Chapter 87

“Pain is in the plans 
mainly brought on by oneself
the only way to go.”

“There, that’s one now…”

“One, where?”

“Coming around the corner, lugging that carton.”

“What? He looks about thirteen.”

“But a big thirteen. Must be from shlepping all his loot.”

The pinch was in tighter still. No sooner had Jason Guthrie and I forged somewhat of a system, shop-to-shop synergy, a measure of retail efficiency, than our nucleus up and split. Pen to paper at 125 words or less, no more than two frames per Prism: Californian client—got to where we read and picture each other’s minds as we soaked in the respective goods, wares and wherefores on Valerie’s updated rosters.

Then Nolan Anderle phoned up from Beverly Hills in crisis mode. Pre-press work on his latest Prism: New York edition was not progressing as planned, not at all up to Priapismatic standards—mechanicals out of signature, blue lines off register, ruby lith peeling away until the Miehle webmen were blue in the face. Anderle’s New York editor was tugging at her frizzy roots between her East Village studio and the Goshen printing plant. Time for Guthrie to red-eye back east to trouble shoot, as Nolan was driving Rodeo space sales like a steer roper possessed. So Jason left me in a bicoastal huff, with a list of remaining San Francisco clients, a modest expense advance, some warning words to write by, and my camera bag fully free and clear, to digest and disgorge further editorial makings of their rich, rococo confection called Prism: California.

“Wait, there’s another one…”

“What, where?”

“Coming around, toting a TV or something in that box.”

“Sheeit, he’s marchin’ right in like he owns the place.”

That was about where Eric came back in. Taking stock of my work/downtime yo-yo, he’d noted a move might be in order, Volvo accommodations duly noted and excepted. His city recon had yielded a valuable housing resource: namely the UC Medical Center’s bulletin board. Between Prism sorties, I drove up Parnassus to browse through Millbury Union’s wall of rentals, shares, lease takeovers, short terms and sublets, neighborhood by neighborhood, the length and breadth of San Francisco. The laissez-faire board served students and all comers, courtesy of the university campus. Combing through the Marina, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow—anywhere within scouting and/or shouting distance of where I’d been thus far, I instead hit upon a curious index card for an offering much closer by.

In pinkish ink with sketchy daffodil borders, the 3×5 presented a Bay Area arrangement wholly new to me: housesitting. Seemed a teacher on semi-sabbatical needed someone to live in and look after her apartment for a month while she traveled to South America on a field trip: namely the main floor of a cheery and colorful Victorian near Buena Vista Park, on the eastern edge of Haight-Ashbury—a freebie for the right responsible person, just a phone call away. Ostensibly, the gig had much to recommend it, and the price sounded godsent, so I pounced on a nearby payphone, and here I be, a common social science background smoothing over any referential apprehensions. Eric offered to help me complete the logistical relocation over here. Lost and elliptical as he had seemed without Bruno lately, how could I refuse?

“Those dudes ain’t Robin Hoods, I’ll tell you that,” Eric replied, wiping the inside of my windshield for a better view.

“Just can’t figure it,” I shrugged, as I pressed my knees up against the Volvo’s dashboard. I clicked off a top-of-the-hour newsradio update “that Supervisor Milk had already claimed ballot box victory over the Briggs’ Amendment, while the POA and other Dan White supporters were rallying to keep ‘their boy’ from quitting on City Hall. This, while Proposition 13 was settled more firmly than ever as the law of California’s residential land”. “If they’re the ones, why the hell would they return to the scene of the…”

“Look, that first sucker’s knockin’ on the door.”

“I dunno Eric, it’s hard seeing through those trees…”

“He’s goin’ in, I’m tellin’ you. Sheeit, how’d you end up in this joint anyhow?”

