Feather in the Tar: Snooper

          Seven Bardo looks up from the bus stop on the west side of Washington Square. It’s 1:30 AM, and he watches a couple walking towards him on the opposite side of Columbus towards Fisherman’s Wharf. He’s been tailing them most of the evening, from Lo Pi to Geno and Carlo’s to Toni Nick’s. A restaurant street hawker, Ray, at the Mona Liz called him while the couple were at dinner. Raymond is an old absinthe buddy from V’s and always in need of a quick Jackson, one to watch and one for a text; he has the usual quarter-flip puppeteer, a young pregnant wife vs. the ponies.

          Ray’s eyes and pattern matching skill never fail in North Beach. If you need to find someone and they stroll along Columbus, he can memorize a face and pick it out in thirty seconds, a quarter mile away. Ray texts at nine, “bulls-I @ stnk rose.”

           “OMW,” (on my way) “txt @ TD,” (time of departure) I reply.

          Seven grabs the digital SLR and the 18-300mm lens–small enough to shoot close, but long enough to stay in the shadow–and stows them in the camera pocket at the bottom right side of his black backpack. His checklist for the tools of the trade flashes across the synapses.

Seven's tools for this snoop case.

Tools for Snoop.


           “An even number of tools, luck is not symmetric. What am I forgetting?” He says to himself.

          Seven picks up a 70K volt Thor Hammer, test fires the charge, and crams it in the right-hand, jacket side pocket (just in case.) The Sig Sauer is at the downtown precinct for test firing on a different case, along with his license. He puts Effie, (a YellowJack smart phone nicknamed after Sam Spade’s secretary in Dashiell Hammett’s, The Maltese Falcon) in its Cordovan holster on his black fire-chaser belt.

          Frayed, the belt saved his life once. He was working a case in the Mission, when his client, a skull-drunk, 20-something goin’ on 40, common-law wife, stabbed his right calf as he ran from the scene of her husband and sister in a non-siesta, lay-down salsa. The tourniquet held for several hours in the emergency clinic in Pacific Heights, and the cab driver was not to happy about the upholstery, until Seven handed him a C for the steamer and fire collar retort.

          Seven removes his camera from the backpack with little motion or noise, like so many times before, and rises from the stop and circles it. He keeps his eyes on the target, and leans next to a large oak behind the stop in Washington Square. He lifts the 300mm lens to his eye and braces it against the bark. No flash, no tripod, only street light, he will have to be as still as possible for a slow shutter. He breathes deep and exhales slowly, snap, snap. “Blur warning,” he’ll have to do better. He counts, “1001, 1002,” exhale, inhale deep and slow. He sets the shutter timer for 5-second intervals. He’ll only have to press it once to start and once to finish.

          The targets are arm and arm, laughing, kissing. The satyr raises his arm around her shoulder, and Seven focuses the lens. He holds his breath, and as they pass under the street lamp, the all but ex-husband caresses her breast through her red leather coat. Seven exhales and pushes the shutter release. Click, click, click, no blur warning, Seven lets his breath out and lets the shutter run. They pass the light and his chimera-bride to be puts her hand down the back of his jeans; click, click, click, and no blur. He pushes the shutter button to stop the adrenalin syringe lucre chain.

          Seven breathes and laughs, “was it good for you.”

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