Wear IT



by James L. Grant

The words had been written on concrete in black marker. Shelley frowned at them.

She’d found the underpass purely by accident one day. Doctor Gonzales had recommended exercise to get her blood pressure down. This had prompted a litany of reasons why Shelley had no time for such an endeavor. After hearing about how she worked from seven to seven, Monday through Friday, and there were no gyms anywhere near either her house or the mortgage office, and all the other reasons, the doctor had held up his hand patiently.

“You have a lunch break?” he’d asked.

So that had been that. Just to prove him wrong, Shelley had taken his suggestion and turned her regular lunches at the desk into strolling mealtimes. At first she’d merely circled the block for an hour, counting off a mile and a half via a cheap electronic pedometer. It had been boring, so she’d changed up her route. Sometimes over a few blocks and back, passing the medical buildings and a coffee shop. Other times walking in the park, swatting away flies that tried to suckle at runners of perspiration on her neck.

And in eighteen months, her blood pressure had dropped like a rock. She’d also lost ten pounds in the first nine weeks. Shelley wasn’t exactly large, but she’d been poking at the weight she’d gained over the last few years and wishing it would go away. Like her father had always said, wishes had failed where action succeeded. She’d even traded up her regular noonday sandwiches with energy bars.

She’d found the hiking trail by happy chance one day. It was a concrete sidewalk, bisected lengthwise into two lanes for various joggers and bicyclists. Much of it paralleled the road near her office, and ran under two of the nearby freeways. It had been there the whole time she’d worked at the company. She’d never noticed.Like most structures in a city that aren’t constantly protected, it gathered a great deal of graffiti. Mostly illegible scrawls in spray paint, though every now and then someone tried doing a mural, with varying degrees of artistic talent. Shelley had discovered she liked looking at them on her walks. She could even identify which ones were new, and which ones had been obliterated by a city worker with a brush of white paint from week to week. “Karn Kid” was the most prolific. Probably some teenager who did his work in the dark hours of morning – his tag was a scrawl that she’d puzzled over for weeks before figuring out the letters. Whoever he was, “Karn Kid” sprayed his mark on anything that held still. There were also “CMD,” “Flores Negras,” and someone who really enjoyed painting red swastikas on freeway support beams. (Shelley immensely disliked those, and was glad that the unseen city workers were very quick to cover them.)

White paint went up, and the taggers came back. It was like something off a nature show. Like yaks to a watering hole, the taggers always returned.





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