City Life

Now, this is a true story, or at least something that actually happened.

Last night was a wet one in Oakland, the kind where the sky just opens and rain falls out; the kind where the drains choke on all the water and the streets start to turn into rivers. Round about ten or so a lady starts screaming outside: help me, oh god, somebody help me, help.

The neighbor from 109 is just coming up the stairs as I’m coming down. “You hear that?”

“Yeah,” she says. “Woman’s getting chased by a man.”

“You saw it?”

“Just for a second. She was booking.” We go down to the front door. “But it’s pouring out there and I couldn’t see where they went.”

She waits in the door while I walk to the corner. I’m not wearing shoes. There’s a big Asian dude just crossing the street, wearing an undershirt. “You hear that?”

“Yeah,” I say. “You see where they went?”

“Up the street, I guess.” We turn up the road. “Hope she’s okay.”

“Hey, you got your keys?” calls 109. “I’m gonna call the cops.”

He turns back about half way up the block; I keep going to the corner. There’s a person on a cellphone in about every door I pass. A couple of cars are parked in the road, hazard lights on; more cellphones. It’s dark and pouring and I can’t see anything either with or without my glasses. “Lady?” I call. “Lady?

Walking back I step on a piece of busted windshield.