Tales of the Dead Armadillo Book 2 Chapter 3 Section 2 A novel by Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved Section Title Everything's better WHEN WET! 



The next morning it was early on the rehab 20 minutes on the bike, three sausage egg and biscuits washed down with whole milk and the high octane coffee mixed Carnation instant breakfast and half and half. That night Stephen read at Goethsome and Christ’s words once text on a page meant something the struggle as he desired not the cup he was about to drink but the divine nature not my will but thy will be done. It was strength. It went into Stephen's back bone. There was a power bar and a ham and cheese sandwhich for lunch. It was driving to school parking in the athlete’s parking lot. The knee was behaving just with the Advil and no post run ice. It was blur the negatives were processed before the first period. Lunch saw a couple a football prints done and the contacting of the crosscountry roll the stuff was preceding enough on schedule to permit an afternoon workout with the team.

The JV was short of a person yet places still meant something. The better Unicorn runners did reflect on the team. UTSA meet was looming ahead like a freight train. The very fact of course Stephen had lost his personal animosity to other teams for the most part but well he hated the course. Everybody hated the course!  Coach Bob told him they were going to do an Eden Home. Stephen changed into his shorts and his big air max. His legs had adapted. They were a little larger then even he knew his freshman year yet the biking that stabilized the knee also made hill running smoother. Stephen said I feel something goofy going on. Bo said "You going to drag it out." Tom smiled "He is crazy even for a senior why not." Stephen laughed He continued "I run like pilot I race cold as ice focused gotta do something crazy to keep things interesting." Coach Noel said "Its leading by example you make a comment about a runner using Walnut as a short cut you have to back it up action." Thomas Commented "If that had happened Stephen Ray you were not only lazy but stupid I guess you wanted to slap white self against that white cliff over there."  Micheal commented "Stupid Gringo Ray" Serg commented "if that happened gringo stupid". Coach Noel looked Stephen Ray’s direction Stephen King saw it and started laughing. Bo and Tom commented "Anything we should no about?" Coach Noel Scott replied as he saw Steven Ray's face beet red. "I think my protégé already took care of it" Coach Noel said.  It was obvious that Noel Scott had taken a hint from head coach Bob.  He let Steven Ray know he has been caught.  He also knew Ace aka Stephen King clear it up.  The statement indicated loyalty to Coach Bob's way and that the fact that a senior had taken care of the issue.   Raul was silent. Stephen responded looking at Bo "I have been granted full status as a senior on the team so its something its over with." Bo replied "You know I don't like whimps who cut run short." Stephen replied "Nor do I."  Bo had sensed what had happened.  Had he given Ray a hard time he would be picking a fight with Stephen King.  It was also clear Ray had been embarrassed. 

The group headed out.  Someone had been saved future torment.  Ace as he was known in Denton was making yesturday slide after being caustic.  Coach Bob had noticed Stephen King had made the point but also backed off.  The cutting sarcasm of Stephen had been known.  Ray had suffered a brief intense session which he deserved.  King was restoring him Coach Noel had informed Ray his misdeed had been noticed but the runner called Ace had spoken about it.  Coach Bob was about to see how it worked out. 

Stephen King was surprised to see clouds and he knew odds were they would crash before the run was over with. This thought made him happy. The air was humid as the group stretched. Stephen could see in the distance another developing shower which sent its own breeze. Stephen King would not have flown that day. He was focusing on making varsity on his own terms.

Amanda and Tara could see it. Tara, Amanda and Leisha got to chase the boys. The group left. Stephen took off with Raul knowing he was going beyond the lactic acid threshold and frankly not giving too much of a care. As he made the pass the sky opened up with rain.  Aero was surprised Bo saw Stephen right with the lead group. Then out of the sky it came. The rain huge drops started falling as they were over Panther Canyon. Bo looked at Stephen his grin said it all. Like an adrenaline blast it hit the system as the huge drops hit Stephen's skin. The turn to California was made Stephen keeping pace with Raul and was ahead of Mike and Thomas. Bo looked at him with a grin. Somewhere a chuckle emerged. Form allowed him and Bo to keep up with speedy freshman.  There was a euphoric feeling had ignited.  

Stephen was feeling the rain the Kohler house came into view. Why not put the pedal on the floor, why not run as hard as you can?  Stephen took the slight down grade of California he milked the last a bit of speed. Somewhere inside his head Stephen Miller started playing "Jungle Love" Emotion was running unbridled this week was preperation. Stephen had him figured out and in his family tree Stephen had cousins like him. Stephen hated the attitudes with a passion and knowing his very manners was threatening Raul's world. They made the turn onto Lakeview. Stephen jigged to the outside so he could slide just a bit wide taking stress off his knee which had not bothered him. He was not going to blow the knee he was aware of the miracle but was not going to be stupid. Why kill the fun after all?  The turn was executed a bit wide as Stephen wanted and as the downhill ended he added just a bit more force to the stride he was taking physically fewer strides then Raul or Bo but each of those strides required more muscle energy. It was as if his legs were a constant speed prop on an airplane.

