Just earlier this afternoon, Rupert Park was bustling with playful exuberance. Now it seemed quite serene. The last remnants of sunlight slowly vanished as dark shadows made their lengthy traces on the cracked asphalt. A chill replaced the late summer breeze that had warmed my skin earlier in the afternoon. It was time to call it a day. I’d finished almost 10 chapters of The Jungle and my eyes were starting to grow tired from straining to read the tiny print of the worn out paperback. Not to mention, the herb I’d smoked earlier in the day had made my mouth dry and sticky and I was craving an ice-cold sugary soda.
Walking through the park, something peculiar caught the corner of my eye. It was too far away for me to make out anything more than a dark circular figure, but that large shadowy shape jerked back and fourth as if it were in a violent tug-o-war.I stood frozen for just a few seconds, and then chuckled out loud as the silhouette bounced back and fourth as if rhythmically fist pumping to the beat of some obnoxious techno song.
I was determined to discover what this remarkable shape was, but it was difficult to see from my vantage point.The sun had completely set and it was a frightfully dark night. Thick black clouds covered the sky and seemed to float like a noxious gas choking the skyline. The few lampposts that did work were the only sources of light and it bathed the area in a nauseating buttery glow. It was just enough light to make out the unusual shape that was lurking in the far corner of the park.
Walking across for a closer inspection, another black shape suddenly came into view. This figure appeared to be almost identical in shape to the first but was a bit larger. Getting closer, both shapes appeared to have some sort of tail. It was difficult to tell for sure because a few pieces of trash from a nearby garbage can blew in the wind and obscured my view.
My mind was racing with thoughts of what I’d come across. Perhaps, I’d encounter two lost puppies abandoned by their unloving owner and now fighting for scraps of some much-needed sustenance? Hmm, would I get a reward for nursing these poor pups back to health? Of course I would, hell, maybe I’d even make the paper. I’d be a hero and people would shower me with praise and gifts. Certainly the key to city would be next, and then I could get high anywhere I wanted, from the depths of Grand Central Station to the hallowed halls of the MET.
A passing police siren quickly snaps me out of my daydream and I realize I’m actually walking in the opposite direction of where I intended to go. A quick shake of my head to snaps me back to reality and I do a quick spin and head back towards the direction of the mysterious shapes.
Getting closer, I start making cute little kissing sounds and talking to the surreptitious creatures, trying to get their attention and have them come to me. I search my pockets for food to lure them my way, but all I find are a few nickels and crushed pack of cigarettes. They don’t seem too interested in tobacco and they don’t respond to my Dr. Doolittle impression, so I gradually inch my way closer.
It is completely dark now and I hear strange noises that normal dogs do not make. Whatever these things are, they are making high-pitched squeaking sounds, sort of like what you hear when you clean a mirror with a paper towel and some Glass Plus. I stop in my tracks and think about what I’m hearing and seeing. Maybe I just smoked a little too much, like the time I could have sworn I was being eaten alive by a vicious alligator that day at the beach. Fortunately it turned out to be a little girl’s hair clip that had caught my leg, but nonetheless, it hurt like a bitch. I should probably stop buying weed from that crazy homeless guy that refers to himself as Captain Coleslaw. Hmm, where was I?
I think I was looking for something. My keys? Where are my keys? Shit! I search my pockets. Whew, found them. So what the hell am I doing? Oh right, the puppies. Their high-pitched squeaks bring me back to reality. Excitedly, I inch closer to get a better view of the adorable pups.Upon further look it becomes all too clear what the dark shapes actually are.
Standing within inches of my view, two gigantic rats sit on the damp grass ripping pieces of flesh off a dead pigeon. Their bodies vibrate as bits of raw flesh pass down their throats into their stomachs. With coarse skin as grey as the incoming clouds, and eyes as cold as the night air, the rats feast on their prey with vehemence. They do not notice, or seem to care, that they were being watched.I’m disgusted yet mesmerized at the same time, like when you see a fat chick wearing a thong on the beach. You want to turn away and run but the jiggling is almost hypnotic.
Suddenly, one of the rodents, the larger of the two, turns its head and hisses in my direction. Little droplets of dried blood cover its sharp yellow fangs. It is time to go. I turn away and make a run for the exit.
I run head first into a light post. My head is throbbing and I feel warm blood trickle down my face. Petrified I’d be next on their menu; I take off despite the pain and painfully stumble home.
I wake up in my bed fully clothed. My head feels like it has been used as the snare drum for a death metal band and I don’t immediately recall what happened. Rubbing the crud from my eyes, I feel the top of my head and suddenly recall what went down. Almost attacked by two giant rodent beasts!
I have a huge gash above my left eye; it’s a pretty deep crater and feels warm and infected. There’s dried blood all over my pillow. I somehow came home and forgot to apply antibiotics or even throw on a Band-Aid. Yet by the sight of a discarded pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food on the floor, I did not forget to stuff my fat ass. Damn my irresponsibility and hearty appetite!
I have to stop smoking weed! At least on weekdays.
I stumble into the bathroom and find a tube of Neosporin behind rolls of toilet paper underneath the sink. I squeeze the cylinder trying to get out any last bit of the ointment. Nothing comes out. It expired in 1999, so I guess I am lucky.
Looking at the bathroom mirror, I notice my roommate standing behind me looking horrified.
“Holy shit! What happened to your head?”
“Dude,” I begin. I pause and picture myself running head first into the lamppost, running like a frightened girl from a pair of rats.
“Dude, I was in a rumble man,” I tell him.
“No shit dude? Awesome. Looks like they fucked you up pretty good dude,” my roommate says stroking my laceration.
“Quit it,” I say batting his hand away.
“If you think this is bad, you should see those other guys.
“Are you serious? What happened? Did they take the weed? Please tell me no one stole the weed.”
No, of course not! I smoked all the weed,” I say sheepishly.
He laughs out loud and pulls a large Ziplock bag out of his sneaker.“Good thing I bought some this morning!” He plops on to the leather sofa and starts loading the 3-foot glass bong.
Fortunately he’s too stoned too even remember the cut on my head and my proclamation that I was in a gangland brawl. I was not so sure I could pull off that kind of story.
“Come hit this,” he says offering me the bong.
“I shouldn’t, I have to go to work.”
I sit down next to him on the couch and light it up. Inhaling the huge thick grey cloud of smoke immediately makes me feel better.
“Shit,” he screams, startling me. “What?” I ask nervously.
What happened to your head?” I stare at him dumbfounded. Seriously? We both really need to stop smoking weed. “Nothing, just bumped it,” I say, brushing it off.
“Your scarred dude,” my roommate says.
“Your gonna have a scar.”
I feel the thick gash. “Cool!”
“Yeah, chicks dig shit like that. Makes you look tough. Check out mine.” My roommate pulls down the collar of his shirt to show me a microscopic scar below his neck.
“That’s just a chicken pock mark,” I say.
“Yeah? So? I had a serious case and I survived it. Shit, chicks love hearing stories of survival and shit. Don’t forget to tell everyone about that scar dude. It will be a part of you for the rest of your life. It’s a conversation waiting to happen.”
For once he’s right; I will have a memory of that night for the rest of my life. I’m going to have to remember to get my story straight and to never let anyone know I ran for my life from a par of rats. Come to think of it, maybe they were mice, or even squirrels. I don’t really remember.
© Copyright 2016 MikeGoldberg. All rights reserved.
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