Happy chattering of an old couple drifted over to me on a light breeze, as I awoke from my light slumber on a stone bench in Hudson Park, NY. The air was a chilly, even tho April just begun. A couple of children played 'tag' between the big old oak tree's that spread across the park grounds. Not many people visited the rather secluded part of this park. A slight nudge in between my ankles got my attention.
"Hey baby, how are you? I hope you had a good sleep."
My little boy, Koda, a small Beagle, looked up with his big brown doe eyes. Nevertheless you shouldn't fall for his innocent attire. He was very energetic and a glutton. Save to say, that I had to elevate every trashcan about 1 feet above the ground or else my second hobbie would be garbage picking.
"Ready to go home? I'm sure we have a few treats left from aunt Jeanne's visit last time."
Suddenly leaping up and nearly hitting me in the face with his tail, Koda barked and dragged me from the cold stone bench. I had to restrain a small laughter as he obviously understood what I said. I swear he knows what I'm talking about sometimes. Cesar Millan here I come!
Carefully picking up my used sketchbook I was drawing in not so long ago, Koda's patience already wearing thin, I stashed it in my rainbow coloured cotton bag and attached the lead to my little boy's harnish. We can't have him running all around New York can we?
Strolling past an abandoned playground and admiring the park with all his glory in twilight was something I could never get enough from. Koda however was a bit on edge. Usually his demeanor was very carefree and happy so that had me worrying. At this time of the day, the park attendants took their last patrol to make sure everything was alright before retiring. At night gangs took over and sorted out their problems with each other....rather violent. It wasn't unusual, that after dark, a wounded teen is found dead in the bushes, no matter how sad it was.
Speeding up my walk and ever so slightly tugging at Koda's leash, we made our way to the eastern gate. The last light crept over the far edge of New York's panorama. Angst left the hair in the nape of my neck standing high. My gut feeling told me that there was a dangerous presence behind me. Although I couldn't make out anyone in the long shadows of the trees, I changed to an nearly uncomfortable walk. Koda wasn't all to unhappy about that.
In the dimm light of the setting sun, I could make out the flash of a flashlight sweeping across the park with erratic movements. Relief swept over me as Kevin, one of the older park attendants, we have spoken to each other a several times over tea before, beckoned me over.
"My god, what has you out so late again? Make sure you look at the time before dozing off again. I enjoy your company too much to risk loosing such dear friend!"
His favorite washed-out red cap, the dark blue attendant uniform and the big used shoes gave him a playful and calming look. He wouldn't hurt a fly, yet I know he would do anything to keep his loved ones save. Luckily the unnerving presence with seemingly no body disappeared as soon as I spoke to Kevin.
"I promise it won't happen again. Today was just a bit stressful and I really needed a break from all the planning. I'm not even sure I thought about everything if I'm honest. Lila might want to change the flowers I picked out for her and what if the hotel for all the guests suddenly cancelles our reservation and-"
Thankfully Kev interrupted my small rant about my sisters wedding plans in Italy. Without him I probably would've changed not only the flowers but the service and menu as well.
"Hanna. My dear, I'm sure it's perfect. Even without actually knowing all your plans and surprises I think it's beautiful. If you would just quit your job as stock broker I'm sure many other newly weds would've the same opinium. Your perfectly capable of planning a dream wedding."
"You know I can't quit Kev. How am I supposed to pay my rent? Bills won't pay themselves. You know that as good as I do."
"That's a topic we can discuss another time. Get home well, I'm sure Koda wants to head home as well."
I laughed a bit. Koda sure left behind his rimmed behaviour but not even a bad feeling can subdue his hunger. I had to make sure I lock all bins tonight or he might as well rummage through each one of them.
"I will come visit you after the wedding for sure. Return safely and rest well!"
"Mark your words dear! Rest for your flight tomorrow. I'm sure you have to get up quite early."
With a few air kisses and lots of waving after each other Koda and I made our way to downtown area. The sun was already below the horizon as we got back home.
After untugging Koda and feeding him I made sure I forgot nothing for tomorrow. I would be granted just a few hours of sleep. Exhausted and feet sore, I made my way to the shower. After 20 minutes in the hot water and washing away any evidence of filth, I put on PJ's and my soft socks as I hurried to bed.
At that time I couldn't decipher in what adventure I would launch myself into...