Chapter 2 Section 3 The Thursday that felt like a Friday Tales of the Dead Armadillo a Story of Crosscountry Running Novel By Esteban Erik Stipnieks All Rights Reserved


Thursday meant soreness eggs and Advil with sausage.  The whole milk seemed absurd but at six, four 145lbs Stephen's slender body burned fat the way a Mig-25s twin engines burned kerosene.  In due time the fat in the eggs would be converted carbon dioxide and water vapor.  The fat helped the stomach deal with the Advil.  Stephen decided to drive and use the benefit...the athlete’s parking lot.  He was quickly there.  The photo's and publishing shocked even Donna the class president.  Stephen's vision of Amanda Cook was a powerful shot it showed struggle drive, desire v fatique and discomfort.   

Donna Goode the class president looked at Stephen surprised.  A tiff the previous year had Stephen King practically ignoring her.  Stephen had learned to fight the battle by flat out ignoring her.  Amanda Cook smiled as Stephen made his way to the publications room.  She could see the genius behind the photo.  The plan was simple just run the negatives.  The next week was a JV game.  Stephen with the single roll went to work.  Susan looked at Stephen as he worked. 

He said, "These are band nerd friendly as the he poured the developer into the tank.  Mrs. Anderson asked "Got the run through taken care of?"  Stephen responded Kathrine is responsible for holding the sign and apparently the sophomores have done this.  "The shot is cliché but we need a few lest too many traditions go the way of innocence," Stephen commented. The line was a parody of his role.  Susan rolled her eyes. 

In one line Stephen King mocked his image then the next line said "Innocence is the act this town plays most the parents of the hill has made the antics of what was behind Fleetwood Mac's Rumors Album seem somewhat tame in comparison."  Everybody knew the degree of truth in what Stephen said.  In the neighborhood that Dr King's son lived (also Amanda Cook) there were people in trouble with the state medical board a crooked financial advisor multiple divorces and affairs between the leaders of New Braunfels community.  It was an unhappy truth.  The unhappy truth was a reality in the halls.  As abrasive as the demeanor was of Stephen King the class he was rejoining had more chemical dependence issues then the class that was seemingly horrific in Denton.  Denton growled barked and occasionally bit.  New Braunfels was slowly poisoning itself as band played on. 

The fact he casually let it roll out was very crass.  Stephen then said I only got three tasks...getting the shots, running the detail and not getting myself injured for the meet.  She said "You did not date Alexa your freshman year but you make her look tame."  Stephen had yet to run across Alexa in class.  She had gone Ayn Ryand agnostic.  Stephen replied, "Sarcasm is a nifty narcotic and it can be the razors edge to mock what is in the end a parody of itself."  Shake 10 watches a second hand swing through 50 seconds was the rhythm.  What is right remains after innocence is lost and purity becomes more sacred after it changes form.  He knew in a couple weeks he would have take a "College day" to memorial at Amnesty International had scheduled for his friend in Denton.  He needed to get over the shock and let some tears out.  Stephen would talk to Noel Scott to coordinate with Doc who was UNT faculty and a history  teacher at Denton Ryan.  

Lunch brought the crowd Stephen was now accustomed to eating with.  The football team had warmed up when they saw the cross-country photos.  They understood Stephen was a jock on yearbook staff not the other way.  Kimber and Tara signaled him to finish lunch with them.  Stephen was walking a bit slow.  The double ham and cheese sandwich with grapefruit juice to drink.  Kimber, Amanda and Stephen were seniors.  Kimber remarked "You keep it up you will earn the hoof and heart award."  Stephen replied, "I just want a regional birth for the guys in addition to the girls this year."  There was a smile shared by all.  Amanda's face brightened.  For the 1st time since Stephen had returned did something roll out of his mouth she agreed with.  Stephen looked at Tara "Enjoying not being a cheerleader here?"  Tara smiled "Nice to have a different identity."  Stephen replied,"This is my 3rd identity in this town."  Amanda looked at Stephen realizing he had just something true to life.  She then said "You are still Stephen just a different form of him you shed your geekdom completely."  Tara said "Yeah he has been Dentonized."  Leisha joined in..."It happened fast."  Amanda then said "You do not take much use of the fact your mom is now superintendent."  Stephen looked at her "I have no intention and I can see a complication on that too much privilege is abused in this place.....I intend to steer Unicorn Pride a new way or a really old way depending which way you look at it."  Amanda started processing what she had heard.  Stephen left early he had three rolls of film to bulk load.   

Stephen having done the required tasks was permitted an afternoon workout.  Once inside the dressing room Coach Bob said, "You do good work."  Aero was pleased "You got me right before I died!"  Stephen chuckled a bit.  Bo said, "Yeah you got me looking like a hunter"  Stephen had changed into shorts "Victory is always nice I get 20 exposures Saturday."  Aero handed Stephen a 10-dollar bill with the words "Thanks."  Stephen placed it in his locker commenting, "Don't do anything stupid this week Aero."  Thomas and Mike laughed.  Mike replied, "Why didn't I get my picture taken... Stephen then said "Don't worry I will do my best to finish about 30 yards ahead of you so I can.  Thomas then said, "He burned you!"  Stephen grinned.  This was fun.  Stephen was enjoying this.  We are doing an Encino  Special said, "You said it Steve."  The group walked to Unicorn stadium dressed out. 

