My chest cold is now a head cold. It is not bad, but I am not feeling my best as I head out the door. I walk towards the river trails via South Avenue, passing by an elementary school and through a low-income neighborhood. I detour into a park with tennis courts, a basketball court, a parking lot and grassy open space for whatever. A mixture of cheap alcohol bottles and soft drink cans strewn across the ground confirms lots of "whatever" goes on.
I pace the perimeter of the tennis courts. The inventory of bottles and cans grows, a lone sneaker is added. I walk between the fence and a wooded bank at the back of the courts. I append tiny Ziplock bags to the refuse inventory. I record a few images, then continue on an asphalt walk deeper into the park and away from the road. There is the sound of coughing behind, my head turns to it. Male, younger, dark skin. I quicken my pace, snatching over-my-shoulder glances as I go, trying not to betray my fear, worried about unjust accusation. "Is he still the same distance behind me? Did he walk faster too?" My pace quickens more.
I am followed to the edge of the park. I cross South Street where it intersects 9D. When I look back, I no longer see him. I walk along 9D, busiest of the two roads, feeling relieved.