He waited a long time at the increasingly crowded bus stop. Muni always took such a while. But it was still better than setting off uphill, as the moment you reached the crest, you could see that if you had just taken a few minutes more pause at the bottom, you would have caught a bus.
Finally a conveyance trundled into view. Along with a throng of others he swarmed on board. All the seats were taken, all the space in the aisles was packed. He found himself wedged between an elderly codger - who really SHOULD have been sitting - and two tykes of maybe five or six years of age. He didn't mind the tight squeeze, as he could always start biting people if it became too much.
But he had self control. Exemplary self-control.
It was that which kept him out of trouble.
He observed the children with interest. Both of them, the boy as well as the girl, had Hello Kitty backpacks. The boy was pleasingly round-headed, the little girl had what looked like the thickest, softest, featheriest hair in a big bushy tail. It was very lovely. He felt that he was entitled to admire tails. His own was not quite so bouncy, and he kept it tucked under his trenchcoat so that no one would step on it.
The girl observed him with equal interest. It was disconcerting, as he preferred not to be noticed very much. She stared intently, and he couldn't quite meet her gaze. What was she looking at?
Was she admiring his pelt? Did she want to skin him for a warm coat, or just run her hot little human hands through his soft, soft chest fur?
He really wouldn't mind the latter. It was paler than on the back and sides, where the banding started, and he liked being rubbed there, or even skritched under his chin. Little children could sometimes be so innocently affectionate to raccoons.
He was looking forward to getting to Stockton Street. Soon he would be wandering around, drinking in the sights and smells, and looking for a good place to have noodles. Wheat flour maybe, with bits of roast pork and chopped scallion. Or a bowl of egg noodles in soup, with tangy shreds of pickled vegetable and slivers of animal protein. Too hot to eat immediately, but he'd grab some ice cubes from the glass of water to cool down the broth. Fried thick rice stick, perhaps. With a dash of soy sauce and chili it would be delicious! His whiskers quivered with anticipation, and he vibrated with excitement.
A big blonde woman whose leg he inadvertently touched when the bus jostled interrupted her whiny cell-phone monologue to glare at him disapprovingly. Clearly she felt that this was her personal ride, and being surrounded by other individuals was too much. Especially wild animals!
She didn't say anything, though. If she had, he would've scratched her.
Finally the bus crossed Stockton, and stopped opposite the herb and dried seafood emporium with the green awning. Massively the vehicle's contents erupted onto the street, a swarm of people descending through both doors, nearly stampeding on their way out. Possibly they too were upset at the blonde baggage and her drearily repetitive telephonic yacking, couldn't wait to get away from the bitch.
He held back a bit, waiting for the most desperate individuals to stampede out first. Didn't want anyone stepping on him. The two little children got off at the same time. As they headed down Clay Street with their mom, the little girl looked back at him.
She had beautiful eyes, gentle and alert.
He felt certain he would see her again.
She might be taller than him by then.
Ten minutes later he was happily scarfing down a big, BIG plate of fat fried rice stick noodles with scallion, extra ginger, and juicy slivers of beef. Yes, a dash of soy sauce and a glop of chili paste for added flavour. Dang this was good! This was worth the wait! This, in all ways, represented a slice of life worth living!
He beckoned the waitress over and ordered a big glass of tea with lots of condensed milk and tapioca pearls over ice, and happily twiddled his clawed toes while continuing his assault on the plate of chow fun. He liked crowded bustling places like this.
Life was good. Life was exceedingly good indeed.
Cities were fine places for raccoons.
He'd wander around a bit after eating, and scare some of the tourists.
Then he'd climb up the hill at twilight, and head home.
Perhaps overturning a garbage can on the way.
Traditional and expected of folks like him.
Besides, it startled the local cats.
Fun stuff, indeed.
Life is a tail.
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