I was walking the pug Sunday night in the park by my house.
The park sits on the edge of a bayou, making it vulnerable to wind and light and bums and illicit activities. Steeped in the glow of a full moon, the swing set looked white-yellow, the water looked white-yellow and the picnic tables under the pavilion looked white-yellow. Everything around me was the color of milk and honey. Everything but the trees.
The wind and the moonlight scattered through the palm fronds, turning the trees into black bendy straws that rattled in the wind like bags of rice being poured into a barrel. The moon was hanging low like a bulb with a rusty pull-chain, casting a white spotlight on the water.
As we walked, the pug pulled me closer to the shore, where fish jumped in and out of a moonbeam as if on stage.
I heard the low drone of an approaching conversation and saw that a man and woman walking a big dog were gaining on us. I didn’t recognize them, so I kept on trucking, tugging on the pug, who applies his brakes at the faintest smell of another dog’s urine.
The pug lifted his leg on a fallen tree branch as the couple and their dog got closer. I smiled at the trio as they neared, still not recognizing them or their dog.
Stooping closer to the pug as he passed, the man muttered, “Hey Cub,” and then reached for the woman’s hand and rounded the corner.
I figured I just heard him wrong. I figured he said pup or pug and that my brain turned it into Cub. The fish were causing a commotion and the breeze was making the whole park rattle, so I could have easily misheard him. But before accepting this, I turned to get a better look.
Had I met them before and not remembered? It’s possible.
Like everything else, the couple was white-yellow, standing a good eight feet away from me, not moving, not talking and not smiling. Just staring. At me. Even their big dog was frozen still. For five seconds I stared back and tried to make sense of the situation and when I realized no sense would come of it, I tugged on the pug, whispered for him to move and headed for the crosswalk at a good clip.
I wish I could tell you where my creepy friends walked off to, but I can’t. When I reached the crosswalk, I turned around for a second look and they were gone. The only things making noise in the park were the fish, the palm trees and my heart.
PS. Illustration by German digital artist H. Kopp-Delaney.