As I ran up the hill for the first time, I noticed a man standing on the corner of the road, looking as though he was waiting for a lift. Then a posse of school children materialised in front of me and I forgot all about him as I weaved around them.
As I ran up the hill for the second time, I noticed a carpet bag on the corner of the road. Fleetingly, I wondered if it qualified as a suspicious package, decided it probably didn’t and plodded on trying to remember where I’d started to walk last time.
As I ran up the hill for the third time, the man was back on the corner with the carpet bag at his feet. I nodded.
As I ran up the hill for the fourth time, he was still there. I nodded again and wondered at his patience.
As I ran up the hill for the fifth time, I nodded again, aware that if he was still there on the next rep, it might be time to take our acquaintance to the next level.
Rep six. He was still there. I mumbled “Hello” as I passed.
Rep seven. *Still* there. Where was his lift? Would I have to talk? He took the decision out of my hands, calling out “How many times are you going round?” as I approached. “This is seven of ten”, I answered, regretting that it wasn’t “seven of nine”.
Rep eight, call and response. “Number eight?”. “Yes, number eight.”
Rep nine, same again.
Rep ten. “Last one!”…and then as I passed him on my way back down the hill, he called across the street “Cheerio”.
I wonder if he’s still there.