Friday, April 4, 2008
Last Friday night
8:15pm - Gathering in the glow of a side street's lamp post, about 20 folks hovered, handing around a clipboard and studying enigmatic icons on the wall. A kitchen timer was set for 13 minutes, entrusted to a guy with a pocket, then activated before two women went scurrying in opposite directions. Dressed in black, saddled with packs & headlamps, the two met up a few blocks away, squatting at every intersection to mark up the ground with chalk. They wove through the hip urban sidewalk cafes, barged past tourists, and disappeared down a Ficus-lined street.
Just beyond the coral church, they unveiled the night's first cache: a keg of beer & cups. Looking at their watches with cups in hand, they were confident in their lead and agreed to slow their pace. They nodded to the late night dog walkers, even chattering & shuffling to appear harmless. Street after street, they laid the course in chalk: real trails with encircled arrows, false trails with frowns and checks backs with encircled plus signs. They ran past haunting old Florida homes with elaborate gardens, and Spring Breakers lost in the labyrinth of side winding avenues. Up ahead, they saw a familiar face...and the second table of supplies propped in a friend's yard: oranges slices, bananas, and more beer. By their 3rd cup, they had miscalculated their lead. In the very near distance, the pounding of 40 feet could be heard. A dozen flashlights could be seen turning the corner, descending on the two like a lynch mob.
For a half mile, the women sprinted, having only enough extra energy to scream once. They clung to their rattling bags and abandoned a fallen headlamp. With hearts pounding, they looked back to notice they were alone again. In order to keep that lead in the last mile, they had to slow the others down. Squatting, one drew a triangle and instructions for the hunters to sing. A little bit down the path, the other drew a triangle and directed them to sit for 60 seconds. The commands continued, back through town, past the singles bars, past the adult kickball league, past the random Spring Breakers handing out jello shots (why, yes, thank you, I would love one!), past the sailing club and the marina.
There they stopped. They wiped the chalk off their clothes, giggled about the adventure, swayed to the cover band on waterfront patio and waited for the hounds to buy them a beer.