Monthly Archives: May 2012

chapter 13 now I lay me down to sleep

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They wanted me dead and now that there was a hundred thousand down on the deal they redoubled their efforts.  The screaming the honking people trying my door, the traveling thing under the floor, it never stopped never paused, never let up.  I was wearing down.  I am a stubborn woman which is fortunate stubborn was all I had left to keep me going.  I was operating in pure zombie mode.

Day after day after day.

It was Sunday.  My last Sunday.  I knew it like you know when a thunder storm is coming.  You feel it over every nerve in your skin.  They were so certain so certain, like hungry animals gathered around the prey run to ground. Waiting, hungry.  Sunday, my last Sunday.  Today I would die.

I sewed the last bead onto my coat and snipped off the thread.  It was beautiful, the big cheerful yellow submarine, the blue meanies, glovey a rainbow across the back.  I put it on and admired it.  No matter what, despite it all, I had made something beautiful and that was a victory. I hung the coat up on a hook on the wall with a smile of satisfaction.

Nightfall, death was coming for me.

I lit some candles and drew a steaming hot bath pouring into the water bathoils of sweet grass and jasmine.  I turned off the lights, in the candle light and in the flashing red neon of the Emprie Massage sign I began to strip.

I hear them, my screaming hooting fan club and ohh my aren’t they enjoying the striptease.  Much to the growing displeasure of angry girl friends.

“Stop watching her.”   Shrill angry voices in both English and Spanish.  (Again I wonder about the dating habits of urban gang members. )

I sank under the warm water.  It was so nice, so quiet, I could still hear them, but muffled, like a world away.  Quiet, peaceful, but I had to breathe so I sat up and started washing my hair.

I rose from the bath and towled dry.  I take my bath oils and sitting on my bed I massage the oil over my skin.  I am enjoying the feel of my foot in my hand.  The scent of sweet grass and jasmine, the feel of my foot in my hand, soft candle light and the flashing red neon of the Empire Massage sign that somehow inside my apartment by some weird alchemy of light, is transformed from garish red neon to a muted warm rose glow.

I put on a long black silk night gown, it settles over my skin like a dark enchantment.

Tired, I was so tired, so ready for sleep, or death.  I didn’t care anymore.  At least dead I would get some rest.

Mind you, I do believe in some sort of after life.  On the premise that either there is an ‘after life’, or there isn’t, if there isn’t then I won’t be around to listen to anyone say I told you so.  So I figure I might as well go with believing in an ‘after life.’  That being said, one thing is for dang sure.  If they did kill me I wasn’t’ going on to the ‘happy hunting grounds’ ohh no. I would be using my ‘afterlife’ to plan one hell of a reception party for when my killers eventually ‘cross over.’  And maybe I’ll check out that whole poltergeist thing, that sounded like a career with the potential for a few laughs.

I lay down.  A childhood prayer ran through my mind. ‘now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.’  I pulled my blankets up and lay there waiting for sleep or death which ever, what ever, I didn’t care any more.  Too tired to care.

My demented fan club screaming up at me,  the car horns honking.  No don’t care.  Won’t care.  Sleep need sleep.

Upstairs, the computer geek the fish wife and Allen begin yet another loud argument about the timing of my death.    The fish wife as always urging them to ‘shoot her now, now god dame it!”

I sighed. (Honestly, just fucking do it.  It seemed to me that having to listen to them argue about killing me was just unreasonable)

Oh great, the thing under the floor was moving again.  One more irritation.  No, no, I don’t care, scream honk your horns, argue, the thing under the floor, I was just going to ignore it all.  I was going to sleep.

“Now, now, God dame it shoot her now! The fish wife screamed.

The thing under the floor was now right beneath me.  I could feel it vibrating the spot right between my shoulder blades.

“Now!”

My eyes flew open and I snapped out of bed falling to the floor in a tangle of flailing limbs and blankets snarling like a feral cat.

“GodDameMotherFuckerSonofacamelhumpingbitch!!!”

It was a gun.  The thing under the floor.  I could see it in my mind some radio shack remote control atv packing heat.  That’s what the computer geek was here for.  Murder by video game.

God dame I was so stupid, so fucking dumb.  Why didn’t I figure it out before?  Fuck!

I tried not to be too mad at myself, after all lack of sleep and stress will slow anyone’s brain down. ( And really who kills people like this? This, this, Rube Goldberg, Mission Impossible bullshit. Fuck.  Who did these people think they were the fucking Mossad?)

I untangled myself from my blankets and stood hands on hips glaring up at the ceiling.

“ You know. “ I yelled up at them. “I am quite sure that there are in fact more cowardly acts in the world then shooting an unarmed woman in the back while she sleeps.  But I would be hard pressed to name even three.”

“You want me dead?  Well come on then, quit the dumb shit.  You come on down here and Fucking Kill Me!  And since I know not one of you has the stones to take me on your own,  Well, go ahead, make a party of it!  Open Fucking House.  Surely two dozen to one odds are high enough for you!  Come on and Fucking get me!”

For once there was silence from them.

“Well now an’t that just something.  The whore is the only one here who isn’t a fucking pussy?”

Still raging, using all my ‘for special occasion words’, I set to work tearing my bed apart.  The bedding hit the floor in a pile, then I threw the mattress off and tore apart the pine board slats.  Still cursing a blue streak I began to rebuild my bed.

