Incident in San Francisco (Chapter 4, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 4

By the time he crested the hill and started east down Geneva, Ranny found that he was already at the limit of this morning's fog bank. The wind-whipped, cold grayish-white storm back in his district had slowed here and had piled up against the heat of the rising sun. To the commuters rushing to work a mile away down on the Bayshore Freeway, the fog appeared to be a solid blanket over the hills, with its edge curled under, as sharply-defined as a down featherbed. To an observer just under that edge, though, it was evident that a struggle for dominance was under way. An advance guard formed of tattered streamers of pure white stretched ahead of the solid gray mass, probing toward the strengthening sun in the east. Today the warming sun would be the victor, meeting that ghostly advance and forcing it into the retreat which would end with the fog pushed back to Ocean Beach, perhaps back a half mile off shore, or even totally eradicated. The dissolving wisps of white against the brilliant blue of the sky should have been a sight to lift the spirits of almost anyone on this autumn morning, but Ranny was too engrossed in contemplating the miseries of his life to enjoy, or even notice, the beauty above him.

It was Grand National week at the Cow Palace, and that was one of Ranny's least favorite times of the year. He didn't so much mind the sporting events or the music concerts held there. There was always a huge amount of trash to clean up after those nights, but at least it was just empty food and drink containers. Sure, sometimes you'd find a mess in a corner where some stupid fan had been too drunk or too lazy to go to a washroom before throwing up. Maybe have to hose off an outside wall where some man had unzipped and urinated rather than wait in a line inside. But that was nothing compared to what he had to deal with for the ten days of the Grand National.

Even the Dog Show or Cat Show was preferable to this. God knows, he had little use for either of those animal species, especially the stupid little yappy lap dogs or the grossly fat long-haired cats which lay as useless as stuffed toys while their owners gushed over them. But at least the dog and cat people kept their animals in small cages, so most of the crap ended up there and the owners looked after it. Besides, these owners were used to collecting their pets' droppings, so they almost automatically scooped it up if their precious little Snookums dropped one while out for a walk. Ranny always smirked when he saw that, remembering a Seinfeld routine he'd seen where Jerry asked, "Suppose aliens were watching through a powerful telescope, and saw one species on Earth walking in front, while a second species followed behind, gathering up its excrement. Which do you think they would assume was the Master Race?" Ranny didn't always get Seinfeld, but he'd sure gotten that one.

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