Turned out the sitting involved an entire first floor in one of Baker Street’s very few gentrified two flats—all stripped and stained, refloored and otherwise restored by a couple of gentlemen upstairs, or gentlemen couple, as the case may have been. Margaret said she got on nicely with them because the were so quiet and considerate; they liked her because she always paid on the first and didn’t go nosing around. Besides, with new rent control restrictions on the horizon, they couldn’t evict her unless she leveled the place. Probably a good thing she was the unassuming sort, an aberrant behavior psychologist with a healthy disinterest in other people off the clock. On the other hand, could have been why she had so much time on her hands.

She avowed from the outset that her professional and personal search extended deep into the interior, mainly her interior reaches, and the flat fairly evidenced that much of her material plane was stacked up somewhere over SFO, or at least in a storage locker south of the Slot. Spare of furnishings, short on creature comforts, her space’s charm lay in legacy fixtures too fixed to spirit away. Tiled fireplaces, filagreed millwork, marble-top bedroom basins—otherwise the place was an ascetic wonderland, if not Regina Tzu’s all over again—albeit with a rehabbed flair.

Still, she arrayed lots of frayed Persians, and dead flowers decomposing in oxidized brass urns, which propped up the dozen or so volumes of Bhagavad-Gita. Not that Margaret limited her reflections to an Indian or Hindu mirror. For beyond the selected Fables of Bidpai, thick transliterations of Moksa and Para Bhakti, she appeared to have devoutly crusaded through the Tora, Tantra and 81 Taoist chapters of Lao Tsu. Well-tacked above suspect incense burners were full-color howling dervishes and assorted Tantric Yantras of Ten Mahavidyas, Kali clear through Kamla. To either side of her rear bedroom futon were divine scrolls of Allah, framed with calligraphed verses from the Quran—along with scattered volumes on Freud, Jung, Horney, Asch—and tattered, annotated DSMs.

Even someone so spiritually dense as I was could eventually pick up on her craving for Sufi. The little things betrayed her, like etched circles of the Tasawwuf, plotted with Shari ‘a on the circumference and haqiqa. Then there was the matted poster of the Ka’ba at Mecca, over the dining room mantel in 16thcentury tiles, or that Indication of the Brotherhoods chart down the hall. Scattered flow charts of Prakriti Tattuas and the Seven Chakras, with naughty little arrows on the Muladhara and Svadhishthana; riveting duotone photos of a Darqawi Rosary, not to mention her Tomb of Muhyi ‘d-Din ibn ‘Arabi near Damascus print in the foyer. Otherwise, about the only temporal pleasures Margaret appeared to allow herself were a stereo-tape clock radio and 17” color TV—reasons enough why Eric and I were running a shaky stake-out from an abandoned gas station across the way, here at the corner of Baker and Haight.

“I hit Millbury Union, just like you told me, Eric, only this set-up was cheaper than any of the postings.”

“That right,” he sneered, watching Hood number one scamper down Page Street toward Divisadero, cramming a sizable wad deep into his tube sock. “Don’t look so cheap to me.”

“Yeah, well, lucky me,” I fretted, focusing on the Victorian’s front doors for any plausible alibis, or at least reasonable doubt. “But I sure do appreciate your help…”

That had puzzled me from the get-go. Margaret’s Baker Street Victorian was anything but divey, however marginal the neighborhood overall. And it certainly wasn’t for lack of respondents: she said she was besieged by phone inquiries while we spoke. Harried, actually, to the point where she suddenly denounced decision making as an affront to her spiritual consciousness and slim little yoga flexed frame. Unshackling her spatial awareness, she simply flowed with the karmic configuration before her. In essence, I felt right to her, metier and metaphysically speaking; most of all, I was physically there.

In the bargain, my only obligation was two plastic bowls of kitty kale and kitty lentil, out on her back porch every third day, with a side dish of lactose-reduced acidophilus milk. This, for a cat unseen, damn thing probably had run off to join the catman’s cult in Aquatic Park for some feline vittles of the carnivorous kind. The rest of the gig was just gravy, make that miso humous, so I set up on a cot in the front room, closing a sliding parlor door for mutual privacy, and diverting me from any ethereal temptations in her flat from there back.

