Travel

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Following in the footsteps of a murderer

When visiting a new city or state, I like to read a biography about one of their most famous residents. During a recent trip to Seattle I picked two books about serial killer Ted Bundy: The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule and The Phantom Prince by Elizabeth Kendall. Both authors had close relationships with Bundy and painted an intimate and searing portrait of the man and monster.

Bundy was a student at the University of Seattle and killed a number of young women who lived on campus. Bundy’s victims were all physically similar: young, brunette women with long hair parted in the middle. The serial killer’s murder spree would continue in Utah, Colorado, and Florida before he was eventually captured and executed.

Ann Rule wrote of Dante’s, a watering hole located near the university campus. Bundy would haunt the bar, obsess over the female patrons and select his next victim from among them.

I was staying in downtown Seattle but took an Uber across town and visited Dante’s on a Saturday night. Surprisingly, there weren’t any Ted Bundy photographs or memorabilia on display. Perhaps the current proprietors of Dante’s felt any Bundy reference might be in poor taste, but they did let a documentary crew use the bar to film a dramatization of the killer’s early life. Bundy’s crimes happened a generation ago and he has gone from a boogeyman haunting newspaper headlines to a legitimate part of American history. He was the first serial killer that gave authorities proper insight into the mind of a violent sociopath.

Dante's

I could have ordered a bottle of Mickey’s malt liquor (Ted Bundy’s favorite drink) but I never developed a taste for beer. Mixed drinks made with Sailor Jerry were on special so I ordered a rum with pineapple juice. I gave up drinking soda months ago and ever since have found it difficult to order a mixed drink. In the past I would always pair my rum with Pepsi or Coca-Cola, but I followed the bartender’s advice (he’s the expert) and tried pineapple juice; it was very pleasant and a perfect drink for a summer night.

I quite enjoyed the unique three-tiered layout of the bar. Located on the lowest level is a dance floor with DJ booth, and a back room with billiard tables, skee-ball, and pinball machines. Restrooms, tables and booths are located on the second floor, while the third floor features additional seating and a dartboard. If I were a student at the University of Seattle I might have also counted Dante’s among my favorite hangouts.

Two days after my visit Dante’s was decimated by an electrical fire. I’m so happy I was able to visit the bar before the accident. Here’s hoping they rebuild and reopen soon.

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