Some of This is True by Len Joy

Vitoria Sanchez Ramirez (born 1954, Havana) is a Cuban-American who on April 19, 1981, ostensibly came in as the first place female competitor in the 85th New England Marathon, but was later stripped ofher title when it was found she had cheated.

After all these years I get a call for jury duty. Miami-Dade Felony Court, which is like the major leagues for your criminal element. The case is going to be a no-brainer--Vietnamese babysitter accused of baby-shaking. I look at her sitting at that defendant's table all scary eyed and I know she didn't mean to hurt that baby. She just wanted to make him stop crying.

She hasn't learned yet that everything we want has a price.

To be honest, I'm not too stoked about being called. But after the judge gives us this pep talk about how it's our civic responsibility, I'm like, okay, I'll do my duty. I'm a good citizen.

The lawyers start asking questions. The defense lawyers don't want anyone who's prejudiced against gooks and the offense lawyers don't want anyone who's too wishy-washy. By the time they call my name they only need one more juror. There are three of us left -- me, some Mexican chick with ugly snake tattoos on both forearms, and a creepy guy with BO and a serious dandruff problem. Capital L losers. I'm a lock for that last spot.

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help me God, and when the prosecutor asks me if my real name is Victoria Ramirez I say no, my real name is Vicki Sanchez. He gives me that look I always get when I tell people my real name. His eyes get all squinty and he says, "The Vicki Sanchez?"

I was born too early. Nowadays I would have made it on to Larry King Live, been interviewed by Perez Hilton and probably had a gig on the Tonight Show. Could have sold my story to the Enquirer for a halfmil easy.

My family escaped from Cuba in a boat with everything we owned packed in two lousy suitcases. I never got to finish high school. I had to work so my baby brother, Felipe, could go to college and make something of himself. He's a dermatologist in Palm Beach and he's doesn't want anything to do with me. Says I shamed the family.

I could have been a great runner, but I had to work for a living. Not like those bony chicks from the suburbs in their fancy running clubs. After it was all over the newspapers made fun ofme. Made it sound like I was some spectator on a lark who jumped in that race for the last hundred yards.

That's now how it went down.

I made my move outside Newton, right after Heartbreak Hill, almost five miles from the finish line. It was a great plan. I found this place where the road curved over a narrow bridge -- out of sight of most spectators. I put on my hoodie to cover my race number and waited. My timing had to be perfect. Took almost two hours
until I saw that cop car with its lights blazing, escorting some skinny African dude at the head of the pack. Close behind him were a bunch of guys trying to keep up and then another couple hundred yards before the next clump of runners. I figured there might be a woman in that clump so I made my move. I hadn't done all that work to finish second.

I started to walk along the shoulder as though I were looking for a better spot to watch the race. Kept my head down, didn't make eye contact with anyone, then eased into a slow jog. Soon as I got around the bend, I whipped off the sweatshirt and started running hard. By the time I crossed the creek I was rocking.

And wouldn't you know it? The first spectator to spot me was a dreamy-looking Latin boy. He clapped his hands and yelled, "Adelante, niña! " And then a few more took up the cheer and it just kept growing, all the way to the finish line. No one had ever cheered for me like that before. It was like a dream. My feet hardly touched the pavement. Yeah, I only ran five miles, but that day, I could have run forever. I just wanted to win something. For once in my life I wanted to stand on the top of the podium and have people respect me. I was young and foolish and when you're young you don't think about tomorrow. I'm fifty-five now. I made a mistake, but that's in the past. I'm a good person.

"The Vicki Sanchez?" the prosecutor asks.

I just stare at him because, what can I say? He looks over at Tattoo Girl and Dandruff Man and his face twists up like he had a bad burrito for lunch. Then he turns to me and says, "Thank you, Ms. Sanchez, you're excused."


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