Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued
After showering and putting on her makeup Marlee stood in front of her open closet door.
“What does one wear to a midnight party hosted by someone named ‘Spider’?”
The answer was obvious and she lifted the hanger holding the cream colored silk top. It had a scoop neckline that accented her slender neck. At the cuffs were silk covered buttons; each showing a small black stitched F-Clef.
Marlee picked up a short gold chain and held it up to the silk. “No, more color.” Picking through her modest jewelry box she found the perfect pieces: a turquoise teardrop pendant and matching earrings. The turquoise glowed against her skin. “That’s the look.” Black slingbacks completed the outfit.
With the creamy silk over simple black slacks and Marlee was satisfied with what she saw in the mirror.
The night was chilly and the fog was down to the ground. Marlee tossed on her turquoise blazer. It looked good and it would keep her warm enough for the short walk to the cafe.
A few minutes before midnight Marlee was making sure that the building front gate was latched.
“Miss? Excuse me.” The voice from behind startled her. She turned and saw two San Francisco Police officers straddling mountain bikes.
“Good evening. Is something wrong?”
“Not at all, but are you walking very far to your car? It is rather late and the streets can get rough at night.”
“I’m just walking up to the People’s Cafe and then on to a party.”
“At Spider’s? You’ll have a lot of fun. Still, let us walk with you.”
Together the three of them ambled through the fog past the glowing neon sign at the Head Shop and sending a pair of street predators slinking off to find some deeper shadows.
Both officers were in their 30’s and incredibly fit. Patrolling the hilly streets of The City on bicycles gave them superb cardiovascular systems, incredible stamina and muscular thighs that put power to the pedals and steamy fantasies in the minds of a large number of the women on their beat.
The officer who walked on Marlee’s left weighed his chances with the slender blonde. “Ever been to one of Spider’s parties before?” He had lively eyes.
“No, my first time tonight. Everybody seems to know about her parties. They must be something. What’s her secret?”
“She knows how to invite just the right mix of people. Interesting, outgoing and a few who are downright freaky.” Even in the fog his eyes twinkled.
“Oh, my,” said Marlee. “I wonder which quota I’m there to fill?”
“We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll bump into you there.”
“You’re coming to the party? Both of you?”
“No, just me. My partner here has to get home to the wife and kids. Right, Sherlock?”
The other officer who had been silent up to this point finally spoke. He had a slight New England tang to his voice. “That’s true, Miss. Gloria and I have six little fingerlings in the pond, so I don’t get to too many of Spider’s parties. Not off-duty anyway.”
When they approached the brightly lit exterior of the People’s Cafe Marlee turned to her guardians.
“Gentlemen, thank you for the escort. I feel very safe knowing you are around.”
“Our pleasure, Miss,” said Sherlock. The officer with the glint in his eye leaned across his handlebars and extended his hand. “My name is Mike and I’ll see you at the party.”
Marlee shook his hand. “My name is Marlee and maybe we’ll get a chance to chat. Bye now.”
The policemen silently pedaled off into the fog.
The cafe was almost empty. A young couple was leaving just as Marlee reached the door. She saw that some of the early morning regulars were engaged in an animated debate, probably over some arcane point of San Francisco history.
Behind the counter, Marlee saw Pete, the owner; Zephyr, her hair a vibrant orange tonight instead of pink, Spider was dressed all in black, as usual, and Luco. Marlee was used to seeing Luco dressed in a confidently casual black T-shirt and black denim pants. Tonight he had on a light blue chambray shirt and chinos. The light colored shirt made his complexion take on a coppery tone. The sterling silver and lapis choker on his neck emphasized this even more. Marlee thought that he looked like an ancient Aztec chief vacationing in modern day San Francisco.
“Marlee,” Luco called out. “You’re right on time.” He smiled and came out from behind the counter to welcome her.
