I acquired a tail when I crossed NW 195th street. This late at night, there isn’t any other foot traffic for them to blend into. Their first mistake. Continuing south down 3rd Ave. NW, I am grateful for the sparse streetlights. It will make what I am going to do easy. There aren’t any lights at the entrance to the park, and I have just a block more to go. These two would be hunters are amateurs. Chances are I knew more about hunting and being hunted at nine than they will ever know. At sixteen, I can damn near disappear right in front of someone. They are loud, both in voice and footfall. Their second mistake. Maybe they think it will intimidate me; perhaps they are unaware they have given themselves away before the real chase begins. I have been aware of their increased pace for the last block. They are trying to catch me at the entrance of the park where what they do won’t be seen. I don’t walk faster, not going to tip my hand in that manner. I do lengthen my stride to the point I am covering twice the ground with the same number of steps. It is an illusion they don’t catch. They are still half a block behind me when I disappear into the ample shadows the trees provide. They are running now. That fact cancels any doubt about them following me. They are panting when they reach the park entrance.
“Where did she go?” The shorter one asks.
“I don’t know, can’t see her anywhere. Weren’t you watching?”
“Yes, but she just disappeared. I blinked, and she wasn’t there anymore.”
“Yeah, She was walking down the street, then she wasn’t.”
“She couldn’t have seen us, she never looked back, I’m sure she never turned her head at all.” Shorty has his breath back.
“Well, she’s gone now. Catch her next time.”
Mistake three. I don’t know these two personally, but I recognize them as part of the football jock crowd. Mathew and Dylan, spoiled rich kids. Time to turn the tables and put some slack in the predators’ leash. I wait in the shadows till their voices and footfalls tell me they are about 3/4 of a block down 3rd Avenue. I follow silently until they almost reach NW Richmond Beach Road, then I deliberately kick an empty pop can. The taller of the two looks back, Mathew. He grabs Dylan’s shoulder. They move swiftly now, reaching the intersection and turning east onto Richmond Beach Road. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. The hill that marks the south end of the church’s property blocks their view of me crossing 3rd Avenue. I run up the hill and crest its bluff just in time. They are parallel to me but on the other side of the street. My form is silhouetted between the two fir trees, backlit by the church’s parking lot lights. The sudden darkness of my shadow on them has them both looking up. They realize that I am now hunting them, and take off running. My laughter chases them long after they have rounded the bend in the road. That laugh isn’t a funny one; it’s the one that makes the hair on the back of Catherine's boyfriend’s neck stand on end. It’s the same laugh that prevents him from hitting her. The laughter that says I enjoy hurting people; that I might not be sane. I hope Mathew and Dylan hear that laugh every time they think about victimizing someone.