For Margaret’s kitchen was an undeniable feast for the senses. Scattered haphazardly among her Vedanta and Tassajara Zen posters, calendars for the Ten Karmas of the Mantras, were glass cannisters of millet, jicama, wehani, wakame, hijiki, Burdock root and dulce. Her basic brown Kenmore ice box was austerely adorned with 27-bead Sumirni Mala—the heavyweight model made of rudraksha seeds and fine-strand sumeru. Inside the fridge, all manner of cultures and microbes were propagating and carrying on.

So as downtown wore me and my wallet down, I nibbled further and further into her Saran-wrapped sacrificial offerings. Through the feta and falafel, the tahini and tamari and timbale au gratin tofu. After one particularly restive day of Prism words and pictures around Union Square, salons and galleries, I finally drooled into her kitchen for some back-shelf biopsies of kheema, kafta curry, fada-no pulau, nibbling at some Palak-Papdi Massala on an empty stomach, with a hit of kanki and jasmine tea. That’s about when my holistic heartburn set in; the next day, I came home to this.

“Oh, you do, huh,” Eric replied sarcastically, staring ahead across Baker Street for further signs of movement.

“Come on, you think I enjoy dragging you into it? After what you went through with Bruno and all that? If I had any other way, believe me…”

“That’s what I’m sayin’, why me?”

“What can I tell you, Eric? When I saw this break-in, you were the first person who came to mind, don’t ask me why.” A mind that was already preoccupied with concerns over my fractured relationship with Syd Mendel, a crystal shattered gentleman’s agreement with Nolan Anderle, and what to do about that iffy specter of Poppy Day with the splintered IRA.

Pure process of elimination, truth be told: Gary was gone, Crabber too—L.T. was way beyond approach, and who knew what had become of Sherry and Clifford, let alone Laine Blakely? Then we’d chased over here to Baker Street like my 122s rust box was a Porsche Targa, or at least one of Eric’s 912s. By now I’d nosed up to the windshield, resuming patrol, although neither of us could see the felons for those trees. It seemed easier to glimpse the manicured security of Pacific Heights parks and manors in the distance than this Victorian’s balustrade,and they were a world away. Sandwiched between the Haight and the Heights was this raw, leaner slice of paradise lost called the Western Addition, even though the course of human events here was far more subtractive.

Setting aside what Jerry Rafferty was presently singing on KYA radio, it wasn’t like this Baker was a bucolic tree-lined street, with rows of overhanging Elms. The truth was closer to isolated, mushrooming clumps along blanched arteries of rolling concrete. Naturally, there stood one hell of a pair of top-heavy acacia directly in front of the Victorian in question, the two largest trees between Haight Street and the Panhandle. For neighborhood dogs, they were the Kharga oasis; for neighborhood thugs they apparently represented Calcutta cover after dark.

“Christ, that can’t be the same kid,” I watched a gangly, Golden State-jerseyed street warrior disappear between the dual acacias, presumably up the Victorian’s front stairs. “He wouldn’t dare come back, and for what?”

Eric pulled a warm Coors from behind my front seats, popping a top. “He’s carryin’ another cardboard box yet—in broad daylight. They just keep springin’ up like fuckin’ cockroaches.”

“Well, he’s the same one, I’m sure of it,” I fumed, steaming my windshield, smearing its growing nicotine glaze. “The one I think I spotted tearing out our front door, same red and blue tube socks, same cardboard box, for crissake!”

