Getting Dark Late

Lake Union

On a late night walk along Lake Union, past the lakeside chain restaurants and through a quiet street of warehouses, I saw an anonymous white van parked in an otherwise abandoned parking strip. I could just make out the figure of a man framed by the driver’s side window. He had the same profile as Lenin. I thought I saw him tense up when I walked by, but he didn’t turn to look at me.

I peered down every dark driveway until I found the little park that I’d first stumbled upon on another late night walk, years ago. I headed carefully down the unlit steps and looked around to see if anyone else was there. I heard nothing and saw nobody.

It’s just a tiny strip of park, with only enough room for a couple of benches and a little dock. The sound of city traffic was almost completely muffled in that spot and the steadiness of the water made the quiet seem even deeper. I sat down on the dock for awhile to watch the water.

My little moment gradually faded when I began to sense someone else’s presence in the park. I looked back at the shore; but it was completely dark and I couldn’t see any movement. I figured I was only being paranoid, so I turned back to the lake and watched the city’s lights being reflected out across the water toward me. Someone grunted behind me. There was still no sound of anybody moving around though – no shifting shadows. Perhaps the peaceful quiet had become an eery silence, but I wasn’t quite in tune with that. I didn’t notice the eery silence until I heard the unmistakable sound of someone peeing into the lake very close by. I headed back up to the street to leave the unseen man with his privacy.

I walked away from the lake. The warehouses gave way to a strip of restaurants and bars, and then to a residential area. Turning a corner, I had a brief glimpse of an acquaintance standing on a patio and smiling at me while ruffling someone’s hair. I waved a feeble hello. Then it was along the freeway underpass with me, and up the hill via a steep set of awkward concrete steps. I was briefly turned around in a dead end street before getting back up to Broadway and then home.

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