A brother is in trouble

The layout artist for the San Francisco Midnight Special, reputed to live in a menage a trois with two Scandinavian buttercups, the bare thought of which made Jimmy simple, glowed in the lumens of the light-table, rolled small balls of rubber cement, flicked them from the glass to the floor.

“White, thin, good-looking, wore a peasant dress,” he said, “is not a face.” He crumpled rejected faces, aimed them at the wastebasket, glowered at Jimmy.

Cathy sat on a stool reading an editorial by Cosmo about why homosexuals should be respected. The concept of homosexuality aroused in her mostly pity. “She had green eyes,” she said.

“We’re not using green in this issue.” He quicksketched an alien face with two green eyes, headlined it “Does Anyone Know This Martian?” and underneath: “Saved From Terran Police By Jimmy O’Shea.”

Jimmy would have asked about the buttercups if Cathy were not there.

“I had better things to do than ID the girl.”

“Then let’s stick to the printed word. No picture.”

They gave it a quarter page, above an ad for Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore:








CALL 634-5789


Too thin, no tits

Two Tac Squad cops read the ad in their car on Ashbury facing Haight where they surveyed the braless tits of hippie chicks jiggle across the intersection.

“Fuckin kids so fuckin organized they should stop being commies and organize my ass, I’m the one needs it. Look at that pair.”

“Eighteen hours court time last week.”

“Last time I filed a grievance, got me sent to the projects.”

“Kids got no priorities. Want to organize the working class? We’re it.”

“Do they know that? Nooo. We’re the armed agents of state monopoly capital.”

“Where’d you hear that?”

“This cartoon. The Furry Freak Brother says “armed agents of state monopoly capital.”

“Look at that look at that look at that, why why why won’t they come over to our side? I could hump that for a week.”

“Flashcard drill. Who’s the mope handing out leaflets?”

“Casimir foreign name. Doper, writer, buddy of O’Shea in the ad. Deals, but he’s protected.”

“Mobbed up?”

“Some other kind.”

Cosmo thumbed leaflets off the stack in his hand, dealt them to residents, not tourists. Tourists gawked, residents moped. Anyone who took a leaflet and then sought directions to the Fillmore Auditorium was asked to return it in order not to waste precious resources. Cosmo took notice of people the tourists never saw, the unquaintly dressed, the new dealers, Mob runners, undercover cops. Since February the street had turned sour. Heroin moved in to fill the pain.

“Get your hotsy-totsy political handout here,” Cosmo chanted.

The young woman who set type for the Midnight Special had been found dead in a closet in her Haight Street pad, her naked body wrapped in plastic.


Poem in this issue:

We grow desperate from thinking

Our fear excretes a heavy

despairing coat around us

Inside our action sweats.


“You know this girl? Anybody know this girl? Help out a brother in trouble.” Cosmo saw the plainclothes car and two cops parked around the corner .


In our rooms we study

We want our DNA arranged

We want to crack the plastic

the chrome and steel.


We have gone to the mountain

of despair we have hammered

the pebble of defeat.


The cop on the passenger side gave Cosmo the finger. They watched him jitter from one side of the sidewalk to the other. Time for lunch at McDonalds. The last to take a leaflet was a blond thin greeneyed girl in a peasant dress. Their gazes broke off . Too thin. No tits.



The end of Rico

A kick against the car door over his head.

“You. O’Shea. Is this here you?”

“This is here me, Rico,” said Jimmy, at eye level with Rico’s shoes and clock socks, “under the car, if that’s what you mean.” The shock absorber above his shoulder dripped silver paint. Wiping, tightening, and spraypainting shocks was Rico’s way of replacing them at Perini’s Foreign Car Repair on Divisadero. Jimmy devised a sliding class-based ethical scale for his assigments: it was ok to polish to a fine sheen the valve cover of a Jaguar and call it a valve job: fuck the rich. It was not ok to tighten the brakes of a hippie’s VW bus and call it new brake shoes. Jimmy did them both anyway, needed the money, showed up for work as infrequently as possible, invented stories to justify corruption on a case-by-case basis. An authentic hippie would fix his own brakes; the Volvo’s shocks didn’t really need to be replaced, etc.

