Chapter 65

“Inside out, outside 
in. Glint eyes have it, 
again and again. 

       

           “Hey mommas, like to take you to the Bahamas, maybe get in your pajamas…”

           “Tsk, you…” PEELunk.

        “You in the sweater, let’s get together—heh, heh. Take me away, play all day—Peek-a-boo, I see you, we can do the boog-a-loo…”

          “Go on…” PEELunk.

          “Shoulda stayed, Zita served mincemeat pie afterwards…where’d you take off to, anyway?”

          “Aw, I made out okay, went for a little stroll… to clear the head. You?”

          My feast of choice had been an overcooked double cheeseburger and soggy fries at a Jack-In-The-Box out Lombard Street, bottomless cola on the side. Which sent me buzzing enough to spring by Syd’s place to scope out her I-care package. From there, it was a matter of husbanding what remained of Andrew Jackson’s benevolence, impulsively beating the bushes for further windfalls, picking up her envelope, then crawling back sweaty yet freezing into my car and Frostline bag.

          Come Aquatic Park daylight, after some freshening up in the snack stand john, I found the Volvo cranky as ever. A recursory interior search still failed to yield Josh’s box, only my fleece jacket and the forgotten post office slip I couldn’t begin to address right then, stuffing it back into my coat pocket. I did keep Syd’s envelope close to my heart, however, fearful of opening it, let alone misplacing the damn thing. As for the car itself, I couldn’t get a rise out of the four-banger to save my life, warily reconnecting with Eric to help do the honors.

          “Just took care of some business, Eric said, firing up a Reidsville Pall Mall, blowing jowls more smoke. “Speakin’ of that, what dya think he’s pullin’ down? Must be 30 smackers in there. I’ve been this close to rippin’ off his guitar case, don’t know how many times.”

           Eric had more metric gear, a more adroit mechanical touch and battery charger, so I popped my hood for him in frustration, watched him tool all over the engine compartment. Then I followed his lead a bit further, sorely running up a neighborly tab. Down-time waiting for my battery to re-juice and flooded spark plugs to clear, we roamed over toward Ghirardelli Square, not least to forage for any sweet samples and giveaways. Enroute, we paused here along Beach Street.

          “I like your jacket, and how you pack it. Goin’ upstairs, teddy bear, don’t you think I’m debonair—heh, heh, heh.”

          “Listen to him, Trudy. Will you just listen to him?” PEELunk.

          “Eww, the ol’ grab the money and run, huh,” I asked him, wary from recent experience. I peered up and down the S.S Maritime Museum landing to Ghirardelli itself, to a long strain of sidewalk hawks and hustlers lining Beach Street, toward the Cannery and historic ships of Hyde Street Pier. “Not such a good idea…so you doing it anyway, I suppose.”

          “No way,” Eric shook his head, flicking ashes to the pavement, oblivious to the crescent crowd around us. “There’s somethin’ about that guy. Figure he’s right on the edge, you know? Like he’d off me in a minute if I did. Think he’s some kind of ex-pirate mercenary. Look at his eyes, man, they’re crazed. Besides, I’m after bigger haul…” Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square

          “You in the brown, put some down while you’re in my part of town—heh, heh. Come on Bruce, cut some loose. Don’t be mean, I need your green—heh, heh.”

          A pirate? No, musical mercenary, maybe, but Mo the Trinidad Troubadour was too landlocked to embody a Seven Seas scoundrel any longer. Still, his hands and shoulders more befitted a manhandler than panhandler. Gnarled, meaty, boxer mitts—and those eyes, the way they searched and shifted with every chord change, taking measure of, tapping his tourists sure as Blackbeard shanghaied galleons off the Antilles.

