Two teenage boys take turns hitting the small rubber ball against the towering concrete wall, smacking the ball with their bare hands. They run, jump, and breathe heavily as they play handball at McCarren Park in Brooklyn. Two girls sit against the fence watching the game unfold.
Christian, a modest looking fellow, is no match for his chubby, red-headed opponent. Before the close of game eleven, the ball escapes the boundaries of the tall black fence. It lands right in the hands of a young bicyclist who peddles softly alongside the court. She throws the blue ball back over the fence and continues to ride off onto the walking trail surrounding the park.
When that game ends, the players move on to socialize with nearby friends.
They are not alone.
People are sitting on benches. Cars drive by, making little to no noise. Once in a while the silence is broken by blaring hip-hop or Latin music. Or the honking horn of an ice cream cart, in which an old man circles the handball courts, alerting everyone to his wares.
The trees bordering the park sway. Even the dogs accompanied by their owners seem to be peaceful. No matter the size or the stature of the dog, barking is not heard.
Although the grass is overgrown, there is no trash on the ground. It is a clean environment. People of different ages and ethnic groups flood the track adjacent to the handball court. Some walk, while others sprint, stroll, ride bikes, and push baby carriages.
As the day progresses, the park welcomes new people. By 1:00 a.m. they all have to depart.