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.
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.
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,
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.
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.