“Why does Tom work here?” Sosa asked Beth. It seemed like just another cafe in the Mission, except for the line of fixed track bikes out front, and a solid crowd of digerati.
“Because this is gossip central.” She said, rummaging in her purse; today it was a “newspaper purse”– lacquered old Chinese newspapers folded and riveted together.
“Aren’t you afraid of your purse melting in the rain?”
“Hasn’t happened yet!” She laughed. She ordered a cortado from the worker behind the till and waited along the counter. She scanned the table for Tom and finally found him.
Sosa walked up to him. Tom had a stylish long, dirty blond haircut and Elvis Costello glasses. He looked at Sosa fearfully. “Yes?”
“I’d like to ask you a few questions…”
“I’m kinda on deadline, can it wait? Until, like, oh 30 minutes?” Tom went back to quickly typing on his keyboard.
Sosa didn’t have to say anything, just flashed his badge, and lowered the powerbook so he could see Tom’s entire face. At that point Beth joined them, with a “Hey Tom.”
Devoid of his powerbook, Tom resorted to holding his tiny espresso cup.”Hey Beth.” Tom said, glowering.
Beth’s phone rang. She looked at it, told them it was Mac, and walked away.
“Tom, do you know the deceased, Jelly?” Sosa started.
“Not really. I mean, I saw her around, but never really talked to her.”
“Why did she have this in her daytimer, then, ‘Tom, 9PM, Fort Mason.’”
“Uh, because she’s meeting someone named Tom, at 9pm at Fort Mason?” He tucked his long bangs behind his ears.
Sosa sighed. “Did you know the deceased, Diane, named poobar?”
“You don’t seem that upset about her death, or Jelly’s.”
“Listen, I write for a living. iMurder has been really good copy, don’t get me wrong. But the minute dogster got funding, I’ve been writing about that exclusively. Let’s say, I got over the… ” he searched for words in the cafe. “Emotional turpitude… sometime earlier this week, before Dogster got bought, let’s say.”
“Did you know that poobar had your business card on her person when she was killed?”
“I pass out more cards at these things than… than an STD gets around Harbin, let’s say.” He picked up a fragile espresso cup and took a long sip.
“So you don’t remember specifically giving Diane your card.”
“That would be a no.” He took another sip.
One of the Ritual Roasters employees sauntered over, picked up the espresso, and replaced it with an already brewed fresh cup.
Sosa looked at his notes.
Beth returned to the table and tapped Sosa on the shoulder. They walked out of the cafe.
“Mac just told me he found Jelly’s blog on her computer. Don’t look at me like that, I didn’t know about it- she’d been writing under a pseudonym. Turns out she uncovered this huge deal with GiggleLoop, and she was working on another one… about ValleyIst.
“She was? About what, my stories are false? I think you’ll find that every story I write has two sources. It’s all legit.” Tom said. He was standing behind Beth, ready to leave the cafe. “
“We’re going to need to ask you more questions later on. If you can give Beth here your contact info, and don’t leave the city.” Sosa said, and gave him his card. Tom gave Beth his info, and left.
“Mac also has some photos he wants to show us. He’s coming to the precinct.” Beth said to Sosa, and they headed for his car.