First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 8
I’ve been a runner for a long time. Thirty years actually, which means lots of time pounding the pavement in different places depending on what was going on in my life. When I was working and taking business trips, I always brought my running shoes. Same with vacations. I’ve run in Toronto, Ottawa, Richardson TX, Nashville, Santa Clara, Big Pine Key, (the Seven Mile bridge, y’all!), Key West, Bluffington SC, Holly Springs, Mississippi and various spots in my home state from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer banks.
Then there are the familiar routes at home. Running in the same places day in and out is a comfortable routine, and you can become a bit complacent. One day I let my guard down and paid for it. It was early, that period of time when you can see an orange glow on the horizon, but the sun isn’t up yet. It was December, a couple days before my birthday. I ran down the street, breath puffing in a small white cloud in front of my face. I love running in the summer, but I love it in the cold too.
I spotted a man on a bicycle heading the opposite direction, and as is the rule of the road for a woman by herself, I acknowledged him by saying, “good morning.” This is supposed to act as a deterrent, letting a possible attacker know, I see you. I am aware of you. He said nothing, didn’t even look at me, and kept pedaling up the street. I turned my attention back to thinking about whatever it was I’d been thinking about, hearing only my breathing and the slapping noise of my shoes on pavement. I’ve never run while listening to music, etc. I prefer to take in nature as I go along.
Here’s what was so odd. I remember having a distinct thought, I should look, see where he is. For whatever reason, I didn’t. I went about a half mile, rounded a corner, as soon as I came alongside a tall hedge, I heard crunching gravel, the noise of someone coming up behind me – fast. I had just enough time to look over my shoulder and all I saw was this dark shape, and BAM! He knocked me to the ground. He was on top of me while I tried to scream, to kick, to fight. He said, “Sh, sh, sh, I just want money. I only want money.”
I said, “I don’t have any money! I’m running!” (admittedly, I was indignant, thinking he was a bonafide dumba**.)
The good news about this bad encounter was when he found out I had nothing of value, he let me up. I had trouble standing (back was hurt, scraped up, bruised) and while I was preoccupied trying to see if I could walk, he took off. I didn’t care at that moment. I was only glad it wasn’t worse, that he hadn’t stabbed me, slit my throat, or any of the other horrible things that might have happened. It took me a couple weeks to get back to running, but I wasn’t about to let something like that stop me from doing what I love.
Since then, I take no chances. I see something even slightly suspicious and I change the course. I pay attention to my gut instincts.
As mentioned in the Chapter 6 post, from the beginning, Sonny Creech is all too aware of Frank Fowler’s odd behaviors, how he makes her feel uncomfortable, behaving a certain way one minute, and another way the next. The more she observes him, not only do those feelings grow bringing with them a heightened awareness, she also begins to have suspicions.
Whatever it was that brought Frank Fowler to our supper table every night since the first night wasn’t clear, though I had my ideas.