The long stretch with the roll of Lakeview was ahead of Stephen King. Level a dip then a hill then to the Eden Home sign a long wide shoulder the rain kept falling Stephen was feeling a bit euphoric. Rain and sweat and the water washed over the street. His heart grieved over wounds he had put out of his mind. The fire though of truth was driving him. Adjustments of the stride and course were occurring as that voice of experience had transformed his running even though he was being reckless with his pacing. Running in the rain another song echoed Shadows in the Rain A couple Deer were visible as they passed an empty field that was part of a pasture along Lakeview they were going to hug jump the fence and drink some of that good Landa Lake water. The rain flowing it was mixing with sweat. The grass that had dried was in a couple day going to lose its gray color. Stephen was pushing it.  That was what rain soaked runs were about cutting loose inhibitions and putting the foot on the floor.  He grabbed the speed on the bottom side of the dip and shoved hard on the top side. The stride only shrunk a little bit. This actually allowed him to pull away from Raul and Bo. Thomas and Mike were further behind. Serg was just ahead of them. The rain kept falling. Stephen cannon balled down the sign and were actually leading. Raul was surprised. Stephen knew was on somewhat borrowed time but he had completed half the run. He goosed up the hill as he did he congratulated Aero, Serg Thomas and Mike. The small bit of topography gave him to do something as Raul was closing on him. He saw Linda passed his encouragement to her Amanda, Tara and Leisha. Each teammate gave a high give the pouring rain. Common purpose common loyalty was shared strength. Raul and Bo finally passed Stephen who had been running at race pace on the near level terrain.  Ace who had used the hills for his advantage. Ace looked at the stretch of gravel ahead in the pouring rain mentally he realized he had gone 1.75 of 3 mile course. The legs were beginning to burn. Stephen was not about to quit or slow down. Each stride propelled him further down Lakeview Blvd closer to the high school. "Sultans of Swing" from Dire Straits filled his head as if the CD player in his mind chose the sound track. The driving back beat and the Stratocaster on a quest suited the mood well. Stephen was on a quest and the song was about transcendence of history. Aero came by next as the Kohlher house came into view. A few seconds past in the pouring rain Stephen drove himself harder as he turned up to California. He was aware of the speed had the fact he had not slowed down all that much. His long stride propelled him up the rise of California still strong still driving pushing himself hard harder the Thomas or Mike wanted to go. Stephen was looking at three quarters of a mile as he drove himself up the familiar road. The rain mixing the sweat the pursuit of a dream was a euphoric intoxication. The drive was anger the drive was love and in the midst was the person of Stephen King. He turned on Ohio and he decided to open it all the way. The last half mile of the run would finish soaking the leg muscles in lactic acid.  A sheet of water was flowing down the street into Panther Canyon. Stephen was driving as he cut through the back parking lot of the high school and angled across the football field where he was breathing heavy and he dry heaved at the gate.

Coach Noel Scott made a comment "Good job way to be a leader gives me 40 pushups and 110 crunches in the mat room." Without thinking the words "Yes sir" emerged from Stephens’s mouth indicating a profound respect that Stephen was only dimly aware he had for the man.

The run from one freshman's point of view had its own quirks.  Aero was surprised. Stephen was visibly shoving it making a pace he knew he could not possibly keep up with. The rain was coming down and all the tension of the time since Saturday seemed to disappear in the flowing rain. He made the turn. He had talent. Stephen though moody had a love for his team. Tom had earned Aero’s admiration. Dennis when he showed up was the guy he did not want to cross. Serg was the grump who had the team's best interest in at heart. Serg also had a wicked sense of humor. It was as if everybody had given them permission to forget cares and run like there was no tomorrow together. As a Freshman he knew a senior who had a sense of humor had been removed from the team. He also sensed the tension. Yet as the rain kept coming he could see Stephen and Bo quietly daring each other playing with each other. The turned down California in the torrent the pace was still fast. It was not going to slow down. Aero realized it. The tension was not exploding it was driving the run and everybody was high on adrenaline burning it off with the faster pace and the rain always provided a euphoric high. So he had a reputation to uphold as well as a freshman. The rain did add a flavor. One thing about running with the team he was beginning to understand how to play terrain to advantage. He had learned his lesson about taking off too fast and finally calmed down at the home meet. Yet it was obvious Bo despite his exterior of being the jokester had tricks up his sleeve. He watched the form. As he saw the Kohler house it realized how he had forgotten the sheer joy of running the in rain. Lakeview Blvd was long and beautiful. He could see deer dart across the wide street. This was cool there was sweat coming joining the rain the water was coming off his body. Bo and Stephen were still if anything ahead. The dip allowed Stephen if anything to lead. Stephen had found something and was running crazy. The enthusiasm was real. Encouragement flowed. Stephen turned Aero made the turn around the sign. As Aero saw the rest of the team come by he encouraged Thomas, Mike, Tom, Amanda, Linda, Tara and Leisha. The earlier runs of the summer had made it clear the high fives and words of encouragement were mandatory on the team period end of story. They also felt good. Stephen was going to fade he knew it Aero knew it but that did stop. Finally near California Aero made the pass. The quiet "good job" was a surprise but a pleasant one. This was a smaller scale then what happened at Medina Valley to Aero but this was a raining run. Stephen had announced his intent during the stretching session and in the locker room. It wound up having the effect of turning the run into a flat out race.

