Note: Though I have no intent to make this a regular running series, this is, at the very least, a sequel. If Alvin can do it, so can I. Go here for Episode 1.
Episode 2: The Chest Rash
In the last episode, an exceedingly handsome man went out on an ordinary four mile run when Old Man Winter attempted to choke the very life out of him with his own loogy. By the time he returned home, Captain Esophagus was born.
There’s something about stitching on moisture wicking clothing that just will not mesh. Since our hero returned and discovered his true identity, he poured through a library of superhero movies to determine his next step. Spiderman, Iron Man, they all go about the business of creating their costumes. And so it was that Captain Esophagus set about with sketch pad, dramatic music, and a montage of scribbled drawings and rejected ideas littering his floor.
A giant “E“ stitched on his marathon race shirt? No, an “E” is a failing grade and one with which the good Captain was all too familiar. How about a nickname, like Spidey, for citizens to yell out as he ran by? But the only nickname in which he was regularly referred did not inspire confidence or strength. Plus, “dumbass” was too long for the shirt.
Finally, he settled on an open throat with a stuck loogy dangling in the back. This was, after all, his moment of birth. Or re-birth. And this, the time of his afterbirth.
The stitching of the loogy filled throat scratched across his chest as he laced up for another mid-winter run. In hindsight, it was not a good idea to stitch into his moisture wicking shirts. He would need a lot of soothing gel post-run. But if a chest rash is the only price he’d have to pay for greatness, well, then he’d do it. For the people…who needed Captain Esophagus.
It was 12 degrees out. Too cold for mortals. His first steps were tentative. The crisp crunch of icy snow underfoot announced his arrival. Five miles to go. A test of wills.
I know you are out there Old Man Winter. I feel your frozen breath.
He ran on. His chest rubbed raw from the hero logo emblazoned on his shirt. A car horn beeped. A group of teenagers apparently wanted to wish him well by repeatedly calling him by his nickname. He tried to correct them, “It’s Captain Esophagus, please.” But the teens just laughed along with him, though the Captain was not aware of the joke, and pointed at his shirt.
“What’s that?” They asked through giggles. “Is that an ass with a piece of crap in it? Are you Captain Colon Blow?”
“Now that would be a ridiculous name for a superhero…” The Captain, with hands on hip, corrected but the teens were already careening down the road and out of sight (though he did hear the unmistakable shout of ‘Captain Dumbass awwaaayyy!’ amidst the cackles.)
Alone again. Two miles to go. His knuckles and fingers were frozen making it no longer possible for him to play air harmonica to the soothing sounds of one Hue E. Lewis broadcasting through his mp3 player. Maybe Old Man Winter did not want to tussle again? Maybe the colon, er, frozen throat loogy logo was scaring him away?
Like a shadow racing across the ground in front of the setting sun, the frozen air instantly numbed his tongue, throat, and then esophagus. It came suddenly. His panting breaths immediately turned asthmatic. He felt as if his lungs were going to collapse like Lindsay Lohan’s acting career. His steps became labored. The bright sun reflecting off the snow made him disoriented.
And that’s when he came. A swirling cloud of snow rose from the ground directly in his path at the next intersection not more than a hundred yards ahead. He formed like a towering pyramid. Pointy hair, bluish tint, elongated nipples, shrunken penis, all the signs of extreme cold were there. Old Man Winter threw his head back and thunderously laughed. His belly violently shook the steel cage of his ribs. Inside the ribbed prison, the Captain could see Jimmy Buffett in his Hawaiian shirt screaming and reaching for our hero to save him.
Captain Esophagus stopped, took one deep drag of the icy winter air, and, like the Mandelbaums before him, decided it was Go Time. He defiantly stared into Old Man Winter’s blue eyes and hacked up a big spit. And took off again, lowering his shoulder, ready to run full steam into the frozen giant.
As he approached, he could feel his throat freezing to the point of suffocation. He did not know if he’d make it. But our hero was determined for the stitched shirt and rash not to have been in vain. He picked up the pace. He was going to fartlek into Old Man Winter. Jimmy Buffet screamed between mouthfuls of cheeseburger. Captain closed his eyes and braced for impact.
Just then, the careening car full of teens plowed through the intersection directly into O.M.W. just ahead of the hero. Old Man Winter instantly dissipated as if a thousand interlocking fireflies had suddenly dispersed and scattered. Buffett’s tan feel to the ground in a crumpled heap but his body disappeared with the rest of Old Man Winter.
“Where you headed now Captain Colon Blow?!” The envious teens yelled. “Your shirt needs a laxative…”
Captain Esophagus attempted to correct the misguided youths again but they were already too far down the road, their car seemingly fueled by sneering insults and incorrect hero logo identification. These are Rohrschach failures, the hero thought.
Captain Esophagus approached home. He was now 2 for 2 over Old Man Winter. And, based on his superhero understanding, there would not be a third encounter as every villain only gets to come back once in a sequel. He had conquered winter for the people. Everyone would be free to enjoy a mid-winter run!
He walked up the front porch steps and took one deep drag of the now refreshing winter’s air basking in victory. Five miles accomplished. Winter defeated! Again! A thick, gooey spit balled up in his throat. This time, Captain Esophagus confidently swallowed the food residue.
But, half way down, he choked. The flap of cartilage that directs food away from his lungs was frozen open! He gasped and spit until he regained his composure and breath.
His epiglottis was frozen open. Air and food were callously being directed to the same location. A new threat.
Off in the distance, an evil, gleeful cackle echoed…Captain Esophagus’ work was not done.
Epiglottis Man approached.
Coming January 2011, Frozen Throat Chronicles 3: The Paralyzed Larynx!
5 miles on Tuesday. 7 miles on Thursday. 12 miles this Sunday. Then official training begins!