A Walk in the Part – Part 3

girl in white long sleeve shirt and black skirt sitting on swing during day time

At approximately the same time that the kite escaped from the young boy, a mother pushing a stroller with her 6-month-old came walking down the path with her 4-year-old in tow. They were off to the playground. The woman was exhausted after staying awake most of the night with her 6-month-old, but her 4-year-old was off the wall with energy and excitement.

Later, when she heard the description of the man who died, her mind immediately leapt to the man she saw as they walked to the playground and her heart ached.

He was chasing a kite with a young boy running frantically behind him. At one point the kite rose up steeply into the air then began to fall. A grin broke across the man’s face followed by a look of dismay as a gust of wind swept it up and threw the kite into the woods where it became entangled high up in the branches of a tree. The man stood staring up at the flapping red kite and the young boy burst into tears.

She heard that the body was found in the woods and worried that this man had been the one to die. The memory of the young boy crying surfaced and she found herself holding her daughter closer that night.

But then she remembered that there’d been someone else. Another man that day who’d fit the description and someone she’d much preferred to have died. Not that she wanted anyone to die, she reminded herself, but perhaps he wouldn’t have been so badly missed.

This man she saw later. They had already wandered over to the playground and Jessie, her daughter had been running around the apparatus for the better part of an hour. Like most kids she had already made two new friends, declared them her best friends, and had a falling out. She was whipping tears from Jessie’s cheeks and consoling her after her last epic fight with an aggressive young boy who insisted he was the only one who could operate the digger he’d brought from home.

It was at this point that she realized the mood around the playground had shifted and many of the parents were on their feet. She stood up and moved to the side to see past the monkey bars. A tall man with a camera strapped around his neck was the focus of their attention. Two other men were advancing towards him and from what she could gather he’d been talking pictures of the kids and they’d only just realized none of the kids were his.

Taking this as a final cue to go, she gathered Jessie up and together they pushed Phoenix in her stroller back out of the park. As they wound their way down the path she noticed that the red kite was still flapping away trying desperately to escape it’s tree warden.

A Walk in the Park – Chapter 2

flying kite

On this particular day, there were four men who were seen in the park who matched the description of the deceased. Mrs. Waters saw two of them. She arrived at the park at 8 am as she always did and sat down on her bench.

She believed the bench was hers because she’d been the one to donate it to the park in memory of her husband Harold: a man whose memory she enjoyed far more than his actual presence.

As was her daily routine, she sat on the bench and observed people walking through the park and playing. That morning seemed to be busier than usual as it was the first sunny day after a long stretch of rain.

Initially, it was mostly the usual morning joggers mixed with families with young kids who had already been up since the crack of dawn.

By about 10 am, a father with his two young sons began to set up their kites. There were two kites, one for each son. One was red, the other blue.

Mrs. Waters noticed the father was tall, although at 5ft 2 most people seemed tall to her. He had dark hair and glasses and he looked like he was in about his mid-30s.

It took a bit of time, but eventually they got the blue kite off the ground. The older one of the boys held tight to the handle holding the string. The kite flapped in the wind swooping and diving. Although the wind wasn’t terribly strong that day, but it was enough to keep the kite in the air.

They managed to get the red kite off the ground in half the time and Mrs. Waters smiled as she watched the kids. The father stood behind the younger boy and together they held the string. However, as kids are want to be, the boy saw his older brother managing quite fine on his own and wanted to show he was capable too. He pulled away from his dad, who reluctantly acquiesced and in seconds the kite was free, flapping across the greenspace towards the edge of the forest. The father and younger son immediately took off running after it. Mrs. Waters laughed appreciatively remembering her own children’s antics when they were that age.

She found it decidedly less funny when she later learned of the tragedy and fervently hoped that he was not the man who’d died.

* * *

A Walk in the Park – Chapter 1

 

beautiful blur fashion female

On the edge of the city there is a park where people gather either to give their kids a chance to burn off energy, to feed the ducks, to enjoy a picnic, or to take in nature on a hike.

There’s a playground usually filled with squealing, laughing, and sometimes crying children. If you follow the path you’ll find yourself in the middle of rolling greenspace where people play frisbee, suntan on a blanket on the grass, read a book, or enjoy a picnic. There’s also a small creek where ducks like to skim the surface. And if you keep walking you’ll eventually reach the baseball diamond.

The park is bordered by a forest of trees where, if you follow the path over the bridge you’ll find hiking trails of various levels of difficulty winding through the trees. This bridge takes you over a creek that rushes through slopping banks on either side.

Most days the park is a conduit for enjoyment. A beloved space for most of the city’s citizens. But on this particular day, for this particular person, a shadow of grave misfortune befell him.

When the body was found and a description of the man and day he was thought to have died came out, many potential witnesses came forward.

“I saw him chasing a duck! Funniest thing I ever saw.”

“He was the creepy guy taking photos of the kids at the playground. Looks like he got what was coming to him.”

“Wasn’t he the guy we saw at the baseball game yesterday?”

“Was that him? I guess it could have been.”

Over and over, someone saw him here. Someone saw him there. Most are mistaken, but someone did see him. If only they’d paid a bit closer attention, he might still be alive. Then again, if they had, someone else may have died.