Thursday, June 7, 2012

chapter 11 ET TU BRUTE?

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 retuned to their usual corner by the alley in front of the Christian sceince 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 monofilament 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 seatbelt. 
When I was twenty I was raped.  The cops wired me up to a polygraph and enquired 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 kidnaper 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?
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 Franciso 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’.