Sunday, January 23, 2011
Mystery of the Strange Morning and the Hooded Man: A Frank March Adventure
However they had needs and he had to go out anyway, so he layered up, strapped on his camera and stepped out to move the cars around. He took his son's spare set of keys and backed the boy's car into the street, then moved his own.
In a few minutes he was in the super market. They absolutely needed toilet paper and trash bags, and he wanted to pick up some soda for himself. He bought three six-packs of bottled Coke because they were on sale. So far a not untypical morning about to turn odd. He reached in his pocket for his keys and discovered he still had his son's key. He always took that key back into the house when he moved cars around.
Oh well, he decided, it was his son's spare car key.
Unless his son had misplaced his main key, which was not an impossibility. Frank recalled that his son had knocked on the door when he got home last night. He didn't have his house key, he had said. His house key was on the ring with his car key, so he must have used his spare key.
It probably was all right, because his son had asked Frank to take him to work today at 3:00. He was going to another store to do an inventory and someone was taking him there from his own work place. He wouldn't need his car and probably would still be in bed when Frank got home anyway.
He pushed the cart into a cart station and got back in his car. He suddenly had the feeling he had not pulled his son's car back in the drive. He couldn't remember. Still, if not, it'd be okay on the street for a while. He drove from the market lot toward Bellevue, the nearest state park. He would have his walk cold or not.
But it was deep freezer cold and now he wondered if the soda and stuff might freeze if left for an hour or so while he walked. He decided to go home first and put it away.
As he drove up his street, sure enough, his son's car was still in the street. He pulled along the curb, unhitched his truck and then went and pulled his son's car back up the drive. Now he returned and carried a load of groceries into the house, readying his house key in his hand, which proved a waste of time.
The front door was wide open. What a strange morning this was shaping up to be; what a senior moment. He had not pulled his son's car in, had not returned the key, had not even closed and locked the house door. Where had his mind been? He had come out to move the cars carrying the new insurance proof cards to put in each. Was his mind so intent on that he forgot everything else? He had had some trouble getting his son's glove compartment closed. He hoped this wasn't a start of such forgetfulness as he now headed back to the state park for his walk.
After parking, he decided to keep it short today. He walked down and got on the main path of the Northern Greenway and began. He came along and had to cross the road then go up a slight hill thought a field to the woods. Where this trail entered the woods it joined with other paths.
Looking ahead he saw a large man in a hood at the juncture of these paths inside the wood. The man appeared to be walking in his direction. The path was splattered with ice patches, and Frank glanced down a moment to watch where he stepped. When he looked up, the man was gone.
Frank hadn't looked down very long, less than a second. The man disappeared very quickly. He probably went up one of the other trails, but Frank was close enough now to see down these trails and there was no sign of the man. Frank paused at the intersection and looked about. The large oval track that circled the center of the park was just a few steps to his right, but looking both ways on the track he saw no one so the man couldn't have gone onto the track. He looked down the path ahead and the one to his left and there was no one in sight. Another path went off the one to the left at an angle, it was the ope where he had once encountered some deer, but he saw nobody on it either and he could see a good deal of it through the bare winter woods.
This was a bit disconcerting. He had been certain he had seen a man, a rather good sized man wearing a hood, but that man had simply seemingly disappeared.
Perhaps he had only imagined a figure. It had been a strange morning with his forgetting things he had done often enough to call them routine. Was there something going haywire in his brain? Had the cold finally gotten to him? Was he losing it?
Frank ambled down the path straight ahead and had gone a little ways when he saw the man. The man was on that wooded path after all. He could see him through the trees and he was just standing there. He was looking off in the other direction, slightly up, but just standing. Why would someone just stand about in the woods on a day like this?
Frank kept an eye on the man while walking. Finally the man began to walk too, going up that wooded path away from Frank. That path would curve away from this one he was on and go out to the garden road. Frank knew these trails well. Soon he could see the man no longer, but at least he was certain there was a hooded man.
Usually Frank would have continued out of Bellevue and into another park, but his hands were freezing. The wind had been blowing across him along this way and the chill went deep into his bones. He decided to go back a slightly different way, but one that would shorten his walk.
The path he was on crossed the garden path and so he turned up it, wondering if he would pass the hooded man coming down it. He called it the garden path because it passed through the center of several gardens on both sides of the path. These are rental garden plots and in the season full of vegetables. This was not the season. This was the heart of winter and the gardens were these scraggly, depressing patches now. Even the snow did little to make them less than forlorn. Yet up at the end garden, there was a car.
It was sitting back from the path near the far corner of that particular garden. Frank could see someone sitting in the front seat, behind the steering wheel. The person didn't move to look his way. Frank wondered why come to your plot this time of year? There was nothing to do. Actually, the person wasn't doing anything. They simply sat very still in that car. Frank could not see any tire tracks through the snow to where the person and car sat.
He walked pass the gardens back into a stretch of woods.
What if the person in the car was dead?
The path that cut through this woods was ahead and he turned off the garden path to it. He would walk back the wooded trail to the Northern Greenway trail, then to his car and leave. But as he turned he saw the hooded man. He was partway down that trail, perhaps thirty yards away and he was just standing there looking into the trees.
Frank decided not to go through the woods. Instead he continued up the garden path, which was at this point really an access road. This took him pass the park office and ranger's cabins out to the entrance, where he cut through a snow covered field to another trail that took him back to his car.
This was one of the very few times Frank ever felt nervous walking through these parks and woods. There was something very strange about the still man in the car by the gardens and something truly spooky about the hooded man hanging about on the wooded path. Why would anyone come into a park in 14 degree weather and stand about on a back trail?
As Frank drove out of the park he passed a man wearing a hood walking toward the exit. He wasn't sure if that was the man in the woods or not, but he wasn't going to roll down his car window and ask.
He just hoped tomorrow's paper didn't report a dead man found in Bellevue Park.
These pictures below were taken up on the Rocky Run Trail at Brandywine Creek State Park early on Saturday morning:
This is far up the trail along the ravine. The footprints are mine from coming up the path. The trail was pretty slippery along here and I had to be careful of not slipping off the edge.
These last two pictures are looking down at the Rocky Run.