Standing there in her house, I dialed Network Answering Service and got Lori on the line. “Hi, Lori,” I said, “I’ve been seeing this woman named Jill, and she thinks that since we don’t have a divorce, maybe we’ll be getting back together. This worries her. Would you reassure her?”
Jill was making desparate No, No! gestures, but I forced the phone into her hand and moved it up to her ear.
“Hello?” she said.
I couldn’t hear what Lori said, but as Jill listened, the worry lines faded from her face. The women finished their talk. And that was that.
Probably because of this reassurance, Jill came with me on my next visit to San Francisco. And that’s where we saw it.
Our office at Network Answering Service is on the upper floor of a flat on the corner of Parker Street and Geary Boulevard. Geary Boulevard is quite large, and from our windows, I’ve seen the Pope in his gold-plated Mercedes Pope-Mobile,I’ve waved to Queen Elizabeth, and then shot the bird at President Reagan, coming close to being shot myself by the secret servicemen riding outside the limosine.
Directly across from our office was Wherehouse Records, with Mel’s Diner to the right, and the Post Office on the next block. I used to hide the secret key to our office in a magnetic holder just inside the air-conditioning vents on the Wherehouse Records store. Don’t look for it now, though. It’s probably gone.
Jill had wanted to see our office, so we’d parked up the street on Parker. She parked the car, and I chided her for parking in the middle of two parking places.
“But that’s just courteous,” she said. “So the other cars can get out easily.”
“Not in San Francisco,” I said. “Where parking spots are hard to find, using two is rude.”
“Oh,” she said, and moved the car.
After visiting the office where she met Lori and the two of them made nice for a while, we returned to the car, and drove slowly up toward the intersection of Geary. When we got there, we stopped behind a light-colored Chevrolet at the red light. The cars on Geary were flying past; it’s always a long wait at that light.
As we waited, the guy driving the Chevy ahead of us opened his car door and leaned out. He seemed to be trying to look under his own car, and he twisted this way and that way, and this looked particularly stupid, and we started laughing.
At about that time, his grip on the wheel must have slipped, for he tumbled out his door onto his head, and, trying to scramble back into the car, slipped and fell again. The Chevy, still in gear, moved slowly forward and he missed the door.
The Chevy now rode over the man’s legs, and cruised slowly through the red light and across the four lanes of flying traffic on Geary. Horns, brakes, skids, and yelling ensued, while the Chevy, with the door open, cruised majestically across the boulevard toward Wherehouse Records, where it climbed the curb, heading toward the plate glass windows, but first hit the metal fireplug, popping its top and sending a geyser of water several stories tall to arch and fall upon the Geary intersection.
Cars skidded and swerved and traffic came to a halt.
Oddly, there were no accidents. Except, of course, for the man who had run over himself with his own car. Jill and I jumped from our car and ran over to the man, who was trying to get to his feet. His adrenaline was probably pumping pretty good, so I wouldn’t let him get up, but made him sit on the curb.
My operators stuck their heads from the windows above me, and I sent them to call an ambulance for our unfortunate friend. Cops appeared, and Jill and I faded.
Ah, chaos! The natural state for a human! There’s nothing like it in the universe. Or is there?