I leave campus a little after 7 PM most days, take the Metro train to the last stop on the Orange line and walk home from the station around 8 PM. I used to take a short cut that went past a parking structure, then beneath an overpass that finally led to a small community of townhouses that is just across the street from where I live. But about ten months ago, I began to notice the unmistakably pungent odor of piss as I walked beneath the overpass. A few days later, I saw a dirty sock on the path. I casually looked around and then up, and dangling from the three-foot vertical space between the overpass and the concrete buttress, was a filthy, moldy-looking blanket.
From all appearances, somebody was sleeping up there. It kinda freaked me out. Perhaps it was just a harmless homeless person, but the thought that someone could be up there looking down at me and any other passers-by was unsettling. So I started taking the normal route home along the main road on the north side of the station.
But last week Wednesday, I decided to take the short cut again. I don’t know, it just struck me as the thing to do. So I went past the parking structure, beneath the underpass and was almost through the townhouse community. I turned the corner before crossing the street to my house, when suddenly I felt someone kick my heels from behind.
What the… and for a moment, I thought Musubichan had been waiting for me at the station, shadowed me on my way home and tried to scare me. The fraction of a second it took me to come up with that scenario and then whirl around wasn’t long enough for me realize that she had never before waited at the station for me unannounced. But even if I had realized that, it would not have prepared me for what I saw.
What?!? I looked around and there was not a soul. There are invariably three or four other commuters who use the same shortcut from the station, but there were none that night. So I looked at me feet. Maybe I stepped on something that flung up and hit the back of my shoes, but again there was nothing. Oh man. I stood at the corner waiting for a couple of cars to pass before I crossed the street. Whatever it was, will it kick me again, sending me forward in front of the oncoming cars? I stepped away from the curb and looked back at the area I felt my heels being kicked. I was starting to get paranoid. When the cars drove by, I ran across the street and practically dove into the safety of my own home.
I still don’t know what happened that night. I have tried to think of a variety of reasons as to why I might have felt something bumping my heels, but I can’t come up with a reasonable explanation. Can you?