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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)

TITLE: Me and Runner
By Kenny Blade


I canít recall the first time I met Runner. It may have been while I was hanging upside down on the monkey bars at Claymore Elementary. I used to do that a lot in the 2nd grade. My mom said it gave me brain damage. I liked the way the world looked when the clouds littered the ground and my sweaty, dirt-covered friends dotted the heavens.

Maybe it was during choir at church. I canít remember a time when we werenít side by side, usually sitting in the corner as punishment for some ill-devised scheme we had cooked up. Neither of us could stand choir. Singing was for sissies.
Rev. Skinner was our director. He said Runner and I were his ďDisruptive DuoĒ.
We had no idea what the name meant, but we wore it with pride.

Where and when we met really doesnít matter, I donít guess. What matters is that we were closer than brothers. You never saw one without the other. We did everything together. Runner was there when I lost my first tooth. I remember because he was the one who knocked it out. We were fighting over a fishing spot on Luncefordís creek. He got a shiner. I got a dollar from the tooth fairy. We took turns fishing that spot.

He was there when I fell head first in like with Lucy Roffler in 6th grade. To this day, Lucy couldnít pick me out of a crowd of one. I knew deep down that she would never give me a second look. So did Runner. He never told me how stupid I was being as I sat on my front porch staring into the distance listening to Air Supply.

We bought our first car together. We worked all summer to save $300.00 for it. The passenger door was wired shut with a coat hanger. Duct tape held the roof liner up.
It leaked oil faster than we could pour it in. In our eyes it was a Cadillac. We traveled the world and planned our futures sitting on the hood of that old car.

When Runnerís dad was killed driving home from preaching a revival, we sat on the hood of that old Plymouth til sun up. Neither of us uttered a word. We didnít have to. As close as Runner and his dad were, I was surprised that he never cried that night.

After college Runner married Lucy Roffler and went into the family business. His dad would have been proud. I took the degree I earned in theater arts and headed to California. Later, Runner and his family became missionaries in Korea. I moved to New York and managed a pretty good living working shows off-Broadway.

We called each other on holidays and sent e-mails from time to time.
I always regretted not taking him up on the offer to come see him. Always another show starting up. There never seemed to be time. A funeral is never a good reason to get re-acquainted, but at least we were together again. It was good to see Runner. He had a beautiful family.

There were so many things I wanted to tell him about New York. I wanted to know about his life in Korea. As Runner walked toward me, I noticed a small cross pinned to his collar. At once it came flooding back to me where Iíd seen it before. One day after choir, Rev. Skinner offered each of us a cross pin and told us how Christ died for our sins. He asked us to come to the altar if we wanted to know more about Christ.

As he came closer, I noticed Runnerís eyes were filled with tears. I didnít understand. He hadnít shed a single tear when his father died, yet now he was weeping. I felt the dampness of his tears on my shoulder as he walked away. ďStay awhile!Ē, I wanted to shout. ďThere is so much I want to tell you!Ē.

Runner faded from sight as the casket was lowered into the ground. As I lay there in the darkness, I finally understood. Runner never cried for his father because he knew he would see him again. We had both gone to the altar that day. I went because thatís just how we did things Ė Together. I laid my cross back down as we walked from the church that day. Runner didnít. It was the one thing we didnít do together.

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This article has been read 781 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 04/14/06
I loved this story about "Me and Runner"...it was so touching, so witty and so like friends; but I felt cheated when I didn't know the WHO that Runner was crying for at the funeral on your Reacquainting Day. I know you WANT the reader to think it was you....but knowing the dead don't think, don't see and don't feel tears fall on their shoulders... I felt empty. However, it's a great tribute to your friend, and a beautiful, well written story!
Jan Ackerson 04/14/06
Great story--loved your narrator's voice, and he told a very compelling narrative. In just a few short paragraphs, I felt that I knew these fellows. A thought: Should the title perhaps be "Runner and I"? I'd understand the choice if your narrator was otherwise ungrammatical, but he is not...Loved everything else about this unique entry.
Sue Dent04/14/06
Okay, here goes my American Idol-like critique. I love your style, it got a leeetle confusing for me near the end . . . but yo, you worked it out! I really liked this. ;)
Lynette Carpenter04/14/06
I liked it all the way thru. I thought Runner had died at first ("he HAD a nice family"), but wow, so many emotions when I learn it is "me" that died. Very good job!
Doug Jenkins04/14/06
Very good writing here. Excellent "twist", and well timed. Bravo!
Shannon Redmon04/15/06
Wow! This is powerful and thought provoking. Had to go back and read the ending twice to understand who died but when I did I was so upset. I thought it was Runner at first and the unbeliever would become come to know Christ because of his death but then I realized it the narrator had died without Christ. Very realistic but very sad.
Lynda Schultz 04/15/06
I got a little confused on the other side of the middle too. But this piece was still great. I absolutely loved this concluding statement: "We had both gone to the altar that day. I went because thatís just how we did things Ė Together. I laid my cross back down as we walked from the church that day. Runner didnít. It was the one thing we didnít do together." Good job.
Linda Germain 04/15/06
Wow! Powerful message. Well told.
Donnah Cole04/16/06
Wow! Powerful message. Wonder how many people "accept" Jesus because that's what their friends do or it's the socially acceptable thing to do, and for them it has absolutely nothing to do with committing one's life to being a true follower of Christ?
Beth Muehlhausen04/18/06
Brilliant in many ways. I have to wonder if there's not some way to word things at the end, right here: "A funeral is never a good reason to get re-acquainted, but at least we were together again. It was good to see Runner. He had a beautiful family." I'm wondering if it might be less confusing for the reader to transition by telling this part (and following) from a narrator's point of view: "A funeral is never a good reason to get re-acquainted, but at least the two boys were together again. If it had been possible, they could have talked about the time Rev. Skinner offered them both a cross..." etc. etc.

Very involving story; your character development is awesome!

terri tiffany04/18/06
When I first started to read it I thought..oh just another funny story and then it developed and was way more! I was drawn into your characters and could feel the emotions even though the words were put in such a different way. Very refreshing. I admit..the ending was unclear for me until I reread it and read comments and then I got it and thought 'wow' very good. I too thought he was at a funeral for Runner's family..is there a way to clarify that without losing the powerful ending???
Debora Dyess04/18/06
How great is this?! You created a perfect worklld of character development and description, painting a picture of friendship that we all either remember having or longing to have. I was waiting for the foot to fall, but, woah, did you fool me! I expected from about the second paragraph that something would happen to Runner...good twist!

I enjoyed this from the first sentende to the last, almost. This is totally nit-picking, but your story deserves to be as tight as possible. When you used the word 'together' twice in as many sentences it almost rang hollow, like the repetition was too much. I know you wanted to paint that picture and did it very well, but that repeat pulled me out of the story back to a school-teacher grading an assignment kind of mentality, which was sad because the story was so masterfully written.
I'd like our youth minister to read this to our kids, if you have no objections. How often does this happen in life--'I went becasue they all went...' A tragedy without hope of fix. I think this story might keep some people from making that sad choice. Thank you.