I took the hard bound books from my shelves, my books of art, history, philosophy, all big heavy books and I lay them out on the floor under my bed.  I went to my kitchen and took my cast iron skillets, steel wok, other assorted pots and pans and I piled them under the bed.  I replaced the pine board slats adding on top another layer of hard bound books, then replaced my mattress and remade my bed.

I smoothed out the sheets and blankets fluffed my pillow and went to bed.

I am drifting off.  All the shouting, honking, all the calls for my death.  Sweet sweet lullaby.

Upstairs Allen says something, for once his actors voice fails to carry, a soft rumble without meaning.

“You’re in love with the bitch.” Shouts the fish wife.

(Yeh it’s a warped old world some times)

Just before the soft welcoming darkness took me to a place not even dreams are allowed to intrude on, I thought of my least favorite fairy tale.  The Princess and the pea.  Stupid whiney princess whinging on about how poor her couldn’t sleep on top of a hundred feather beds because of one dried pea at the bottom of all those mattresses.

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chapter 12 Why you’re nothing but a bunch of playing cards!

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The next morning Allan is all good cheer.  He asks if I am looking forward to our trip to Tiburon

“Oh well as it turns out I won’t be able to go after all.”  I tell him.

“Why not?” He asks me.

“Because your people have really loud voices.”

“What? I don’t understand?”  He feigns puzzlement.  He is the kind of ham actor you can always see ‘acting.’

“Yes, you do understand.  And I expect the quiet around here to be ending pretty soon.  Don’t you?”

I pay for my morning supplies and leave him there looking lost and sad.  Ok this is a fucked up world where a ‘friend’ plots to kill you and you feel sorry for him.

Before I finished reading my morning paper my fan club had returned in all their demented determination.  The car horns blared the crack head screamed.

“yeh guys I missed you too.”  I take up my bamboo pole and begin once more tapping on the ceiling.

There are people in the world who are afraid of enclosed spaces, other people are fearful of open spaces.  To each insanity there is usually an opposite insanity To balance it all out.  Paranoia is the feeling that the whole world is plotting against you.  Is there an opposite madness to this I wonder?  Refusing to believe that there is a plot to get you even when there is?

The mob or a franchise of the mob is trying to kill me.

No matter how many times I run this thought through my head it always ends up with a big cartoon question mark over my head. Huu?

The mob is trying to kill me.

Huu?

No really.  Huu?

No matter how many days I have woken up to screaming death threats, it just can’t quite jell as real.

I am a girl from small town Maine.  (In Maine all the towns are small).  I can weed a garden without pulling the beets or carrots.  I have milked cows and goats. Hunted deer, skinned rabbits and trapped beaver.  Ok it was one beaver.  It was during my Jack London call of the wild period that I experimented with a few traps.  Usually I caught rabbits, or weasels so that big ol’ pissed off beaver was a bit of a surprise.  After that I moved on to the foxfire books and began collecting wild herbs and mushrooms.  I have tramped through springs crusty rotting snow to tap maple trees and can tell you it takes a lot of sweet sap to make enough syrup for your pancakes.

The Mob?  They are a part of my world in the same way as Hobbits.  Though to be sure I know I great deal more about Hobbits.  I have never watched any of the Godfather movies or even seen an episode of the Sopranos.

I am Alice stomping her feet at the Red Queen’s army.

(why you’r nothing but a bunch of playing cards!!)

Second verse same as the first.  You wouldn’t think that fighting to stay alive would become boring.  Day after wearing day the battle continued.  Even finding new and interesting ways to annoy my noisy neighbors was beginning to become a dull hobby.

The thing they had installed under the floor was moving.  I like to do my bead work sitting cross leged on a cushion on the floor.  I would be sitting on my cushion beading my coat when I would feel that thing what ever it was, moving under the floor till it was right under my ass.  It vibrated, very annoying.

I got up moved my cushion and sat back down with my bead work.   The thing under the floor moved till it was vibrating under my ass.

I moved.

It moved.

Once more I moved, it followed.

Growling in irritation I go to the kitchen for some ice tea.  I sit in my gold leafed wicker chair sipping my tea.  (What the hell is that thing and why was it following me?)

My upstairs neighbor has had his girlfriend visiting today.  I passed her once in the hall before this new round of insanity had begun.  She was a busty bleached blond with the hard edged eyes of a stripper and the voice of a natural born fish wife.

I sip my tea listening to the two of them upstairs.

“Shoot her.  Go on shoot her now.  The woman has a very loud voice  I sit sipping my tea listening to the two of them arguing about shooting me.  (How were they planning on shooting me? Through the ceiling?  It seemed a less than ideal firing position to me. The computer geek hadn’t looked like he had even ever held a gun.  I could be wrong of course but, very soft hand, no shooters calluses . )

“Now!” She yelled.  “Do it now.  Shoot the bitch!.”

Now really, I thought, a back seat driver is bad enough but a back seat assassin?  Honestly there are limits.

I look up at the ceiling and frown.

“Alright now girl, that will be quite enough of that.  Unless your willing to pull the trigger yourself, your nothing but a tourist here.  So be a good little girl and sit down and shut the hell up.”    I said.

The woman screeches.  “Shoot her, God dammed it shoot her now!”

“Shoot her now, shoot her now.”  I mocked her fish wife tones.

“Good god man, I bet she’s one of those demanding bitches in bed huh?  Up, down, faster, slower, not like this like that.  Ohh do I have to do everything myself?”   The fish wife reached explosive levels of out rage, while my dedicated zoo crew outside responded with raucous laughter.

