Littleton,Colorado is an interesting town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Fairly normal--suburban; tons of malls, strip malls, outlet malls...malls in general; but with a rich frontier and settler's history and a long string of dark crimes.
Alfred Packer, infamous convicted cannibal.
Does this look like the face of a cannib--okay I see it.
Eugene Thompson, cocaine aficionado, went on cocaine fueled rampage with an uzi in the 80's and had his final standoff blocks from my elementary school.
Artist's rendering of Eugene Thompson's breakfast.
Columbine: You know this one.
No pictures of Columbine, just my favorite holiday lighting in the world--downtown Littleton.
Think happy thoughts.
I could keep going, but I don't want to bum you out. For a sleepy suburb, Littleton has a dark history; so having this knowledge, why--why--would my friend Cecily and I go for a midnight walk in an abandoned Littleton park? Knowing what we know, we definitely should not have been surprised that on this midnight walk, we would stumble across what would appear to be a naked dead man.
Cecily and I grew up together in Castle Rock, Colorado. We met in the 5th grade when Cecily moved to Castle Rock from California. She had long blonde hair, wore the coolest clothes and read the Babysitter's Club, just like me--she even reminded me of Dawn from the Babysitter's Club, only not a complete bummer.
I think it's universally agreed that Dawn was the worst.
We would go through Middle School and High School together. Some of my fondest memories with Cecily were the random nights we would hop in her car with no particular destination, blasting the radio and quoting our favorite movies, mostly likely something from Monty Python. Cecily would eventually go on to college, but when she would come back to town in the summers we would hop in her go and go on our adventures.
There wasn't much to do in our hometown. There was really only one bar in town, and if we wanted to go out dancing we had to drive to Denver, which was 30 miles north of us. We'd usually settle for going to Cold Stone Creamery by the nearest mall and sitting on the steps outside and gossiping.
One particular warm summer evening Cecily and I were eating our Cold Stone, and we decided we wanted to go on an adventure and take pictures.
Now kids, back in my day, we didn't have fancy cordless telephones with magical film-less cameras; we had these devices that we put film in to take photographs that we would take to a very scientific lab called 24 Hour Photo. They would take this film and print it on paper, and low and behold 24 hours later: pictures! Those were darker days, but I digress.
I used cameras before it stopped being cool to use cameras and then started being cool to use cameras again.
A couple of weeks before I was in Ketring Park in Littleton with my family for a 4th of July picnic. Next to this park is a stunning Memorial rose garden. I suggested to Cecily we drive up to the park, wander around, take pictures, and then walk around Ketring Pond to the playground. She was nervous about going to parks late at night, not because she didn't feel safe, but because she thought we'd get in trouble.
This is the part where I should have listened to her.
I poo-pooed her fears, saying they're public parks and we'll be fine. Worse case scenario someone will just tell us to clear out and we'll be fine; so we left Cold Stone and made the drive over to Ketring Park.
At this point it was well past 11:00 pm and pitch dark. All we had was the light of the moon. It was a warm summer evening. We were young and carefree--like a Better Than Ezra song. We wandered around the rose garden taking flash photos and picking roses. We played around the gazebo, taking silly glamour shots of ourselves and attempting selfies, which were not called selfies back then.They were just called pictures.
I was born and have ever remaind in the most humble walks of life--SELFIIIIIIE!!!!
After we got bored of the rose garden I suggested we make our way to the pond and walk to the playground. Cecily--once again the ringing voice of reason--said it's probably not a good idea and she felt a little creeped out. Again, I told her there's nothing to be creeped out about, it's Littleton after all. Nobody's died in random, horrible murders in Littleton.
We started our stroll around the pond.
It was such a stunning night. Warm with a bright full moon hanging over our heads, the smell of flowers, grass, the algae in the water; I was enjoying the amazing moment with my oldest friend, but my oldest friend was freaking out. We were almost to the park, which was very well lit, but she was so scared that something bad was going to happen. I acquiesced and we starting walking back to my mom's car; I did not, however, go quietly. I kept going on about how it's just a boring suburb, nothing bad is going to happen, she's just being a wuss, we would have had so much fun at the playground, blah blah blah...
As I continued to tease my friend, I noticed something in the grass to the left of the walking trail. My eyes hadn't adjusted yet to the dark after being exposed to the lights at the playground. I stopped ribbing Cecily and started walking towards this large, white shape.
