ow! Hey!” yelled Ryan. Rod put Ryan into a headlock and wrestled him to the ground, now just sort of slapping Ryan with the roller on whatever flailing body part became convenient.
“Stop!” yelled Jessica. “STOPPIT!” She thought about doing something, but she was pretty noncommittal, mainly because watching two gorgeous dudes fight (in however weenie a fashion) was, come on, sort of hot.
Ryan squirmed away toward a display of elastic physical therapy bands. Snagging one, he looped it around Rod’s right foot and pulled until his leg bent waaaay backwards, up toward his buttock. Rod bellowed.
“Say ‘uncle’!” said Ryan.
“Never!” yelled Rod. Ryan pulled harder, this time pulling Rod’s foot back to mid-back level. Rod squealed.
“Say it!” yelled Ryan.
“Noooooo!” wailed Rod.
Ryan gave a final yank. “MY GROIN!” screamed Rod. Ryan saw this as a good enough sign to let go. Rod stood, clutching his testicular area, and limped out of the store, not bothering to look back.
Ryan stood, brushing the bits of broken-glass-dust from his clothes. “Man. That sucked,” he said.
Jessica nodded. “He’s blood-doping, too.” She thought for a bit. “I’ve heard of roid rage…but was that EPO rage? Is there such a thing?”
“No,” Ryan responded. “That guy was just a dick.”
Jessica turned to him, looking up into his beautiful, gaunt face and deep, soulful eyes. He touched her face tenderly, and the two then kissed the kiss of true love, feeling a rush of romance, poetry, and endorphins. It was almost as good as a runners’ high. Almost.