Like I was a speedy splash of color, perplexed and off balance, she cringed, hunched and looked cockeyed upward at me. An Annie eyed guy, who I assumed was her boyfriend, held her by her upper arm to keep her from falling as she tried to make sense of the streaming colors of my approaching team kit. Both skinny, pale faced and red-eyed, they freaked out on my team kit, she more than him. What made it odder was that they didn’t say a word and instead contorted their bodies toward the railing to allow my trailing colors to pass. That happened 100 yards after I was caught off guard by Raccoon Man.
With an red-collared pet adolescent Raccoon clinging to his upper back, in a cool with the world voice he said, “no problem brother,” as I gave him a heads up that I was approaching. I silently worried that the Raccoon would freak out and jump on me or over the railing into the river. “Thanks man,” I said and looked at my clock. Yep. Sure enough. It was just past 8 p.m. again on the western pedestrian walkway of Cincinnati’s Roebling Suspension Bridge.
The bridge, a model for New York’s Brooklyn Bridge that locals call “the pretty bridge,” seems to lure a cast of castaways late in the evening, about the same time I wrap up my northern Kentucky rides and cross the bridge to head home before dark. As far as I can tell, the traffic of characters seems to travel southward into Covington, Kentucky this time of day. Judging that below the bridge on the Cincinnati side of the Ohio River is a makeshift homeless camp, I’m guessing that maybe a shelter or a soup kitchen opens on the Covington side of the bridge around 8:30 p.m. Maybe these folks are heading in for the night or to grab a free bite. As I digested my encounter while rolling past Great American Ballpark, home of the Reds, I couldn’t help but think that she could be on the cusp of needing medical attention. I looked around thinking I might see a police officer. I didn’t see one. So I, like the hallucinating couple and Raccoon Man, went about my business of getting to where I was going.