The night part is easy, a little cooler time for our sweated boy, but the dust bowl part stands in need of explanation. Simple explanation really, for those who have been around a track. No, not tout track, bet your life on the next sure thing and happiness track, a running Olympic track and field track. A boyhood North Adamsville Hollis Field track which doubled as kickass practice football tract come fall. But year round a running track. Oh, I forgot, and this will tell you sometime about the damn place, five laps to a mile. Aficionados will laugh, so laugh knowing that in all the English –speaking world, at least in the 1961 English- speaking world, there are four laps to a mile. But there is more, more afterthought description. Said track was deeply rutted, summerfallwinterspring, from the lowest contract bidder surface materials scattered, generations scattered, on the pathway. And in all seasons, except the mucks, dry and dusty at the human step, and hence dust bowl. But enough of sweats, mop-moist red handkerchiefs, heavy breathe exhaustions, and dust. This was fun.
No, not the fun of innocent watching (and hoping) shaded windows for visions of irish maidens, ready with prepared notes (a spiel, okay) , frequently revised, and waiting for just that one moment that would bring forth the sweated exotic atlantic cheerleader glance nights but something else fun.
Something not endless walked about, something done, or with the promise of done, for something inside, and for the free spirit rant hammering my brain inside. At least at first after winning a couple of local races against slow (as it turned out) sullen corner boys full of mother’s corn beef, cold misbegotten cheapjack knickerbocker beer, cigarette smoke, unfiltered camels naturally, and larcenies, great and small. Strictly amateur stuff you see, done, done under coercion, truth, to keep a place in corner boy society, or else. Or else endless running, running the gauntlet, every time that corner came into view and some punk (inside I said punk, not for public disclosure even now, just in case, okay), some beef-fed, beer- bloated, cancerous- smoked felon in the making decided to impress some off-hand girl hanging off his off-hand arm (or better, sitting all dolled-up, cashmere sweater-wearing and worthy in his felon’s goods car, a ’57 Chevy maybe).
He had to laugh, laugh out loud (and it was okay since the closest houses surrounding the field, ah, the dust bowl, were not within earshot and he could have disclaimed the Gettysburg Address in high octave and no one would have heard) that his corner boy fears, and desires, had driven him to this fun. This sweated, dank, summer night fun. And to gather in a sense of worth out of it. It was laughable, really laughable. Especially (and here the night proved an ally too) the absurd notion that there would be some sense of worth in the moldy white tee- shirt, mildewy white shorts, who knows what diseased sneakers, Chuck Taylor sneakers, he was wearing. All kind of, well, as Billy Bradley, king hell king of the North Adamsville hard corner boy night and nobody, I mean nobody, disputed that title, used to say, kind of faggoty-looking, or girlish.
But there he was night after night once the weather got too hot to face the blistering hot and foot-burying sands down at daytime Adamsville Beach, daytime girls noticing his appearance too and probably thinking kind of, just like Billy king hell king thinking, yes, kind of faggoty, and knowing, marrow bone knowing, not girlish.
There he was pushing the night away and the red-faced Irish winds, harder, harder around the oval, watch tick in hand, looking, looking I guess for immortality, immortality even then.
Later, in bobby darin times or percy faith times, who knows, call it jack kennedy time if you like, but sometime before the third British invasion and before jack death, sitting, sitting high against the lion-guarded pyramid statute front door dream, common dreams, common hero dreams, all gone asunder, all gone asunder, on this curious fact, no wind, Irish or otherwise propelled him forward. No champion dusted field sweeper of all before him, maybe genetically hard-wired that way too although he always favored being poorly coached as excuse better. And hence he, dream champion on sweated July (or maybe August like I said before) dust bowl nights lived with the slows, the anaerobic slows, and was left with only desire, wet clothes and one minute good feels when he hit his practice strides. And many years later he felt that same good feeling whenever he logged more than one jogged mile. Who would have figured that one?