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by Marcus Carter about a year ago in literature
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Chapter 1: Pre-game Meeting

Chapter 1: Pre-Race Meeting

Present Day - 7:05 AM

It’s Marathon Day, and the Chicago Marathon is set to take place as all of the runners are gathered to warm up in Grant Park. Michael is sitting outside the tent of his team, and he is depressed. He is staring at his cell phone.

His coach, an older, gray-haired Irish man named Paul O’Rourke, taps him on the shoulder and gets his attention.

Paul- Michael, come on. What are you doing?

Michael continues staring at his phone. Paul notices the depressed look on Michael’s face.

Paul- Michael?

Michael looks straight ahead.

Michael- She’s leaving for New York.

Paul- Who?

Michael- Jamie.

Paul- Your girlfriend? Forget about her. You have a race to run. You’ve trained hard for this moment, and now you’re set to race with the elites for your first time. You have a chance to have the best race of your life.

Michael- Damn the race. I don’t even care if I win the damn thing. I just want her back.

Paul sighs, and he walks away. Seconds later, he walks back to Michael’s side.

Paul- Michael, you’ve worked real hard for this moment. This is your first run with the elite field, and you’re running at a 2:08 pace. You’re going to destroy your personal best. Are you willing to throw all your hard work away over some lass?

Michael- She’s not just some lass, Paul. This is Jamie. Look, Jamie was the reason I started running these marathons five years ago. She helped me get over my divorce. Without her, it means nothing. Win or lose, I’m done after this. My heart just isn’t into it anymore.

Paul- What are you saying? Are you--

Michael- (interrupts) It doesn’t matter anyway. I blew it. Now she’s headed to New York. Anyway, this is going to be my last race. I don’t think I can do this anymore, not without her.

Paul- (disappointed) Yeah, I understand. Before we go any further, I wanted to introduce you to your new teammates. (looks away) Guys, come out here.

Two men walk out of the tent. One man, a tall, lean blonde-haired man named Nick. The other, a shorter, slightly stockier brown-haired man with a buzz cut named Walter.

Paul- Michael, meet your new teammates, Nick Daniels and Walter Watkins. Guys, this is the lad I was telling you about.

Nick- Nice to meet you, Michael. Paul was telling us a lot about you.

Paul- As you know, both Nick and Daniel have reached the Olympics a few years back, and have received their invites to be here. Okay, guys, here’s the deal. I don’t know about any of you, but I want to beat that team over there. Look at the Kenyan team.

Michael, Nick, and Walter notice the Kenyan team.

Paul- The Kenyan stars are Sarki Kipkosgei, Absko Kajibe, and Jaali Kipkurui. All three of these guys are very fast, and they can maintain their pace all day. All three of them have a strong 10K background, but Kipkosgei is their guy. He’s going to be a problem.

Paul looks at the Ethiopian team.

Paul- Take a look at the Ethiopians.

Their attention turns to the Ethiopians.

Paul- Those Ethiopians are just as good as the Kenyans are. Kaleb Dibaba, Henry Kirima, and Abel Kebede are among the best Ethiopians in this field. Those three aren’t even Ethiopia’s best, but those guys can battle these Kenyans. That’s how good Ethiopia is as a whole. Dibaba is the one you need to watch out for. He holds the national record for half marathons, and can outrun anyone in the last half of the race.

Paul turns his attention to his runners.

Paul- I don’t know about you guys, but I am so sick of hearing about those Kenyans and Ethiopians winning marathon after marathon.

Walter- Dude, isn’t that kind of racist?

Paul- (rolls eyes) Walter, don’t start that crap today. Okay, lad?

Michael notices a short, lean, bald, dark-skinned man with a chin goatee. Willie flashes a smile so bright, it shines.

Michael- Who is that guy? He looks familiar. Isn’t that Willie Davis?

Paul, Nick, and Walter notice Willie Davis stretching near a tree.

Paul- Yep, that’s William Davis, III. Great Britain’s best. 2-time Olympic gold medalist in 10,000 meters, and he won here 2 years ago. He is by far the best on the field. The only reason he didn’t run last year is because he was injured. He blew everyone away in his last race in London, and won that race in just 2 hours and 4 minutes. He just might get the Chicago Marathon record today. Willie also has the best smile on the field, as you’ve just seen.

Paul turns his attention to his runners.

Paul- Guys, we have a chance to do something special today. The weather is great, this course is flat, and we have plenty of talent. You all know that four years ago, I was suspended for “doping”. This is my first race back, guys. I want to make those thick reporters regret all the crap they’ve said about me on the internet and in the papers.

Walter- (to Nick) Thick?

Nick- Thick is Irish slang for “stupid”.

Walter- Oh.

Paul- I know you’re all gonna go out there and make me proud. I believe in you guys. Let’s go get this show on the road, eh?

Nick- Let’s do it, guys!

Walter- Let's go!

