Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Picture A Naked Guy Holding Up This Bastion...
(San Carlos Bastion, Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida.)
If you follow the sharp edge of this bastion down to the ground, and then imagine it's night and a naked guy is standing in the moat posing with his hand on the bastion...if you can do that you are seeing what I saw one night.
When I rangered at the Castillo, we were plagued by night time wall climbers. Some very good bars are across the street from the Castillo and sometimes on the weekends, the drunken dares would start and pretty soon Bubba wants to climb the walls of the fort. This was unsafe for the climber and more importantly, it really damaged the soft coquina walls of the Castillo.
So, on weekends, I pulled night duty...just until the bars closed around 1:00 am. Early in the evening, there were lots of tourists strolling and I would talk with them as I made my rounds around the fort. A little later, they were replaced by the "smoochers" who found the dark corners around the fort to be...private...until I came walking up with a bright Mag-Lite. Just call me the "anti-Cupid".
It got really quiet in the hour or so before the drunks poured forth from the bars. In that dead time, I usually went in to the closed fort and surveyed the grounds from the gundeck atop the fort. On the gundeck, at night, alone in a 300 year old fortress, you can almost time travel. If you looked out to sea, away from the city lights, it wasn't hard to imagine a Spanish colonial soldier pulling lookout duty right where I was standing.
As it approached barclosing time, I would head down off the gundeck, out the sally port, across the drawbridge and on to the green to prevent crime by my uniformed presence.
On this particular night...the night of "Naked Guy", I crossed the first drawbridge and had stopped at the ravelin to check for inappropriate activities. The ravelin was empty, but I could hear splashing and laughter coming from the moat .
I quietly walked across the second drawbridge and eased down to the moat using the wall's shadows to cloak my arrival. When I reached the edge of the moat, I saw the source of the laughter and splashes.
A completely naked man was standing in the moat at the edge of the San Carlos bastion. He had one hand on his hip and one on the knife edge of the bastion wall...a typical touristy pose except for the naked part. A woman (not naked) was standing in the moat taking his picture.
Boy, did their faces drop when they saw my uniform and ticket book. The laughter stopped pretty quick too. I was doing my best to not burst out laughing, because it was pretty damn funny. They weren't doing anything lewd, just being silly.
I put on my stern cop face.
We had a discussion, the three of us, two clothed, one naked and now clutching his clothes. They were very apologetic. They didn't think anyone was around, they had celebrated naked guy's 30th birthday at the White Lion pub and something wacky seemed like a cool way to top off the evening. Naked guy's ID backed up the fact that this was his birthday.
I gave them my " You know this seems like a small thing (no pun intended naked guy), but you are in violation of Code of Federal Regulations 3.1 blah, blah, blah. "
"Tell ya what, since it's your birthday and no harm was done..."
They were elated to be let off with a lecture and no ticket or worse. Naked guy got dressed and off they went.
At least they got their picture before I ruined the fun.
Posted by R.Powers at 12:00 AM