It is what passes for daylight out there. Foggy skies of indeterminate color, a soupy mess of a day. Everything can change in a second in San Francisco: a cold day can turn into bright Californian summer haze; brilliant heat can turn to a brisk wind and suffocating sea fog, rain can dissolve into rainbows, and then everything shift again. Four seasons in one day town. The only thing I haven’t seen here is snow, but there is time, there is time.
I am bird watching. A magpie lands on the flat roof kitty corner from my window. He sits there a while. He is black and white or white and black? He doesn’t seem to care. The city regards him just the same. As he takes off and flies towards the nicer side of town, the brighter side of the road a city cat stalks sullenly. He is just too high for her to reach and she knows it. Another day, perhaps. Another time. She should lower her standards to a nice rat or a mouse or one of those pidgeons. I wonder what they coyotes eat?
San Francisco has coyotes. Sometimes singular, sometimes in packs. Mainly out where there is green, so I hear. I have only seen one once from a distance. I gave him his space and he raggedly roped away. The kid needs a badger to help him hunt, he is looking skinny and lost. When I first read about badgers and coyote forming hunting pacts, eating ententes, I admit to being skeptical, but there they were, trotting together, once flushing out the prey, the other doing the killing, and both of them sharing the spoils. American badgers are dangerous creatures. No wind in the willows gruff old man cuteness for them. They are teeth and claws and fury. I surprised one once on an Oregon trail, we let each other go and I was grateful. I might be the apex predator, but he had all the weapons.
The light in the opposite apartment is off. I want to tell the person of indeterminate sex that I don’t really think they are a serial killer, but I have no PROOF damnit, and proof is everything in these matters. I want to tell them I have read too much George Orwell, bemoaning the decline of the truly great murder, that I have read too much smartass Hunter S Thompson, ingested far too many pulp fiction horror stories, and watched far too many dateline specials on whatever passes for TV, to wave back politely and not feel a frisson of fear.
I suspect they don’t care. I wonder if one day they will appear naked over there and expect me to applaud politely. Or if they will stand in the window with a noose and call it a day. It seems like way too much trouble for an accidental glance across a road upon drawing the curtains.
The phone rings. I hear myself say “if you weren’t drinking and shooting speed last night I am Jiminy fucking Cricket.” I don’t think I have the energy to care. Boring, Sidney, boring!
There is a pigeon where the magpie was sitting on top of the world in the ‘Loin, he has gone up in the world. The little black street cat licks her feline lips. I did promise her a pigeon after all. She sits waiting for him to make a mistake. I guess she feels like some chicken tonight. I don’t blame her. Those rats look diseased.
A man scrabbles through a pile of trash in intense desperation, the cat waits nearby to see if any edible scraps fall. We all gotta eat, and no one is throwing anyone a bone without a catch in the fine print. The brutality of the survival of the privileged, the luck of the draw, the ladders and pitfalls writ large on the hunger on their faces.
On the TV a man scores his first home run in two years. Sometimes that bad luck streak just gotta break.