Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


Cuckoo And The Running Man

December 9, 2012 by Richard Wright in Journal, Running

My first novel Cuckoo was all about a guy whose life becomes dominated by a single battle in his own head. Nothing else exists for him. Nothing else has time to matter.

Training for a marathon is a bit like that. When I’m not running, I’m thinking about running. While I can manage snatches of generic conversation with people in passing, my mind is secretly on running, and this may explain some of the extremely random answers I give to questions these days. I had a dream last night in which I was running. Exhausting stuff. Don’t misunderstand me. I enjoy it. In fact, I think I enjoy training for something even more than I do the event itself. That was always going to be the case – I threw myself back into this running thing as a way to do something useful and non-destructive with my obsessive/addictive tendencies. At the same time, it’s a nightmare.

Alas, our fortunes have been mixed as a team in training. Chris and Nat-the-girl are ahead of the curve, and appear to be developing actual super-powers. Nat-the-boy is making steady progress, and though Tom has taken an… er… lackadaisical approach to beginning his training, nobody’s really worried about him. It’s the long, long legs that reassure us. A few bold strides is all it takes for him to finish a marathon, probably.

Andy and I are just confused. Our long runs seem, on the face of it, to be fine. If we dare to run only a short way though, it’s like wading through treacle. That’s, you know, completely backwards. And Steph… poor Steph. Her knee has fallen off. Actually fallen off. She showed me how it has been reaffixed using what appears to be sticky tape. Has she dropped out though? Has she hell – though she’s worried that this may affect her finish time…

That has to deserve some kind of reward.

You can do that by donating something to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity – we’ve shot past the £1000 mark, so thanks to all of you who have already put something in the pot. The big donations are lovely of course, but it’s the little ones – five or ten pounds – that keep bumping the total ever higher. We don’t want to stop at a grand – help us double it or better, here.

If you do, you are welcome to revisit the above photograph as often as you please. It was Tom who first noted that, whenever life starts to get him down, he looks at Andy in the above picture and everything feels okay again. Andy is wearing a grey crop top and a head band, but more importantly has a look of peaceful resolve on his face as he stares into the middle distance (tricky, standing in a small gymnasium). He is both with us, and in many ways above us. You can find huge reserves of inner peace, if you stare at that image for long enough.

As marathon training is driving me slowly round the bend, I’m dropping the price of the ebook editions of the appropriately named Cuckoo to 99 cents (about 77 pence in UK money) for the next month and a half. It will go back to full price when the marathon is behind me. Until then. You can get the Kindle version here in the US, here in the UK, or grab one formatted for any reading device at Smashwords for the same price. I’ve sent the new price off to other retailers as well, but it may be a while before it reflects on their websites.

Nobody runs a marathon in the novel, but they do become incredibly obsessed and confused. That’s close enough.

For reasons too complicated and random to outline (I’m not sure there was a logical progression to the conversation anyway), my daughter was asking about interviewing people who might be terrorists. She saw how difficult it could be for those who had to do it, because terrorists would be unlikely to tell you what they were. We started talking about trick questions that could be asked to work it out.

“How much do you like blowing things up?”

“Have you ever stabbed anybody, just for fun?”

“Do you like… knives?

And finally, out of the blue…

“Have you ever hit anybody… with a frozen dog?”

No. I can’t explain it either. It was funny though, and raises the bar for creative terrorist atrocities. I wish I lived in her head sometimes.

Right, I’d better get ready for a run. Only twelve miles today. Remember that half marathon I trained for and ran in September, that seemed such a big deal at the time? Today, I’m only running that sort of distance. Never thought I’d be able to say that with a straight face.

Currently Reading (novel): Strip Jack by Ian Rankin

Currently Reading (short stories): Wake Up And Smell The Creepy by Marianne Halbert

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