I sat on the MUNI train, trying to read my book. He was large, and sat down beside me with unnecessary force. In my peripheral vision, I could tell he was a-big and solid, and b-wearing all black, perhaps with random piercings. I continued to read, even as his arm nudged into mine. I shifted uncomfortably, trying to free myself from his unwelcome touch. I scooted closer to the window, smushing myself against the steamed glass. I continued to refuse to look directly at him, trying to concentrate on the words on the page, lost in pre World War II Japan. I couldn’t help but notice movement. It seemed his hands were folded, resting on his chest, but flickering back and forth. Curiosity got the better of me. I ever so slyly glanced to my left. His hands were moving. But why? Was he twiddling his thumbs? Didn’t appear so. What was he doing?

It was at that point the long tail lashed out against my arm. I sucked in air, suppressing my desire to scream. I not so nonchalantly stared at the passenger to my left. It was only at that point I heard him talking to the other passengers in the car. “Rats really are the best pets. They’re clean, not like hamsters or gerbils. They’re great.” It was a rat he was stroking over and over again, the motion that had caught my eye. The rat’s tail happened to flick every now and then, encroaching upon my personal space. I stared back down at my book, unable to focus on the words on the page, but grateful for the distraction.

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