This mostly happened two weeks ago at Deep River County Park in Lake County, Indiana. I only toned down the groundskeeper’s language, which is typically salty enough to peel wallpaper. But Scrump is real.
I thought we were going to die in the 4×4 Kubota. It tipped on the narrow trail and nearly fell twelve feet onto jagged chunks of concrete. I gripped the oh-shit handles of the Kubota even tighter and waited to feel the worn trail give way beneath its tires.
Luckily, the Japanese build off-road vehicles as well as they once built televisions. The groundskeeper gunned it, mashing the pedal gracelessly. The tires spun, bit and then dug in. The engine whirled and roared and we heaved back onto the trail, emerging from the dense second-growth forest of northern Indiana and onto cracked, gray pavement. Safe, for now.
“There,” the groundskeeper said and nodded forward. “He’s there.” He shoved three fingers of wintergreen chew in his mouth, folded his lip like a purse and then spat. “Scrump.”
Before us, a sixty-year old train trestle stretched open. Graffiti covered nearly every inch, as if a box of Crayola had vomited. Fifty feet from end to end, twelve feet from side to side and as high as a stepladder could reach, the tunnel’s concrete had been violated.
But the newest and freshest violator was Scrump.
Scrump. The name had circled among groundskeepers in northern Indiana for months now. No one knew who or what Scrump was, but the pronoun HE had automatically been slapped on him, just as a boat always earns a SHE. Scrump the Vandal. Scrump the Tagger. Scrump the Painter. Scrump, who spread his graffiti like latex smallpox.
“I found a garbage can yesterday by the parking lot,” the groundskeeper said, killing the Kubota’s engine and swinging out. “Inside covered in white paint. I knew as soon as I saw. Scrump again. Almost like he was taunting me. Look.”