The fifth Sunday
“Hey.” Dan slowed the pace of his running shoes padding the cracked and crumbling bituminous of Briggs Road, allowed the runner behind him to pull up beside him. As Jerry appeared on his left, Dan realized it was the first time since the start of the run that morning that he’d chosen to engage in conversation.
He was typically more engaging on these weekly runs, meeting with the informal group of Bark Bay residents every Sunday morning, 9 or a little after, at the BB Convenience Store (Coffee Junction, the only coffee shop in town, being closed on Sundays). Dan enjoyed talking with friends both old and new as teh group waited for any late arrivals, beginning their run any time between quarter and half past the hour. Most of the local political information he’d acquired over the years had come during these informal meetings.
“Did you — catch the — game yes — terday?” The syllables of Jerry’s question coming between gasps of air.
“Nah.” Dan wiped his face with the palm of his right hand, sweat streaking into his black beard. Skies were clear this morning, temperature comfortably cool, ground wet from last night’s hard rain. He avoided a puddle on his right, kept pace. “Busy.” He looked ahead, saw Wendy and Bernice were at least a dozen yards back; snapped his head back quickly, saw the closest runners were equally far back. Not a coincidence.
“Huh.” Dan sensed Jerry abandoning the subject of yesterday’s game, the topic passing like the mailboxes they raced by. A large building, all white, came up on their right.
“We did — last week — not the — same route.” Jerry sounding like a man whose body would soon quit responding to his recreational desire.
“We try to — mix it up. Every month or — so.”
Jerry extended his right arm, almost touching Dan’s chest, as his finger pointed to the white building. “Wonder which — church that — ”
“Parking — lots full — today.”
Shrugging would have thrown off Dan’s gait. “Today’s their big day.”
“Hate churches.” Jerry’s voice had regained its vigor. “Don’t care who they are — Methodist, Baptist — Catholic — Jehova’s Witness, all the — same, you ask me. Cause all — the wars — in the world.” Dan felt a slap on his bicep. “You must — think so — too, right?”
Dan frowned, not attempting to hide his disapproval. “There’s good and bad — everywhere, my friend. Don’t be so quick — to paint with broad strokes.”
They approached a large section of decripit road, Dan swerving off to the soft shoulder on the right, Jerry into the center of the road. Dan picked up his pace, giving Jerry the opportunity to hang back, wait for the group behind them to catch up. But Jerry matched his pace, was soon beside him again.