Well, our last photo shoot in the warehouse district didn’t go so well. Gatermann got some great shots, but the negatives ended up really hot and the processing lab didn’t know what to do with them, so the result was a bunch of washed-out pictures. The dark areas like the building and my black t-shirt ended up fine, but lighter areas, like, oh, my face, totally washed out.
So Tom Gatermann and I headed back out yesterday afternoon, with our buddy Tim Coleman tagging along. Tim provided comic relief; mostly at our expense. They found me a summer home–what looked like an abandoned ticket booth that was missing a door–and a couple of cars. One was an early eighties-something Oldsmobile with no tires. There was also a later-eighties GM car of some sort, smaller and front wheel-drive, also without tires. And there was an old Dodge van that had to have dated back to the late 70s. It had–honest–a Reagan ’84 bumper sticker on the back. On the other side it had a Bush ’88 bumper sticker. Tim noticed it first. I had to take a picture.

The warehouse district just seems to be the place to ditch a car that doesn’t run anymore and you don’t want to pay to tow away. Trust me–when you do, it doesn’t take long for people to start pillaging parts from it. You ditch your car, then the vultures swoop in and take anything usable from them. Strange system.

We ended up back at the old Cotton Belt Route Freight Depot. We explored that until about 8, then went off to get some dinner. Tim had told us about the place he was house-sitting. It’s an apartment on the 29th floor of The Gentry’s Landing, a high-rise downtown. It’s a corner apartment, with a great view of downtown and the Mississippi River. Open up the windows, and you can see it all. So after dinner we headed back there to check out how awful it is to be Tim these days. The view was every bit as spectacular as he said, and the windows were huge. I felt my fear of heights kick in when I stepped too close.

Out of curiosity, I looked the place up when I got home. Their apartment probably costs right around double what mine runs. Then again, it’s a whole lot bigger too.

Tom and I marveled at the view (Tom from right up against the window, me from the middle of the room), and then Tim said we ought to see it from the roof. So we headed up to the 29th floor, then took a flight of steps up onto the open roof. I proceeded–slowly–behind them. At one point Tim turned around. “We lost Dave. Oh,” then he looked my direction. I had trouble keeping up with them, and it wasn’t the soreness from the softball games. I hate heights. It’s weird, because I love airplanes, but get me high up in a building, or, worse yet, on the roof, and I go nuts.

Don’t get me wrong. It was nice. The breeze was fabulous up there, and the almost unobstructed view of St. Louis was great. From that distance, the Mississippi River is gorgeous. Turn your head and you see the Arch, I-70, the Trans World Dome… And it’s beautiful. Even I-70 is beautiful from that distance. I never knew an Interstate highway could be beautiful. I admired it all from the steps up to the main rail-enclosed platform. I looked around, all the while gripping the railing on the staircase, my hands dripping wet with cold sweat, my heart racing, and my legs tingling weirdly.

When Tom and Tim said, “Let’s go,” I didn’t argue. And somehow I moved a lot faster getting off the roof than I did getting on.