Category: Featured

Featured posts.

It’s My Phone

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Hawk and I went to Anchor & Hope for dinner. It was a wonderful evening: we crossed off #48 on 7×7’s 2010 Big Eat SF list, plus I told a story that made Hawk laugh.

He mentioned that I might want to lead with the story next time. So here I am, not leading with the story.

After work and before I was due at Anchor & Hope, I headed to Westfield because, despite it being a large collection of stores I avoid, it has one thing I love: Maido, a lovely stationery shop filled with fountain pens and notebooks and tiny stickers shaped like frogs and kittens and wheelbarrows and what appear to be smiley-faced boogers.

I kicked around Maido for a while, checking out the happy booger stickers, and then did something I rarely do: I skipped the escalators in favor of the elevator. Now, I am no elevator-hater; I merely prefer the grace and poise of open-air perambulation. But I was weary, and the route to the escalators brought me past the salespeople who yell at me that I need “skincare solutions”, so I elevated instead.

As the elevator opened and I walked toward it, I heard a high-pitched alarm sound behind me. Suddenly, a young man carrying a large Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bag ran at full-speed into the elevator as the high-pitched alarm sound grew louder. Confusing even myself, I ambled right in too.

As the doors closed, and with only the two of us in a small, gently-moving room, it became obvious that the high-pitched alarm sound was emanating from the man’s bag.

“That doesn’t sound good,” I said affably.

The man looked at me, slightly out of breath, and said, “It’s my phone.”

I watched with vague interest as he took his clearly-silent phone out of his jeans pocket, flipped it open, and pantomimed pressing a button over and over again.

“Can’t shut it off,” he added.

A second later, the elevator bell dinged, the door opened, and the man darted out. I wandered off to look for a security guard, pondering two things:

  1. The man thought I was naïve enough to mistake a security tag alarm for a ringtone.
  2. I saw no need to correct him.


The dead woman’s refrigerator is in the space between our buildings.

I call her the dead woman although I admit I am guessing. A few weeks ago, a couple I did not recognize stopped while opening the door to her flat and asked me if I knew her. I didn’t, so I said no, and then immediately wondered if I should have said yes: what does “knew her” mean? I knew her to pass her in the hall and say hello, offer a brief word about the weather, and pet her dog, Kelly. I once helped her call Kelly out of the backyard bushes, minutes and minutes I called the name of a dog of a woman whose name I do not know and now she might be dead.

I first noticed the refrigerator after a Saturday morning of thuds and whacks and grunts coming from her flat. Under the guise of taking out the oft-neglected recycling, I peeked down the space between our buildings and saw the refrigerator.

There were still magnets on it. Magnets pinning photographs. Photographs of people she knew, of a little girl in a school photo, and one of her laughing and holding a cat next to a woman also laughing. They were turned toward each other, almost the same height, and from all I could see, waist-up, dressed the same in plain collared shirts. Scattered across the blank face of the fridge were tiny sparkly star stickers in all the colors of the rainbow.

These things, due to wind and rain and time, are now escaping the refrigerator. I take out trash more regularly than I ever have before, just to note the progress of the escape. The other day, I heard the same couple talking to the building manager about foul play, a murmur his gruff tones interrupted and uncomfortable silence followed.

Her flat undergoes its slow transformation from someone’s to no one’s; smells of bleach and paint mingle with the rest of our more human scents. I wonder if she died inside, and if she will haunt us, and where her dog went.

Some nights, before bed, I stand in front of the dead woman’s refrigerator and I try to think of her name.