The mornings in San Francisco are always cold no matter what time of year it was. The heavy fog soaks into your skin from the night before and usually you have to wait until the sun is out for a little bit for the moisture to evaporate from you. I worked most of the days back then – It was still very much a working class city at that time – when you could work in a cafe’ and use whatever cash you pulled in from a gig like that to survive. The place I worked was way up in Bernal Heights, just above the Mission District. It was a small professional lesbian community and the cafe’ I worked in served high class organic food and was run by two gear heads who made tons of money and wore cool motorcycle boots. They both wanted to be punk rock stars but got rich doing something else.
Even thinking back on all of that now it seems like a dream. People in the office always tells stories about where they’re from and mine never sound like theirs did. It was the summer of 1993 that I’m talking about. When I think about how long ago that was, It’s doesn’t seem like almost 20 years ago, but that’s about it. I was reading Donald Goins’ Dope fiend back them. I remember carrying it around in my back pocket and feeling good about the weight it gave to me. The story opens up with this giant woman trying to find a vein to shoot up in beneath her fat. I didn’t know anything about shooting up back then and the fact that it all existed in literature to me gave it a little bit of distance.
I had alway worked steady ever since I was little. It was just part of my life and San Francisco was a good town for working people. Things you did with your hands there were still important. Downtown, bike messengers zoomed through the busy streets carrying letters and documents and pictures from office to office. They would soon be out of work. I think about them once in a while now when I send a large file over email. The sun is coming up now and I need to get going to work. Thinking about those times is going to bring me back for sure. I really wanted to write an epic this time, but I must have tapped into something. So be it.
The gear heads who ran the shop, two brothers who looked the same but not really would come in at different times and take money from the drawer to take a girl out or buy some coke or whatever it is they wanted to buy. Drugs back then were part of what everyone was doing in some way. I didn’t really care for any of it except for the weed, of which I was constantly smoking. For me, it was easy to get. I usually stopped by Delores Park before I went to work and bought some off of the Cholos who were just hanging out. They had it buried under the grass or something. Families were playing with their kids or dogs or whatever around us. Nobody much cared. Things like that were pretty peaceful.
In the Cafe’, I would play the Animals or whatever else kind of music they had there. The Animals. I hadn’t thought about them for a long time. Amazing how a group or a song can just transport you back to a time in your life when things, including yourself, were so different. To think about that time, those times, it seems like a dream or something that I imagined, but it wasn’t. I want to put that out there right away that none of this is fake or a dream. This story’s not going to turn out like that. The city part of it all was so far away, and here there were secret lives being lived inside the houses that were each one different than the others.
My schedule was so different than my new roommates’. They worked at night mostly. She stripped and he, well he didn’t really work at all, except for the sidekick duties of scoring heroin and assisting her in daytime gigs. There was tons of work in those days for them, especially during the lunch hours. Sex Dungeons were pretty common in Downtown. Now, when you think of a dungeon you might think of things like stone walls and moats, but come on, that’s not going to happen in a big time city. They would rent apartments and wait for clients, usually suits from big firms to come in during their lunch break. They would sit tied up in a chair and be interrogated like they were Nazi war criminals. The vampires had this huge dog that looked like a mad wolf. I think I forgot to talk about that when I introduced them. So they would sit there and tied up the businessman and question him with “Tactics”. I think they had some type of group sex at the end of it all – in some way. Then, after everything was done, the guy would pay, put on his suit after a nice shower and return to his office good and relaxed. His co-workers either thought he’d just gone for a good workout at the gym or to a place they’d recommended for him. Nobody really cared though what your out of work activities were there.
Even the skater goat faced kid worked. He wasn’t into the cruel stuff. It wasn’t his thing. Like, the vamps got paid to break into this rich couple’s house in Pacific Heights once a month and brutally attack them at random times. The couple themselves paid them for it. This was a little strange to me, be seeing as how the both consented to such things, it seemed like an honest enough way to earn some cash. Nobody got hurt who didn’t want to get hurt.
No. The goat faced kid would do things like sit with the older man who was even older than his age because he was dying of AIDS and strip down to his underwear and watch documentaries about bees making honey. There was no touching involved at all. He got paid 300 dollars a shot for those sessions. The best part about that, for me at least, is that the guy dying of AIDS got all of this medical marijuana that he gave to the goat face kid who didn’t like to smoke because it did nothing for him, so he’d give it to me and and I’d smoke when I got home from work and listen to my new roommates tell me the stories of their working days that I’m telling you now.