For Jim, a fellow artist at arms.
I had three of the meanest pit bulls I had ever seen on my ass and all I could think about was that I had to go to the bathroom.
And the running was not helping the matter either. The harder I moved, the more my body wanted, no: pleaded for me to get to a place of relief. The pressure built around my waist and inside my organs. And still I made my legs push against the ground and propel.
The dogs barked loudly, so close to my heels, and though the action only made my insides squirm more, I reached in unseeing panic for the steak tied to my back. My fingers graced the slimy and cold meat, but I could not pry it off, and so I had to continue to run.
And run, and run, and run. The landscape broke to half-seen vague things as I kept looking backward, failing to regulate my breathing. My sides stung.
But I forced myself to go until the inevitable happened: my attention slipped. And so I did as well. My feet flew up underneath me, and I crashed to the ground with an instant pain shooting through my side.
The pit bulls came upon me, tugging at the steak and not caring what impeded their hunger. They damaged my arms via random bites and untrimmed nails.
I clutched my face, and it was at that moment that my body could not hold inside the buildup anymore, and a warmth leaked down the side of my leg. The dogs continued to tear away at the rib eye.
Finally, blissfully, they got off as the steak found its last section gulped down a gullet. They barked at me for a minute before wandering off in random directions.
I saw another person sprint by a moment later, a woman with what looked like a New York strip steak tied to the small of her back, and a few of my dogs flocked to her.
But that was none of my business anymore. I walked back to the main area, the liquid on my leg feeling caustic. The dome of the central monitoring building came into view, and yet another person sprinted out of the place chased by dogs.
The input lock was old, so it took a moment for it to scan my fingerprint and let me into the building. And once I was in, I tried to stay away from all the other runners. My stink of urine was so pungent and hovering that they could probably smell me well enough at the outskirts of the central room.
Still, I had to deal with one person: the receptionist. I handed her the card and smiled, an awkward, awkward smile, and she scanned the card.
“Not any records broken I’m afraid. Bottom fifty as well. Better luck next time.”
I nodded, disappointment spreading through my bones. I knew I should have used the toilet before the running began, but the world of Pit Bull Racing is fast-paced and competitive. And I didn’t want to potentially lose my spot because of a bathroom break.
But it all turned out wrong. I shook my head as I exited, wondering where I could find a towel to protect my car seat, and hoping that next year, after perhaps specialized muscle training, I could do decent in the Pit.
Next year, I thought to myself. I’ll do better next year.