Random Saturdays – The Other Side of the Bridge

Last Sunday was Easter.  The Friday beforehand, I hung out with Amanda, as usual.  We talked about Easter, which naturally led to the discussion of Jesus being a zombie.  As we drove around the same parts of Dallas that we always do, we talked about various types of zombies and how we’d react if we encountered them.  Then, we noticed it was eerily dead for 10 pm on a Friday night.  Granted, we didn’t expect much to happen on the side streets, but the major streets weren’t even busy.  These are the very streets that take people to and from bars and clubs, so there are usually a few cars on them on Friday nights.  This Friday night, however, there were none.  We wondered if there were some kind of Zombie Apocalypse to which we were not privy.

Strangely enough, we saw more people wandering the neighborhoods on foot after 11 pm than we saw cars all night long.  Every side street we turned down had people running, walking their dogs, or just standing around.  In fact, we didn’t just see individuals, or even couples;  there were groups of people wandering around numerous neighborhoods.  People of all ages just walked around these neighborhoods all night long.  Months ago, we made a joke about a crosswalk sign designating a “Wild People Crossing”.  Recalling that sign, we wondered why there were so few cars out and so many wild people wandering the streets.  We chalked it up to zombies and went about our business.

At one point, we ended up in an old part of Dallas, driving down streets we had never been down before.  For anyone who doesn’t know, older parts of Dallas consist of a maze of one-way streets and dead ends.  While exploring one of these streets, we saw a few houses that were in complete disrepair, which led us to a street that seemingly dead-ended at a giant fence.  On the other side of the fence were rows upon rows of discarded bleachers, plastic Longhorn cattle, and whimsical plastic trees.  We both made some profanity-laden comments of wonder and surprise as we slowly drove closer to the objects and realized that we were not imagining this strange graveyard of discarded props.  To our right was an old, low, narrow, cement bridge.  We drove beneath it to find out what was on the other side.

Once there, we found more discarded props.  I suggested that this was the storage place for props used during the State Fair of Texas.  Amanda has never been to the State Fair of Texas even though she was born in, and grew up in, Dallas.  (She also never had a Girl Scout Cookie until this year.  Who knew?)  While I felt comforted that I at least knew the origins of the numerous rows of out of place fair props, Amanda seemed unnerved.  However, we were both still curious, so we continued down the road, pivoting our heads, trying to take in the surreal sights of abandoned ticket booths and rides.  The tiny road with narrow turns suddenly opened onto an expanse of cement with nothing but the Props Graveyard surrounding us on both sides.  We came to a small opening in a fence and Amanda said, “I wonder what’s through here…” as she drove onto a larger road.  We continued driving and were eventually greeted by a giant overpass telling us to “EXIT”.  Arrows directed us to drive under the words in order to exit, but as there were two exit paths, we had to choose one.

We chose the one on the right.

This led to an even wider expanse of cement with no Props Graveyard in sight.  I figured out that this was where the main State Fair parking always is during the fall, but again, this didn’t comfort Amanda at all.  The parking lot was divided down the middle by a train track, enclosed in a wire fence.  We decided to turn around and go back.  After driving past the Props Graveyard, we didn’t know where we were.  I recognized another parking area for the State Fair that is normally open, but was now closed.  Because everything was closed for the year, it was confusing trying to exit places barred with chain fences.  I saw familiar streets all around, but couldn’t figure out how to get to any of them without busting through a fence or off-roading it in Amanda’s Honda Civic.

Lest you think us complete fools, I did look up our location on my iPhone.  This, however, only confirmed our options about fences and off-roading.  Amanda kept driving back and forth along the expansive cement parking lot, growing increasingly desperate with each pass.  Amanda isn’t someone who spooks easily because she has been through quite a bit in life.  She didn’t have the sense of surreal familiarity that I had with the fair grounds, though, since she had never been to this part of Fair Park before.

Big Tex’s skeleton after he caught fire this year. The State Fair mascot had just turned 60.  Prelude of zombie shenanigans to come?

I kept pointing out areas that led to exits during the State Fair, but each one dead-ended.  Eventually, we found ourselves on the dead end behind a residential neighborhood, with no way to cross to the neighborhood streets.  Four or five dogs began racing towards us, barking at the tops of their lungs.  “Oh great,” I said, worried that she would run over an overly-excited dog.  “This is it.  This is how it’s going to end,” said Amanda, convinced that we were going to run out of gas and that the zombie dogs would eat us.  I told her that I had plenty of battery power on my phone and that we would be fine.  Why the hell else did I pay money for a data plan on a phone with GPS?  Ironically, we kept driving past a slew of police cars that were clearly not being used and were on the other side of the fence anyway.

Finally, we decided to drive along the fence.  We got into this crazy Parking Lot Desert somehow, so we just had to find the opening again.  Amanda put her bright lights on and we drove slowly, searching for the opening.  As we neared the end of the fence, our faces plastered to the front window, high beams shining out into the distance, we saw it — the opening.

It was ingenius really, drawing attention from the missing part of the fence by chaining up the parts around it, whcih distracted Amanda and me from seeing the other side.  To tell you about it, it sounds dumb.  How could we miss the opening?  Wouldn’t we have just noticed that the light didn’t reflect off the metal?  Wouldn’t we just see that there is fence and then there isn’t any?  These are questions that would only come from someone who has never driven through old parts of Dallas and has never been to Fair Park.  It’s tricksies.  The fence doesn’t go in a straight line;  it randomly bends and turns upon itself for no apparent reason.  This is how things work in that part of Dallas.

We exited our Cement Desert and found our way back to the run down houses where we started (a few druggies were now standing outside of the dilapidated buildings).  We drove back to the Props Graveyard, The Bridge, The Exit signs, the Cement Desert, and, finally, our opening in the fence.  Now that we knew our way around this strange wonderland, we were relieved to have made it out without running out of gas or being bit by zombie dogs.

On the way back to Amanda’s apartment, we saw numerous people walking their dogs, even though it was nearly 1 am.  On my drive home from Amanda’s, I saw five more people walking around streets and highways where I do not normally see much foot traffic. When the time comes (that’s right, when, not if), I hope all of these wild people and their dogs are ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.  Amanda and I certainly are.