Have you ever visited a place that just felt off? It’s a vibe, an embedded memory, or a series of coincidences that taint your view like fingerprints on glasses. This weekend we went to a local park, a small reservoir ringed by towering eucalyptus trees and dotted with multiple playgrounds. Was it the heat, the kind that makes everyone sullen and stumbling between patches of shade? Was it the low water level in the reservoir, making a waterside walkers feel like ants circumambulating the sharp rim of a partially-drained crater? Was it the play area that looked like it’d survived a horde of sledge-hammer-wielding zombies? Was it that our brand new car sported some tiny stars carved into the paint by an unwatched child or bored teen? Maybe it was the chubby ground squirrels laying prostrate and eating from the piles of trash thrown at them by the locals? Hold on, I’m maligning a nice place. See how well the children are playing on the rocker spring toys?
Is it me or does that duck have a glaring robotic eye like the Terminator? And what kind of aggressive playing leaves pockmarks like that in concrete? This park is only a few years old! Check out the hollow eye sockets on the rocker bunny.
The kids didn’t seem to mind the place but my memories of the place reverberate with the sounds of bony fingers clawing through the dust, muffled moans from hidden tunnels, and the screech of a rusty shot-ridden sign swinging from a chain: “No Trespassing”. This is the kind of place you’d have a final messy showdown in a post-apocalyptic horror film, one where the heroine backs up against a tree, her head in her hands, the shotgun beside her and empty red shells littering the dirt at her bare feet. Or…it’s really a beautiful park and I’m making all this up! Fiction!