Gold, Chapter Nineteen

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Outside the Yankee Pete zipped up his jacket against the cold.  The bar’s smoky haze seemed to have leaked outside. Grey wisps of fog swirled slowly around, like ghosts searching for their grave.  He stood in front of the saloon, hands in pockets, waiting, hoping that the electronic voice that’d summoned him would appear, preferably in the shape of an attractive woman.  He didn’t want to go back to his apartment.

The door burst open, spilling out a blast of noise, along with two elderly gentlemen dressed in Golden State Warriors attire.  They nodded at Pete, and stumbled away, one of them clutching his car keys in front of him as if was a flashlight.  Pete glanced at their backs, stepped into the street, and headed in the opposite direction, no destination in mind.

He wandered up the hill, eyeing the sidewalk.  “Step on a crack,” he whispered to himself, elongating his stride to avoid the fissures.  He stopped in front of a series of sidewalk squares.  Each sported a while dot, indicating that the city was demanding that the adjacent property owner replace them.  Pete stooped down to examine the rectangles. 

“Look fine to me,” he said.  “Maybe some news here; municipal authorities shake down property owners.”  He got on his hands and knees, peering through the dim street light, brushing at the cement, his fingertips lingering on divots and fissures.  “Could be a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation; dots connected to city’s concrete cash,” he bark-chuckled,

Pete counted the dots.   “Eight,” he said. “At least a thousand dollars’ worth of work; definitely break my back.”  He got up, brushed his hands on his pants, and continued walking, now intentionally stepping on cracks.   “Step on a crack, city gets you back,” he sang to himself.

At the top of the hill Pete turned left, towards the 18th Street Interstate 280 overpass.  The fog thickened; unusual for Potrero Hill, which was normally shielded by Twin Peaks.  He wandered to the guard rail, stood looking south at the trickle of traffic as it swept by, and sighed.

Behind him Pete heard a squeal of wheels. Turning towards the sound, he was blinded by headlights beaming from a vehicle fast-exiting the Mariposa Street freeway off-ramp.   He shielded his eyes with a raised arm; the car was coming right at him. 

“What the!” Pete yelped.  The vehicle slammed into the guardrail, its passenger side inches from Pete, and flew off the bridge, a grimacing hairless man at the wheel.  As the car swept by Pete pivoted, bobbed twice, and then fell, following the chunk of metal to the asphalt below.

Each month the View publishes a chapter from Gold, a serialized tale of politics, capitalism, and corruption in San Francisco.  Previous chapters can be found on the paper’s website,  Advertisers or supporters interested in sponsoring future installations, or publishing the final manuscript, should contact