Book Extract: A Collection Of Short Stories And Poems, Or Running Towards Trouble

August 21, 2022


A Collection Of Short Stories And Poems by Gary Smith is available now. This excerpt is published by permission.


The Good Samaritan

This morning was going to be a beautiful day for my long run of eight miles. I wanted to get out there before it got too hot. I will drive out to Cayote Hills Park. It is flat and easy on my bad knee. I decided I would run the path that follows Alameda Creek out to San Francisco Bay.

It was great. I was out about three miles and hadn’t seen one person: no bikers or other joggers. I got out to the bay and started back. That was when I saw her just down the bank of the trail. Her legs were showing from under a bush. The bush hid her as I passed by, headed out toward the bay.

I stopped and thought she was dead. I took out my cellphone to call 911, but didn’t have a signal that far out. She was lying on her face with her running shorts pulled down and off one leg. Do I check to make sure she is dead, possibly leaving something from me on her dead body? What if she isn’t dead, just unconscious. I had to see if I could help.

I knelt beside her and felt her neck for a pulse. I thought I could feel a faint pulse. I thought for a minute, “In for a penny in for a pound.” I rolled her over on her back. As I did, I found she had one of her socks entirely stuffed in her mouth and partly down her throat. I removed it, made sure her airways were clear, and put her shorts back on.

I started chest compressions, hoping I was doing the right thing. Surely someone would be by shortly. I have never seen it this deserted. Finally, a couple came by on bicycles. I stopped them and told them to go for help. I would stay and keep giving chest compressions and protect the crime scene from being contaminated more than it was: by me.

I continued with what I was doing, and finally, I was sure she had a pulse. It was getting stronger. I was too scared to stop now and prayed she would come too. I was sure if she died, I would be the prime suspect. About a half hour went by before help arrived. Shortly later, the police showed up.

“I am Detective Woodrow, and this is Detective Stevens. May I have your name?”

“My name. is John Blackburn.”

“Please tell us what happened here.”

I told them I didn’t know what had happened here. I then went on to tell them in detail how I had come to find the girl. When I was finished, they asked I would go with them to the station and fill out a written statement.

“What about my car back at the parking lot?’

“It will be okay there. Someone will bring you back when we are finished. It shouldn’t take very long.”

I proceeded to go with them. Once we got to the station, I was taken to an interrogation room, given a pen and paper, and told to write out what happened and sign and date the bottom. I was left in the room for over an hour. Finally, Detective Woodrow and Stevens came in. Detective Woodrow sat across from me, and Detective Stevens stood in the corner near the door with his arms crossed, leaning against the wall focused on me. Detective Woodrow read over my statement.

“Mr. Blackburn, would you mind giving us a DNA sample?”

“No, of course not.”

A few minutes later, a women officer came in and took a sample of my DNA. She had with her an evidence bag and an orange jumpsuit.

“Mr. Blackburn, please take off all your clothes. Tee shirt, running shorts, socks, and shoes. Place them in the bag and put on the jumpsuit and slippers for your feet.”

I did as I was told. She left, and the detectives came in. “I want a lawyer,” I said to them. Then Woodrow spoke.

“I don’t think you need one, Mr. Blackburn. Here is your cell phone; as soon as you can get someone to bring you a change of clothes, you are free to go. I want to thank you for cooperating. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but your clothes are part of the crime scene.”

“Tell me, is there any word on the girl?”

“I just checked and was told she made it to the hospital alive. I doubt we will hear anything until sometime tomorrow.” Then they both left.

I called and got a hold of my good friend Jack Simson. Jack said he would be right down; he had his gym bag in the car with clean sweatpants and shirt and a pair of flip-flop shower shoes. He was there within fifteen minutes. After changing, he dropped me off at my car.

“If you follow me back to the house, I will change and give you back your clothes. Say, I am getting hungry. How about I order us a pizza from here for delivery? It will get there not too long after us.”

“Sounds great. Meet you at the house, John.”

I arrived at the house, and Jack was already there. We went in, and as Jack made himself comfortable, I went and showered. I came out of the bathroom, and the pizza had been delivered.

Jack was sitting outside on my backyard deck with the pizza and two beers. I went out to join him.

“What do you think is going to happen next, John?”

“I guess that would depend on whether the girl lives or dies. If she recovers, she can tell the police who did this to her; if she dies, I am in for a lot of scrutiny.”


“I was not only the last one with her, but I was also the only one anyone had seen with her. I know the police are at this moment looking hard at me as the culprit. I only hope the one who did this left behind a lot of evidence that clears me. My rolling her over, clearing her airways, and putting her shorts back on must have left a bunch of evidence from me. I don’t understand why I did not pass someone coming in the opposite direction from the crime scene. I remember thinking it was weird not seeing anyone else on the road. I ran for almost an hour before I saw her. It’s a straight shot all the way to the bay with no turnoffs. Yep, I am the prime suspect.”

Jack didn’t say a word. He knew I was right. From the bike riders to the police, everyone thought I was just finishing the deed when I saw the riders coming and pretended, I was helping her. We finished the pizza, and Jack stood to leave. “Another beer, Jack?”