San Francisco Vignette no.1 / by Deborah Clague

It was 11:15pm. I stood at the corner of Ellis and Cyril Magnin, slice of pizza in hand poised to satisfy a late-night craving. There was a lot of activity on the streets, something foreign to the sleepy northern village I call home. Sirens blared in the distance. A mentally ill man to my right shouted obscenities at no one in particular in between reciting random bible verses. Cars honked incessantly at a cab in front of me. The light was green, but it remained stationary. A shirtless man was trying to open the trunk. I assumed he was loading gear. 

"What the fuck?! HEY!!!" the cab driver exclaimed upon looking into his rearview mirror. The shirtless man continued to be transfixed with opening the trunk. 

A scuffle ensued as the taxi driver physically pried the shirtless man away from his vehicle and placed him next to me near the curb. I started to contemplate which self-defence technique would best work against this clearly high-as-fuck individual should shit go down. I didn't want to lose my pizza, but it was probably inevitable. I noted the shirtless man also wasn't wearing shoes. His gaze was as vacant as a zombie. 

Without incident, he made his way back to the trunk of the cab. The driver again exited his vehicle and braced for round two. The mentally ill man to my right proclaimed that God is great. 

I continued munching on my pizza. The walk signal lit up. My hotel was two blocks away.

The symphony of the streets played on.