There's a stupid sort of brute excitement which infects men of a certain age. I felt it that night, carrying a bottle in my left hand, while my right steadied the bag against my side. We walked through tough grass which reached our knees at times; occasionally a bramble would take hold of the old bag, tumbling it in my grasp. The high grass lent an additional excitement to the night, as if the two of us were fighting against an enemy, united, as is impossible in peace.
We had created this enemy for ourselves, earlier. The moon may have been high then, but neither of us saw it. We were standing in the kitchen of my apartment. I had put on shoes when I heard him on the stairs, and he had not removed his shoes to step inside. I wonder if the tile beneath our feet reflected our eager faces as we spoke, and I wonder if the kitchen windows were clear. All I remember was the plan, the excitement, and the quickness with which he agreed to my plan. It was uncharacteristic, perhaps unrealistic, but we wanted danger. We let ourselves create danger that night, in the kitchen, while the moon may have watched.
He had been trained for this madness. Watching him as we loaded the bag, sheltered by the porch roof, I could almost see a strained readiness in his movements. He carefully folded the blanket around the red and chipped plastic gas can, shoulder tight and controlled, fingers mad and trembling. These crazed fingers will one day hover, poised over triggers, radar targeting devices, fix bayonets, load magazines, enter targeting data, confirm launch codes.
I felt betrayed by the park that night. I expected the gates to be locked, breathless moments spent crouched in shadow as guards walked by, silent curses as bottles shattered beneath a misplaced boot. Instead, we walked along deserted trails, beneath the old iron bridge, passing sleeping bundles into the still undeveloped park, using the kudzu encrusted railway and vivid lights of the distant road as our guides. I had been here once before, and I remembered the eerie museum-like quality of the place. Then, abandoned concrete shapes formed pits and outcroppings in the sun, simple sculptures, worshiped by congregations composed of tough grass and occasional rebellious teenagers. Now, the pale concrete beams blocked the far off lights, creating pools of nothing where only darkness fell. We found a long concrete bowl, dry and dark behind a misplaced wall. We slipped silently into the dark pool, happy to find the danger which the park refused to provide.