ALLISTER SMITH’s SKINNY SOUL
If Mrs. McClarity opened her kitchen window at 6:30 on a warm spring morning, she could hear it. A soft puff puff of breathing in between the thunk thunk of rubber soles hitting the pavement in front of her house. He never missed a day, seven days of the week. Rain or shine. A series of puffs and thunks, and then he was gone.
Some mornings she’d call out of the window, “How’s it going Allister. Looking good Allister.” And on Sunday mornings, “You should be jogging down this street to church Allister.” Her voice changing to a maternal tone. And he’d nod and smile, and wave a hand in her direction. Allister was 55 and recently retired. “Got lotsa time for church Mrs. McClarity. Gotta get healthy first.”
This one particular morning, however, the shoes were moving a little faster, his face muscles tight and when Mrs. McClarity waved her usual greeting, he didn’t respond. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice her at all. At first, she only thought it a little odd, and then took to doing what Mrs. McClarity did best. Made his odd behaviour her business.
The next morning she waited. She’d confront him face to face, though she wasn’t sure of what. This time she was ready in a pair of running shoes and pink sweatpants, straining at the seams.
As Allister approached, she started to move her feet up and down on the sidewalk in preparation. She waited until he was directly across the street from her and then flung her arms and legs to gather enough speed to catch up with him. Allister didn’t even look her way as the bundle of flying gray hair and pink polyester came at him.
“Allister” she finally bellered out, though by now she was right beside him, puffing with exertion from the short jaunt over.
“Allister,” she said trying to move along side of him. “I’d like to invite you to the church potluck, this Saturday.” By now her words were barely making sense as her body bobbed up and down on the pavement, jerking the sound coming from her lungs. “Do you think you could make it? I’m sure much of the food will be heart healthy,” she said with almost a look of pride on her face.
“I’ll see Mrs. McClarity. Now, I must keep going.” And with that, Allister kept his pace.
The next morning, she tried again. Dressed in the pink sweatpants, she kept watch from the kitchen window. She waited until 7:15 a.m., munching on a freshly baked cinnamon bun to pass the time. Finally, with no sight of the jogging man, Mrs. McClarity decided he had changed his route. But that didn’t happen either.
The Monday after the potluck, she read his name in the local paper, under the obits. Mr. Allister Smith, at the age of 55, suddenly, in his home.
Well, Mrs. McClarity thought to herself. What a shame. Such a young man, and so seemingly healthy. Who would have thought.
Allister’s finely toned body lay in the morgue, the muscles tanned and strong.
The leftovers from Saturday’s potluck were spread out on a special plate covered in plastic wrap in Mrs. McClarity’s fridge. She took the plate and scraped the food into the trash bin under her sink, but continued to snack off the desert tray.
“Such a shame,” she said to herself, licking her fingers from every bit of chocolate.
She put on her jacket and popped the zipper under the strain of an increasing belly.
“I’ll get this fixed after I get back from the ladies’ meeting at church,” she said to herself, and puffed her way down the walk to her car.
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