i left my heart in san francisco

IT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE, crooked house situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean. From the edge, you could look down on the vast roll of the salty blue waves, and not only, you could hear the voices of the swimmers diving into the water from the piers. They were as tiny and distant as matchsticks. Of course, it was foggy up there on that street with a refreshing cool air, and there were a lot of such Victorian homes with glass windows, winding staircases. Out of the front of one emerged a certain actor of repute, a Mr. Pitt, best known perhaps for the turmoil in his personal life, but otherwise in high spirits as he stopped beneath the street lamp on the corner to chat with Constable Mahoney on patrol. Mahoney and Pitt eyed me as I came down from the opposite side of the way, hands in my pockets and whistling. I was surprised that Pitt recognized me and there was even warmth there, a kind of a common, “takes-one-to-know-one” rapport. Then I went on along the foggy street to the very end. My own home was poorly lit and cold inside. When I got in, Agnetha was there, with her child curled up in her lap. She was stroking the little girl’s head and eyeing me from behind her glasses. I knew it was cold, but I somehow could not provide for the two of them anyhow. There was just not enough wood for the large, white fireplace at the center of the home and, despite its location in an opulent neighborhood, we were still dirt poor and I was as tawdry and tarnished as a London chimneysweep. Agnetha was still kind to me and we sat a while as she stroked and consoled her forlorn daughter. I had promised them so much. I had promised them a home in the heights, but I had somehow neglected to provide for their warmth and comfort. So it was this kind of love then, a threadbare one. Agnetha pushed her button nose very close to my face, so close, but she refused to kiss me. I could smell her breath but she refused to commit with the deed. Agnetha had frozen up inside too, you see. She could get close to me, but in her core she was far off. “You absolutely must do something,” she said to me, as her freezing child whimpered beneath her staid, calm fingers. “Go rob a grocery store or even the First Republic Bank and then the First Bank of San Francisco. You can take out all the banks on Market Street, if you like. I don’t care,” she said, and tears began to roll away gently. “I don’t care if my husband is a criminal. Better a wealthy criminal than a poor writer!” Of course, I did no such thing. I turned up Market Street, found a music club in the Mission District and was promptly seduced by the violinist. Some half-Aleut girl from up the coast whose name I would whisper as she consoled me in the wee hours in some hotel while the sea lions barked and humped in the bay twilight. And that’s how I forgot all about Agnetha, so sorry to say. I guess that big betrayal is on me, but, to be fair, the violinist didn’t ask for anything. Just words for her music. Real passion that. I’m not sure what became of Agnetha and the girl. I imagine they are still freezing up in that chilly house on the cliffs. Or maybe she has taken up with Pitt or Constable Mahoney? If so, I wish them the best.