“Hey tell ya what, call a temporary truce and send your girl on down here.  I’ll teach her how to use her mouth for something other than bitching at you with.”

Ohh my she had a large vocabulary of for special occasion words.

His girl screaming at him. His crew laughing at him, his victim sipping her ice tea and giggling. The computer geek is finding that being an assassin is not working out as glamorously as he might have imagined.

I popped some jiffy pop popcorn (forget those microwave baggies, Jiffy pop rules.  As much fun to make as it is to eat.)

After a couple of hours the argument upstairs runs down and once more that annoying thing under the floor was vibrating under my ass.

I got up and moved my seat.

It followed.

I moved.

It followed.

“Ok enough.  I don’t know what that thing under the floor is but it’s annoying me.  So enough.  I want it off and I want it off now.”

It moved under my feet.

“I mean it. Off.  If you don’t cut it out right now I’m going to make it very hard for you two to breath up there.”

It continued vibrating under me. And I hear laughter coming from upstairs.
They always laugh.

“Ok then.”  I turn to my kitchen muttering crossly to myself.  “No one ever believes me.”

From under the sink I take out a large plastic jack-o-lantern I had been using to store odd bits and bobs of this and that.  I dump everything out and took from under the sink a gallon jug of bleach and another jug of ammonia.  I grab my garbage and head out the door.  Whistling a merry little tune.

Half way up the stairs I drop the garbage down the garbage shoot then tip toe up to my bad neighbors door.  I quickly place the grinning jack in front of their door.  It’s grinning face toward the door.  Then holding my breath I add the bleach and ammonia.

It worked better than I had expected.  The Jack-o-lantern overflowed and the poisonous white  foam began  seeping under the door.

I ran back down stairs.  Then lay on my bed, waiting.

A minute goes by, two.

“What’s that smell?”  The fish wife.

I lay on my back a slow evil smile spreading on my face.

“Oh God!  What is that?  It’s coming from the door.”

I hear the upstairs door open.

“Ohh God.” She screams.

(Now, if they are half way intelligent they will pick up the jock-o-lantern and dump the mess down the garbage shoot.  If they’re really stupid. …….)

I hear the toilet flush.   I  curl around my laughter.

Over my gales of merriment I hear the windows upstairs being thrown open the two of them screaming at each other and gasping for breath.

Figuring they will be too busy trying to breath for a while to try and shoot me. (how ever they were planning on doing that)  I lay peaceful on my little bed and drifted off into a light nap.

Number one rule of war.  Sleep whenever you get the chance.

I am woken by the sound of the elevator going upstairs.

My assassin has a visitor.

Allan, always the actor his voice projects well.

“The price has gone up to a hundred thousand.”

One eye opens the eyebrow lifts.  I feel an astonishing range of emotions.

The robin hood moment.  One hundred thousand? For little ol’ me?  A part of me feels oddly flattered.

Then the head shaking wonder at the stupidity of men.  One Hundred thousand? You fucking kidding me?  For less than ten (before they became a pain in my ass) I would have left California and not looked back.  But noooo.  After they annoyed me I still would have left for fifty.  (ten for moving costs forty for pain in the ass tax) .  But noooo.  They were determined to ignore all good sense and pour good money after bad.  Yankee trader to my roots, people trying to kill me and I sat there completely disgusted with the bad bargain they were making of it.

Then the sinking feeling I really might not get out of this alive.  Even stupid people get lucky.

A taste of bitter salt that it was my friend up there plotting my death.  There would be some dark poetic magic in this if the situation were not so completely idiotic.

Was it SunTszu of Captain Kirks nemesis Kahn, who said that you can judge the quality of a man by the quality of his enemies?  Either way, my enemies are a Mel Brooksian dance troop composed of the descendants of the three stooges.

I am having such a difficult time finding the correct sort of emotional response to all this.

I opened my eyes and rolled out of bed.  Time to give Allen a little demonstration of just how greatly peeved I was.

I took up my can of super glue and while they were distracted discussing my profitable murder I tip toed up stairs.

I hate to repeat a trick but ohh well.  I spray the peep hole the lock the handle and the hinges and skip back down stairs, whistling a merry little tune.

“Shit, what’s she done now?”

“Fuck, she’s glued the dammed door shut.”

“That’s right.” I say and smile slow and evil.

“Now dear me, your door is glued shut and the only exit is the fire escape, which goes right by my window.  Come one guys, not afraid of a woman are you?”

I take my handy dandy ginsu knife from the kitchen and stand in the living room, flipping the knife from hand to hand practicing a few strikes and blows.  It’s been a few years since my army days when I used to spend my weekends with men who joined the Army because it was where they could blow shit up and not get arrested.   I used to spar with them in the backyard.  I’m good with a blade, fast.  The ginsue isn’t the Gerber Guardian Boot knife I used to prefer but you can’t go wrong with a ginsu can you?

I am not a fan of rap.  Well lets face it I’m a small town white girl.  But to every rule there is an exception.  I put on the one rap song I love and play it loud.  Background music for my work out. Ice Tea Big gun

It’s gonin’ down. Yo the girl got a gun

Best run. Because she’s quick to flip and empty out the clip,

And make a man understand where she’s comin’ from.

The hard core’s connected to the base of her fate.

She just breaks and brings drama to the situation,

Ejaculation of my projectile, she’s buck wild.