“Come out here.” Rico rapped Jimmy’s feet with a rolled up newspaper like a cop rousting a sleeper from a park bench.


“Is this you?”

“No, Rico, that is a rolled-up underground newspaper.” Jimmy could tell from the sex ads.

“Shut your commie mouth.” Rico unrolled the paper. “‘Did you see brother... Brother!.. Jimmy O’Shea save a girl from the pigs?’ This you?”

“That’s me.”

“You fuckin cunt. My brother is a police officer. Police Officer. In Stockton.”

“Does he beat up girls?”

“No, he doesn’t beat up girls.”

“Then I forgive him.”

“The only people he ever hurt is scum like you.”

“You liked scum like me yesterday.”

“Yesterday I didn’t know you were commie scum. I thought you were a run a the mill Berkeley dropout greasemonkey with a tendency to take a lot of sick days.”

“What are you doing reading hippie scum newspapers, Rico?”

“I don’t read it, I look at the dirty pictures.”

Through the door to Rico’s office-shed in the corner, Jimmy saw a woman waiting. She had long blond hair, wore a peasant dress.

“Who’s that in your office?”

“Some slut. Shit, a customer.”

Jimmy made a move, Rico blocked him.

“Off my property, Hanoi James.”

The woman came out the door, annoyed at the wait and the yelling. It was not The Girl. “I’ve come for my car,” she said. “The Volvo.”

“Would that be the shock absorbers, ma’m?” said Jimmy.


“Here.” He handed her the spraycan. “Check em out. They’re the same ones you drove in on.”

Did that compensate for Jimmy’s frauds and torts? It did not. Rico would convince her the spraypaint had curative, nay, shock-absorbing properties, blame it on Jimmy, offer her a free valve adjustment and brake job, accuse her of colluding with Jimmy to set him up for a lawsuit, threaten a countersuit, ask her out for a date, call her a drugdealing hippie cunt. It was not the end of Rico.



Why The Girl?

Jimmy flicked silver paint from his overalls onto the rug in the waiting area of the law offices of Garry, Dreyfus, McTernan, Brotsky, Herndon & Pesonen. Charles Garry passed by in the hall. He wore a tangerine shirt and lime pants, proving once again that great lawyers come in all colors.

“Cherchezing le fomme, Jimmy?” he asked. Jimmy was unclear whether Charlie meant The Girl or Cathy, who Jimmy was watching answer the phones. The legal defense of Black Panther leader Huey Newton propelled the office and the phones.

“Unsuccessfully,” he replied to both questions. Behind Cathy hung a poster from a college on strike:



Why had The Girl come to Stop the Draft Week?

there was no poetry in her life,

her boyfriend dragged her there,

she hates cops,

her father told her not to,

she was headed for work and got stuck in the crowd,

her TV made her bleed,

she wanted to prove she was tough as nails,

her dad lost a leg in Vietnam,

nothing cool was happening in Marin,

she was sick to death of piety,

a Christian must give witness to her faith,

she was stoned and goofing,

these are times that try women’s souls,

You can’t always get what you want/ but if you try sometimes/
you just might find/ you get what you need.

Had she got what she needed?


The phones calmed down. “Now you can work full-time on your case,” said Cathy.

“And eat Goop.™ Any calls from the ad?”

“Two death threats. One of them said he knows where we live. I told him we already knew that. Advice from the writings of [checking her notes] Hermes Trismegistus: Stand quietly and let the changing relations work for you. And a mentalist who’ll find her if we give him a pair of her underpants.”

“Send him your underpants and see if he can figure out where we live while changing relations work for us.”

“Yeah and KCTS has a tape of the entire incident.” Her tone said never mind.


“We ran over, they set up a screening. The cameraman was somewhere on the moon. It shows a heroic gray dot using reasonable force to defend a blond dot from a black and white dot.”

The phone rang.

“Law Offices,” she answered. “Yes. And that would be? Of course I’ll write it down.” She did not write it down. “The I CHING says if one clings to the strong man, one loses the little boy. We’ll get on it right away, thank you.”

“They care, they care,” said Jimmy in despair.