Earlier on, my idea had been to finish up two lower Sutter Street galleries, then knock off for the day. And it was proceeding rather nicely, as I’d caught a 7-Haight bus before the rush hour snarls. Unfortunately, I could smell trouble the moment I lighted at Baker Street; for those little roaches were knocking poor Margaret off early, too. While other kids went out for football, or watched Donahue and cartoons, these after-schoolers opted to jimmy their way into her flat, crack her maya, yank her yin to the tune of a stereo and color TV. They also went so far as to lift her brass incense burners, and Vangelis tapes. The juvies didn’t even have the decency to close the refinished oak door behind them, an irritating detail that continued to eat at me as we sat stewing over this…this…gross violation of a personal space. There, I’d said it, Margaret couldn’t have stated any better, wherever she happened to be at the time.

“Cool it, will ya,” Eric lit a sawed-off Lucky Strike. “I mean, what the hell you gonna do about it?”

“Check it out, that’s what,” I grappled with my door handle, the cigarette smoke already secondarily gagging me to death.

“Are you for real? What if they’re junkies? With your luck, you’ll run into nose end of a shiv or Saturday night special, then what? You need an operative, you know? Incognito, like that—so how’s about I go?” He fully slugged the lukewarm Coors, belching like a bullhorn.

“Hey, I’m not laying this on you…” Another dial up of the radio brought a top of the hour newsbrief quoting Jim Jones to the effect that, “They don’t appreciate what we’ve done here, this new west, this paradise, this loving new city upon a hill. Over 280 million people are looking at us—got the eyes of the world upon us’. Vowing allegiance to the Soviet Union as Jonestown’s spiritual motherland, he claims they face a new Leningrad, holding off the American fascists. Nevertheless, the U.S. Embassy has announced its intent to inspect his Guyana compound”. But enough of that jungle temple crap, I had my own territorial infringement with which to contend.

How did I end up with me here in this Shelled out service station, anyway—spying on this shady Victorian in search of misappropriated property that I couldn’t call mine? Either I was boxing myself in tighter and tighter, or those little delinquents were parcelling my exculpatory proof out all over town. For all I knew, in on the deal could have been those Love Summer warlocks on the front stoop of that purple and gold Victorian down across from Margaret’s. The same bearded diggers who’d waved at me that they’d seen no evil, heard none either. The very same post-psychedelic charlatans who were now passing smoldering illicit sacraments around his carpeted front stair steps. Mainly to his velour-robed heifer harem, the lot of the grinning and waving toward us with smokin’ THC wisdom and guile. Looked like the whole goddamn block of shabbier Victorians was on the make, if not the take, but maybe that was just me…all I knew was if Eric was crossing Baker Street, he wasn’t going in alone.

“Weird, man, see that dude there,” Eric pointed toward a squat Huey in black Ben Davis and Converse, lumbering up by a magnificent blue-gray Queen Anne mansion at Haight Street—turreted, palm trees, hardwood everything, steel security bars all around. “Came out of your tan Vicky smackin’ his chops, looks like nobody knows how to close doors behind ’em, you know?”

“Listen, I’ve been thinking about that,” I tracked the delinquent from across Baker, bracketed between an uphill Pinto and downhill beater Volks. “I could be on the hook for that stuff. Hell, Margaret could say I left the door open or something. I swear I made a habit of locking that front door.”

“Well it was wide open, but somebody just slammed it now,” we watched that heavy figure cross Haight Street, disappearing into Buena Vista Park, then Eric panned downhill again. “I could see clear up the staircase, got one of those crazy olden type remote door handles, huh?”

“Wait a minute, which door are you talking about?” I followed his gaze.

“That real thick-ass oak one,” Eric gestured forward to the exquisitely carved portals. “On the right there.”

“Whoa, my door’s the thick-ass one on the left!”

“Check, that one’s closed tight now.”

“Did you hear what I said? Now those bastards are hitting the landlord’s upstairs flat. Christ, this is really getting out of hand…”

“Yah, except this time they ain’t takin’, they’re bringin’...