Better recognize when she comes she comes correct.

Collects respect and if not, you catch a broken neck.

Buddy look down and your shirts all bloody,

Looks like she caught you with a bad one for messin with the mad one.

Told you about this girl before, you didn’t listen to me

As I talk, now you’re stalked by the hunter of the frontier,

Who’s size five and sexy

Quick, they catch your body and another one next week.

Huh it doesn’t matter cuz the girl stays strapped.

She says she had enough of men and she’s lookin for payback

And there’s no way you can fade her son.

She walks softly but she carries a big gun.

The most venomous feminist, homie she ant soft

You give her trouble she might cut your head off.

Or something that you like to think’s the best

She’ll blow big holes in your chest.

She says she gotta cuz she says a lotta ladies won’t

She says she gotta cuz she says a lotta ladies don’t

She says she gotta cuz she says a lotta ladies can’t

She says she gotta cuz she knows a lotta ladies

Romance the thoughts of gving men their own medicine

Electrocute ‘em light em up  like Con Edison.

She got no fear, five rings in her ears

Holes in her nose, way out clothes

Living life to the fullest buck shot and bullets

Triggers she’ll pull it.  Earth she wanna rule it

Maybe she will cuz she’s quick to kill

The city lights make her dresses tight, yes she bites

You never know where she’ll come from

She walks softly but carries a big gun.

You got no time to trip or argue, you’re through.

I’ll bet she gets ya.  Homeboy you’ll catch a stretcher like so many before.

She’s on a body count tour.  But not rock, she’s putting sucker punks in cops

You say she’s nothing but a woman then you come up shot

You say why you want to kill me? And she says Why not?

Pop she got a body that’ll make you cry.

Pop she got a shotty that’ll make you die.

Don’t bring drama to her homie cuz you’ll wind up flat.

She’ll put your ass horizontal then she’ll peal your cap

She got no loving, love is something that she never had

She loved her mother but hate her muther fuckn dad

So stay the hell out her way, cuz the girl don’t play

None

She walks softly but she carries a big gun

I finished my work out and laid the ginsue on the floor next to my bed as I lay down to rest while my assassins debated what to do about the glued door.

They decided not to take the fire escape and called Boccie.  I would have loved seeing his face while his hired guns explained that the woman they had been hired to kill had trapped them with a can of super glue and threaten to turn them all into bad grade sushi.  Boccie sent a locksmith.  He thought it was funny.

 

chapter 11 et tu brute?

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Monday, everything stopped.  I woke up that morning to silence.  No screaming crack heads no blaring horns, just normal everyday traffic.

I go out for my morning coffee.  The cars are gone, Queeny and her court have returned to their usual corner by the alley in front of the Christian science church.  They watched, silent and weary, as I crossed the street to paradise doughnuts.

I returned home and read my newspaper in the blissful quiet.  The day continued quiet.  I took advantage of the respite to sleep most of the day.

Tuesday, the odd quiet continues.  It’s like that eerie calm center of the hurricane.  Well while the calm lasted I decided to make a quick shopping trip.  I was out of tea and I needed some more raid and cleaning supplies, ohh and more glue mustn’t forget the glue.

Before I head out I take a large heavy pane of glass that used to be a table top (I had kept it in the back of my closet as a might be useful someday object.  I had at the time been thinking of using it to make some shelves).  I used the pane of glass and some mono-filament fishing line to rig a dead fall trap over my door.  Just in case the lock picks in the group had gained any skill.  My door was set off from the main room of the apartment, a little alcove that I had tacked a blanket over the door way of.  The door was there for the one place in the apartment where the cameras were blind.  Once the trap was set, open the door the wrong way and somebody has an unpleasant surprise.

I return from my quick run for supplies to find a new tenant moving into the building.  I met him as I was waiting for the elevator.  He was about six foot, pale skinned dark brown hair in an expensive hair cut, designer glasses and very nice shoes.

“Hi.” He said, friendly like.  “I’m just moving into apartment 501.”  He extended his hand.

He had soft hands.  Everything about him screamed ‘computer geek chic.’  The building wasn’t even wired for cable and people wearing a least a thousand dollars worth of clothing from his designer glasses to his envy me shoes, they don’t live in the slums, not even in San Francisco.

“Welcome to the neighborhood.” I said.

“Nice to meet you.  If I’ too noisy or anything just let me know.” He said.

“Oh don’t worry, if I’m not happy, you’ll know.” I said.

He laughs

They always laugh.

I head upstairs, carefully unhooking the booby trap before I enter.  I put away my ‘groceries’ and set on my little bed thinking.  Was it over?  Had they decided on a live and let live policy?  Nothing about their behavior over the past few weeks had lead me to think them capable of such reasonable behavior.  But as things were quiet I might as well enjoy it.  I caught up on my sleep.

Thursday, I go out for my morning coffee.  It is one of the oddities of inner city living that people are quite capable of ignoring anything.  So the coffee shop people I meet and greet each day,  the shop owner and his many brothers, Alan puttering around fixing the coffee the old men who gather around the coffee pot each morning as if sharing communion, I smile, they smile, we exchange ritual morning greetings. ‘Long time no see’ good morning, going to be a beautiful day.  We keep a careful distance.  I never talk about what is going on, they never ask.  I have never talked about what is going on because by doing so I would be either a. Exposing myself to the risk of talking to some one involved in this whole hallaballo  and nothing good would come of that or b. I would be involving some innocent shumck who just came in for his morning coffee in something that could get him killed.  And that is just not a nice thing to do to anyone.

