I hop on the last car of the train, and take one of the jump seats; the car is about a third full of the usual Saturday afternoon BART miscellany. Right after I sit down, a guy comes from the front of the car, grabs a section of newspaper from someone, and sits down in the seat just behind mine.
As soon as the car starts moving, he leans over the back of his seat. "You sure do have pretty hair. That's a great color."
"What do you call that color?"
"Fuchsia. Or pink." I start to look away, but he starts mumbling something in my direction. "Excuse me? I can't understand you."
"I said, mumble mumble mumble."
"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the train."
He leans over to talk into my ear, and the stench of alcohol on his breath engulfs me.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I can't understand you." I make a gesture with my hand to indicate that I don't want to talk to him. He looks away for a minute, then leans back over, starts stroking my hair, and grabs my hand. I notice that his eyes are bloodshot, and his blue-black lips are cracked and chapped.
"Excuse me, sir, but could you please leave me alone?" I scoot to the far end of my seat, away from him, and try to give off intense go-away vibes.
At the 12th Street stop, I hear, "Excuse me, miss?" "Excuse me, miss?" "Miss?" "Excuse me, miss?" He repeats it over and over, almost like a mantra, but I look away and ignore him.
The second the train starts moving again, he leans over his seat again, stretching across the empty seat between us in an attempt to talk into my ear. "What color is your hair? What is your name? You sure do got pretty hair, what color is it?" I ignore him, and look forward to getting off at the next stop so I don't have to make a scene. He keeps talking, but I studiously ignore him.
A guy from the back of the train, maybe late 20s, maybe hispanic, comes forward and stands by his seat. "Leave her alone."
"What, are you her husband or something?"
"No, but she could be my sister. Or my mother. She doesn't want to talk to you, so leave her alone." He sits down across from me, and throws the offender a look.
The creep sits back in his seat, and the train comes to a stop. As I get out, I smile and offer a quiet "thank you" to the guy who stepped in. He nods.
I look back at the train as I start up the stairs, to find out if I'm being followed. As it pulls away, I see the creep waving and staring mournfully out the window at me.