How do you really pay of the police department? You’ll never have enough for the entire squad – and if you’re not a professional criminal, it’s hard to plan it out. Most folks only go off what they’ve seen in the movies and take that as the plan for reality. That’s dangerous. If you talk to career criminals, they’ll let you know, but then you’re in debt to them. Not such a great way to go either. See, things were getting bigger and word was spreading. Once that happens on the underground, the people who control things up top and going to get a sniff. When they do, hands are going to start being held out. Which they were. It happens. We knew it would.
The plan was to meet at Cafe’ Trieste on Sunday morning to go over how we’d handle paying people off. Sunday mornings were amazing there because all of the opera singers from around the city would gather and sing the entire day until the day wore on and the wine they drank would turn the whole gathering into a party. Food would show up from random places, so if you kept it mellow, you could eat around the perimeter of what was happening. I did that often during the days of not working and looking for jobs – before I realized that I could create the job I wanted. Now, again, I can’t say I had the balls to do this with a leap of faith. I’m not extraordinary like that. When the company closed down, I was forced to be that person who took chances.
I finished my morning ride with Lila and walked circles around the square park in front of the old church.
“You’re more away from me these days,” she said, trying to look at me but unable to get a clear shot because I wasn’t trying to be still. “Even when we lay down together, you’re somewhere else. Right now, you’re somewhere else. What can I do to bring you back to me?”
“I’m running to you, always,” I told her, looking at the old couple doing their morning Tai Chi. “Why do you think I’m hustling so hard right now. I’m stacking cash so we can move on. So we can have a future that doesn’t involve looking at the floor to make sure it’s not about to cave in.”
“That’s not real. There’s no point in life like that.”
“If you make it, there is,” I said. “I’m pretty sure about that right there. Why you questioning me?”
“Because – I’m trying to show you this moment is what we have. You keep planning for our future, but when are we just going to live. Can’t you see that these rides around the city – that sharing a cup of coffee or just watching the world together – that’s what we’re built on. I don’t need any of the other things you’re trying to get. I just need us.”
“You say that now,” I told her (and I can’t believe I told her that), “But what about kids? What about a house? You think I want to be running on the streets when we’re building up our family. That costs. Costs big. No way I want our kid to turn out like-”
“I’d be shattered if they didn’t. You’re the man I fell in love with. Remember that.”
The school bell rang and she got up to get to work. We kissed in front of the old church and I drifted, thinking that one day I’d be able to afford a wedding in that place. Wishing. Always wishing in the moment. I couldn’t feel her lips then, but I feel them now. That was the start of me not seeing her anymore. I wouldn’t ground myself. Not with everything that was happening. I had made the mistake, and I think we all go through this, of thinking that the friends I surrounded myself with were my family – and that’s just not the case. It wasn’t the case I should say. You’ve got everyone locked up right now anyhow. I trusted everyone that I had pushed all in with – and that led me to being here spilling everything to you. Right? Never a good thing. Not sure what I was looking for inside all of these people. Family? Maybe.
But that’s not right. So, what? You want me to tell you the names of the police we paid off to keep it all going? You’re going to laugh when you hear this part then, because – well, maybe you should just hear it. See, we thought that the police, once they got wind of what kind of money we were bringing in – that they’d keep sticking their hands out and then tell their friends so they could get a piece as well. We’d go broke and be paranoid trying to do that all the time. So you know who we got? Meter Maids. Fucking Parking Police! Right? Oh man, those folks were on the cheap let me tell you! They’d set up cones around us and put up these signs the day before reading “No Parking – Movie Being shot.” Something like that. It was awesome. They were fantastic working folks like us I think – and talk about people who got shit on! What’s worse than a parking meter person! Well, that’s what people think – but that’s just a human right there. We figured we’d treat them as such and they’d help with the shows.
So it would go like this. People would park their cars somewhere in Golden Gate park. Now, you see, you’re not allowed to do that, but we had a lot special for them. The parking meter police would then drive our customers out to the Cliff House and deliver them straight to the door, where’d they’d be greeted by man man with the words Fuck the Police written across his neck. I told you about him before right. You could write that one down. Shit, no doubt you’ve picked that guy up by now.
Things were smooth until that Photographer brought the speed and other powders in. There was no need for that. He got greedy. That’s how things usually go down.