          “Lady luck, drop a buck. What the heck, write me a check—heh, heh. C’mon Laverne, it’s your turn, for your coins, I truly yearn…”

          “Oh, stop it, you…”

          Back and forth, it went. Mo serenaded the gathered gringos with painfully clichéd patter, blushing visitors repaying him with wadded dollar denominations and spare doubloons. His eyes danced methodically over the decaled body of his six-string Gibson, sending passing femmes away giddy or just briskly, disquietly away. He rapped incessantly, with the hair-trigger buzz of an open-mike comic facing an itchy hook. Mo visually raped the ladies, chided the men with a fixed, devilish grin, sincerity running only as deep as the battered guitar case before him.

          “Most honorable friend, gimme your yen. Shalom, shalom, drive some home. Hey Mata Hari, how ’bout a little party…lady in tweed, I’m in real need…”

          “Five bucks says play Tony Bennett,” shouted an Arizona snowbird, dropping an Abe into the case.

          “Don’t do requests, so give it a rest—heh, heh. I’m no whore, unless you give me more.”

          Not that the tourist would demand a refund, for Mo packed a gruff, dock tough demeanor beneath his red feathered, broad brimmed hat, leather vest, banlon slacks and buckled boots—all black as his porous West Indian skin, rolling and spinning on his milk crates. It was as though somewhere in his travels, the Trinidad Troubadour had seminared in assertiveness training and how to smile brightly through any opposition. Popping up and down on two stacked milk crates, he flattered, badgered, browbeat, outright challenged his well-marked masses, pleading his case with Uzi deliverance and a few forceful strums, not missing a calypso beat.

          “The name’s Mo, bring over some dough…else I won’t talk to you no more—heh, heh—Hey Zsa Zsa Gabor, gimme some more…I’ll see you on the shore.  Hello shotsie, stir my potsie…

          “Shit, I can’t handle any more of this,” Eric said, moving slowly toward a grassy landing back into Aquatic Park, as if reconciling the fact that he was pocket poor and Porsche foolish, unable to unload those three German dogs to save Bruno’s hide. “That guitar case’s drivin’ me banshee.”

          “I’m with you,” I nodded in following, weighing my meager windfall, more specifically how quickly it was draining down. But a parting glance at the Trinidad Troubadour found him tracking us as we crossed Beach Street, then rubbing his weary Bermuda Triangle eyes, reaching into his vest pocket for a replacement guitar string.

          His musical vacuum was increasingly filled by an assaulting percussion beat, the closer we came to Aquatic Park’s bleachers. We passed a throng of jugglers and kite hikers, myriad court jesters, winey picnickers and lazy ray baggers about the parkway, which dropped down sharply to the promenade. Here, the calico fabric of San Francisco street life soaked up this warm, clearing day—colorful, movie lot sunny, as if the entire set were under some full-sky Fresnel reflector. Beyond a green-steel railing and the cove’s narrow strand, Marin’s Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais perfectly backdropped choppy, spinnakered waters. Outwards of Muni Pier, the bay swelled with an afternoon flood, well-heeled sloops and yawls gibing furiously to crease the current, teetering in the wake of a full-keel Chevron supertanker angling northeastward toward Richmond tank farms and refineries.

        “Those lonely chicks dig that Mo guy because hes got their number,” Eric said, as we shuffled away.

        “Like moths to a flame, huh?”

        “More like heat to a hose…”

         Inside the long, arching breakwater, Cals and other tinier sailboats bobbed gently at the end of white buoyed anchors. Aquatic Park’s beachfront clogged with squealing children and half-baked swimmers dipping headlong into the smooth, sheltered surf. A parade of strollers, joggers, jukers, lovers and fighters cruised up and down the lower promenade—as if posturing for Arbus, Leibovitz or localized cinema verite—settling for scattered tourist Super Eights, or an overhead sweep by the Goodyear blimp, flashing tire sale messages as it circled the Golden Gate. But what stopped us flat-footed, toe tapping, was the entirely different wave action in the museum ship’s sprawling east bleachers themselves, beyond that underbelly shower room, none of which Frank Monahan’s TV viewers would ever have recognized.

sr dingbats

          “What’s that,” Eric asked, apparently hearing paper rustle over the din, because he stared at my envelope like it held the titles to his cars.

