I was wandering around downtown at night. Don’t ask me why. I ended up in the vast industrial expanse that is the Saint Louis riverfront south of the Arch. As I walked, I encountered a wreck. There was a small crowd there, gawking as the cops probed the scene. I moved on. I was walking alone now. Passing through a rather sketchy area of abandoned warehouses that was crisscrossed with both highway overpasses and abandoned railroad trestles. Even with company, I’ve always felt nervous passing through this area. The place seems to harbor a perpetual feeling of dread or maybe it’s just a premonition that I have.
Tonight as I walked alone, a car with two men in it pulled up alongside me and matched pace with me, even as I slowed my walk. I reached into my coat pocket for that lump of metal. Grasping for it as if my life depended on it. The men in the car never turned their heads, never looked back. Fear griped me. I felt pinned between their sedan and a crumbling red brick wall. If I chose to fight, I would be exposed, but what if I chose to flee? Through gaps in the wall, I spied a jumble of fallen masonry inside. I could run in there, but if they pursued, I doubted that I could hide. I would be at their mercy. A chill ran through me as my mind raced, searching for any way out. Why did I come down here? More than a few long seconds later, another man rounded the corner up ahead and seeing him, the car took off in a roar. It wasn’t my worst Tuesday night.