“I just finished cleaning up and we’ll be…you look beautiful, if I may be allowed an observation.” He moved closer to her. “That turquoise is just perfect.” He reached out and lifted the blue teardrop from the pale skin just below her clavicle. Marlee felt the roughness of his fingertips, but was surprised by the gentleness of his touch.
Luco studied the pendant for a moment and, just as delicately, laid it back above Marlee’s heart. “It’s Mexican, I think. Very pretty, Marlee.” He turned toward the counter. “Hey, Zephyr, look at Marlee.”
Zephyr lifted her orange head from her accounting task at the register. Her eyes took the scenic route around Marlee’s body and then, lifting two fingers to her mouth, trilled an enthusiastic wolf whistle.
“That settles it, Marlee,” said Luco. “If Zephyr whistles, you are officially the best looking woman in the room.”
Marlee looked around and saw that she was one of only three women in the cafe. There was herself, Zephyr with her Magic Marker orange hair and Spider who looked like Darth Vader in drag. It wasn’t much, but she’d take it. “Thank you, Zephyr.”
In the kitchen the overhead lights were switched off and Pete, the owner of the People’s Cafe, turned off the neon window signs. Luco went into the office and returned in seconds, slipping into a chocolate brown soft leather coat.
Everyone was headed for the door.
Spider counted heads. “OK. Everybody who can cram into my van, get in. Leftovers: go with Pete. And just like always there is one ground rule for a party at my place: If you don’t dance, don’t take up space. Let’s go.”
They all piled into Spider’s shiny black van. The van had only one seat. The rest of the space was covered in thick, black carpeting. Zephyr scooted up next to Spider, a place of honor, while Marlee and everyone else found a bit of black space to claim.
Luckily, it was only a 15-minute drive from the cafe to Spider’s “Web” as she called it. During the ride, conversation was impossible. Spider had installed a stereo system that screamed out sound that could loosen your fillings and muss your hair. The music blasted out of 12 hidden speakers from the moment she turned the ignition key.
Marlee sat up straight against the wall, feeling the music in her spine as much as hearing it with her ears.
After a few blocks Marlee leaned over, tapping Zephyr on the shoulder. “What is this song? It sounds familiar.”
An electronic roar traveled from speaker to speaker. When it hit the one behind Marlee she laughed out loud. “That tickles!” No one heard her.
Zephyr moved over next to Marlee. “What did you say?” she asked, bouncing her head to the machine gun beat.
Marlee tried again. “I said, what in the world is this music? I feel like I’ve heard it before, but I can’t place it.”
Her head still chattering to the music, Zephyr put her mouth next to Marlee’s ear. “It’s the theme from the Flintstones. Great, ain’t it?” She gave Marlee a quick peck on the cheek before sliding back up to her spot next to Spider.
Luco crawled over next to Marlee. He was laughing. She was not. “Welcome to San Francisco” he shouted. Think nothing of it. She just thinks you’re cute.” Marlee’s head was picking up the beat. “And she’s right,” added Luco.
“What did you say? I just love this music,” she yelled to him. Luco looked at her, blinked and said, “’Cartoon Music.’ It’s called ‘Cartoon Music’.”
“Yeah, I’m catching on.” She pointed to the roof speakers as a bouncy riff made her giggle. “Speed Racer! I love it!” Luco nodded and went back to the other side of the van. He could feel a headache starting.
Spiders “Web” was a large flat in a three-plex near 25th Avenue, across from Golden Gate Park. She lived on the top floor with Zephyr and two other young women: “Bullet”, a militant vegetarian who worked in a fast food restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf and “Patrice” who was a legal secretary by day and an exotic dancer by night.
The party was already in full swing as Spider pulled her van into the driveway. This was a major event. All three floors were partying.
Spider turned to her passengers. “Listen up, especially any first-timers we have with us tonight.” She winked at Marlee. “This is my home. I live here. I have only one rule.” Her voice dropped half an octave. “Take no prisoners!”