          “Nothing,” I stuffed the manila envelope tightly under my arm as we drew up to the railing. I gazed away, out onto the bay, midway between Tiburon’s yacht club and Alcatraz guard towers. “Just a note from a…friend of mine.”

          “So why you hidin’ it? Gotta be somethin’…you’re clutchin’ it like a porn mag.”

          “Hell, no…it’s more like a work order…” My arms were trembling, hands grasping a railing that was shaking just the same. “A long story, really.”

          Soon, the entire packed grandstands began shaking all the more, no meager development since they were constructed of thick WPA poured concrete. The quaking might have been downright alarming, had not a pounding drumbeat kept everyone dancing in place. Harsh drums, quickening drums—African drums, tribal drums, anti-war drums of a different order—percussion of insurgent proportions, by the people, for the people, who were reveling a dozen rows deep. InterSpear, a Third World ensemble anchored the bleachers’ base, non-stop jamming with concerted winks and nods. Steel heads played to the tables, congas to the kettle timbals, bongos to the snares and traps, generating the rhythm of this generously spontaneous groove. The free-form drummers popped and pulsated about the grandstands like concussion grenades, hammering through a body’s inner ears, then commando heading straight for the groin.

          “Oh, I get it, you owe big bucks,” Eric shouldered against the railing, propping his right boot up on its lower rung.

          “Money’s not quite the problem, it’s just this favor I have to do, all right,” I felt again for my wallet, light as it was, annoyed at getting into this territory with a guy like him. I then fixed on the rubbery Good Year airship, gliding westward until it vanished behind the Black Point Bluff. “It’s a personal thing, bigger picture altogether.”

          “Suuure, so it’s about a skirt, isn’t it…c’mon spill, I got things to move, cars to do.”

          Summer rays beamed white-hot off the players’ studded leather head and wrist bands, the skins and spiked turnkeys atop highly varnished wooden drums. Set against tourist-clotted Beach Street and the rise to Ghirardelli Square, this music penetrated like a multi-tribal tour de force, brilliant in improv fusion and overwhelming in swelling execution—Abraxas with no need for reverb or Vox amplification. Its brazen, fervent tempo soon brought Aquatic Park miasmics to the brink of spiritual delirium.

          Still, InterSpear’s prevailing visual tone was dark. Black leathers, black Santana T-shirts, black cut-off jeans—black War sweats and red-laced hi-tops, solid black tankers with fiery gold medallions cadencing across bench-pressed chests. The brothers comprised a potent, militant mix of Haitians, Chicanos, Exumans, skinny Botswanans and monster Samoans—brass horny Zambians, West Oakland headhunters and transplanted sud Americans—all speaking the common language of boss poly-rhythmic chops, seriously sharing a little street solidarity with whomever happened by.

          “She’s not a skirt, Eric. Lot’s of things she is, but no damn…skirt.”

          “Hey, whoa. First off, they’re all skirts, man—no matter what they’re wearin’.”

          “No way, not this one…”

          “Then who the hell is she, anyway,” he fired up another Pall Mall, casually sailing his emptied matchbook across the promenade, just missing a front row sordu. “And what’s she into you for…must be a bunch…”

          Serious turned to surly, as a stubby Latino with a skinny, greasy slick, braided pony tail manning that percussion, didn’t quite take to Eric’s fling. In fact, he fired back an expressive tracer without missing a lick, as in no messin’ with my in-stru-ment, fool. The drummer had trimmed his black Che Guevara tee with an even blacker pinstriped vest, and his goateed demeanor was no brighter. Around him, the steamier the music, the audibly headier this InterSpear crew became. Percussion esoterica slowly overlayed the drum lines, slide-eyed Caribbeans cranked up their finely woodburned maracas, Guineans in Liberation Front pullovers scratched at their colorfully lacquered gourds, amid a concordant of bottles, tambourines and bells.  Sum total: they created an impelling, resonate, marrow-penetrating sound.

