David and Jim McKenna were brothers, twins actually, born ten minutes apart. For as long as they could remember, the two seventeen year olds had competed with each other in almost every way possible. Today was no exception as the two of them neared the turnaround point of their exercise run in Marshal State Park.
A satisfied smile filled David's face as he neared the half way point in their four-mile morning run. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that his younger brother was lagging about twenty feet behind him.
"Let's get a move on little brother," he called back, knowing that Jim hated it when he called him that, forever reminding him that he had even come in second when it came to being born.
Still, it had the desired effect as Jim McKenna increased his pace and quickly caught up with his brother. Both of them were on the high school track team, ranking one and two in the county, and sure to be offered scholarships to a number of colleges come their senior year. That was if they could continue, if not build upon, their already successful records.
The problem was, as least as David saw it, Jim had really begun to slack off over the summer. Even during these exercise runs, he now paid more attention to the girls they passed than getting in a good run. That was one of the reasons David had moved their runs to a later hour when most of the other runners they passed would be older people who caused less distractions.
It wasn't that Dave had anything against paying attention to girls, after all he was a good-looking young man with normal sexual desires. It was just that he felt you had to have your priorities straight and nothing was more important than getting those scholarships for college. Always the more serious of the two brothers, Dave never forgot that aside from the twins, his parents had two other children and could never afford a college education for all of them.
Reaching the end of the paved road, the two dark-haired runners moved onto the gravel path for the last quarter mile. They had a clear view down to where the path ended against the beach and could see only one runner ahead of them.
Since their pace was greater than hers, they quickly caught up and saw that she was a short-haired redhead in, what they guessed, was her mid-forties. The path at this point varied in width with some sections large enough for the three of them and others only wide enough for one. So they had to slow their pace a little as not to run into her.
Most of the older runners they encountered usually stepped aside when the brothers came along, letting them pass as not to slow them down. To their surprise, this woman not only didn't move aside, she maintained the same pace as the much younger teens, running neck and neck with them at one point.
As they ran three abreast, both brothers managed to catch a good look at the woman as they ran, enough to tell them she was in really great shape for her age. A fact that made her ability to pace them a little easier to accept, though not by much. Wearing black running shorts and a white tank top, the woman wasn't even breathing hard, despite the beads of sweat that soaked her outfit.
A few hundred feet from the last marker, the road again narrowed and it became obvious that they were going to have to fall back and let the other runner go on ahead. David and Jim shared a brief glance between them, then slowed down. The woman pulled ahead, pausing just enough to flash a thank you smile back in their direction.
After she had moved about twenty paces ahead, the competitive impulse between the two brothers again kicked in and they both surged forward to be the first down to the post. In doing so, David cut in front of his younger brother. Jim was tired of always deferring to his twin and chose that moment to make a point of it, pushing himself to jump into the lead himself.
The effect was disastrous as the two brothers collided, Jim getting the worse of it. David managed to keep his footing, but Jim stepped into a small depression in the gravel and fell forward, hitting the ground hard.
"You okay, Jim?" David asked as he leaned over his brother, all thoughts other than his well being gone from his mind.
"I think so," Jim answered as he sat up. Dusting the dirt from his blue and white running gear, he took stock of himself.
David reached down to give his brother a hand up.
"Ouch!" Jim called out as he started to get up, causing David to release his grip on Jim's hand.
Both brothers looked down at the inside of Jim's upper left thigh and saw a two-inch square scrape, covered with small streaks of blood. It was a superficial injury, one that looked a lot worse than it was.
"That's gotta hurt," David said, remembering the results of some of his own falls.
"No shit!" Jim grinned back in return.
"Well I guess that does it for the day," David said, his attitude almost insinuating that his brother intentionally hurt himself to get out of the workout.
Catching the suggestion in his tone, Jim was about to tell his sometimes-overbearing brother what he could do with it when another voice interrupted.
"Oh my, that doesn't look good," the soft female said from behind the two of them.
Both brothers turned in the direction of the voice, to see the woman they had been pacing standing there. An inch shorter than the brother's five foot seven, the redhead weighted about a hundred and thirty pounds. The bulk of which seemed to be in a pair of well-developed breasts, the nipples of which were highly visible through her sweat stained top.
"He's okay," David said in response to her statement.
"Speak for yourself, David," Jim said as he stared at the large amount of cleavage visible as the older woman bent over.
"I hope I didn't cause that," she said with concern, remembering how they had moved aside to let her pass.
"No," Jim quickly said, "some of us just have two left feet."
Now picking himself up, he tested his weight on the leg. It was sore, but he could walk on it.
"We'll stop at the park house on the way out and get it cleaned up," David said. "Thanks for stopping though."
"Oh, okay," the woman said as she smiled again at Jim and then began to slowly trot down the path toward the paved road.
David waited for the woman to get out of earshot, then turned to his brother.
"You can put your eyes back in their sockets now," he said sarcastically.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jim asked.
"You know what it means," David replied. "She's got to be older than Mom."
"But Mom certainly doesn't look like that," Jim grinned, thinking that his mother, as much as he loved her, could hardly wear an outfit like the redhead had on.
Not wanting to start another argument about Jim's less than serious outlook on life, David decided to let the matter drop. Taking the lead, he began to walk down the path, leading to the park house a mile ahead. A moment later, Jim followed him.
They'd gone a quarter-mile, passing by the large Marina that was part of the park when they noticed the woman from the gravel path. She was sitting on one of the benches that lined the track, drinking from her water bottle.
"Hi," Jim said as they passed her.
"Hello," she smiled at him, "nice to see you're okay."
"I guess it was worse than it looked after all," Jim said, "it'll be fine once I get it cleaned up."
"I was thinking about that after I left the two of you," she said. "Despite what you said before, I really feel a little responsible for you getting hurt. My husband has his boat docked in the Marina over there, and it has a first aid kit. I'd really feel better if you'd let me get that cut taken care of."
"That really isn't necessary," Jim said, "but I appreciate the offer."
"Please, it would make me feel a lot better," she insisted.
"Well," Jim paused, aware of David standing behind him, almost feeling a disapproving stare burning into his back. "Oh, okay, if it would make you feel better."
"Wonderful," she said as she stood up and put her small water bottle back in the holder on her belt. "It's just at the edge of the first pier. I'm Catherine Walsh by the way, or Cathy to my friends."
"Jim McKenna," he replied, "and this is my brother, David."
"It's nice to meet you both," Cathy said as she turned and headed in the direction of her boat.
They'd only gone a few steps after her when Jim, feeling that his brother wanted to say something, turned in his direction.
"Hey, if you don't want to go along, why don't you finish your run and I'll catch up with you at the park entrance later," he suggested.
"And let you disappear somewhere after you're done?" David replied. "Not a chance, little brother. We promised Mom we'd clear out the garage today and I'm not going to do it alone."
"It wounds me to think that my own brother doesn't trust me," Jim said, knowing full well that David was right on the money in thinking that he'd cut out the first chance he got. Spending the rest of his day hauling junk to the dump wasn't his idea of how to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
It only took a few minutes to reach Cathy's boat, a twenty-eight foot cabin cruiser named "Cathy's Clown". David and Jim followed her onboard and down into the cabin where she removed a small white case with a red cross from one of the compartments.
"Have a seat," she told Jim as she took a bottle of antiseptic and some sterile bandages from the box.
.... There is more of this story ...