Cops, I suppose people may wonder why I wasn’t yammering for the cops.

I gave up believing in officer friendly before I gave up believing in Santa Clause.  (Actually in the matter of Santa Clause the jury is still out).

When I was nine I was in a car accident.  It was a beautiful summer day and I was out on a shopping trip with my grandmother.  My grandmother waited for the light.  My grandmother checked both ways.  My grandmother pulled out of the shopping center parking lot and we got broadsided by a cop going ninety miles an hour.  The cop had been chasing a speeder.  The cop had been running neither lights nor siren.  The speeder managed to get away without crashing into anyone.

My grandmother was thrown from the car and left most of her knee on the road.  I go off light with an ugly scar of stitches running down my leg.

The cop got off without so much as a black eye, which just seemed unfair as all get out to me.  What really got me steamed was that the cop never stopped by to say sorry.  Didn’t even send a dime store Hallmark.  Not that Hallmark makes ‘Sorry I squished your Grandmother’ cards but still it’s the thought that counts.

This was the first time I ever met a cop and it left a life long distrust for the uniform.  But I do always use my seat-belt.

When I was twenty I was raped.  The cops wired me up to a polygraph and inquired about the state of my virginity and what sort of kinky sex I was into.  At least the rapist never asked if I got off on having the crap beat out of me.

One day, my husband (at that time I was still reasonably happy to be married) and I are driving home when we are pulled over by two cop cars.  Four cops, guns drawn screaming at us to “Hands up, Exit Car, Don’t Make any Sudden Moves, On Your Knees.”  (four screaming men with guns, this could end badly)

Just then the real kidnapper drives by a woman sticks her head out the window as the car speeds by and screams for the cops to help her.

I worked for a short time in a hotel where the owner of the hotel let cops have free use of the rooms for an hours time in exchange for the cops ignoring his taste for chicken.

One day  (I wasn’t living in San Francisco at this time) I bought a light bulb.  Just that, a light bulb for my kitchen.  I get home, put in the new light bulb and there is a loud rude knock on my door.  I open my door and what do I find?  Six cops, three cop cars lights all aflashing in my driveway.  They accuse me of stealing a ratchet set from the hardware store where I had bought the light bulb.

They demand to see my receipt for the light bulb.  Now it occurs to me that I had paid for the light bulb with a credit card which is of course how they got my address.  Still they want to see the receipt ok fine.

First thing I had done when I got home, even before changing the light bulb was, clean the cat box using the bag from the hardware store.  I hand them the bag.

“It’s in there officer.”  Yeh ok that was a bit mean but it made me feel good for the first time in my life to be able to give the police shit.

The police accuse me of using the ratchet set to change the light bulb.

“Excuse me?  What sort of men are you that would use a ratchet set to change a light bulb?”

The owner of the store who I guess came along for the ride, peeps up.  He tells the cops it wasn’t me that took the ratchet set.  It’s on tape, me., the light bulb, my complete lack of ratchet setness.  Still the cops tell me to just confess.  Tell us you did it or we’ll be back with a summons

How many cops does it take to change a light bulb?

Six.

Honestly there is a point where you can’t help but take it all kinda personal.

Cynic that I am, I want to believe.  I think that’s what Fox Mulder says about UFO’s .  I want to believe

I want to believe in Matt Dillion and Aadam 12, I want to believe in.  Starsky and Hutch, I want to believe in ‘The Good Guys’.  If wishes were fishes my what fine fat fellows we would be, as my grandmother would say.

According to statistics kept by the FBI, San Francisco has the most corrupt and or incompetent police force in the entire country, with the lowest arrest and conviction rates for violent crimes like murder and rape, of any police force in any major metropolitan city in the entire country.  Congratulations San Fran your number one, a hard fought battle, I didn’t think it possible to beat out New Orleans.

Not long after I moved into my apartment the politicians were suddenly shocked to discover that there was crime in the city.  There was lots of chest thumping morality and the obligatory confessions of perhaps less the perfect actions though of course never less then angelic intentions.  The practical upshot was that the street walkers were cleared off O’Farrell street.  Since that time my neighborhood has had beat cops patrolling the street on a pretty regular basis.

I haven’t seen a beat cop on the street since the murder rave started under my window.  Its possible they have been there but I haven’t seen them.  I don’t spend much time looking out my windows.  The view never changes.

If the cops are walking the beat and they don’t see a mob of crack heads screaming bloody murder, hour after hour day after day, well then I guess they aren’t going to be smart enough to be of any help.

If the cops aren’t there, why?  Have the cops been deliberately shifted away?  Then again Einstein was wrong, God does play dice with the universe, all the time.  The cops not being around could all be just chance.

Bottom line,  I don’t feel that involving the police will in any way be helpful.

“Long time no see “ Hussein says.

“Long time no see and good morning.”  I answer.

Allen is there, this morning he is being extra special friendly, his Irish bard/humbug persona.

He, from time to time, has worked as an extra in movies shot in San Francisco.  He is most proud of his role as one of the pirates in hell in that Robin Williams film ‘What dreams may come.”

He comments on how nice it’s been the past few days. “ Much calmer” He says.

This is the first time he has even obliquely mentioned ‘the troubles’.

“Well yes it’s been nice.  But it’s going to take more than a couple of sunny days before I step down the threat level.”