          “It’s got nothing to do with money, I’m telling you! She’s an artist, I’m just helping her out.”

          “Artist? You gotta be shittin’ me…” Eric avoided the drummer’s glare, dragging heavily on his unfiltered king, entertaining no thoughts of a rematch.

          “She’s a painter…a real one—so good, it’s scary.”

          “So what’s a heavy painter want with some dipshit who’s livin’ outta his car?”

          “We go back a ways, Eric,” I snapped, wondering why the hell I was even discussing it with him. “Besides, she doesn’t know about this…and I’m not exactly living out of my car, anyway.”

          Thus went this macho ensemble, this primal-bonded brotherhood-with-a-beat that regularly sequestered Aquatic Park’s east grandstands, storming the beach here like bivouacking WWII army troops, then declaring musical law. Not even the park rangers dared tangle with them, despite being mounted atop big, snorting steeds. The hi-power multilateral ensemble had that kind of foothold on these languid shores. Seemed InterSpear’s politics was in their rhythms, and their message was the music of bold yet benevolent domination. Even I was getting the message, shimmying foot to foot.

          Mega machismo, iron bulked muscles, flexing with the hot, violent shaking of their beaded tambourines. InterSpear didn’t just play their drums, they beat up on them, took out a weekful of blue-collar bullshit, piece by long, extemporal piece, lick by flowing lick, until leather skinheads wore thin as gas station Trojans over a hardcore dream. Players either sucked passersby into their war dances, or blew them away altogether into stoned tribal trances, keelhauled them all the way to Hyde Street’s cable car turnaround. That’s where even the touristas caught wind of it, white socks and sandals, sunglasses propped atop their heads, shoulder tied sweaters flapping in the midday breeze.

          “What, she live over in the Hashbury, or…”

          “No, Eric, as a matter of fact, she’s only a couple of blocks from here.”

          “Lemme get this straight. You got this hot-ass artist you’re helpin’ out, couple of blocks away. And you’re down here, sleepin’ by the curb?”

          “It’s not that simple, believe me…”

          What to make of these brothers in scuba-tight worker pants and biker sweatshirts chopped halfway up their six-packs, the braided chest hairs and tarantula tattoos webbing heinously out from their navels? Fodor’s and Frommer’s said nothing about InterSpear’s bulging guns and solid, sweaty guts. Nor was there much in the guidebooks about brazen gold earrings, matching neck rings stacked twelve-high to the beard line, Superfly shaved heads or Afros out to here. Not that it mattered to the tribe, for however exotic their profile, it was damned near mainstream compared with the native crowd they increasingly pulled in around us. Aquatic Park crowd

          Witness the jarheads taking liberty with half-gallons of port, lurching to the music in scuffed, spray-painted jump boots, or the ex-Tex-Mex stumbleweeds spilling Lone-Star down the pencil pockets of their patched-over bibs. Yet everything was cool, muy copasetic, so long as these twirling turds didn’t trip into the brothers’ shit. And drunken stupors surely wouldn’t go down with the fuse-eyed Hispanic hustlers up from Guerrero Street in blade-edged, crystal white threads and razorcuts tapered so flawlessly to the nape.

          “What’re you sayin’, you were shackin’ up with her, or what?”

          “Yes…uh, no…not in the physical sense…”

          “That don’t make any sense, man,” Eric said, banging his class ring on the railing in offbeat time, likely better suited to channeling James Gang-era Joe Walsh. “Sounds weirder than old people fuck.”

          “What I’m saying is,” I tightened my grip on her envelope. “She was nice enough to put me up for a while when I first hit town…second, no third time, that is…”

          “Yeah, so…”

          “So nothing. It just turned out to not be such a great idea.”

