Somehow I felt him coming. Having just returned from Chicago where the heat ensnared me, the city enraptured me and a certain brunette with an indeterminate accent interrogated me I knew I was due for my luck to run out.
My shit-served-straight-up day started as soon as I took the first call and listened as two people who were supposed to know something feigned corporate indignation in a raspberry-hued tone, trying to cover up they didn't know shit. From there it was an easy slide down the chute into the hopelessness and despair that stains so much of the existence of my 8-5. As I left the building I knew he'd be out there. It didn't matter what route I took- he would find me.
I decided to make farfalle and meat stew for dinner, so I went up Post Street with the intention of cutting over at Jones to go the Halal butcher on Geary. At Post and Stockton I espied Axel Feldheim, my friend and another man I tend to run into unexpectedly but frequently in this tiny town. Axel and I chatted on the corner- he was on his way to the Mechanics Library for a lecture on how people like us were Fifth Columnists. As we spoke, suddenly, ten feet away, he minced toward me- the Little Chinese Man was right there.
I gasped. I probably squealed. "It's the Little Chinese Man!" Axel looked at me like I had just dropped my pants in the street.
"I need to take his picture."
I pulled my phone out of my pocket. My hands trembled as I found the camera setting. Using Axel as a human shield, I stepped out into the middle of the sidewalk to bring him down. Then, in a moment of a premature excitement I haven't experienced since Lana Mardian, I misfired completely.
I hit the wrong button. My photo opp of the little Chinese Man failed. Damn, I said to myself.
Alarmed, Axel said "What are you doing?"
"Didn't you know? Didn't you read about him?"
"No, I need to catch up," he said.
"He's following me. I see him everywhere!"
Pointing to the tight, light-blue dungarees now behind me, with the short beige jacket on top- "Him! The Little Chinese Man!"
LCM had now stopped at the corner, amidst a throng of shoppers. Briefly he turned to offer me his profile, but again I missed the pay-off. I snapped the picture only to get his backside. The light turned green, he minced out into the crosswalk, gone- the outline of his tight briefs against his Little Chinese Man buns seared into my brain like two girls, one cup. Irreversible.
I felt emasculated. Axel took leave of me. He'll probably never talk to me again. I made my way up Post, took a left on Jones, scanning the street from left to right all the way, thinking he'd be back- knowing he's taunting me.
I entered the butcher shop and ordered my fresh meat. A pound of it. Then I crossed the street to get my peppers, which were battered, bruised and soft so I settled for tomatoes. It's been that kind of day. As I made my way home I kept an eye peeled for him, feeling as if I was suddenly a character in an Orson Wells movie. He eluded me this time. But I'll get him. I'm good at the hunt and the hunt is on.
He's dead center in the picture.