He wants me to go with him to Tiboron on a picnic.

(Picnic?  People have been trying to kill me for the past few weeks and he wants to go on a picnic?  There are times you have to wonder about men you really do.)

He was at his most,’ trying to charm the lass from the improve class,’ best.

“It’s going to take more than a couple of quiet days before I go wandering out anywhere.”  I tried to beg off.  “I seriously have to do some grocery shopping and laundry?  A weeks worth of doing nothing but laundry before I even begin to get that mountain chipped away.”  People trying to kill me verses the desire for clean sheets, weigh it.  My laundry hamper over flowed.  “If I’m going anywhere it’s to the laundry mat.”

He kept insisting, extolling the beauties of Tiberon.  It would be good for me to get out.  He wouldn’t let it go.  Finally I relented.

“If it’s still quite by Thursday, I’ll consider it.”  He took it as a promise that I would go and looked as pleased as a puppy that had just been given his favorite wooly ball.

Later that day, I lay on my bed in the blessed quiet.  Just the soothing sounds of city traffic.  Laying there in the warm afternoon drinking in the peace.

My new upstairs neighbor is pacing the floor above my head.  His cell phone rings.

Unintended consequences,   ever since they had installed the mics and camera’s, sound from the upstairs apartment had  become easy to hear.  Like listening to voices in another room with the door ajar.

“Yeh.” He said.

“Ok, Tiburone, Thursday. Got it.”

He wasn’t the only one who ‘got it’.

 

chapter 10 how to annoy people

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I woke at 5am and threw on my torn jeans clean enough t shirt and my doc martins and skipped out the door.  I gave a cheerful wave to my dedicated fan club and went across the street for my coffee, doughnut newspaper and cigs.

You might think that I was taking quite a risk in so exposing myself each day, not owning a bullet proof vest and all.  But my building was basically right across from the Hilton hotel and next door to the Hotel California, statistically people almost never get shot near major hotels.  Somebody gets shot right in front of major tourist centers, next thing you know the press is there, then calls for the politicos to do something about the rampant crime in the city.  Then the cops hit the streets with a vengeance.  Its bad for business.  So my going out each morning wasn’t as risky as it seemed and it gave me a chance to smile and wave.  And I want my coffee and cigs, no bunch of addlepatted gang bangers are keeping me from my coffee and cigs.

I get my morning supplies and skip back across the street giving a cheerful wave to one and all.

Back home I sit sipping my coffee smoking my morning camel reading the paper.  The news, a lesbian lacrosse coach was eaten by her neo Nazi neighbors dogs.  I do love this city.

I finish my coffee and stand stretching.  I feel a little tingle of pleasure down my spine.  It’s not often you have complete license to annoy people.  They had spent some weeks annoying the shit out of me and now,, it was my turn.

I put on my cd of rock music.  That is every sound on the cd is rocks, banging rocks, rolling rocks, rocks scraping, falling dropping rocks,.  You see why I just had to have it, an honest to god rock album.

I pull a book off my groaning book shelves put on my glasses, poured a glass of ice tea and sat down in my golden wicker chair.

“Have you ever read the Iliad?”

On and on I went in a dull droning cadence that would have made any dusty college professor proud.  Every once in a while I would change the music to the squirrel maddening cd.

By the second hour of my reading, they were complaining more about my choice of reading material,  then they were my music.  Apparently gang bangers, crack heads and mobster hit men wanta be’s hate the classics.

I took a break from my reading to watch a series of John Cless sketches called how to annoy people.  I took notes.

While I was relaxing on my bed I used a long bamboo pole to tap on the ceiling, right about where I figured they had installed the microphone.  Tap, tap, tap, tap.  Before the first hour of that they were screaming for me to stop.

By the end of the second day I was really starting to enjoy myself.

The dremile, a tool of a thousand and one uses.  I used mine to drill onto the brick wall near the location of their mics.  ARRRRRRGGGGGGG.

Lovely.

A week passed, each morning I went out for my coffee and cigs.  Each morning I smiled and waved at my demented fan club.  I sent each day in a series of creative annoyances.

I finished reading the Iliad and moved on to Plato.   I played my cd of Japanese classical flute, it’s rather like listening to three cats involved in an orgy.  I introduced them to my cd of Liposuction set to a dance track  (not kidding).  Himalayan throat singers, Norwegian yodelers.  I of course do have a cd of bagpipes, a musical instrument that was created to be a weapon of war.

Sunday afternoon, men are in the down stairs apartment using power tools.  They seem to be cutting, drilling into the ceiling of the apartment, under my floor.

Well what ever their doing I’m sure it’s not installing cable.

I consider the problem.  I think of medieval castles and sieges.  Defenders of castles used molten lead to discourage unwanted visitors .  I didn’t have any molten lead, but one good thing about my apartment was the tubs never ending supply of scalding hot water.

I take my largest stock pot and fill it with hot hot water and set it on the stove to boil.  When it’s all nice and hot I add some bleach and glue and ohh why not some red paint?  I carry the pot to a set of pipes that run straight down to the apartment below.  I sigh, this is going to ruin my carpet.  Ahh well, never did like the beige wall to wall carpet.  I begin pouring the water.

An idea strikes me.  I rummage around under my kitchen sink.  A spray can of super glue, great stuff.  I take up my garbage bag and head out the door.  I drop the garbage down the garbage shoot on my way down stairs.  In my stocking feet I tip toe to the door of the down stairs apartment.  I spray the glue over the peep hole of the door and then into the door lock and around the handle of the door,  Whistling a merry little tune I skip back upstairs.