          Steel drums resounding, high-frequency percussion ripping through the bleachers like first-and-goal at the Super bowl—something had to give. Maybe the music was Santana studio octane on a grain alcohol tab, and the ambience was skewing from manic to catatonic, so there had to be a kicker to this draw. Fortunately, it was still barely midsummer time in San Francisco, meaning the giving and taking was fast and easy. What increasingly held this zoolo ritual together was the attendant choreography, its animal magnetism deriving less from the brothers’ drumbeat than the sisters’ hang-it-all-out-there mass movement.

          Earth mommas stopped brooding over their flower children stampeding all over the bleachers, and cut loose to the beat. Juicy young chickies pranced and jiggled up and down the aisles, soon a misplaced Julliard brat pirouetted down here on the promenade, improvising jungle cries on her shiny, silvery flute: All seemed less into women’s’ causes than their womanly effects. No seaweed gathering between their be jangled toes; same could be said for a pair of chunk-style Chiquita’s hiking their Medical hemlines, dangling their shocking red polished toes into the surf below.

          “Really started jumpin’ in your shit, huh?”

          “That’s one way of putting it, I guess…”

          “Hah, never fails. They’re all the same, I’m tellin’ ya,” Eric sneered, snuffing and flicking his butt. “So what you end up doin’, just up and book?”

          “Uh, not exactly…”

          “Then what, she rag on you all night? Oh, man, didn’t lay a cryin’ trip on you…”

          “No, actually, she just up and threw me out…”

          More often than not, the grandstanding women were live-action bombshells—sultry blonde or naturally bronze lovelies, lithe and leggy in serapes, satin shorts, halter tops and cut-offs so tight they were doing same to our circulation. They danced vampishly up and down bleacher steps and promenade as InterSpear rolled out a little Rasta’, like the Ikettes gone Rio Carnavale. Their lean midriffs looked positively hinged, well greased with Bain de Soleil, even though their toked-up heads seemed to becoming unhinged. Flowery layered beads floated on bobbing, gypsy bloused shoulders, fully synched and biogenerating with those choice mango breasts.

          Super-sized container ships could churn in, decked out with Zeros or MIG-20s under enemy flag, foghorns full blow: Not a ripple of concern around here, any pockets of resistance were already engaged and loaded. Especially once the flame-haired harlot sucking down Tecate slipped passionately out of her soaked Marley jersey. Appeared she was with InterSpear’s black-bereted conga man—row two, third from left, peach-lensed wireframes perched low on his nose, Afro power symbols all over his field jacket and drum barrel.

          “She did what?”

          “She didn’t like it any more than I did, believe me,” I said, not above stealing a glimpse of the dancers myself. “It wasn’t easy for her either.”

          “For her?”

          “Right. But she’d decided it was for my own good…”

          “And you bought her crap, is that it?”

          “Uh, not totally…hell, I don’t exactly remember…”

          The grandstands began throbbing like a next-door neighbor’s JBLs bolted flush to a common wall. Wave time, wavelength—thick calloused hands ripped drumskins large and small, so ferociously it made my clammy skin pulsate and crawl. Demon rings sliced into the drummers’ taped, swollen fingers. Blood splattered through their taut, calloused palms, relentless pounding took a punishing toll on inked knuckles and steel banded wrists, the flurry of their fingers over tables and timbales.

          Sultry, slavish dancers gyrated seamlessly into the beat, fueled by sun-hot vino and eyeplay with a mind-bending array of head bobbers crowded around us on the promenade. InterSpear’s long tones and lightning fanfares were driving everybody that way. Drifting momentarily from Eric’s lesson plan, I head counted nearly thirty dancing damsels, and at this point, they were frying drooling, gape-jawed ooglers to a man, save for Eric and his domestic fixation.

          “Man, you don’t get it. You’re supposed to be throwin’ the skirt out.”

