- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
More copies of this ISBN
L.I.E.: A Novelby David Hollander
"And then," Harlan continues, "they put me in the four-by-eight, right
after I'd run the quarter!"
"The four-by-eight?" his father asks.
"Yeah. Four guys, we each run a half-mile. It's a relay."
"Whenever something starts 'four-by,' that means it's a relay."
They're sitting in the den; the television bathes them in a hypnotizing
luminescence. His father is eating what would be Harlan's equivalent of
breakfast. It's five p.m., but Dad works the night shift. He's only been
up an hour.
"So then what happened?"
"Well, I've really been running well lately," Harlan says.
"So they wanted me to anchor."
"Anchor?" His father takes a bite of a scrambled-egg sandwich. He looks
at Harlan briefly, then back at sitcoms.
"Yeah," Harlan says. "That means to go last. The best guy goes last."
"And they wanted you to go last?" With affected pride.
"Yeah. But you know, I was still tired from the other race."
"Yeah, the quarter."
A breeze blows through the patio door. Beyond the chain-link fence that
marks their territory, cars hurtle. Station Road is a place where kids
drive fast. Harlan will start driving next year, and he imagines he'll
follow local custom.
His father eats quickly, ravenously. He's listening to Harlan; that is,
he wants to listen, but he keeps thinking about the time that Harlan
came up to bat with two outs and runners on first and third in the
bottom half of the last inning of the Little League championships. He
belted a double into the gap in right-center. Was that so long ago? The
team had lifted his son onto their shoulders. They'd paraded his boy
around the diamond. And he'd called Harlan "Mr. Clutch." "That's what
they'll call you from now on, Harlan! Mr. Clutch!" he'd screamed. He'd
felt like a father, like it meant something to be a father.
He swallows up the rest of his sandwich. Harlan goes on.
". . . I wouldn't let him pass me though. Bobby Miller, the best
half-miler in the state! And I held him off!"
"Wow. That's great, Son. That's terrific, Harlan. Maybe you'll be a
"Well, I don't know about that." He shrugs.
His father carries his plate and coffee cup into the kitchen. The water
runs. Harlan doesn't know why he lied, but he knows that he had to. He
knows it might not even be a lie. In his head it's very clear, it
happened just like he said, he ran anchor, he held off Bobby Miller, it
might have happened that way.
That night his father will unleash the story on a co-worker. "My son's a
track star, you know. Best relay runner in the state, the whole damn
And years later Harlan will dust it off, in a bar, for a woman who isn't
going home with him. "Sure, we've all got a few things that stick with
us. Like my sub-two half-mile. I was a real speed demon back then,
Why's that so hard to believe?"
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like