Margaret

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.

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