          “Of her own place?”

          “Naw, you just don’t end up stayin’ in her place in the first place.”

          “Like I had a lot of choice, Eric, you’ve seen my place lately…” InterSpear at pause

          Then the dynamic sound tapered off, dropping to a hush rata-tapping of a tom-tom and Tobago pans—the slow, easy rustling of a second row tambourine. But with a fresh gust of onshore wind came a coda surge. A pounder on the mean marimba paused to wring out his headband and wipe a combo of bodily fluids from his snare. This signaled the sistrum to fade, yet a plaintive encore roar from the high-wire gathered rekindled sparks all over the bleachers. Suddenly a molten world beat ignited anew, steel drummers at InterSpear’s upper corners rang smoothly into the next groove, then a repercussive weave of bass and bongos sent the sprawling grandstanders into freestyle abandon all over again.

          “Yo! Heyyy, yo!! Tu tienes una cara magnifica—da da, da da da!! ” When a red-tuniced Jamaican toking a monster doob sailed his straw sombrero over the promenade, six full rows of percussion cracked bleacher concrete and spearheaded a revolting saturnalia. Sisters began dancing torridly up and down grandstand steps, across the promenade. Claves and concerros laced into the collective rhythm, smooth as those waves slapping against the shore. Stone chimes and slide whistles delivered a high-pitched ring to the surge, linking it almost spiritually to the cove’s jangled rigging and fishing boats, to cable cars clanging down Hyde Street. Shrill guerilla pig whistles marshaled a thunderous percussive insurrection of cabacos, maracas and side drums. And sonically signaled like an air raid siren that it was time for us to blow.

          “That don’t matter…shit, you got it all wrong…”

          “Forget it, Eric,” I turned away from the railing, bound for the good ship Senior Citizen. “No way she’s going to find out about this car thing.”

          “Yeah, right…” Eric was hot on my trail. “She probably don’t really exist nohow…just a fig leaf of your imagination.”

          “That’s figment, and she exists, believe me…I’ve got the boot prints to prove it.”

          “Sure, all the way out the door,” Eric said, looking back down the promenade, then the grandstand, an entire scene afire, passing around jugs, pipes and all sorts of tubular gadgets, a cumulative cannibic cloud rising over the bleachers. “Listen, see them skirts—look at ’em, all goin’ apeshit, right?”

          “Don’t ask me, so what’s that got to do with…”

          “So you hear what I’m tellin’ you? All this snatch just lookin’ for somethin’ to do.”

          “No, Sydney’s not like that,” I started to hear this high-decibel ringing in my ears as we passed the Maritime Museum landship, eyes steering clear of its bathhouse underbelly. “No way, José…”

          “Sydney, huh? Well, don’t kid yourself,” Eric did peek toward the smaller, sun-soaked west bleachers and shower room’s shadowy entryway. “A skirt’s a skirt, look at them all, hangin’ on those scumbags. Like Chihuahuas in heat, know what I mean? ”

          “Dunno, amazing sounds and all, but I’ve gotta get to some non-contact air.”

sr dingbats

          A girded blue and yellow transport, bow to stern with new Datsuns and Toyotas drifted past the Municipal Pier as we rounded the promenade toward our clunkers. The massive horning freighter sent shockwaves around the breakwater, into the lagoon, rocking boats and buoys, swamping swimmers and waders alike, that silver-blue Goodyear blimp humming back overhead enroute to an A’s-Yankee twin bill at the Oakland Coliseum. Still, none of it knocked Eric off message.

          “Pay attention, booty’s all hungry and horny as hell, I’m tellin’ ya,” he said, checking out a pair of bikinied darlings on Aquatic Park’s tidy west lawn. “So don’t put up with your artist’s clinger-stinger routine.”

          “You’re not even close.” I thought about how one man’s ceiling could be another man’s floor. “If anything, Syd’s too independent.”

