"That gentleman won't stop muttering."
I look up from the book I'm reading "Out" by Natsuo Kirino about a Japanese housewife who murders her abusive husband and then has to figure out how to dispose the body. I'm on the crowded L Taraval train (two cars). Mr. Gryphon, my imaginary friend, is looking at a large man wearing white star shaped sunglasses with rhinestones. His cowboy boots match the sunglasses. He appears to be speaking softly, incoherently, and I have not noticed at all because this type of thing happens all the time on San Francisco Public Transportation.
"He's probably got some super tiny headphones on and is listening to Donna Summer," I say.
"He is not, Miss Turtle. He's speaking in tongues." There is a loud screech, a jerk and then a flock of small grey owls fly by. We all duck to avoid them. Well, all of us except the class of fifth graders who jump and grab at them. I wonder what the owls are doing up at this hour of the morning.
"Great, I can't stand when people have religious experiences in the tunnel. Makes the lights all strange and twinkly," I say as I watch the last of the owls flutter away. I can hear the odd babbling the man is doing now that I'm paying attention. It's a low persistent sound underneath the babble of the school kids. I sigh and hold the bar a little tighter after putting my book away.
At the next stop, the fifth graders get off clearly on their way to City Hall for a government field trip. There is a visible sigh of relief among the remaining people on the train as more room is made available. Mr. Gryphon opens his wings a little and stretches his long legs. Then we see/hear running for the closing doors, a herd of buffalo. Damn! That means we'll have to stop in the tunnel now. They elbow their way onto the car, smashing me up against the bar. Everyone else on the train gets out of their ways since the bulls have horns. They have that buffalo-y, manure-y smell that is somewhat pleasant. When all of them are on the train, we pull away from the station, albeit slower than usual. Mr. Gryphon strikes up a conversation with one of them. I half listen. At least if we stop suddenly, I'll have something furry to land on.
"Where're you all off to," asks Mr. Gryphon easily. He enjoys being around other beings that aren't supposed to be there.
"Ah, well, ah we're off to the unused parts of the tunnel for a good long run, then we're off to the Wharf, the little one here wants some chocolate, then we'll take the scenic route home via the Marina," he says.
"Sounds like a pleasant outing," says Mr. Gryphon.
"Ah, well, ah you can't beat the weather today. Gotta take advantage while you can," he says. Two of the calves are giggling uncontrollably while they poke at each other with their hooves.
"I heard wandering through the Presidio is a nice thing to do," I say. The buffalo turns and looks me, his ears twitching, his huge black eyes glossy and wet. He behaves like I've just butted in on their conversation which I have, I suppose.
"Ah well ah, yes, it is. I recommend it," he says politely. The train screeches to a stop in the middle of the tunnel sending me face first into his fur. He barely notices because he is shouting at the others, "We're getting off here! Everyone crowd round. Yes! Ah, well, this is our stop now!" The doors open quickly and the herd goes out in single file. I can see them moving easily into a dark tunnel. There are feeble lights and I can see the old rail tracks glinting in the distance. When the entire herd has exited, the train moves on, slowly.
"This explains why there are so many delays in the tunnel, "observes Mr. Gryphon. He moves closer to me. "By the way, Miss Turtle, they are Bison, not buffalo."
"Well, I like the sound of the word buffalo better, Mr. Gryphon, although I like how Bison looks with a capital B."
"And what is the point of this post, Miss Turtle?" People have been claiming the open seats as the train has moved along. We have remained standing.
"I guess I'm feeling a little lonely. I have a crush on someone I shouldn't have a crush on so I wrote a Missed Connection for him on craigslist.org just now."
"Why are you saying this here on your blog?"
"Hell if I know." At the next stop the train really empties out. We sit down on the red seats. I always check to make sure it's safe to sit down first. Sometimes scorpions and venomous snakes are on the seats. "I got an email from some guy right after I posted it. He told me I sounded defeated/lost and that I should stay away from the Golden Gate Bridge. I don't feel suicidal. Not even close."
"I'm glad you're not feeling suicidal. What if the person sees the post, the person it was written for."
"He'll just think I'm a nut job. I better go back and delete it now while I have a chance," I get up from my seat, climb over Mr. Gryphon and open one of the Metro train windows as we are zooming down the tunnel. I pause, getting the timing right, then leap into the darkened concrete wall....
(Miss Turtle is now sitting in front of her 32" widescreen TV that doubles as her computer screen. She has looked at, edited and thought about that Missed Connection post, but can't bring herself to delete it)
...then there is a woosh and I'm climbing back through the train window. Mr. Gryphon helps me through. Absolutely none of the other passengers notice except the man speaking in tongues.
He approaches me. "Thought you could get away with it, eh?"
"No," I say looking directly at him. It bugs me that I can't see his eyes, but his big star shaped sunglasses are interesting.
"You should just delete that post and march into that guy's office," he says, his curly dark hair has been streaked with royal blue.
"I'd rather launch a paper airplane at him, aiming for his desk," I say, drawing back a little. I feel Mr. Gryphon's hand on my arm.
"Who do you think you are? Amelie?" He puts his hands on his hips.
"And who do you think YOU are? Aren't you supposed to be speaking in tongues in this scenario?" He shrugs and marches back to his seat. After settling in, the odd mutterings resume.
"I suppose I better delete that post, Mr. Gryphon, but perhaps I'll leave it up tonight and get rid of it in the morning," I say sitting down on the too warm red seat again.
"Do what you will, Miss Turtle, but haven't you been dating around lately?"
"Yes, but it's a discouraging business, Mr. Gryphon. Far easier to fantasize about someone you can't have because you like his glasses."
"At least you're not suicidal."
"Far from it, Mr. Gryphon. Far from it," I say as he puts his arm around me. The lights have taken on a dreamy twinkle as the speaking in tongues man has finally gotten his way. Thank goodness we're almost at our stop.