Looking back, I should have known. I should’ve seen it coming. But that’s the way these things happen, isn’t it? Not seeing what is clearly in front of you – so close it can feel your very breath?
You see, we had been on a scavenger hunt of sorts: the kind where you go from place to place and take a picture of you and your partners to prove you found whatever was next on the list. It was actually great fun. We’d eaten our pizza and drunk gallons of sparkling water. Okay. I know that sparkling water and pizza don’t really go together, but it tells you something about the complexity of my friendship group. Some of us are pretty normal and others of us try not to be. Anyway, we had eaten ourselves into a state of grease and bubbles that defy description and were all feeling ready for this challenge.
At the third place – it was a statue of a lion by the library – a fellow photo bombed our picture. He was nice looking and made a great face and then he struck up a conversation with a couple of us as we walked to the next place and ended up just kind of joining us.
At about the sixth place, we were missing one of the gals. Everyone looked, but she’d just disappeared. Someone suggested she’d gone in a coffee shop and would probably catch up, so we all agreed that was the case and kept going.
By the tenth place of the thirteen original sites we were given, three more of our group were gone. Vanished like ice on a hot day. The facial expressions of the remaining members varied from annoyed to concerned to downright scared spitless.
You know, I should have listened to my scared spitless self then, but I was too embarrassed to acknowledge the thought that popped into my head. I finished the scavenger hunt with one other guy – the guy that had joined us near the beginning. The team members that disappeared? I never saw them again. They were taken away one by one while I maintained a state of denial because things like that don’t happen in my world. By the way, we didn’t win.
Photo: <a title=”By Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons” href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ANew_York_Public_Library_Lion-27527.jpg”><img width=”512″ alt=”New York Public Library Lion-27527″ src=”https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f4/New_York_Public_Library_Lion-27527.jpg/512px-New_York_Public_Library_Lion-27527.jpg”/></a>