Shadow My husband and I love our get aways to the North Fork of Long Island. It’s a lovely hour and half drive from home, and stopping off at a winery or two shortens the commute. I “taste”, he drives. We joke that after a glass of wine, he likes me better and I like him better. It’s a win-win situation. Our trips to Greenport are usually in the fall or spring, but I had a week off from work and we had no plans. The so-so forecast was probably the reason our usual haunt, The Harborfront, had a room available for three nights. Three nights were better than none, so we took it. As is par for the course, we overate lunches, went for long walks, and I even got my husband to browse through antique shops. They are the only stores he will visit as perusing the wares produce fond memories of our parents and grandparents. We took the ferries over to Shelter Island and Sag Harbor and spent time with some friends who live in Cutchogue. Despite the weather, all was going well. It was sunny, warm and muggy when my husband and I headed out to dinner at Claudio’s Clam Bar. As appetizers turned to entrees the sky began to darken and the distant thunder made me uneasy. In addition, I was sure I’d left my car windows open in the Harborfront’s parking lot. I wanted to hurry back before the rain. I left my husband to pick up the dinner check and I rushed towards Mitchell Park. My attention was diverted when lightening, for a brief second, silhouetted a large, dark, figure sitting roughly ten yards from a group of young girls. Something wasn’t right. The grassy area, usually full of children, was now only being used by these three girls. They were casually tossing around a softball, seemingly oblivious to the approaching storm that had emptied the park. The girls were perhaps late high school or early college age. The grim figure’s “homeless” appearance was out of place in this family friendly park, but the intensity with which he watched the threesome was more my concern. He seemed to focus on the smallest and most vulnerable of the three. She ran to the left, his eyes followed….she ran to the right….his eyes followed again. Except for a slight turn of his head, he moved not at all. Even a small group of skateboarders passing through, failed to distract him. The diminutive object of his piercing stare was the picture of innocence. The thunder had gotten louder, the lightning closer and it was starting to drizzle. The girls ended their game and were heading off in different directions. Two of the three made a beeline towards the post office leaving just the three of us in the park. I wondered if the lone young lady could feel his eyes riveted on her as she headed in his direction. His positioning changed from sitting to standing and there seemed to be an increasing arousal as she drew closer. I knew, that if need be, she could not protect herself, so I moved closer, but he was too fast. He ran towards the delicate young girl and when he was a few feet away, she threw the softball right at him. How clever I thought…until he caught the ball in mid air! The imposing creature stopped for moment, then bounded over to the girl, dropped the ball from his mouth, tail wagging, obviously happy to have her attention. He knew not to jump as he would have surely knocked her down. Instead, he waited patiently for her to kneel down and give him a loving pat. “Come on boy, let’s go”. They ran to their car just before it started to pour.