As I got closer it started taking form. At first I thought it was a blanket--then a folded up chair or stroller--but as I got just a few feet away my eyes completely adjusted, and there, lying in the green summer grass, was the white, pasty body of a completely naked man--and he was completely lifeless.
At this point time slows down. The words "Oh my God" came out in slow motion and my eyes moved from the lifeless body in the grass to my friend, who was no longer there. Time caught up with me as I looked down the path to see my friend half a football field away from me, running for her life.
She even left the cartoon trail of dust.
It's amazing what your body is capable of when it registers fear. I am not--and have never been--a runner; but in that moment my body performed running feats I have never been able to repeat.
I heard myself scream, "DON'T YOU DARE LEAVE ME!!!", and ran after Cecily. Not only was I able to catch up with her, but I grabbed her hand and dragged her behind me...probably.
We got in my mothers car and peeled my mother's station wagon out of the parking lot like we were being chased by a chainsaw wielding murderer.
As we drove away we repeatedly screamed at each other "WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!"
I asked her if she saw the same thing I did. She said, "Dead naked guy in the grass?" and I confirmed: "Dead naked guy in the grass!"
Our screaming went on for several miles before we decided we need to figure out what to do with this information. Our first idea was to leave it and pretend like it never happened, but after years of watching Law & Order, all I could think about was someone might have seen us peeling out of the park. We could be implicated in his murder! We could go to jail! We could get the chair! I'll die before I get laid!
We queried if we should pull into a gas station and call anonymously from a pay phone, but--duh--they could trace where it came from and gas stations had cameras! Then implicated, jail, electric chair, die a virgin.
I asked why are we so afraid of calling the police and just saying, "Hey we were walking around the pond and found a dead naked guy" and Cecily said, "Because we weren't supposed to be there! We were breaking the rules!" Such a Girl Scout.
An aside: we were actually Scouts together too, but clearly I was a terrible scout because I so flagrantly break rules and talk my friends into breaking them too.
I'm a huge proponent of introducing racketeering into the Girl Scouts.
We decided to stop and just fess up to being in the park and finding the dead naked man. I lead the call with, "My friend and I were walking around Kreting Pond about a half hour ago--now I know we probably weren't supposed to be there, so that's our mistake and we fully accept responsibility for that --" The 911 operator sighed and asked what actually happened "--Well as we were walking we found what appeared to be a dead naked person."
I had to repeat that back to her a couple of times, and she asked me exactly what we saw. Then she asked if we stopped to take his pulse.
She said that police were dispatched to the park and asked us to meet them back there to show them where we found the alleged body. We drove back to the park, the whole time Cecily I told you so-ing me...I deserved that.
We got back to the park where there were several squad cars with their lights on. We met a female officer--who was totally hot in her uniform--she said they didn't find any body. What they did find, around the area we explained over the phone, was a guy hanging out in the grass, who lived in a house on the other side of the bushes.
I asked if he was dressed and she said yep, he was wearing a black hoodie. We told her that he was definitely NOT wearing a black hoodie, He was, in fact, not wearing anything at all, and he was not moving.
She said they looked all around and found nobody, just the guy hanging out in the grass. She said maybe he had his shirt off and we mistook him for naked.
I wanted to argue with her and tell her that you cannot mistake a naked man. There was a very clear and present wiener.
Idea for a new adult film: Clear and Present Weiner...
Cecily was already done with this conversation and walked back to the car, so I said goodnight and apologized if we wasted their time. The cop was surprisingly nice about it, saying it's what they were there for, even if we weren't sure. Her niceness made her even hotter.
I followed Cecily back to the car and we left the park and drove back to Castle Rock.
On the long drive home we theorized what the hell just happened. Was this guy laying in the grass, posing as a naked dead person to mess with people? Was there an actual dead naked man and the sweatshirted guy moved his body? Was he naked at all and were we seeing things?
In the end we concluded maybe he went for a dip in the pond and fell asleep in the grass.
The next day we went to the one hour photo to develop our pictures, hoping that maybe our dead naked man popped up somewhere in the film, which sadly he didn't. He fell into legend in our stories for us to retell when we see each other from time to time.
I think about the dead naked man now and then. I wonder if he tells stories to his friends of the warm summer night he was relaxing in the in the cool grass, and some screaming women discovered him and called the cops on him.