There I was, suburban-mom-lunch-hour-ing my shopping cart back up to the curb at Target, having used it to deliver my exciting load of baby wipes and toilet papers to my car. An agile man, mid-20s, maybe, ran past me with something balled up in his right arm, tucked just like a football. He smiled at me. I smiled back. Human nature. He tipped his fingers to the brim of his baseball cap and then he was past.
Things I noticed in the order I noticed them: movement, his speed, his smile, his hat, his friendly gesture, the form of his arm, the impression of an object cradled to his chest.
Usually, people in parking lots are only running for a moment. They look like sprinters, hurrying for that bus before it pulls away, or jogging to meet their ride. His gait was entirely different, I realized. He had the steady pace of someone going the distance, like a marathoner. I turned to confirm, and he was at the far corner of the vast parking lot, still steadily running.
When I got my cart to the curb a crew of mall security converged from all directions. He was long gone.
He had such a friendly smile.