I was having a drink at Penalty Boxes, a small Boston pub, when a man on crutches turned to me and offered me a drink. A light smell of gunpowder emanated from his clothes; the closer I looked at them the more tattered they appeared. "What have you been doing?" I asked, "You seem to be in a state!"
"I ran the Marabomb, lady" he replied. I was taken aback. The marathon hadn't been covered in the media since 2014. It was 11 years that I hadn't heard about one single race as there was an international ban for any coverage of the event.
"You run the marathon?"
"Marabomb" m'lady, that's what we call 'em these days. You see this left leg has collected more shrapnel than those pretty rocks on your necklace"
"Why do you run... Marabombs" I ventured?
"Simply the most exciting thing I knows. When you're running and your eardrums go "ping!" and a wave of hot air burns the whiskers off your face, the adrenaline flows faster in your body than any sport I know. Suddenly I need to put my hurdling skills into motion an' leap over fallen competitors and sometimes a limb or organ in order to reach the finish line."
"But when you're running a Marabomb, you're playing into the political whims of those who set off the bombs." I said, fixing my eyes on the Marabomber and revealing an old scar that I too have been carrying on my face.
"The Marabomb today is taboo. Nobody knows who is trying to destabilize what government. Only in North Korea is it reported freely. My best time, by the way, was in Pyongyang. With over a dozen explosions the first place runner made it to the finish line in over six hours and I came in 10th. We had to dig ourselves out of fresh ditches in that one!"
This conversation was making me feel queasy. My reeking neighbor with black, oily hair didn't really inspire me with his story. Yet he went on.
"I may hang up my shoes and crutches next year" he snickered, "not because I don't love what I do, but because I'm loaded!"
"Loaded with booze?"
"I have more sponsors, going from Hammerclick paramilitary uniforms to Glock.com. Aramade gives me flack jackets to run with and my picture is on everything you can think of to promote their stuff."
"How is it that you don't seem stressed out, taking a chance with your life on so many occasions?"
He gave me a long look, took my drink and downed it.
"Life is a blast baby, life is a blast!"
And with that he walked out limpingly leaving me his tab that I gladly picked up.