“What the hell’s up with that?” I stormed over smack between the acacias, eyeing Margaret’s front door and bay window, shades drawn, just as I’d left them. Muffled shouting seeped through the right door, separated only by a 10” column of millwork, which mercifully drowned out Eric’s incessant ‘Baker Street’ whistling.

I slalomed two megadump dog deposits to the tidy Victorian townhouse’s rubber runnered front steps. Before Eric could catch up, stampeding footsteps led to the exploding open of the right side door, a younger, green A’s shirted figure vaulting the stairs entirely, then sprinting up toward Haight Street. Startled, spun fully around, I found myself facing off two pair of chipmunk eyes landing one-two at the base of the second floor staircase. I instinctively feinted them; they responded viscerally by slamming their thick oak door in my face, squealing sharply at one another in utter alarm, double and triple deadbolting behind them.

“C’mon, man,” Eric ragged and cigaret dragged behind. “We’re talking teenybopper hopheads here. Runaway teenybopper junkies—these kids are wasted and deranged.”

“Hey, I’m vulnerable here, maybe even legally exposed,” I shouted, rapping at the right door’s frosted, cut glass window. “I gotta know what’s going on around here!” No response, save for the upstairs semaphore slapping of small white plantation shutters.

“Ain’t likin’ this,” Eric copped a casual smoke against the Victorian’s short, Doric column-framed banister. “Where this is goin’ at all…”

“Who is that?”

“Your temporary tenant, that’s who,” I replied to hushed voices on the other side of the door, who sounded somewhere between the Smothers Brothers on helium and Martin and Ackroyd’s wild and crazy guys. “I’m housesitting for Margaret.”

“Oh, that so,” said the huskier of two voices—husky being relative here, the lighter remaining shuddering silent.

“Look, I’ve got a damn good idea what you’re up to, ” I renewed door rapping, Eric’s smoke going right through me. “So I’m not going anywhere until you open the door and start explaining!”

“I beg your pardon…”

“It looks like you’re receiving stolen goods, and I’ll get the police over here if I have to.” I nodded to Eric for reassurance, even though he looked about ready to blow.

“Oh, you will, will you? Well, just…really…” The center of three white shutters cracked open ever so slightly.“Now you were saying…”

“You heard me,” I scowled into the batting slats like the door window was a Space Invaders video screen, digging my fingernails into the door’s stained oak grain. “Moving hot goods is one thing, fencing your own tenants’ stuff is something else.”

“What on earth are you talking about?!”

“I’m talking felony, trafficking in stolen property and god knows what else, that’s what,” I raged, pounding repeatedly at the right side door.

“Hey, c’mon man,” Eric cautioned, holding unsteady at the lower steps. “Or you’ll get the pigs here for sure. Maybe you’re jumping to conclusions anyway…making a humongous leap.”

“Better listen to that voice of reason, you…you nutcase. All those poor boys bring me is my medicine. ”

“Medicine? More like rope-a-dope with a kickback…”

“I’ll have you know we’re just seeing to some of Margaret’s valuables while the poor thing’s gone away,” said the owner apparent, his quavering voice arising. “So I’ll thank you to desist hammering at my door. And clear out of our premises altogether, while you’re at it.”

“Desist, my ass,” I now kicked at the door’s brass mail slot. Then it occurred to me that what if Margaret actually was setting me up for this burglary rap? Or that they were in cahoots, for insurance or something? And here I didn’t even know how to reach her…

“Besides, who says you’re our tenant at all?” The landlord measurably widened his shutter slat.

Or that you’re not in on what you say I’m in on? Though mind you, I’m not in on anything of the sort.”

“Come off it, you’ve been doing ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ in and out of here all afternoon—my friend and I can attest to that.”

“Hey, leave me out of this,” Eric hissed, turning to smile peaceably at a tribe of hippie cum headbangers passing by. “We’d best get the hell outta here…”

“Well I surely didn’t approve you coming in here. Your situation could just as easily be taken for criminal trespass, and you best believe I will press char-ges! So just who do you think the police will believe, us responsible homeowners or some miserable vagrant such as yourself?”

