She walked into the pedestrian tunnel that ran under a downtown Los Angeles freeway. New in the city and living at the Salvation Army Hotel for Women, she used the murky passageway to walk to her job near the library. There was always a tangy, sour smell to the place, but she’d never met anyone down there.
This day, she heard footsteps approaching from the other direction, somewhere beyond the bend in the tunnel. The steps were long, even, and made by hard shoes. Definitely a man.
She, too, wore hard shoes, and deliberately lengthened her stride, stomped onto the dingy concrete. Running back out of the tunnel was too risky, as frightened-sounding footsteps might entice an attack from the rear. He might catch her before she reached daylight and the visual range of the guard she’d befriended at a nearby warehouse. Better to face the danger head on.
The footsteps drew closer. She clomped deeper into the tunnel. Solid shoes landed heavily just around the blind curve.
And then there he was: tall, black. Carrying a briefcase, wearing a three-piece suit. His eyes widened. Tension drained out of his face as her own muscles relaxed. They both laughed, strode past each other, steps fading into the gloom.
She alwasy wondered if he ever used the tunnel again. She never did.