I used to park my RV in a bad area of SF. No one else wants to park there, so it's always easy to find a spot. One night a friend and I were hanging out in my RV, we lost track of time, and soon the buses weren't running anymore. She calls a cab and we go outside to wait for it.
A cab pulls up, we say our goodbyes, and it drives right past us. Wrong company. A few minutes later another cab comes, and again drives right by. Out of the corner of my eye I notice a large black woman wandering around fifty feet to our left. Two more cabs drive by, neither one the right company. It's cold outside. We start laughing at the situation.
Noticing our laughter the woman starts staggering towards us.
"Let's wait inside."
Sure enough, two minutes later there's a knock on the door. We ignore it, but she obviously knows we're in there. It's not like my RV has a basement we might have gone down to, and are thus unable to hear the knocking. She knocks again.
I open up the door.
"Why were you laughing at me?"
She's more hurt than angry, and more drunk than either.
"Oh, no. We weren't laughing at you. We were trying to wait for a cab--"
"I lost my dog. Did you take him?"
"No, of course not. We'd never steal someone's dog. We were just waiting for--"
"I'm out here looking for my dog and you're laughing at me. Both of you. Where's my dog?"
"We don't have your dog. I'm really sorry you can't find him. We weren't laughing at you. We were laughing because--"
"Do you mind if I come in and look around?"
The RV tilts as she steps in. She surveys my thirty two square feet of floor space until she is satisfied that we don't have her dog.
"There are bad people everywhere," she says, crying, "I just want my dog back. I love him. I feed him every day. You're good people. I know you wouldn't steal him. I just can't find him. My name is Margaret."
We introduce ourselves and shake her hand.
The cab comes, she leaves, my friend leaves, and I'm back in the RV by myself. It's late, so I brush my teeth and get ready for bed. Just as I'm about to lie down, there's another knock on the door. It's four in the morning.
I know it's Margaret, and I feel like we're friends now, so I open the door. A giant pit bull launches into the RV and headbutts me. Then he jumps on my bed. I pull him off the bed and hug him-- the only way I can actually restrain him.
"He won't bite you, don't worry!" Margaret chimes, "I found him."
As I uncomfortably wrestle with the dog, Margaret starts telling me her life story. She doesn't want a conversation, she just wants for someone to listen, which probably doesn't happen often. So I listen and try to subdue her pit bull for the next twenty or thirty minutes.
She lives alone with her dog and doesn't have friends. She tells me again that there are bad people in the neighborhood, but only hints at their transgressions. She tells me her name and her address at least five times, pleading for me to come over if I need anything.
She finally leaves and I get back to getting ready for bed. I write down her address so that I won't forget it.
Did anyone else think that the picture looked like a pair of womens breasts? Look really closely at it. I swear its a Gestalt picture.
Your writing is good as always, but it's too matter-of-fact, you haven't really given an account of how you felt throughout it all.
Just simply listen actively does make a difference in huge way.
We constantly craved for validation. You just gave Margaret some validation. Maybe she is change course in her life because you decide to open the door.
Good story,touching in many ways,could have been dangerous though.I was born and raised in Detroit,which makes SF look like Sunday School.I have a "sixth sense".Developed from many arrests I made,and the abillity to "size" someone up quickly..You might have it too.Sounds like she was very sad and lonely.That dog was her protector and friend,probably keeping her from going crazy with loneliness.Good man,Tynan!
@mike I left because my RV was being cased and my friend's RV was broken into in the middle of the day
Did you move out of the area after Margaret's late night visits? I wonder if there were other incidents you faced in the hood, sometimes there is just desperation in the air in these rough neighborhoods. Great people though.
I didn't like the story too much, why would you let a drunk aggressive stranger into your RV?? I'd have told her to call the police if she wanted to find her pet.
I looked at the route that Google Maps gave me to drive my RV back to Austin. The route went right past Mandeville, Louisiana. That's where Katya lives.
I hadn't seen her in years. We broke up four years ago, and I only saw her once since then, three years ago. She randomly showed up with her fiancee and took all of the big stuff she'd left at my house. Her fiancee apologized as we carried her bed frame that I'd been sleeping on for a year to his car.
Six months ago she left. The house is a mess. I keep the shades drawn. She said she needed space and I tried to be understanding about it. The police came to my house two days ago. I knew before they even got to the door what they wanted. They weren't approaching like I did something wrong. So I half listened and followed them to the hospital. I didn't want to think and I am surprised I made the drive at all. She was there, and though she was in anguish she seemed happy to see me. I tried not to touch her. The skin grafts were brand new.
She said that she had talked to him. That he had been quite clear.
“He needed you, and you abandoned him.”
The police found her after getting an anonymous tip. She was at a local factory. He didn't knock her out like he had the others. She was awake for the entire thing. Just paralyzed. I think he just wanted to punish her.
They ran DNA tests on the flesh he had attached. They aren't sure who the flesh originally belonged to. They are going through missing person reports. However, they did comment that he had matched her blood type and that there were antibiotics in her system. I left the room and vomited. The hospital people were understanding. So was she. I can't really wrap my head around all this. Everything about this is out of character. Everything is wrong.