“Bullshit, Margaret personally gave me the keys,” I shouted. “Look, pal, soon as she learns you’ve fenced stuff right out of her apartment, your ass is grass.”

“Ah, yes, dear sweet Margaret, my resident scofflaw…” He pushed the toe of my boot out of his mail slot with what remained of a pooper scooper. “Indeed, fully two months rent in arrears.”

“Hmph, that’s not what she said…”

“I’m tellin’ you, man, I don’t like where this is headed,” Eric exhaled a full-throated inhale, smoke rings and all. “Who knows, could be a mind game goin’ on. Maybe the bitch really is trying to stick you with the back rent or some kind of insurance scam.”

“Hah, so summon the authorities, be my guest.” The shutter slats closed down tighter than BofA tellers’ windows at counting time. “For all you know, we may have already called the police. Just make certain you are completely off our premises before they arrive. That is, if and when they do…”

“Let’s book,” Eric said uneasily from below. “Who knows, maybe this is just his way of collecting what’s owed him…”

“What?” I gasped, their heckles and the patter of slippered feet taunting me up Acrilan runnered stairs. “We can’t just let..he’s a flamin’ two-bit crook, we’ve caught him dead to rights.”

“Forget it, man, it’s their business,” Eric flicked his cigarette butt into the acacia’s overhang. “Truth is, we don’t want the heat sniffin’ around any more than they do. At least until the smoke clears on the Marina deal…””

“What smoke? What deal?! What’s that got to do with anything?” I turned down toward him, kicking their oak door once more, with toe-jammed feeling.

“Just leave it be for now, will ya?” He headed down the staircase.

“Your telling me you had something to do with…” What’s this all about?! I followed, mind racing. At this point, project, project: I had him pegged anywhere from Gary’s bread truck to Lafayette Park.

“I said leave it alone, goddammit!” Eric chained another Lucky, French inhaled deeply, then looked up toward Margaret’s main floor bay window. “Point is, you gonna move outta here, or…”

“What do you think?”I asked indignantly, distancing myself from Eric’s smokescreen, resizing him thoroughly, picturing him in a one-column mugshot on the Chronicle’s police beat—wondering what I’d gotten myself into, either way. Then I panned up and over to my listing Volvo—visualizing it as that orange P1800ES dissolving, like a whole lot of regressive, cheap and dirty options I no longer seemed to have.

“Nuthin’, man, that’s your business,” he grumbled, spinning around toward the old Shell station. “Just take me on back to my cars, I’ve got some of my own business to do.”

“What choice do I have now?” I relented, as I noticed a baby blue and white Police Services patrol car crossing Haight Street from Buena Vista East, rolling slowly down Baker. “Sooo, you gonna help me, or…”

Eric froze harder in place, in the face of a searching heat wave. “Aww, why not, what choice do have?”

“Well, there is this other housing deal up by the Med Center,” I gratefully replied, fumbling for Margaret’s left door key to gather up and take leave. I still had no idea what was actually going down around here. All I knew I was basically on Prism’s varied deadlines downtown. “We can make it out of here in one trip, two loads max…”

“Sure, don’t matter, man,” Eric winced, as we stepped warily up the Baker Street sidewalk to my clunker, the patrol car coasting on by. “I’ll just be adding it to your tab, one way or another…”

sr dingbats

“Be certain to shoot Valtat, and T.E. Butler while you’re at it…”

“Shoot the Butler, got it…”

“And don’t forget the Fromentin and L’Hermitte…”

“Don’t think we can run all…”

“So we’ll just highlight the best of them.”

