Welcome to I Can Haz Murder, a murder mystery… start here
A strip joint in the morning, an empty paddy wagon trolling down the main drag, two young guys in striped shirts and jeans, stumbling and laughing down Grant Street with lattes. This was the cheerful grittiness of Beth’s walk up Columbus to her new office, a few rooms rented over Caffe Roma. She had moved from her old place in Chinatown. The smell of dried Ginseng and shrimp, at first exotic, started to permeate her clothes. No amount of loud Pavorotti could drown out Hong Kong’s best hip hop celebrity, so she had to move out of her electric-blue painted nook in the Asia Mall that she’d loved for years. Moving in San Francisco was traumatic, despite it being only a few blocks. 10 feet from her office, instead of apples for 20 cents and bamboo trees for a dollar, she could buy pine nut cookies and top quality coffee.
She shared space with an architecture firm, a few metrosexual guys in exquisite glasses that worked til dawn. She worked too, occasionally, but mostly sat outside the cafe talking to Tony the owner and watching North Beach traffic on Columbus.
“It’s been pretty quiet around here.” Tony said, and sat down next to her. Despite spending a lot of time hanging out here, Tony was usually in motion cleaning or organizing. She coudln’t remember the last time he actually sat in one of the chairs in his cafe.
“Really? The stats don’t say that.” Beth regularly got reports from Captain Dudley regarding the weekend fistfights- usually over a girl- knifings, crack thefts, homicides, homeless pickups, you name it. North Beach was the main nightlife district for the 4 million SF metropolitan area. With the downturn, activity had increased, at least in the lower areas. She was physically aware of the new stats since she’d put togehter about 3 different presentations using data she’d gotten from the police reports.
Tony leaned forward. She knew he was sitting down for a reason. He didn’t do anything without a reason. “You know my sister has that cafe near the Hall of Justice.”
Beth nodded. Beth was familiar with Caffe Roma’s expansion into the South of Market neighborhood, the criminal court on 9th with bail bonds and dive bars that, outside of the Castro, served you more booze than you bought.
“Well the other day everyone was talking about this.” He took a folded paper form his back pocket and spread it out- a white kitten lolled adoringly on the flat top of a copier, almost covered by its top lid, plaintively eying the viewer. ‘Can I haz copy?’ written in large yellow letters over the top. Tony broke into a smile.
Beth thought of punching him.