          “Independent? You mean rich, or what?”

          “No…well, uh, her father…”

          “Right—you’re strung out on some rich bitch.”

          “No, I mean independent tough, headstrong.” No mountain man, I abashedly rolled down my shirtsleeves. “In some ways, she’s like a guy.”

          “So what’s that make you?” His eyes penetrated through polarized Ray-Bans.

          Nor did all that kinetic commotion rattle the tanning lizards across the grassy knolled, scalene wedge, melanin abuse rather being their addiction of choice. Whether snoozing in fetal regression, or with eyes riveted to the Balclutha, Thayer and other historic scow schooners, ferries and side-wheelers docked out along the cove’s Hyde Street Pier, these all-day worshippers weren’t Mezcal stoner slavish or star-struck. They were more into louching for sunstrokes and second-degree burns. Put up a building that looked like a cruise ship with landscaped grounds, everybody’s baking to the gills, dreaming they’re anchored off La Costa del Sol.

          “Look, just lay off, Eric. You couldn’t begin to understand somebody that complex,” I snapped, raising palm down, from my kneecaps up over my head. “You’re down here, and she’s way up here…”

          “Sure, man, the only reason she’s up there is you’re puttin’ her there,” he mocked with his hands. “Or she’s puttin’ you down here—if so, look where it got you.”

          “The flyer said it was a benefit fund-raiser breakfast, so I went—but what a screwy…”

          “Sufferin’ succotash and Jim Jones slurring over a scratchy loudspeaker phone. Some Peoples, you’ve got there.”

          We curved further around the cove-side promenade, through wafts of cocoa butter, broiling fleshpots and sweaty Speedos, past white wooden benches filled with snoozy, overcoated old timers and two graying social activists talking Temple, fresh from the bathhouse, where I’d seen a bit too much of them that one time before. Better the aroma of grilled franks and simmering chili as we neared that snack stand, if not the slow drip of multigrade motor oil from Eric’s blue Porsche’s engine block. Which reminded me to check that his charger was still plugged into the moderne hatbox’s backside, restoring my battery to crankable power.  Aquatic Park view

          “Talk about your couple of dildos,” Sherry greeted us as we crossed the drive. “A real matched set.”

          “Back off,” Eric growled, Bruno squeezing out of the white Porsche’s sunroof to catch up with his master. “Go talk to Clifford, dammit. This here’s men’s business.”

          “Kid’s play is more like it,” she pointed to her van. “Anyway, Clifford’s in there, baggin’ Zs. He had a long night.”

          “But honestly, Eric’s just trying to help me through a little tangle,” I offered, petting the slobbering Chesapeake Bay Retriever before it bounded off to water bushes over by Fort Mason’s graffitied wall. “Regarding this woman friend of…”

          “And you went to him for answers?” she laughed, spindling the latest Clarion, with what looked to be a page one article on the latest Lafayette Park brutalities. “Did he tell you about the ski princess who dumped him in Aspen?”

          “Fuckin’ skirts, man…” He peeled away from a light pole topped with big, belligerent crows, turning to storm over to his caravan.

          “Princess? You never mentioned Colorado,” I looked him over as Bruno snuffled back between Eric’s legs, and he collared the dog away.

          “Lotsa things he never mentions,” she grinned in their wake, punching my shoulder. “Only his dog knows. So, what about this girlfriend? She back east, or…”

          “No, actually, she lives right up there a ways,” I motioned to Van Ness Avenue.

          “Well, don’t waste your time with Eric. He lullabies himself with ‘All By Myself’, every night,” she said, with a glance toward that battered olive Dodge panel van, now parked directly behind her Econoline. “Try L.T.—there’s a man with real advice for the lovelorn. Heavy duty, hard core, just ask him…”

Care for more?

Chapter 66. Taking to the 
Heights, a lofty break from prior 
restraints turns far less Pacific 
 on the downlow