It's a crazy gorgeous day, sunshine overflowing onto my shoulders and I've walked for miles, up to Coit Tower and down, through Chinatown and along Powell, up Cathedral Hill and down, down into my neighborhood.
I'm only two blocks away from home, among Market Street crowds, I'm texting my friend as I walk. I know, I know, but I'm holding my phone in my left hand, out to the side while I text and then it's bumped from my hand onto the sidewalk. I hear a heavy breath, see shoe slap pavement beside my foot, a hand reach for my phone as I do, it misses, and a voice close to my ear says:
I see his face for a millisecond, then his back, and his friend coming around me from the right, maybe 18 or 19, they are running flat out, cutting through the crowd. I have my phone in my hand again and I'm staring and trying to think what to do. Call 911? Yeah, that'll be their top priority.
They're still in sight, running straight down the block, backpack jouncing on the guy on the right, and some of the tourists are stopped and staring, open-mouthed, and I'm trying to keep them in view, and I think I see them slow down, walking, trying to blend into the crowd, and then they stop at the light.
I am feeling bold and righteous today, and I take some running steps to catch up, I'm maybe thirty feet away and the one on the left has turned to look back and I raise my arm like an avenging angel, pointing my finger at him.
"YOU," I shout, ignoring the people who turn to stare, "You want my cell phone!?"
I am on fire. I'm bearing down on them with speed. I have no idea what I'm going to do next.
His face turns innocent. He points at himself. "Me?"
A kernel of doubt rolls around my brain. Could it be someone different? Could this be just some random guy?
"YEAH," I say, as though there is no need for doubt, as though I am ready to fight him, who cares that he's a foot taller than me, that his friend is half again as wide. I'll take them both.
And then...nothing. It may not be him at all. I have no plan.
I keep walking, passing them, I see a neighbor and tell him what happened as I punch in the code for our building. He tells me this is becoming a common method of snatching cell phones. I say goodbye at my door and put my key in the lock.
My hand is shaking.