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Castro Bridge Mix #7: Grand Slam

Nov 3, 2013

San Francisco, Halloween 2013


“Everyone has their purpose.” Tell Williams strolled down Castro Street wearing a striking creme-colored three-piece suit as he spoke to himself about a new addition to Castro Street who was busily soliciting donations. To the untrained eye, Tell appeared to be wearing a stylish garment rather than a Halloween costume. He carefully placed a dollar bill inside Pencil Pete’s cup which was stuffed with cash and bright yellow pencils. Pete, a blind homeless man wearing sunglasses and clutching a white metal cane, had recently found his way from the posh Marina district to the Castro. He didn’t realize that he was asking for money along Tell’s chosen route to Mae’s.

“Thank you for your kindness.” Pencil Pete, his body as slender as his pencils, shook his cup as he detected that a donation had been made.

“May every transaction be a profitable one.” Tell’s suit suddenly projected internal flames all across his sinewy body befitting an outfit fit for Satan. He felt naked without his prized bowler hat.

“Hold on. Hold on there.” The “blind” man realized that Tell had swiped a twenty-dollar bill from his cup and put a single dollar in its place. Pete’s scam had backfired on the crafty older gentleman who didn’t take kindly to unagented panhandlers working his territory.

As soon as Tell detected that his latest benefactor was chasing after him, he instantly craned his neck and locked eyes with a lantern-jawed homeless woman named Chill who stretched out like a human tarp across the front entrance of a nearby pizza shop. She lifted a dusty old book up into the air and peered into Pete’s fully functioning eyes. “I made my money in Facebook.” She slammed her book into his head. “Your face, my book.”

Tell Williams watched Chill’s brutal indoctrination without a tinge of emotion. Feeling satisfied, he swiftly veered off onto another street.

“Want a lift?” Kyle Manning pulled his Tesla Model X over to Tell and opened his sleek vehicle’s Falcon Wings making the futuristic car appear like a giant mechanical bird. Manning’s naturally athletic build sprung onto the street to greet one of his fiercest competitors at Mae’s. His chiseled face would have been almost pretty were it not for his Roman nose and the small scar beneath his left eye.

Tell took immediate notice of Kyle’s clever costume which was constructed entirely from computer chips and used solar energy to channel electric blue “current” through its circuitry.  He hopped into the car without hesitation. “I never refuse free rides, my boy.”  He whistled while Kyle drove them towards Mae’s. “So, what high tech company did you pawn off to land this toy?”

Kyle ignored the jab. Comments about wealth were just part of the territory when you’re a nouveau riche billionaire. “So what are you up to these days?”  No one at Mae’s knew exactly what Tell Williams did for a living. They knew he had money. Lots of it. Just no one knew how he had acquired it.

“Small talk, eh?” Tell looked over to him with disdain. He scrutinized his surroundings as they pulled into Mae’s back lot. “I think the world has enough information without giving it any more.” He tipped his imaginary bowler hat and resumed his high-pitched whistling until they pulled into Mae’s.

“Hi, Kyle. I see that you brought Satan with you.”  Natalie Blaze, known to most at Mae’s as simply “Blaze,” walked over to where Kyle and Tell were parking. She was dressed as famed sharp shooter Annie Oakley with a bullhide cowgirl hat, a trimmed blouse and a matching knee length skirt with her thick wavy hair cascading over her the front of her shoulders. Blaze carried a shotgun by her side which she quickly reassured was a fake to any who voiced concern. Of course, based on her shooting acumen, Blaze would have been a strong rival for the real Annie Oakley.

Tell excused himself as he knew instinctively that Blaze was far more interested in being in Kyle’s company than in his. He had consumed numerous hours tracking her from her earliest days campaigning for her prominent father’s United States Senate campaign to her two marriages and countless images in the society pages to her present role as a tireless fundraiser for numerous LGBT charities. He turned to Kyle as he prepared to leave. “You’re quite the stud in the stable, aren’t you, Manning?”  Tell smiled over at Blaze as he left. There was no question that he was drawn to the fiery younger woman with the restrained lips and the all-knowing deep-set eyes. Right now, both she and Kyle had all of the trump cards in their hands. Money, looks, youth and intellect. They were both good-hearted players. And the one thing Tell enjoyed most was pulling trump from their kind.

Blaze waited for Tell to leave. She waited until he was out of earshot. “Every time I’m with him I get the feeling that I’m one chloroform gag rag from ending up on a bed of fava beans.”

Kyle knew exactly what she meant, but he didn’t want their interaction to be just about Tell. “You look very beautiful tonight, Blaze.”

She put her hand on one of Kyle’s exposed biceps and motioned over to his car. “What’s the backseat in this thing like?” Blaze smiled at him seductively.

“Quite comfortable. Care to find out?” He was instantly drawn in by Blaze’s sensual eyes and her incredible body which was still very apparent even through her heavy suede costume.

Blaze trailed her hand across Kyle’s exposed left bicep. “You know the two of us together would be dangerous.” She looked around at their secluded parking space and debated for a split second. Blaze pulled Kyle inside the Tesla’s backseat and immediately climbed on top of him. She had wanted to see if his body would feel as good in real life as she had imagined so many time sitting at the Bridge tables.

“You wanna ditch Mae’s and have our own party?” Kyle realized that Blaze had shorted out his costume’s circuitry.

“Not tonight. But I do have to say I like your…” She humorously pointed to his costume “…equipment.” Blaze gathered up her belongings and strutted over to Mae’s. “Now, I think it’s time for Bridge.” Kyle sped up to pursue her, like a fox chasing after a rather cunning lioness.

Inside Mae’s, a small film crew was camped out near the Wall of Eyes and was interviewing Lullabelle who was dressed as a Cannary Row Madame. This had been a busy week for her since being voted one of The 10 Over 75 Who Rule by San Francisco Magazine and having a photo shoot in Vogue for a piece on Mature Fashion Magic. But despite all of the attention, she still couldn’t help wondering about her dear Bridge partner Marc’s mysterious death.

Lullabelle spoke with the filmmaker about her role in organizing Mae’s. “Well, y’all can really see it better in all of the photos on this here wall. It was kinda like a snowball rolling down a hill. More and more people climbed on board as it went on.” She almost stopped herself when she spotted a row of black and white and color photographs of her and Reed Douglass. So much had happened since that Halloween when they met at the Black Cat Cafe. She froze as she looked at Kay Lam conversing openly with Tell. What on God’s green earth were they doing together?

The filmmaker was a beefy young man in his twenties in a black shirt and pants. “Who first got you interested in playing Bridge?”

“I believe that would be me.  Wouldn’t it be now, lass?”  Lullabelle turned to face Reed Douglass dressed as a ship’s captain.



© Copyright 2013.  Will Morrison.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.