I walked up as innocent and excited as any this-is-my-first-day-on-the-job I. Magnin employee could be. The late fall air in San Francisco filled my head with vapors better than any coffee high. The cable thumped and sang beneath the street.
She lay in wait.
I was dressed in my best: charcoal gray wool pants, a silk sport coat, a plain white Oxford-cloth shirt with a button-down collar, and a brown and black faux-regimental tie that might still nestle in a bag somewhere under my bed. Nah, possibly gone to Goodwill ages ago. All that covered by a London Fog coat.
She was short, dark hair, mid-thirties I’d say. None of her dress flashes back now. Too many decades intervened. Glasses? Yes, maybe glasses. Clear, fair skin and dark eyes. No makeup to remember. Plump.
I glanced to the hilltop, looking for the cable car.
“I could drop dead any minute they say.”
Pivot. Eyes wide. A full step back. I reply, “Good morning?”
“The doctors, you know. They say it could happen any time.”
“Oh.” A look up the hill.
“Waiting for the car? It’ll be here any second. Where are you going?”
“To Union Square.” Still not used to talking to strangers in The City.
And rescue crested the hill, clanging and wrenching its way down to us. I wrestled my wallet out of my pocket ready to brandish my fresh MUNI pass, my ID that I belonged in The City. The car thumped and almost shrieked to a halt in front of us, and I stood aside allowing the lady to climb aboard first. I followed and flashed my pass.
I found a seat far from her and imagined my coat was warm.
But is it ever cold in San Francisco?
I mean, apart from out in the avenues in June?