I work near Schaumburg, which is the home of a very large forest preserve known as Busse Woods. I find it fortunate to be close to a resource like this as I can sneak out at lunch and get in some workouts. The forest preserve has an 8 mile loop that is awesome, because it's a beautiful ride through the forest without any car traffic to worry about. In the summer time during my "lunch breaks", I would often head there with a camping shower bag, go for a run, hose down in the parking lot, and be back in the office before anyone knew what I was doing.
Last week on one of my recovery rides through the loop, I passed by an area that just had a tremendous stench of road kill. It was so bad that I actually stopped the bike and looked around to see what it was causing this horrendous odor. Based on it's smell, I assumed that it had to be some animal lying next to me on the side of the path. Didn't see anything except grass and bushes. As this is Cook County, one of the few refuges for deer around here is the forest preserve, and there are so many deer here, riding at night is hazardous because it's like the deer are having a cocktail party on the path once the sun sets. I assumed that because the amount of smell and it's perceived distance away from the path, it had to be either a dead deer or a dead body. The morbid side of me said "it's time for those mobsters to come back and re-bury that body because they didn't bury it deep enough last time". After all, this is Chicago, a town known for Al Capone, corruption, and the mob. Images of the "Goodfella's" digging scene came to mind -"Did you want a leg or a wing?"
I rode off without giving it much more than a second thought as I was sure it was a deer or some other really stinky small animal that kicked it just off the path. Then today, something in the news, coupled with some strange closure of the path by the police I saw yesterday stuck me. The paper said that the police had found the body of a person who had been listed as an "endangered missing person" for the past month. There was even a little graphic showing where in the forest preserve where the body was found - right were I had stopped to investigate the smell. The article said the body was badly decomposed and had been there for a while. I'm not sure what to think about it. Had I been more curious, I could have helped put closure to the case, or perhaps coming across a badly decomposing body would have scarred my memory for life.
Forest preserves around here are a little on the odd side at times. Liz would tell me while she worked at the arboretum that people would routinely commit suicide there. Once in a while they would come across people canoodling naked along the path. Cook County forest preserves are even sketchier sometimes. At noon and on the weekends, it's perfectly normal, filled with normal people doing perfectly normal activities. With my workout schedule taking place sometimes at off-peak hours, I've come across alot of suspicious things. I've seen people who obviously have no interest in nature, drive in, pull up to another person waiting in their car, exchange hands, then drive off. I've seen another person get into another person's car and then put their head in their lap. I once backed a car into a spot, which I guess meant something at the time because all these guys started approaching me, and then backed off when they saw me pull out a bicycle. I'm not being coy or anything, as I'm pretty sure what's going on. But jeez, can't we all just be normal for a change?