The dogs' walk this morning. I can't find a space to park at the Community Center because nearly every spot is taken by the monthly meeting of the Quilters Guild. It's a large lot; there must be many, many quilters. I manage to squeeze into a little place next to the dumpster and though it's not in the shade--again a scorching day--at least we're parked.
Across the wide expanse of the soccer field there is a small road divided by a center island of trees that shade part of the old Veterans Cemetery. Last week, for reasons known only to the city council
Now, every time we walk along this road toward the path that follows the river, it makes me mad--and sad--to see the trees in big broken piles, allowing the blasted sun free rein to burn everything in sight with the trees gone.
Just as I'm getting ready to open my car door, I see some activity along the trunks and branches of the downed trees. I squint, trying my best to see clearly, because surely I'm not really seeing a guy in black-and-white striped prison pajamas climbing out of the tangled tree limbs. That's the kind of clothing they wore in the old days, and in the movies. Prisoners don't wear stripes now, in the 21st century. Do they?
Well. Yes, as it turns out. They do.
I sit for several minutes--the dogs puzzled and losing patience at the delay in their walk--as I watch the scene unfolding in front of me: Four guys are cutting the trees into manageable chunks with axe and chainsaw, while six more load a big dump truck with the cut pieces. There are two armed gunbulls, nasty looking bludgeons in hand, lounging against the side of the truck talking to the driver.
At first, all I can think about is O, Brother Where Art Thou--one of the funniest movies ever--main characters wearing the same black-and-white prison garb. Then I wonder how hard it would be for ten guys to overpower two guys. Two guys that are so overweight and out of shape, if they had to run, the heart attack would take them down before anything else did.
I get the boys out of the car, but instead of walking straight across the field and along the road as usual, I cut diagonally to stay clear of the whole movie set. Once I'm close enough to actually see things, I get a good look at the two gunbulls, and just like you would expect, they both wear that superior sneer--no matter they're both so fat it's appalling. And not ten feet away, there's two prisoners, each with a chainsaw buzzin' and another two with big ol' axes. Near the dump truck is a small prison bus.
As I get further away, let the dogs off-leash and start walking along the river, I can't help but wonder. In a matter of seconds the Stripers could have taken out the two guards, jumped in the van, and been in California before anyone was the wiser. Or taken me as their hostage. And yeah, I've got a vivid imagination and have watched too many movies, but still. It's a public park, with kids and moms, dog walkers and joggers. It seems slightly risky to have ten bad guys, holding really scary tools, being monitored by only two men, and pretty inept men at that.
But maybe they weren't hardened crimimals. Maybe they were just pot smokers, or boosters, or petty thieves. Something minor. Small-timers. Not bad guys at all, just misunderstood perhaps.
Tomorrow I'm going to a different park.