The last walk of the night is usually a hurried thing right before bed, more of a final trip down the thirty-seven stairs, across the parking lot to one of the grassy islands spread throughout the parking lot where Duncan can pee while I stare at either the stars or the orange glowing clouds, depending on the weather. But tonight, late, when the traffic had calmed and the noise of the city had settled, it was still relatively warm so we ventured across the street for a final walk around the park.
Half a moon watched us as we stepped across the street and onto the soggy grass. Today's warmer temperatures put an end to the snow, except on the shadowed, north side of things, and the ground was dark, absorbing what little light the moon provided. Here and there the fish belly shimmer of puddles glistened amid the grass providing ghostly patches of light as we walked, but mostly it was a deep dark. I'd taken Duncan off his leash but made him him stay close, darting only a few feet ahead of me, so I could be sure of him and his safety.
We'd crossed through the baseball fields and were coming up the middle of the long soccer field, the elms empty bones above us, the last of their leaves silent in the unmoving cool of night. The street was quiet with the light of only a few passing cars illuminating the furthest edges of the park. As Duncan ambled ahead I heard the sound of laughing and saw the familiar green and blue flash of one of the glowing discs the high-schoolers use when they play late night games of Ultimate. I didn't think much of it until I passed what I initially mistook for a solitary patch of snow. It was only when Duncan stopped to sniff it that I realized it was a t-shirt, a crumpled white thing cast off and left behind. A few feet ahead a shadowy clump of jeans and more t-shirts told me everything I needed to know.
We'd somehow stumbled into a game of naked Ultimate. Up ahead I could see the dark shapes of people running back and forth as the glowing disc sped through the air and came down in someone's hands. More laughter––this time from a woman––broke the silence and I held my breath as I caught sight of a pale, round butt running forty or fifty feet ahead. Her laughter was answered by shouts from men and more women. Duncan stopped and watched them, his ears raised, his foot firmly planted on someone's boxer shorts.
The group of kids, fourteen or fifteen in all, were darting quickly back and forth, oblivious to our presence, caught up in this moment of theirs, one each of them would remember for the rest of their lives, like the afternoon I spent running naked through a meadow of wildflowers during one of the fiercest storms I've witnessed in southeast Idaho.
Mostly I only saw dark shapes and the whites of tennis shoes hurrying through the grass and muck, but occasionally the moon caught the streak of other body parts, quick glimpses that made the blush rise on my cheeks. I leashed up Duncan and pulled him back. We walked hurriedly back the way we'd come and circled around to the sidewalk to avoid detection, Duncan pausing occasionally to look back at them and whine at the Frisbee cutting through the darkness.
I have been witness to many strange things in the park, which is normally a very ordinary place by the time we walk across it, but I have never seen such strange games under the light of a half sleeping moon.
Good for them. A warm November night is a good time to make a lifelong memory.