(James Whitecarol, the junky, dumpster-diving, defective detective, living out of his office in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, is back on the scent of the Black Pearl Necklace. )
The overdressed elite hobble by in their desert-colored linens—long sleeves and pants—as if wearing more clothing than what 80 degrees calls for is a badge of wealth. Or, they could just have lizard blood flowing though their icy veins. The band gives their all to the 90s soft rock hits. I endure, suffer humanity, and expel the Baudelaire Bile. Existential Horror tastes more sour than bitter today—Sunday in the Park. Either way, it’s no way to make friends. An hipster stops by on his vintage-style cruiser. Begins pulling electronic devices from his REI backpack. I vomit . . . mentally, of course. The guitarist is wasting a black Paul on this swill. I pity his guitar–gently weeps–and what it must stomach, as another song thankfully ends to polite claptor.
Clouds rolling in from the Pacific are so effortlessly beautiful, I want to cry for a week. This is how it goes these days every time I wander over to Golden Gate Park on a slow Sunday, wanting to get high. I know who sells over here and what—stepped on China, perfect for tourists and a junky just starting out on his way back…home is where the junk is. I’ll get to the tar dealt out of the gentlemen’s club a little later on in this story.
Or have I already gone back there on this relapse. How many days do I have, anyway?
Anyhow, I know all them guys, too. You know? It’s easier to remember my old dealer’s digits than my own mother’s phone number. What does that say . . . in a 90s, soft, pseudo-indie-rock styling. It’s almost like they managed to play acoustically with electrified instruments. Amazing. The rest is shit.
Park Rangers are sniffing around my ass. They always come in couples—a guy and a girl, one white, one Hispanic, one medium build, one heavy—Christ, it’s like they come off a Park Ranger assembly line.
The multi-racial, heavy female gives me a smile, as they are trained to, passing by.
I snarl, raising just the left half of my upper lip. At least they’re warm-blooded and not Illuminati blue-blood-line lizards.
And, thanks to their intrusion, I lost my slow train of thoughts.
Damn Yogi Bears. All right. I won’t score today or tonight.
So, I could slip by club security and get comfortably numb on well vodka.
No. That’s not it either.
I know Cartwright’s got the necklace. His black bats killed the Brentster down in the hold of his “Little Jo.” And a greedy cunt like him—who is definitely going to overdress on a hot day in April, double golf knits and a hat—is not going to hang onto its Beauty. No way. He will auction it off to another useless cunt like himself.
And I’ve got to stop him before that happens, and save Beauty.
No dope. No drink. Donuts!? Yes. I could dumpster a dozen left over from a slow Sunday, brew some strong, Greek-style coffee, and get my sugar and caffeine loaded brain—don’t forget the nicotine Nat’s—down to the business of figuring out where Cartwright’s palace is up in Pacific Heights . . . and how I’m going to get in, and get out with the necklace. There will be a pre-auction viewing, probably starting around seven. Then the auction for these things usually begins at eight. I’ll need help. Laura can be a great distraction.
Why not roll the dice. The Brentster is man overboard, so he sure as hell can’t ID her. She could play a potential buyer. I could be her Brent—driver/security, with hands that are registered lethal weapons.
I’m jotting these notes down, trying not to think about Nodzilla, and getting goon-faced, when a self-important-sideways-idiot-fuck, wearing heavy long sleeves, of course, parks it behind me.
Shirt sleeves only, jacket over my lap, I’m sitting on the table-top of one of the older, wooden picnic tables, as the rangers saunter by again.
This time, I get no smiles.
“It’s a shame the city waited so long to renovate down here. It slowed revitalization of this whole area,” he booms to his date, or investor, or just someone he’s trying to impress. He sneaked in behind me, my back to the sun lowering in the west, as I face downtown.
The band has thankfully quit for the day. But now this Big Daddy Developer is pissing in my ear.
Just three days off junk, I can’t think straight.
I grip my pen, holding it in my fist, and ponder, lovingly, about stabbing him in the neck.
He drones on, pointing to the skyline downtown like it’s his. “There will be another tower going up over there. Not quite as wide or tall . . .”
“FASCINATING,” I say out loud, since he is facing the back of my head, a few feet away, and obviously talking to me as well.
With the Yogi Bears so ready and near, I decide stabbing him in the neck’s not such a good idea.
They want me to think these thoughts. He’s there just to throw me off the trail . . . of the Black Pearl Necklace.
I jump up, and pause to stare at him, while I shove my tablet and pen into my jacket pocket.
He drives on. “Whole downtown is changing again, whether people like it or not. I like it. My people like it. Ultimately, we’re making San Francisco a better, stronger city to live and work there.”
I can’t take it anymore. Dumbfounded, I scream, “Christ on a cross, are you fucking kidding me?!”
The woman looks shocked.
He smiles like an Iguana. “You want me to call the rangers over?”
“No. I want you to take your teeth out and blow me, then write me a check for ten grand for enduring your I-control-the-fate-of-this-city speech for the last fifteen minutes.”
I don’t wait for him to respond. Just turn on my heels and walk away. I’m clean. Nothing on me. No warrants out. I made no threats.
Sometimes donuts are the only solution. Getting on five p.m. I can be back downtown in ten if I hail a cab. My AT&T Park security connection has got to know something by now. I just need to sweeten the pot. Hell, five-hundred for information that leads me to the auction. A thousand if he can help me get in the door. And more . . . Looks like I’m subcontracting him.
As I walk out to Fulton, going to flag a cab, I dig his number out of my phone. Just before I press, “Call,” I sing out to the universal time code. “It’s all I’ve got now. I have to win Beauty back.”