Feather in the Tar: Prelude to a Kiss

           Five Jamesons and two beers, beer nuts for dinner, Frank jumps up from his stool as a guard scores the final 3. “YES.” He pumps his right like an engine driver.

          “Did they win sweetheart?” Cyan says as she walks by with a tray full of drinks. She doesn’t stop for the answer.

           “YES, yes,” Frank turns and says to her back. He watches her demure backside swing to Tom Waits on the jukebox, New Coat of Paint.


          “I didn’t see its face. I heard it, like an iron or something, only louder.” Genie says.

          “Iron? How the hell do you cut someone in half with an iron?” Sampson interrupts. He is standing at the doorway and walks over to the table. Seven, back behind the mirror, rises out of his seat and raps the transparent side.

          “You can’t cut someone in half with an iron.” Sampson laughs hard. “How can we possibly believe you?” Sampson leans in close to Genies face; he bangs his fist hard on the table. “YOU KILLED HIM, HONEY. We’re not buyin’ the iron story.”

          Her posture straightens up in her chair and bends her head backwards as the detective moves in closer and closer. Her red eyes as big as saucers, hands on her cheeks, her mouth opens in a silent scream. Seven raps harder on the window.

          “Detective Sampson. Go see what that dick wants.” Cochran barks.

          “NO, no, no,” Genie collapses on the table and sobs.

          “Don’t worry. Just tell me the truth.” Cochran reaches over and clutches Genie’s shoulder. “I don’t think you killed him, but you were there.”

          “Ye…s, yes, iiiiit, it sounded like the steam off an iron.” Genie straightens herself and takes another tissue.

          “What the hell do you want Bardo.” Sampson growls loudly as he opens the door to the observation room. Seven is standing next to the window. His face is red and his fists are clinched.

          “DAMN IT ASSHOLE, you said you would go easy on her.” Seven growls back.

          “We ain’t got all damn day. She needs to get her act together. Her story is nothin’ but a bunch hot air Sampson says.

          “She doesn’t know anything, detective.”

          “Who the hell are you calling a ASSHOLE?” Sampson walks over to Bardo and pushes him back from the window. “SIT DOWN and shut up.” He pushes again. Seven falls back into a hard plastic chair.


          A lot of tourists are in the Marina tonight; the sidewalks are arm in arm. Locals mix too, but their traits are different. The visitors often carry a shopping bag from the Wharf or The Gap or Apple along with them. They wear sensible shoes and zip off nylon wading pants. The Bay is 58 degrees, where the hell are you wading? Why would you ship at the same stores on vacation as at home? Familiarity breeds mediocrity. Their tells are big flag in the City; I’m on vacation; I could have lots of cash, so rob me.

          The locals carry little, not even coats. It is Saturday, spawning night in the Marina. The bars fill up with uber-professionals looking for match, if even only for a couple of hours. Drinks, conversation, contacts, and if the chemistry is right or the moon full enough, maybe even a parallel clutch, grab, kiss, and sigh. It is a great way to the futility in check. In the Marina, the ubers have money, cars, and beautiful homes; but are so productive they have little time for anything except the acquiring-lifestyle. Full bars are warm bars, and a coat is a burden. If it is too cold to walk the tenth of a mile home, get a cab.

           “Sorry buddy,” two slow moving visitors pause, look, walk, turn, and pause; they force a local into Frank’s side. The local stumbles back. Solid, rigid from bitter regret and revenge, Frank is a statue. Before he can turn, the local has disappeared into the crowd, oblivious to the hiss from Frank’s boiler.

           [STEP Sideways 3 Lengths; STEP backwards 2 Lengths]

          Frank moves into the inset doorway of a women’s shoe store. The windows reveal the latest vanity behind a pull down steel cage. Frank compares it to the frame around his body. We protect our property, so stay out. All Frank wants is to get out. His boiler quickens and fog drips off of his nose. It is thicker than normal, and in the dark entryway, he is virtually invisible.

           [CALL CAMERA Light Sensitivity = 5x;
           UNTIL Time 9:00 pm, EXECUTE PATTERN RECOGNITION, cyan]

          A photo of Cyan pops up on his screen. For everyone who enters the lounge, Frank zooms in on their face and compares it to his memory.


