The checkerboard grid of streets has a fault line running diagonally through it. And, it is called Market Street. That particular early evening there would be no distant view of The Ferry Building nor even a hint of Twin Peaks due to the silent, unfurling waves of fog. This would be the day fading it’s last hour, the early twilight, like so many others, experimenting with ever more exotic blues.
Today would be different. I felt it. But I didn’t know it. It would be her, Destiny.
Halfway across that contrary-running street I came to the pedestrian island where one waits for buses and the F-line; the antique streetcar that runs from the Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf and back again. The street was strangely deserted; a few lonely cars, no pedestrians, a bicyclist carefully avoiding the tracks. But I stopped to wait for the changing cross-signal, anyway. The whiteness began to blur on its journey from the churning Pacific.
I happened to look down at the concrete beneath my feet and there by my polished leather shoe…well, there it was; a ring, by all appearances from another era. If it were not so finely wrought I would have thought it a cheap prize from The Wharf.
The ring was a silver band that held a single square beveled stone. It emitted a radiance at once powerful, and yet somber. The spellbinding color was burnt orange. I reached down to pick it up and put it on my left index finger. It fit as though custom-made.
I arrived to the bar earlier than usual that evening, having left my small apartment more out of boredom than any quest for adventure. A great deal of time had been spent wandering the many blocks as I wore the ring.
There was a bracing breeze that grew in intensity. I had walked all the way to the SOMA bar from the Tenderloin wearing an increasingly inadequate leather jacket. I wore a body-fitting t-shirt, black jeans, and Fahrenheit Pour Homme; sprayed liberally, it left dark stains on the otherwise flawless burgundy color.
The fog machine was casting its spell. I headed towards the bar to order a White Russian. After the bartender handed me the creamy ice-filled cocktail; that’s when I saw him.
I do not believe in Fate. Like I said, this was Destiny.
He was wearing plaid shorts despite the chilly weather with flip flops and a long-sleeved shirt, unbuttoned down to the navel, revealing the dewy cleft of his sweaty pecks. Was he dressed for the beach or a nightclub? – I mused.
At first he didn’t look interested; casting a quick glance my way and immediately passed on. But, it only took an instant. He saw…something in that instant spent on me. And you could see, in his doughy and perfect face, the thought working. He quickly looked back at the ring. I am sure of it. Then, a smile like the opening gates of Heaven; while his torso turned slightly in my direction.
As it turns out, he was not named Destiny, but, the painting back in his bedroom was. Or at least, that’s what I was told.
As I stood in front of the window, while Rod lit candles throughout the room, I turned my head to take in the view of the Marina and the silver, moonlit water. And that’s when I caught in the corner of my eye, and turned a little further to see, the painting. It was of a nude woman.
The grand, gold-framed art was illuminated by the flickering candles Rod set up with such efficiency, I had hardly noticed. I will always remember the growing light; how the darkness diminished; how the flickering light caressed the image; the smooth skin, the unfurling velvet behind her body.
I looked for a place to put my wine glass so that I could admire the painting unencumbered. However, I stopped when I noticed she was wearing a ring identical to mine. Then, I started to take a step closer to the work of art but, then was reminded I had other pressing items on my agenda. Eros was not to be put off. And, there would always be other fine art to ogle.
Rod struck a pose at once aggressive and yet submissive. It was then that I noticed the grains of sand on the back of his calves and the bottoms of his feet. They were more like small beads then fine grains. They reminded me of the sand on Baker Beach, the City’s nude beach.
I thought of the sand on that beach, the sometimes crashing waves and the dangerous rocks. The tide would rise and the water would reach almost to the base of the cliffs. The steep path from the top of the cliffs would bring a visitor to that beach only after a punishing hike down. And, then, the return would always be harder.
..to be continued.
-James Legare 6-6-16.