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He left his apartment in good spirits. But now, as his race approaches, he becomes quiet and remote. The apartment itself is stark, nearly without furnishings; it is the dwelling of someone in transit, a rambling man.
The announcer introduces Moses and abruptly he changes. He smiles. He walks up the track, waving to the people in the stands. He will be cool—he wears one gold and two leather necklaces and a copper bracelet, as well as his watch, when he runs—but he loves crowds. He cherishes the remembrance of the 5,000 fans who showed up in Taiwan to see him, and him alone, work out.
At the gun he is off: a full sprint to the first hurdle, then the bounding, graceful, relentless 13s. He nicks the eighth hurdle with his trailing knee and reopens a small cut, but no one is close. His time of 48.50 is a meet record.
Later in the stands, dressed in his street clothes, Moses chats with Bob Beamon, who is now track coach at U.S. International University. Beamon's world-record long jump of 29'2�" at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City was awesome, perhaps the greatest proportionate extension of a record ever.
Moses was expansive and cheerful after his race, but now that the reporters are gone and no one recognizes him, he seems less open, bothered again. "There are even some people talking about taking away Bob's record because it was done at too high an altitude," he says to an acquaintance. "I mean, it's supposed to be a world record, right? And he did it on this world, didn't he?"
Moses' trust in logic forces him to see many of the world's quirks as problems to be solved, barriers that can and should be hurdled. "I walk down the street and see things a certain height and want to go over them," he says. In street clothes he often breaks away from companions to hurdle garbage cans, stumps, park benches.
In many ways Moses is a man alone. Beamon was alone when he went 29'2�". But he was humbled by what he'd done, dropping to his knees and covering his face with his hands. Moses is different.
"I guess being the best at something should be its own reward," Moses says, steering his old car back onto the freeway. "But it's funny how sometimes you don't see things the way everybody else does. It's hard looking from a lighted house into the darkness." Cars whiz past in the other direction, each bearing a lone, expressionless Californian. The meet is miles behind. "I hardly ever think about how good I really am," he says.