Tara had noticed the ease in tension.  As Tara walked to Unicorn stadium, she laughed.  Kathrine Whe joined her...the two started talking a little about cheerleading.  Kathrine made it clear that Tara was welcome to try out.  Tara had not even started looking at people and frankly was realizing her father was more and more right.  Tara saw what drove Stephen nuts about the town and more and more she was seeing what he loved.  Heck even the view from Unicorn stadium was beautiful.  The two elements were like oil and water they did not mix but they were both New Braunfels. 

Unicorn stadium was a hive activity as they stretched.  As they did Tara saw her role in the pecking of the team continue to shift she was being considered less an outsider having proven in metal and found worthy.  Linda was friendly.  The talk drifted to the course they would run.  This was going to be a preview of district.  The girls would run Kohler and guys would do Encino.  The circle stretching for Tara was great.  Pirate cove had sarcasm flowing.  Special said, "I never thought the Amazon queen have been cheerleader."  Tara rolled her eyes.  Stephen replied, "I guess I should have told you that earlier."  Special nodded.  A detail somehow got lost in the shuffle and was only slowly emerging.  Talk drifted about float decoration.  Micheal asked about the course by the Comal.  Stephen described it and then said I am bringing my fishing rod and tackle box to the meet.  Yeah right after the race I got Texas rigged power worm why not take my tackle box and rod.  Tara seemed surprised.  Bo replied, "That’s a real redneck."  Stephen replied, "Go figure and I am going to try out the coffee house on the square tomorrow."  Thomas said, "You are one confused dude."  Stephen said, "I like the finer things fishing for Bass in beautiful river or fine cup of cappuccino."  The group started off. 

Tara ran the run at a conservative pace.  She knew she would eat liver that night and then help out decorate the float.  This was about recovering she had driven herself hard that night the training runs were becoming more and more an invite to being third remember of an elite corps.  She was focused not so much any more on her own fame but rather the success of the team she was quiet not brooding.  The beauty of the city and unity of the school was good.  She saw both what Stephen talked about.  She could feel Unicorn pride.  To her father it was echoes a thing past. 

Tara knew the control impulse as she ran the now familar route.  A whisker above slow cruise she knew she had to rebuild carb levels in her muscle tissue.  The sun was hot but she was hydrated and the oaks over the street took much of the harsher rays off and kept things cool.  The run was a bit of a bore. 

Stephen took the 2 miles of Encino easy.  He knew the route he knew its quirks he knew the need to start backing off.  It was just another run a meet was getting closer.  He ran it in his Huaraches since he had shoved things so hard in his Air Max the night before.  It was not so much boring for Stephen it was familiar and the focus on Saturday was developing.  He was reminded to do the pushups and crunches before he left.  Stephen did them he was putting some meat on the upper body yet his long skinny frame had the cuts of a distance runner most profoundly ugly.  It ended in due time no kick at the end just grabbing a couple cups of exceed at the training room and walk back to the cool of the locker room.

The coolness brought relief.  The mass of steel reinforced concrete gave the school a feeling of a bunker and the reality of basically being a cave.  Thomas quipped, "When are you going to hit it with Tara?"  Stephen responded, "That would be like incest."  Stephen then said "Their are something’s best saved till marriage."  Bo said, "I thought Denton was more sophisticated.”  Stephen responded “Yeah I learned to scientifically refute evolution.”  The line was out of left field.  Stephen said it with piercing eyes and few doubted him.  There was a big pause.  Bo then said, "Why then do you hang out with the freaks?"  Stephen replied "Freaks are the ones who have the stigma we know if all the parties are busted there would be very few representatives to represent the Unicorns in competition.  This class is too divided too obsessed with personal glory.   It is nice to acknowledge everyone this school has had over two years to learn the lesson it obviously has not."  Tom chimed in "You got a point."  Mike chimed "Don't you believe in having fun?"  Stephen replied, "I enjoy flying I enjoy photography I love when this team wins satisfaction is deeper then a shallow cheap thrill."  Raul commented "My sister said you are weird you are weird."  "Perhaps your sister should ask Tara and Julie about ethics between the loins I guess I am freaky for thinking church is not just some place visited on Sunday but rather defining how we should live 24/7"  Stephen knew enough it was a great time to make exit. 

(track locker room DHS Ryan before the school split Brett Boyd in the blue photo Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved)

Stephen had leg extensions.  His left knee had swollen somewhat but the streak continued he had been pushing it hard missing icings and the Motrin dosage was low and the knee was still rock hard.  It simply put was not giving him much trouble.  The AC was nice.  The ironic thing was he spent more time driving to and from then spent doing his three sets of 20 reps.  Then it was to TJs for Alien and a Hamburger his mom and given him a $10 to eat with.  Stephen's father was in Austin that night for an AFTP....additional flight Training PEriod.   



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