Saturday, October 30, 2004

1. The houseguests have gone back to their homes in Amsterdam and Rome. A. is in Colorado, working to help swing the election. The city feels so quiet now. A distant shout feels like a rude interruption. This seems like one of those days without rhythm or pace, as if the music has stopped and the people in the street are just ambling along like confused dancers.

2. A fat Mexican man is strolling up and down 22nd St. in the Mission. He is dressed normally except for the paper bag he is wearing on his head. His eyes look out from two small eyeholes. It is lightly adorned in bold colors, as if his children had made it. He belongs either in a comedy or a horror movie. Take your choice.

Why is it more disturbing when a thing is only slightly altered? A garish halloween costume is not frightening. But when we detect that a small detail is out of place, that the scene or event has been subtly altered, then it may be something more subversive. We are being deceived. We are in danger and danger has unknowingly betrayed itself.

3. I am used to the Mission bus being packed with homeless people, young gangsters and even the occasional prostitute. But, today I was standing next to a man who had blood coming out of his mouth, with spatters on his shirt and coat. "You need help" someone said. "I'm heading to SF General" he replied. He was on the wrong bus.

When he got off the bus, I followed him even though it wasn't my stop. He seemed dazed and wasn't walking straight. I tried to get him a cab but all the cab drivers shook their head and drove off stone-faced when they got one look at him. I asked him what had happened to him, what circumstances had led to this. He insisted some random kids had socked him in the jaw.
I sat with him at the bus stop, sitting with him at the curb until the bus came. He was leaning over like a drunk. "You're a mess" I said. "Thank you for all your help" he replied.

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