I’ve been staring at this cheetah for hours now, but it isn’t moving. I decided to go for a swing in the playground at Bailey Park. It was early morning, it was a school day, it was the first and only day of the week that WASN’T below zero. I went for a jog around Van Cortland like usual and rounded to Bailey’s Playground from Broadway.
I was just swinging, just swinging, when I saw it. Way out by the entrance of the park. It stalked passed the opening in the high chainlink fence, and turned into the little area of benches separated by the line of benches and trees. It walked over the bricks and I lost sight of it.
Against my better judgement, I decided that I needed to see what it was. I thought it might be that cougar I encountered a few weeks back. I left the swings and playground area and snuck around the Park Services building, around the girls bathroom side. I ran across the sprinkler area and got inside the fenced-off area where the baby swings are. There, I waited. I aligned myself with the other side carefully until it came into view.
A cheetah. And, hanging dead from its mouth, a baby antelope. It kept looking around, turning its head, the antelope swinging the entire time. The poor dead animal almost seemed like it was trying to wriggle free. I stared and stared. I waited for it to make a move, to do something, anything. But, it just stood there with its kill. No motion. I don’t know how long I stayed there like that, just watching. But, eventually, it did drop its kill.
It ripped a chunk out of its belly and raised its head while it chewed. It looked around. But then remained motionless again. It kept moving its head small amounts, looking at what might be around, listening whenever a car screamed by on Bailey Avenue. But, it refused to move. So, here I am now, hours in, waiting for it to budge first.
Another hour or so ticked by before it finally did anything. It took a second bite out of the prey. Then a third. Then, it stalked off towards the basket ball court. I stayed low, stayed out of its sight. I didn’t need to deal with another big cat.
When it was finally gone, fully, I approached the kill it had left behind. It had torn off the antelopes face, and a chunk of its belly. Otherwise, the carcass was fine. I saw a few crows in the trees. The seagulls were also making their way over from the Stop’n’Shop. I decided it was better if I didn’t involve myself further.
I went home.