I return to filling my stock pot with scalding water and various cleaning supplies.  The third pot of water I poured down the apartment below the shouting begins.

I pick up my can of raid and spray it into the gaps in the floor where the pipes lead down.

The men down stairs are shouting and coughing, loudly.

They head for the door.

Ooops.  The door is quite detrimentally glued shut.

I spray more raid.  I pour more of my scalding pots of witches brew.

Shouting and coughing they throw open the windows.

“Who the Fuck is this Bitch?  Rambo’s sister?”

(no man, just a pissed off whore with a can of super glue)

It was a busy afternoon.  In the end they got what ever it was installed in the space between the ceiling of the apartment down stairs and my floor.

A locksmith is called to free the men down stairs.  Somebody thought is was funny.

I rest on my bed my feet off the now sodden carpet.

I hear something moving under my floor and laughter coming from upstairs.

chapter 9 And the west wind blew; Or; Well for heavens sake why didn’t you just ask?

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I sat cross legged on the floor, my coat in my lap, needle and thread in my hand. Letting my mind wander as I sewed beads onto the coat.  Yellow bead, yellow bead, yellow bead, white bead.

“That bitch is worth fifty thousand dollars.”

At the time I had dismissed the words as foolish piffle, but now I felt it time to reevaluate that premise.  The siege had been going on for so long now and the addition of the cameras and listening devices, this was no small matter.  There was defiantly money involved here and organization.  Fifty thousand.

I thought briefly that I was trapped in one of those sadistic reality shows.  I can see the little marketing geek jumping all over an idea like this.

“You see chief we just pick some schmuck at random out of the phone book and pay a bunch of wanna be Soprano’s bit actors to try and kill the target.  I tell ya chief the ratings will go through the roof.

I rejected the idea only because admitted whores only get to show up in reality TV in Cops.

Yellow bead, yellow bead, I let my fingers do their work and let my mind wander.

I rummage through my mental file cabinet pulling out the files marked odd.  Looking for a pattern in the puzzle.  When exactly did everything go so horribly, horribly wrong?  What impossibly improbable sequence of events has resulted in this bizarre moment in my life?

Odd file; A few months before all heck broke lose the San Francisco Bay Guardian a free weekly newspaper in town had a long article about gang involvement with massage parlors in the city.   Accompanying the article was a picture of my apartment window right next to the Empire Massage sign.

Odd file; Not long after one of my neighbors had a nasty death.  I came home late one rainy night to find the fire department, cops and emts all around my building.  Never a good thing.  One of my neighbors had apparently jumped to his death.  He was found on top of the buildings Garbage container inside the inner court of the building.  A broken doll lying atop discarded pizza boxes and shattered glass.  It was ruled a suicide.

There were a couple of things about his death that struck me as off at the time.  Mind you I didn’t go all Mrs. Marple over it, but still.  He didn’t leave a suicide note, well nothing odd about that, most suicides don’t bother with such nice detail.  Why that is so I can’t imagine, if one is going to stalk off and leave the party in such a dramatic way you would think you would put some thought into your exit lines.    What struck me as off was the manner and location of his death.

Jumping to your death.  Why jump off a five story tall building when we have a perfectly good bridge for that sort of thing?  Most suicides are solitary affairs, in our culture any way.  Like a wounded animal they crawl off into the solitary shadows to die.  Jumpers, however are the exception.  Jumpers are suicides with a flare for the dramatic and they want an audience for their big scene.  He didn’t ‘jump’ off the street side of the building where he would have been seen.  He ‘jumped’ to his death to the inner court of the building, a place always in the shadows, a place no one but the garbage man ever goes into.

The part that really struck me as off was the fact that he landed on top of the buildings garbage container.  The top of the garbage container was a good 12 or 15 foot off the ground.

All jumpers look down first.  Bungee jumpers, parachutists, suicides, they all look before they leap.  Why would a suicide leap from the building from the one spot least likely to be immediately fatal?  Jumpers think, SPLAT, lights out, they don’t think, ‘ writhing in agony atop a pile of rotting garbage yeh that’s the ticket. ‘

Odd file;  The empty building next door.  Emptiness, it’s not a quality you notice at first.  It is a growing sense of, wrongness, a sense of something, missing.  The two buildings were close together cheek to jowl, you can step from one roof top to the next with no disturbing daylight between your shoes.

I passed this building everyday and didn’t give it any thought, but over time  this sense of something missing begins nagging at me.

The building was empty, not abandoned, not ill kept, just empty.  It was empty when I moved into my apartment.  It was still empty.  San Francisco has some of the highest rents and lowest vacancy rates of any city in the world and here sits an empty apartment building in the center of the city.  Who leaves a cash cow unmilked?  For four years?

Halloween night a couple of months before my neighbor had his unfortunate encounter with gravity, he and some of his friends from the CIA (cook school not spy school) were having a party up on the roof.  A gathering of aspiring chiefs want to share their beer and brownies, sure I’m in.

Young men + beer= mischief.

They wanted to go exploring.

The two buildings were cheek by jowl.

And wouldn’t you know the empty buildings roof top door was unlocked?

Abandoned is the element of things left behind.  Empty is a thing waiting to be filled.