Lag time. It took me a restless, defensive day to fully separate from Baker Street, between there and back to the Marina Triangle parking lot for a little final moping around and mopping up. Having no idea how to reach someone on a south of the border field trip—to plug into her Sphere of the Divine Pedestal, intersect with her Arc of Descent—I’d just left Margaret’s phantom cat an overload of kitty vittles, cleared out of her front room. I jotted her a phone number for the SFPD bunco squad, then locked and left the keys and thank you note in her mail slot, letting her and the landlord deal with the rest of it, whatever that might involve. As for the other housing deal, turned out it was going to take a little procedural time.

Yet I still had my cameras, so back to all things Prism I went, along with Valerie’s list of Sutter Street’s galleries, more heavily leaning on the written word than half-apertured, soft focus photographs. Yet the available-light slight of hand seemed to work well enough for most of the initial clients along arthouse row, a relief since my strobe cable no longer connected so cleanly to this F’n body. But track lamps, sunny windows and Tri-X brought out the texture and highlights of most tourist-targeted illustrations, oils, watercolors and sculpture, with dealers happy just to get my ragged, scribbling ass in and out of their distinguished showrooms. That was until I hit Reyland Gallery, just this side of Mason Street.

“What about these paintings?”

“The Mendel’s? Of course, last but not least. Sydney is the future, no doubt about that—she even has a prominent bank commission being unveiled in the fortnight. We are proud as can be to represent her brilliant work.”

“Yes, I’m pretty familiar with that, happen to be a…friend of hers.”

“You? Then you must be some sort of coattail friend, you and that Daryll Loupon fellow.”

“So I’ve heard…”

Owner Walter Shenson briefed me personally—very briefly, to say the least. Reyland was perhaps the foremost gallery along Sutter Street, and he made no bones about the fact that he had his pick of oeuvres, appraised artist vitaes and portfolios out the door everyday. Which was why I stopped shorthanding for a moment to catch the gleam in Shenson’s eye when he singled out Syd’s paintings, four of her most polychromatically vivid mounted on Reyland’s street-facing cloisons. Sky’s the limit, world’s her oyster, best of her generation: These were among the accolades Shenson laid on me as I jotted page upon spiral page of notes regarding Sydney and his other artists on display.

This gallery owner was intent on getting his money’s worth in Prism: California, a four-color, double truck center spread if he could manage it. I suggested he take that up with Nolan Anderle, mover to shaker, on my way out Reyland’s doors. Pad full of copy notes, spool full of gallery shots, I packed up for the day, with a mess of writing and processing ahead of me, and a head dizzy squaring the Sydney he so effusively profiled with the Syd Mendel I once thought I knew. Who knew where she and we stood about now? All I knew was it wasn’t on the corner of Chestnut and Van Ness.

sr dingbats

Nevertheless, I had a last stop for the day, back over on Post Street, unsure exactly what would be most genteelly in store there. I paraded into Caddington’s Clothiers once again with an optically open mind, eager to drop off Guthrie’s Prism copy and shoot up some British goods, wherever its retail manservants’ may choose to position me.

But when approaching them to assess what composite of the store’s product line would be quintessentially Caddington, I detected the visible relief of those same two buttoned-down sales blokes. Mainly, their banter revealed that a plot to bomb the GB Consulate-General’s upcoming Poppy Day reception for visiting Foreign Secretary, David Owen, had just been foiled in the nick. A device was apparently unearthed in the residence’s rear garden, deemed to be defective by a bomb squad, and that a list of suspected perpetrators was already being narrowed down.

“It’s those filthy micks, you know,” said one purveyor, arms folded over his butterscotch cardigan.

“Righto, Trevor, the IRA bastards, or some of their spinoff rubbish—damn all of them to hell,” replied his blue blazered colleague, tightening his red silk double Windsor. “But mark my word, they’ll be getting theirs, all right…”

Beyond that, I focused tightly on the photos at hand, then was bound for a rendezvous with Dynasty…

Care for more?

Chapter 88. A meeting by Chinatown
          soon crosses the Broadway divide,
           to a North Beach tide-over 
          against future prospects…