Nick and Walter make their way back into the tent for last-minute preparations. Michael checks his phone, and he receives a text from Lawrence. The text says “Good luck today! Melanie and I are watching!”

As Michael stays seated, he continues staring at his phone, leading to a flashback.

By Luis Morera on Unsplash

Flashback: Game Show Aftermath

Five years earlier, after the show ends, Michael is seated alone backstage near the exit. His head is lowered, and he is completely silent. Jamie quietly approaches him.

Jamie- Michael, I am so sorry this happened to you. I understand if you don’t want to talk. I just wanted you to know that.

Michael looks up at Jamie, who is standing in front of him.

Michael- Why here? Why now?

Jamie- I wish I could find the right words for you. I just… Ugh! I’m so mad at Abby right now! You didn’t deserve this, Michael.

Michael lowers his head again. Jamie sits next to him.

Jamie- Becky and I are here if you need us.

Lawrence finds Michael and Jamie seated next to each other, and he gets their attention.

Jamie- (to Michael) I’ll let you two talk. I’m gonna go find Becky.

Jamie pats Michael on his thigh before standing up and leaving the scene. Lawrence sits next to Michael. Michael looks straight ahead.

Michael- What did I do to deserve this?

Lawrence- I’m sorry she did this to you, and on live television. I really don’t know what else I can say. I’m speechless.

Michael- (looks directly at Lawrence) You’re speechless?

Lawrence- Michael, what’s going through your mind? Are you thinking divorce?

Michael- How can I continue to put up with this? What did I do? Was I really that bad of a husband? Did I not do enough for her? Did I not provide for her? Did I not give her a house and put food on the table? What more could I have done?

Lawrence- I’m sure you can figure that one out. Michael, marriages aren’t always flowers and rainbows. Melanie and I have had our share of issues early, but those problems worked themselves out.

Michael- Did Melanie ever go on television and tell the world that she slept with another man behind your back, and you were there to listen to her?

Lawrence has no response to the question.

Michael- Look, I know you’re just trying to help, and I appreciate that. I loved her. I gave up all of my dreams for her. I was going to pursue my dreams and run marathons with my friends. Instead, I gave all of that up so we could try to have a good life. I was good to her. This is how she repays me?

Lawrence- I don’t know if this will mean anything right now, but I know a good counselor that can help you two. Maybe you should give this some thought.

Michael- Yeah, thanks.

Lawrence gets up, and he leaves Michael to himself. Michael lowers his head just before Jamie, Becky, and Shelly approach him.

Becky- Hey, Mike. Are you okay?

Shelly- Michael, I’m really sorry Abby did this to you.

Michael- Me, too.

Shelly- I tried to tell her to stay away from Todd.

Becky- We both did.

Shelly- Why the hell did he show up? How did he even know to show up here tonight?

Becky- Yeah, I wonder the same. How did the producers even know, unless she told them about him?

Jamie- Guys, can we please not talk about Todd? This isn’t going to make Michael feel any better.

Shelly- Okay, we won’t talk about him. Michael, look. You know you and I go way back, right? I’m not going to let this get in the way of our friendship. I love you like a brother. She’s my sister, and I love her, but she was so wrong.

Becky- I can’t believe she did this.

Shelly- Honestly, I wanted to slap the hell out of her.

Jamie- Guys, gossiping about her isn’t going to make this any better.

Shelly- Come on, Jamie. You know you want to slap her, too.

Jamie pauses.

Jamie- Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, but I don’t want to condemn her.

Michael- Look, I appreciate what you’re all doing for me. I just need to be alone right now.

Jamie- We understand.

Michael gets up, and he leaves the studio.

Shelly- Poor guy…

Jamie- Yeah, I really feel for him.

Meanwhile, Todd is waiting outside of a dressing room. Lawrence finds Todd waiting outside the door.

Lawrence- You son of a--

Todd- (interrupts) I just want to see if she’s okay.

Lawrence- Todd, I think you’ve done enough. I think you should leave.

Todd- But I just--

Lawrence- (interrupts) Go home. Stay away from my daughter. If you don’t, I’ll kill you.

A startled Todd leaves the area. Lawrence knocks on the door.

Lawrence- Melanie, it’s Larry.

Melanie opens the door, and she walks out before closing the door.

Melanie- Is he gone?

Lawrence- Yes, I’ve sent him away.

Melanie- She won’t stop crying, Larry. I don’t know what else to do for her. She’s going crazy. How is Michael doing?

Lawrence- Well, obviously he’s upset.

Melanie- Bless his heart.

Michael's flashback ends.

Michael gets up out of his seat, and he walks into the tent to join Nick and Walter.

Nick- You ready, kid?

Michael- Let's go.

The trio leave the tent.

End of Scene


About the author

Marcus Carter

I am an aspiring screenwriter, a marathoner, and a blogger. I love to write screenplays in my spare time, and I thought I'd share some of my work on here. Please feel free to check them out as I post, and let me know what you think.

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