The building was empty.  Every room was perfect, new carpet, shinny new sinks, no dust.  Four years at least four years empty, shinny sinks, no dust.  I left after a few minutes.  A haunted house I can handle but this was just creepy.

About a week after my neighbors death some workmen arrived to the empty building and took out all the brand new carpeting I had seen in those empty rooms, in big ragged rolls.

Odd file;  The cars now involved in my siege had arrived in the neighborhood right about the same time as the work men removed the carpeting next door.   Parking in the alley with their get smart codes of honking horns.

Bead by bead the pattern on my coat grew under my hands.  I moved the puzzle pieces around in my mind.

Odd file;  The succession of decidedly unusual short term tenants in the apartment above me.

Odd file;  The fact that so many of the apartments in my building were now vacant.  This in a time when any vacancy is filled before the ink on the paper advertising the fact dries.

Bead by bead the pattern on my coat grew under my hands.  I moved the puzzle pieces around in my mind.

Then snap the pieces fell into place and my stomach clenched around a fist of ice.  Like the moment when you see the mac truck barreling down at you going a hundred miles an hour and the only thought going through your head is:

(“Shit, this is really going to suck.”)

And then I laughed.

Clutching my coat rocking with laughter.

It was drugs, of course, in a big way, and Boccie was in it, in it, right up to his sharks toothed grin.  The kicker, it wasn’t about me.  It was my apartment they were after.  Just like they say in real estate, Location, Location, Location.

The apartment above me the one below me and mine shared one thing, all three apartments were the ones that had windows facing out onto O’Farrell street and were the ones that inside the building faced the only stairwell and elevator in the building.  With those apartments, one would know everyone who entered or left the building.

I thought about the building next door, could that be where they are either storing and or manufacturing their drugs?  Distribute through the Massage Pallor but keep the main supplies off sight.  If the cops searched the Massage pallor all they would find would be small quantities they could blame on the whores working the place.

The fifty thousand wasn’t for my death so much as simply to scare me enough to move out of my apartment.  An old folk tale came to my mind.

The tale of the sun and the west wind.

Once upon a time in the misty days when the world was young the sun and the west wind got into a pissing match over which of them had more influence over the actions of men.

Just then quite coincidentally a young man appears walking on the road below the arguing sun and west wind.  He is walking with the loose limber carefree stride of a youth not quite totally misspent.  His long duster coat open and flapping free about his knees.

The sun proposes a contest.  Which ever of us can get the man below to remove his coat is the winner.  The wind accepted the challenge and took the first go.

The wind blew upon the young man, the man buttoned up his coat.  The wind blew harder, the man belted his coat.  The wind blew upon the man til the wind was quite purple with the effort.  The man gripped his coat tight in both hands and leaned into the stubborn wind.

Then the sun took his turn and he shone bright and warm down upon the man.

I guess we all know who went to the celestial bar with bragging rights that night.

//

I don’t think Boccie read many fairy tales growing up.

I set aside the coat and went to the kitchen for some tea.  I sat myself comfortably into my gold leafed wicker chair and looked up at the ceiling.  Time to have a little talk.

“All righty then.” I began  “First off, Mr. Boccie, you’ve been a very bad landlord and I am decidedly not happy.”  I lift my teacup to the ceiling with a wry smile and continued.

“You are involved in the drug business.  The building next door the massage pallor, you, I don’t need to know all the details to see the picture.  All this noise and foolishness,” I gesture to the window.  “You all want my apartment.”

“First point, I do not care about your business.  Hell I like drugs.  If I had known a drug warehouse was right next door all I would have done was become a customer.  Would have been soo convenient.

“Second point: you want my apartment.  Well for heaven’s sake why didn’t you just ask?.  I mean really now I am not an unreasonable woman and I would think that my , , profession would tell you that I really have no qualms over being bought off.  If you had come to me and simply offered me a different apartment at the same rent in another or your buildings and a bit of money for moving costs.  I would have gone, simple as that  No muss no fuss no questions.”

But nooo.. You all  decided to get all up in my grill.”

“While I have no trouble with you ‘little’ drug business.  I don’t like bullies. Mr. Boccie you have been a bad landlord and that is going to cost you.  You hired the nit wit gang to harass me, to frighten me into running away from My apartment.  That is just down right rude.”

“So here’s the deal.  You offered them fifty grand to get me out of my apartment.  As investments go I think you will have to admit that you really are not getting your monies worth.   In fact things have gone from bad to worse.  Your victim hasn’t run away and has now figured out a lot of things I am sure you would rather she had not.  So cut your losses.  Pay me the money you offered the nit wit gang and I will go.  No muss, no fuss, no questions.  I will turn my back on you, this apartment and even California.  All your problems here solved.”

“Now honestly I don’t expect you to do this.  I have found that once a person starts a foolish course of action their ego insists they keep going no matter how foolish.  Some part of you convinced that you can prove folly wise by dedication.”

“But I do like to give people a chance to make a better choice.  Consider  carefully, continue down a path that hasn’t worked and has in fact resulted in the exact opposite of your desires, or be reasonable and make a deal”

“Of course you think to your self that you have the men, the money, the guns, terrible to give into a mere woman, and a whore at that.  I’m sure you find that a bit galling.”

“Still, you think I’ve been an annoying pain in the ass so far?”

I smile around the lip of my tea cup.

“Well I’m going to bed.  You all think it over.”

I rinsed the cup out in the sink and went to bed. Drifting off to sleep to a lullaby of death threats.