The Other Day
The other day– bear in mind that when I say the other day I am referencing any day between the present and my birth, I was at the Powell Muni station coming home with my date. Well, technically speaking, it wasn’t the other day, but the other night. Also while we are getting technical, referring to Koana as my date is a bit of a stretch. Because is it really a date if you slam back a few luke-warm Jameson shots in a seedy dive in the Tenderloin with someone you met on Hinge and decided 45 minutes later you were going to sleep together and probably never
For the record, that’s exactly what happened, but that’s not really what this story is about.
Powell was putrid smelling, rancid. You know the scent. Rotting waste, urine, feces, God knows what else. Also, it was hot. Hotter than hell. Satan’s ball sack level hot. Maybe it was because the earth is literally on fire, but it was also September, Indian Summer. During the day the city nearly reached a hundred degrees. The evening was cooler, but still stifling; you felt like you were trying to breathe in a garbage bag. You might be wondering why I am going on and on about the heat, but at that particular moment I remember being quite fixated on it. I was self conscious about how sweaty and possibly smelly I was–wondering if I was too much of those things to get naked with a stranger.
I did a quick sniff check after we sat down while Koana glanced at her iPhone. I
reapplied deodorant before meeting up with her. My pits proved to be holding up. Thank god. I turned to her, and said the first thing that popped into my head. “Is that a Google phone?” I have no idea why. I knew it wasn’t. Maybe I was just trying to draw attention away from the fact that my nose had just been in my armpit.
“No, its an iPhone.”
“Oh, I have a Google phone.”
“Okay,” she snorted and went back to texting.
Literally what the fuck is wrong with you Lilith. I had this affliction, where my brain
completely collapses in on itself like a dying star around pretty girls, or should I say women? I need to break that habit, referring to women as girls. You would think it would be easy, since I know I don’t like it when men do it to me.
I adjusted myself on the seat. The sweat from my thigh had completely stuck itself to the metal, like some sort of industrial grade adhesive glue. It stung when I moved it, like ripping off a bandaid. My leg spazzed a bit. Koana must have mistook this for some sort of signal. She put her hand on my thigh. I wasn’t mad about it. I put my arm around her, and pulled her in closer to me. I couldn’t help but think we were kind of cute.
“The N-Judah is the bane of my existence,” I announced, louder and more boisterous than I intended. I had just finished a three month sobriety streak and my tolerance had plummeted.
Koana cackled and gave my leg a little squeeze above my knee. She might have been tipsy as well. She was fairly petite. “We’ve been waiting like forty-five seconds, Doll.”
If anyone else addressed me as “Doll” I would have instantly despised them, but for her it totally worked. Some people are just like that, so confident in their quirky idiosyncrasies they can pull off anything.
“It feels longer.” I glanced at the screen, the red-lights suggested the next N would be
here in 8 and 17 minutes, but I had been down this road before, lied to far too often by that sign to find it believable. “Waiting for the N kind of brings out the worst in me.”
“Hmm, well how about we do something more interesting to pass the time?” she
suggested, doing that cheesy double eyebrow raise, coupled with a sly grin.
She leaned in,
“Oh no, not PDA,” I said sarcastically.
We started making out. She was a really good kisser, and someone who knew what they were doing with her hands. I was eager to get her home.
“Excuse me,” someone interrupted. It was a delicate, gentle nudge. Like when you were a kid and your mom would wake you up from a deep slumber to get ready for school, but much like that situation, it didn’t matter how polite the intrusion was, you were going to be, at the very least, irritated at the source of the sudden disturbance.
We turned around and responded with “Yes?” and “Yeah?”
A homeless man was standing before us. He was stumbling, or swaying a little, probably drunk or high, or a little of both. He was coherent though, not slurring or anything.
“Can I ask yous a question?”
“Maybe?” I allowed.
“It’s personal,” he explained.
“Probably not then,” I said, annoyed. I turned to Koana. Her expression was hard to read. I wished I had known her better, so we could communicate nonverbally the way close friends do.
“Which one of you is the more dominant one?” he asked with a shit-eating grin.
“Yeah, you definitely can’t ask that.”
“Well it’s not that straight forward,” Koana answered in a reasonable tone, at the same
time as me.
I kind of loved her for that. Of course the polyamorous UC Berkley Gender&Sexuality
Studies graduate who LARPed on the weekends would answer that question like that.
“Yeah man, don’t be so heteronormative!” I chuckled.
The man looked like he was poised to respond, but then a lot of bizarre occurrences
happened at once.
The J-Church pulled up and a gaggle of older women in their sixties got off the train.
Their style was campy. Bright make-up. Big hair. And even bigger personalities. They were laughing and shrieking so loud, a chorus of those gut-busting belly laughs that go on and on and on until you start to feel almost sick. The only coherent sentence I managed to make out was something along the lines of, “So that’s what I was doing at the police station in 1975 at three in the morning!” Their howling laughter was cut as abrupt and as unnerving as seeing a cyclist flying down a hill, crashing and being flung off and over their handlebars.
The ensuing chaos was caused by a single pigeon.
The pigeon descended from the entrance platform far more graceful than you would think a rat with wings could, like a swan dive. The pigeon flew the length of the platform, alongside where the J had been an instance before, leaving in its wake a steady stream of shit. It looked like white rain, descending upon its victims in a perfect parabolic arch. It was kind of remarkable looking. Not beautiful or anything, but something that would have made an entrancing photo if
you were fortunate enough to capture it.
It took them a few seconds to register what had happened, but you can tell when it did.
The ladies started shrieking and running out of the station, frantically waving their purses in the air, as if to ward off any other unanticipated aerial attacks, fowl or otherwise.
All three of us were looking at one another with jaws dropped and covered mouths,
attempting to stifle our giggles.
“Looks like the pigeon is the dominant one,” the woman seated next to us added, without even looking up from her book. I hadn’t even noticed her before.
Our laughter broke like a dam had exploded. We were doubled over even more
theatrically then the women covered in pigeon shit before– well before they were covered in pigeon shit. I practically couldn’t see from the tears in my eyes when the N arrived. Koana and I got on the train hand-in-hand with a jovial wave goodbye to the man. It took us a few stops to finally calm down.
Koana let out a deep exhale, almost like a sigh.“Sometimes it’s just good to laugh,” she
said, resting her head on my shoulder.
“Definitely,” I agreed. I held her arm in my lap and started running my fingertips up and down her forearm.
“I kind of needed a night like this,” she added, “I got fired recently. I’m hella stressed.”
“Oh no, what happened?”
“Well the other day–”
Written By: Francesca Bavaro
Visual Art “Sink on Farm” By: Gloria Keeley
About the Artist: I’m a graduate of San Francisco State University with a BA and MA in Creative Writing. My work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Slipstream, FORUM and other journals. I graduated from CCSF and I taught at CCSF for 34 years and was the editor of FORUM in 1969.