There was the initial awkwardness of stepping in, but that was immediately lost in the larger awkwardness of the rest of the encounter. Wanting to make it a quick visit, I didn’t hesitate to start asking for directions to the State Police station. The Gentleman stood there, rag in his hand, and seemed puzzled. I explained that I was running on the trails, got lost then got caught in the storm. I couldn’t find my way back to my car and just needed some help with directions.
The Gentleman was puzzled and couldn’t quite grasp the situation. Yet it was a very basic scenario: runner lost, needs directions, problem solved. I tried to simplify it and asked if he could just tell me how to get to Rt 125. This only made things worse. He felt the need to explain to me what type of road 125 was and that it wasn’t safe for running. Gah!
Ultimately here’s what I needed to do: right on Sagamore, left on Wildwood, left on 125, police station would be shortly up on my left. So simple! Yet he wouldn’t spit out the two turns necessary. He kept starting, then stopping and trying to explain why he thought it was so simple yet so complicated. He also kept listing the streets in a different order, and with each failed attempt at explaining how to get to the the station that was only about a mile away (according to him) I kept wondering just what was on the rag that he was holding and if he was sizing me up so he could make a suit out of my skin.
The whole situation could only have been creepier if he had said ‘you have a purty mouth’ as he tuned his banjo. He mentioned that the power was out but the phone was working, never offering for me to use the phone, but saying that it worked. He didn’t offer me a ride but said I could ‘take the car’. What the fuck was going on here? Maybe I’m just over analyzing his word choice, but it was all oh so strange. In a last ditch effort to get directions I said “my wife is probably so worried that she has the cops out looking for me. She’s going to be pissed.” To which he replied “is your wife still in the woods?” Come on!
I was a fraction of a second away from angrily snapping at him to come out with the damn directions when I basically just coached him to spit out the instructions. I refused to let him get sidetracked and repeated it a couple of times. Three simple steps! Even I can follow that.
With a better sense of direction I bounced out the door and took off down the road. My feet were heavy with water and I could feel the huge blisters screaming with each step. I was still cranking at about a 6:30 pace and eager to get this last mile done. Turns out it was closer to two miles. In the end I would’ve run another ten on my own over getting a ride from that guy.
By the time I reached my car, I was furious. The encounter with The Gentlemen put a damper on the pulse pounding adventure. I could see large branches down all over the road and large lakes of standing water. Whatever rolled through was quite large and I was a bit lucky to emerge unscathed (and unskinned).
As I drove back to the in-laws’ house, I passed the side street I emerged from thinking that the stretch of road I had just run on was in rough shape. Now I was seeing a different stretch of 125 that got hit a lot harder. There was a stretch of about 100 meters that had a whole line of full trees down nearly blocking one side of the road, and apparently nailed one car as it passed. Yeah, I got lucky out in the woods.
Looking back on it though, it was pretty fun. Smart? No. As one friend said to me in the wake of this: Those runs are the ones you keep telling people about and why they think you are nuts. He’s absolutely right.
On the way home, after letting my wife know I was fine, I made one stop: the liquor store. Picked up a four pack of Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. Yeah, I splurged a little bit, but I needed a good drink after that. Beer never tasted so good!
Note: I wouldn’t wait for the GPS signal when I left The Gentleman’s house. So the starting point on the map shown here is different from where I actually started. That worked out well since I just wanted to tell a story and not show everybody where exactly this guy lived.
This was the final chapter of a two part post. Click here to get back to Part I.