A previous post to this column touched on Beargrass Creek, and the vicinity of Eva Bandman Park where the Beargrass flows into the Ohio River. Not long ago, however, I stumbled upon a completely different park located on a different creek that also empties into the Ohio: Leeds Park, located on a stretch of Mill Creek in Louisville’s Shively area. It isn’t a particularly large park –just a square block containing a playground, gazebo, and tennis court, with a paved walking path encircling them– but since discovering it, I have now stopped there to walk on numerous occasions.
One afternoon I had just parked my car to take a stroll in the park, when I noticed an uncommon scene across the street: a large, black pick-up truck stuck mid-lawn in front of one of the homes facing the park. The driver of the truck was giving the engine short bursts of fuel, hoping the vehicle’s back tires would pop loose from the muddy ruts in which they were spinning. It was clear, however, that the driver’s efforts were only worsening the holes in which the truck’s tires sat.
By the time I’d rounded the park’s loop to start on a second lap, the driver had jogged across the street.
“Hey, man – I’m real sorry to bother you,” he said to me, “but could you give me a tow out of this person’s yard before they get home?”
The driver looked to be about twenty-five, wore a pair of artificially-ripped jeans, and had brown hair spiked with gel. He had not, it was evident, considered how soggy the ground was before attempting to execute a U-turn in the front yard of this stranger’s home. I hesitated before answering.
“I don’t know if I’m the best help. I just have that sedan over there,” I said, pointing to my blue four-door.
“Oh, no problem, man. I think that’ll work – I just need a little pull to get me over the hump.”
I wasn’t enthusiastic about attempting to tow the driver out of the mess into which he’d driven himself, but I didn’t have the heart to turn him down outright. I drove my car around the perimeter of the park, and backed as close as I could to the marooned vehicle while still staying on the pavement of the street.
“Hey,” he said to me, “there is one problem. Do you have like a rope or chain or something we could use to hook up my truck?”
I was very doubtful, but I popped my trunk and shifted through its contents anyway. Nothing appeared sufficient for towing a pick-up truck out of six inches of mud.
“Sorry,” I said, happy to have found an ‘out,’ “I sure don’t.”
“What about that jump-rope?” he asked, pointing to a thin leather rope sticking out the top of my gym bag.
“Uh,” I stalled, “I’m not sure that’s strong enough.”
“Right now,” he replied, “I’m willing to give anything a shot, buddy.”
Moments later he had the jump-rope knotted from my back axle to his front bumper.
“All right,” he told me, “just drive real slow, I’ll give my truck a little gas, and I think that’ll get me out.”
I did as instructed and pushed on my accelerator with minimal pressure, but within all of two seconds, I heard a sharp CRACK through my open window. The leather, of course, had snapped.
At that instant, a faded white pick-up truck came around the curve, and pulled up to the house with the newly-rutted lawn. A gray-haired woman jumped out of the old Ford.
“What the hell are you doing to my lawn?!” she shouted.
“Uh, uh, ma’am – I am so sorry.” The driver, to whom I was now an accomplice, stammered. “I was just trying to turn around when my front tires slipped off the side of the road.”
“Like hell they did!” she responded. “You obviously tried to turn around in my grass, jackass, and got stuck.”
“Ma’am, again, I am so sorry.”
“Well I don’t care how you pull that truck out, but you better start thinkin’ how you’re gonna repair those holes in my yard.”
He nodded his head with contrition, then said to the woman,
“Is there any chance you might have a chain we could borrow?”
* * *
Months later, I was back at the park for another stroll. When I stepped out of my car that particular afternoon, I noticed something unusual on the pavement of the parking lot. Upon further examination, I discovered it was a used condom tied off with a knot – thrown out a car window, I extrapolated, after a tryst from the previous night. I stood there studying the crumpled condom for a moment, and couldn’t help but think about the countless sperm –the children-that-could-have-been– tied up in the latex balloon now baking on the hot asphalt. I wonder now, again, about those children-that-never-were: of us three players from that play that was the U-turn–gone–awry, whom would they have grown up to be?▪