Tara saw Stephen takeoff. She liked the town and being called a Unicorn had a certain ring to it. The rain was great. The run was familiar. Why not go for it. Linda and Amanda seemingly were all in the mood. Why not the rain was intoxicating so she accelerated boldly to keep up. The rain was soaking her cooling her and she too felt the high of the run. The area was beautiful the rain was fun. Yeah she was burning rubber yet it was fun. Down California left on lakeview. A deer on the lake side could be seen gray was fading and green was popping out or so it seemed. The three miles once seemed long but now they were short. As she approached the sign just a little short of Linda Stephen King! Aero, Raul and Bo passed as a group with their high fives. Serg with his scowl had a sly grin on his face. Steven Rays face was warm and goofy. Amanda and Linda had also given her high five. Thomas and mike followed with their sincere encouragement. Things felt fun the pouring rain. Stephen King once joked form a Steve Miller band "Everything's better when wet!" Without words tension dissolved the rain induced euphoria.  As she turned around the sign and started heading back yeah it was true. She passed on the word "Way to keep Bronco pride Leisha."  Tara's face for once had the makings of a care free smile.  Leisha let a grin out as if an inside joke had been passed. Tara was surprised by her own words. Life was good. The team's collective core was establishing itself like she had after taking a shot and once again was getting if anything stronger. This town was eccentric what happened with Special was tragic in light of the chaos God's glory remained. The flowing rain through this beautiful area was life flowing deep into her soul. She was pushing things hard that run but it felt oh so good even as her legs were burning as she hung a left on California and started up California. Awesome God started echoing through her head. It drove her as she realized his might and his glory as she turned onto Ohio. She decided to finish the explosion near Panther Canyon and she began her own mass surge that did not end till she was at the gate of Unicorn stadium. Her father was there smiling. He was proud of his daughter he was happy Coach Noel Scott had suggested this. Stephen King's mom may have had her quirks and this town but he now had a team to call his own.

Coach Bob was in the field house just beyond the mat room. He had been lucky having football coach’s daughters on the team allowed cooperation. Coach Bob with the rain coming and Stephen wanting to drag race things that Eden Home well would be taken as an excuse to drag race. The five miles of Monday the rain the peculiarities meant that the tension would not blow up in the teams face but brought under control. When Bo showed up right around 16 minutes after they took off he grinned. He reminded Bo, Aero and Raul to do their pushups and crunches. The laughter and joy....Coach Noel was over his shoulder. "God is good!"  he thought.  Running in the rain did not fix problems but having the team run in rain was nice. Pirates got to be pirates and the sense of fun returned to pirate cove. Coach Bob thought what a freak but his steady hand Saturday morning was appreciated.

Stephen started he cranked out the 40 and the last five he did a slower progression and hold building endurance. The 100 crunches were done. Serg asked "Why did when Coach Noel told you to do the crunches you responded "Yes sir." Stephen King responded "just felt like it."

Coach Noel Scott was grading papers thankful for the rain it cooled team dynamics. He said a prayer of gratitude. Stephen King could be so old testament prophet fire and brimstone. The rain and his aggression created a sense of fun. The rain worked the tension did not blow the engine apart of the team instead like a Merlin engine in tune the roar. Stephen calling him sir was accidental but it revealed respect. It was a compliment.

Stephen shined his boots his brass and his mom received a call. It was his history teacher from Denton. He looked at his mom. Finally she agreed that a college day would be taken. Stephen did the rest of his homework and relaxed the projection print scale would make the work easy he still had to get the prints done by 5pm. These high activity level kept big conversations with the folk’s away. Arguments were prevented and it was good night. The only other big news New Braunfels Police Department asking if Stephen wanted to press charges on Special for criminal assault. Stephen politely turned him down he did describe on tape the incident. The DWI and drunk and disorderly was enough. Stephen was more then willing to forgive Special for the swing he took at Stephen....that was between teamates the almost hitting two JROTC cadets was not. The huge meal Stephen had fajitas with guac did its trick and Stephen passed out by 9:30 in his soft bed.



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