           “I didn’t see anything; I was in the toilet.” Gene says. Her eyes are red and mascara runs to her chin. Cochran picks up a tissue and gently wipes Genie’s face.

           “Why did you leave?” Cochran asks.

           “They might comeback.”

           “They?” Cochran’s voice tightens.

           “I don’t know. After seeing Sal, I freaked out.”

           “You freaked out after you cut him in half?” Cochran charges.

           “NO, no, I keep telling you, I didn’t do it. Why won’t you believe me? I loved him.” Genie begins to cry again.

           “You have a strange way of showing it,” Cochran credulously hands her a water bottle. Genie takes it, but her hands are shaking so much, it drops to the ground. Eyes wide again and face as white as a ghost, she looks to the detective. Genie’s jaw drops down and she inhales quickly. Cochran leans over to pick up the bottle before all the water drains out. “Don’t worry we’ll get someone to clean that up.”

           “I’m sorry.” Genie says.

           “Dear heart, Genie, I know you are not a bad person. Just tell me the truth.”

           “I am. I was in the bathroom and heard hissing like steam, then bubbling like a kettle.”

           “Then?”

           “I ran. I ran out of the room and down the hall. I could hear those same sounds down the hallway. I ran the other way.”

           “Which direction down the hall?”

           “I don’t know. I just ran as fast as I could. I ran all the way home.”

           “Which direction did you hear the stream come from?”

           “I don’t know. I don’t know. I just ran.” Genie says. Out of breath, her throat cracking, she takes a drink from the bottle of water.

           “Hum? If you saw the inside of the Lombard Bridge, do you think you would remember which way you ran?” Lt. Cochran asks. Maybe the killer left a clue when he left, she thinks to herself.

           “I’m not goin’ back there. I never want to see that place again.” Genie squeals.

           “Ms. Hallowell, it may help us clear you.”

           “I didn’t do anything. I loved him. I would never hurt him.” Genie voice is more authoritarian. She is ready to snap like a rubber band against Cochran’s cheek. “I know what I knows. I’m innocent.” Her cheeks are hot, her eyes focus fire, and she thinks to herself, this cunt is not going to change it. “I’m not going.”

           “Take the tissues.” Cochran says as she stands up.

           “NO, I REFUSE.”

          Bardo enters the room with Sampson behind him. Sampson has a hand solidly on Seven’s shoulder. The detective’s hand is as large as outfielder’s glove. Its strong pinch tames the toughest bear squeak. Seven doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t have to; his stare towards Cochran is enough.

           “We’re all going to the Lombard Bridge Motel. Ms. Hallowell can lead us through her story.” Emily says to Seven.

           “NO!” Genie screams, resolute. Cochran bends over and grabs her arm, but Genie pulls free.

           “Bardo, help us.” Sampson orders. He squeezes a little harder.

           “It’s for her own good and actually might clear her.” Cochran. adds.

          Cold furry, Bardo stares into Cochran’s eyes, and Sampson releases his grip.

           “Genie, love,” his voice is unusually calm and soothing, he bends to his knee and takes her hand. “Have I ever lied to you?”

           “No.” Calmer, she begins to whimper again.

           “I’ll be their right next to you. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

           “All I see is Sal cut in two, the look in his eyes.” She lowers her head.

           “Sal would want justice. You remember, he was always compassionate, Sal was a good man.” He shakes his head up and down as he says it.

           “Yeah. He helped me once. A rich kid wouldn’t take no.” Genie says.

           “Yes.” Seven looks deep into her eyes.

           “The punk had bought a round for the house, cash, but no tip yet. Sal threw him out anyway.”

           “Uh huh, love.”

           “He never got his tip.” Genie inhales slowly.

           “We owe it to him, Genie. Sal deserves justice and I’ll be right there with you.” Seven hugs her and pulls her in close with one hand on the back of neck. She sobs.

           “OK, ok.” Genie says. “I’ll go. I loved Sal.” Arms locked around each other, the two rise together.

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