For whatever reason, I let myself be talked into doing something pretty silly last night. Honcho, one of Giddy's men, challenged me to a Wood Run. Out here, that means putting on boots, protective clothing and a blindfold and then running as fast as you can through some thick woods.
You can do a Wood Run alone if you like (and I sometimes do), but usually it is more of a race and there are anywhere from two to 25 people involved. The start line is usually on the top of a hill or ravine and the finish is usually a nearby road. There are so many challenges involved, and it is the challenges that make the Wood Run such a hoot. Let me list these out for you:
1) You are blindfolded and so you are literally running blind
2) It is held on a dark, dark night. This means that even if you cheat and take off your blindfold you still won't be able to see anything
3) It is done in REALLY thick woods so there are always branches hitting you or roots/rocks to trip over or uneven ground to contend with, etc.
4) Nocturnal animals will often make special appearances and trust me, raccoons are no fun once they've been kicked by accident
Now you're probably wondering, "hey, Andy, how can you find your way though those dark and dangerous woods?" The answer if pretty simple - you are being chased. Not a simple chase, but a really good one - with people stationed here and there to run at you screaming if you go the wrong way or something. It is pretty disconcerting if you ask me but it works very well - for the most part . . .
So last night I was at Murphy's, just minding my own business and betting on the mink races, when Honcho walked in. Me and Honcho have some history and I could tell he was mad and getting madder - especially as I won more and more cash at the mink track. (I think that part of the issue was that I was betting against Giddy's best mink, Mr. Jewel.)
Honcho was as drunk as a skunk and started totally getting into my face. After a bit of pushing and shoving, someone shouted "Wood Run!" and the place went mad. I tried to demur, but there is no way to avoid a Wood Run and keep one's honor intact and so in the end I accepted.
A space was cleared for the two of us at the bar and side-by-side we sat sipping shots of schnapps. Once both of us were well liquored up, our men drove us out to Bandit Ridge and helped get us all suited up. When the beaters were in place and we were both ready and teetering on the lip of a heavily wooded ravine, we were shoved over the edge and into the race.
I tumbled probably 40 feet before I could stop myself and was pretty banged up right off the bat. Getting up to my feet, I was shoved again and started running. The was a stream at the bottom of the ravine, and rocks and boulders strewed all over the place. My shins were getting really banged up and I kept falling as well. Someone pushed my and I realized I would have to climb the other side of the ravine to continue the race.
This was hard because the side was all just loose stones and sand. I tried again and again, but kept loosing my footing and my grip and sliding back to the bottom. When this happened for the third time, I got hit on the back with a stick or a bat or something. I can tell you one thing, when this happened, I started trying A LOT harder to get up onto the other side.
The running was easier up there, lots of tripping of course, and getting hit by limbs and branches as I ran, but no more beatings at least! I must have run for 45 minutes or so (which is a long time) before I felt pavement under my feet. I could tell from the sounds and the back-slapping that I had made it to the finish line.
When I took off my blindfold, I couldn't believe my eyes. There was Honcho just sitting there laughing at me - none the worse for wear - along with Giddy and five or ten other guys. My gents were there too, but they were all bound up with duct tape and stuff and had clearly been roughed up.
Giddy grabbed me and Honcho began to punch me a bit (which isn't typical in a Wood Run). They tied my arms behind me, and my legs together with tape, before they pushed me onto the ground and roared off in their vans.
It took a real while for me and my guys to get ourselves loose and believe me, we were a sight for sore eyes! It was light before any of us were in any condition to go anywhere and so after a long night and many painful beatings, I finally managed to stumble home.
When I reached the gates to the compound, the sun was just coming over the horizon and I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day.
A bit sore, but still happy, I am . . .