When I was 13, I played bass in the middle school jazz band. Rehearsals occurred on Friday mornings, before school. This meant that I took an early morning school bus. My house was directly in the middle of the block, so I could either walk up to the top of the hill to catch it or walk down the hill to catch it. Uphill was more houses. Downhill was next to a beach that had a metal bar that swung closed at night to prevent anyone from parking, and to attempt to dissuade anyone from hanging out. One chilly morning at 7:43 am, I dragged my bass down the hill to wait for the school bus. The sun was barely coming out, and I was leaning against some railing, one eye half on the beach parking lot, when I heard uneven footsteps. Horrified and convinced I was about to die, envisioning a nearly commencing battle - Sara Jean and her Bass Guitar fighting for their lives against some awful forest monster - I turned my head and saw a man coming from the beach. He was older, he had peppery white hair stuck around his head like wiry cotton balls. His sweater looked dirty, even from far away, and he was shuffling closer to the entrance where I stood, not sure how appropriate it was to feel so petrified of this man emerging from wherever he had been previously. I tried to shift where I stood to avoid whatever trajectory he was on, but I couldn’t judge it. He finally got to the entrance and rather than walking through the path that wasn’t obstructed by any piece of metal, he climbed over the guard rail, which is how I realized that he only had one shoe on. The other foot wore a dirty, thick-looking sock.
I watched him shuffle around the corner, and then I walked up the road to meet the bus.