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Fiction

The address I had been given led me to an old building on Mission Street. On the walls of the entryway I saw the names of the different businesses that occupied the place. The names included a firm called The Introduction and another called This Narrative. I saw the one I was looking for, the one my friend had scribbled down for me: This is It!.


According to the directory, This is It! was on the third floor. As I was halfway up the stairs, I walked by what appeared to be an old closet with the door half-open. Lights, colored lights, were coming from somewhere inside. I could not resist taking a peek. I walked in and as I turned in around the door, I saw two people admiring a strange sculpture. They were both wearing goggles. One of the figures was wearing a lab coat. The other had on an outfit that reminded me of a spacesuit. It was wrinkly and shiny and reflected the colored light around the room. The room itself was full of other sculptures, contorted, geometric pieces and other things that looked like large chunks of glass.


The two figures both turned their heads toward me as I walked in.

“Amazing, isn’t it?” one of them asked me.

“Um, what is?” I replied.

“You see,” he explained, “or perhaps you don’t see. In any case, when we percieve things, be they objects or animals or sculptures, what we see or perceive is not really the object itself but all that lies between us and the object.”

“I don’t understand” I said.

“Well, for example the intervening air or the light, the physical and also psychological preconceptions that you might have. Thus, to change an object you don’t have to change the object itself, you just have to change how it is perceived.”

“I’m sorry,” I explained, ”I really have to go.” I walked out of the room and continued up the stairs.


Arriving at the third floor, I reached an office door that had a piece of paper taped to the door. The paper said “Yes, This is It!” so I assumed that, yes, it was.

Before I could knock, the door swung open and a man came out. He asked me if I was thirsty.

“No, I am not, thank you.”

“What did you think of what you saw downstairs?”, he inquired.

“What do you mean?”

“The room with the colored lights. You peeked in, of course. Everybody peeks in.”

“What was going on in there?”, I asked.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I think they are artists.”


We both stared at each other for a bit after that. It was an uncomfortable moment. He was looking at me but not expecting me to say anything. He was looking at me the way one might gaze at a painting, studying me. I realized that he was not going to say anything more so I spoke up.


“I’m here to see you. A friend recommended you. You see, I lost my dog. I was out walking her and let her off the leash just for a moment and next thing I knew she had disappeared! I don’t know what to do. She was my companion. It has been awfully lonely in this city and now here I am losing my dog! My friend said that you find dogs, that you can help me.”


“Sure, lets go!” he said and started leaping down the stairs. What could I do? I chased after him. At the bottom of the stairs he was waiting for me.


“Where was it that you lost her?”

“Oh. Nearby here. The corner of Valencia and 20th.”


We walked over there together. This time he walked slowly down the street, looking all around, the way that tourists do in a new city, appearing somewhat astonished and also in a mood to be astonished, eager to be amused.


“You know,” he said suddenly,” I usually don’t do dogs.”

“What do you do, exactly?” It only now occurred to me to ask.

“I am a finder. But I usually deal in, well, more metaphysical things. People ask me to find them not their lost love, but a new love. Or, to find them a new favorite pastime, or to help them see differently, though I’d have to take some time to explain to you what I mean. In most cases, I help people find what is already there.”

“And how do you do all that?”


“Ooh, I really want a taco!” he burst out suddenly and then ran right into a taqueria. I followed him, of course. The smell of the grill had wafted into the street and I had to admit that I too was starting to get a bit hungry. I ordered a taco too and sat down with him at a table where he was already slurping down an agua fresca.


He was staring at a framed picture on the wall of the taqueria. It was a large painting of a rotisserie, nothing else. But the rotissier looked just like the one that they had in the taqueria itself. “I love that painting” he said “It is clearly done lovingly. It makes you appreciate what a wonderful thing a rotisserie is, you know. Clearly, the painting has been hanging here for years. The grease stains on it match the wall quite well.” I merely nodded.


“You know” he told me, “there is a guy at the table in the corner that keeps glancing at you. He is either trying to figure out how to mug you or maybe he is interested in you.”


I turned around and there was someone there. I knew him. He lived in another apartment in the same building. We had greeted each other a couple times but I cannot say I knew him. Nevertheless, we looked at each other when I turned around and I gave him a weak wave. He waved back.


The finder – I didn’t even know his name – yelled out “Hey! Come join us!” My neighbor came over as requested and the finder-guy said “Hi! We are looking for her dog.”


This of course started a conversation among us, about my dog, about the taqueria and we all introduced ourselves.


The conversation had been loud enough that it became one of those conversations that dominates a room. The other tables were either single people downing their burritos or a quiet couple or two, all amused by the conversation at our table.


“I think I saw the dog!” a girl at a nearby table volunteered. She went on to explain that she was certain she saw the dog around Valencia and 21st, heading rapidly North.


By the time we left the taqueria, we had become a small group. It was a Saturday afternoon, it was a sunny day and many of the people in the taqueria had something of a loose agenda for that day. We all walked toward Valencia and 21st and when we stopped, I began to explain what had happened. The finder-man then piped up “You know, if I was a dog, I’d head West. There are better smells coming from that direction. From just the few moments we have been standing here, it is clear to me that dog traffic is naturally heading in that direction”


We only made it a block before we all stopped for ice cream. Ice cream cones in hand, the group continued westwards, heading in the direction of Dolores Park. “This is Dog Central!” the finder-person spoke up,” this is where I would go to if I were a dog.” We all generally agreed that indeed the impulses of a dog would be likely to lead them here, but despite splitting up and looking all around the park, we failed to find my dog.


I asked the finder what he had planned now. He stated that he had no plans. His plan, as it were, was to stay here at the park because it had a great playground and fields for playing soccer and he loved soccer and he had no urge to be anywhere else. He soon joined in a pick-up soccer game and the last I saw of him was of him doing a remarkable head shot into the goal as his team-mates cheered him on. Some of the other members of our impromptu group also began to scatter. Some went home, others went off to meet their friends.


A small group of us remained, however, including the neighbor I had met at the taqueria. With no other ideas, we also decided to stay in the park a bit longer. The summer day had become a warm summer night. Someone had brought a blanket and we all sat and watched the warm sky slowly fade, the cluster of buildings of downtown San Francisco looking like the Emerald city from the Wizard of Oz.


As darkness descended, we shared stories about who we were and what we are all doing here in this city, until we were just a group of disembodied voices, a campfire setting but without a campfire.


As the nighttime cold came in, my neighbor asked if we all wanted to go to his place. We could continue chatting there. He had some drinks and snacks too. We all agreed, and headed out together towards the apartment house. We walked back across the same streets. But now, the streets had changed as people that had been out on a sunny day were retreating inside. Bars that had been closed earlier were now alive with people and colored lights.


When we arrived at our apartment house, at my home, my dog was waiting for us there on the front stoop.

May 24, 2021 09:53

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2 comments

Cathryn V
20:04 Jun 18, 2021

Cute story! i especially enjoyed the familiar references to San Fran’s streets and park. there are some interesting details here that kept me reading. on a small note of critique, you might consider adding more conflict to up the tension. for example, have the protagonist worrying about her missing dog while the dog finder goes off on his/her tangents. fun read!

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C Banubula
12:18 Jun 21, 2021

Thank you for your comment and your feedback!

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