Running Past the Vampires

#1 – Delaware River Canal, Bristol, PA

(6-minute read)

I HAVEN’T BEEN sleeping well lately. I’m sure there are many who can say the same right about now.

In fact, if you’re reading this and are sleeping well, I’ll have some of whatever you’re having, please!

The Crouch’s son (let’s call him Barty Crouch Jr. the Third) has moved back in over the north wall, and he’s got his days and nights mixed up.

As I lie there, staring at the ceiling fan at three forty-six in the morning (I should dust that tomorrow. I will. First thing), I try to come up with a way to say the very thing I’ll never say if we happen to see each other out back.

“Listen, Barty Crouch Jr. the Third. I get it—the Call of Duty must be heeded, but *am* is when all good little soldiers sleep and *pm* is when they fight. Understood? That’s a good little soldier.”

This morning—sometime after the “Battle of Detroit” or whatever—I had one of those *just before sunrise* dreams. You might know the kind—you’ve been up and down all night, and just before sunrise you’re able to nod off, hovering in that space between the real world and the one we go to when we sleep.

I have seasonal allergies and with them comes post-nasal drip and with that comes a cough. So, my dream—as you can imagine—had to do with me coming down with Coronavirus.

In my dream I’m lying in my bed, thinking about my regrets and quietly talking to myself. “Well, this is it…This could very well be it.”

“Yes. I’m aware.”

“So, how do you think we did? I mean, if this is really it, if it’s all over, did we do okay?”

“Some hits, some misses. We’ve always had a tendency to over-swing, I think.”

“Yeah…Well…this could very well be it.”

“Yes, I know that. Thank you…Now I’m starting to panic. Appreciate that very much, thanks! That’s just great!!”

“Wake up!!!”

Time to get up and go for a run.

#2 – Underpass overhead

A nice little stretch of the Delaware River Canal runs through Bristol, and I enjoy running on it. It takes me around the edge of The Borough and back after a couple of miles south.

Two days ago, I was out on a run in the afternoon. The sun was finally out, and The Borough was teeming with spring beginnings and brand new colors never before seen. There have been colors just like these in the past, but not these colors from the year 2020—the year of the virus.

These are the latest versions from the Cosmic Creative Department – newly printed greens and whites and yellows. Each color is trying to outshine the next like a horticultural car show.

On the route I run, I always follow the canal path under the train overpass and then hop on the paved trail on my way back home. Two days ago was no different. Sometimes I see people along my route and sometimes I don’t. If I do, I normally smile and wave. I’ll nod hello at the very least.

As I was approaching the underpass, the sun was high and cast a deep shadow across the path I was on. The darkness stretched from the underpass wall, over the trail, all the way across the water, to the far bank of the canal. (see pic #3 below).

#3 – Vampire Weekday

I was about twenty yards from the shadow when I saw a man and woman walking together. They were an older couple—definitely Boomers—moving in my direction. They seemed to be exiting the shadows like they were afraid of the sun. I could see that they saw me.

I ran steadily on, and as I approached them, they stopped, stepped backward into the shadows, and leaned against the wall, waiting for me to pass them by on the right.

She was wearing a hoodie with the hood up, and he a jacket with a high turned-up collar and a brimmed hat. I entered the shadow and looked at them as I passed. Both of them were leaning on their right side against the wall, faces turned away from me.

I saw her first. She took her left hand and pulled the hood over her face. He had taken his high color in his left hand and pulled it over his face. I tried to smile. I tried to nod.

I continued through the remaining fifteen yards of the overpass, and when I came out on the other side, I stopped. I looked back and saw nothing but the shadow.“What the hell just happened back there?” I asked myself.

“Crazy, right?” I answered.

It was the saddest thing that’s happened to me in a very long time. Not because I took it personally (I totally didn’t), but because this is how we have to live right now; it’s the way things are and the way things have to be. It’s frustrating and sad and scary as hell and it sucks; I wish it didn’t.

I stood on the path, panting from an unexpected stop. My body was tired, and my spirit suddenly became heavy. All of the beautiful, new colors began to blur and melt away as if the color dial had been turned in an extreme direction.

#4 – A Look Back

“I don’t think we’re going to make it,” I said to myself.

“Look at the path,” was my answer to that.

I looked at the path.

“Now just start running again. Keep your eyes on the path and just run. Just stay on your path.”

So, I started running again. The colors returned to new. I made it home.

I wish you peace.

Author: Scott Langdon

Scott Langdon is an actor and writer living just outside of Philadelphia in Bristol, Pennsylvania with his wife, Sarah, and their dog, Watson. Before the Time of Covid, he could be seen on stages throughout the professional Philadelphia theater community or writing in a local Starbucks, where the only way they could get rid of him was to tell him there was a pandemic. He has a hard time knowing when he's not wanted.

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