Brrrrr, it's chilly.
Franchone tucks both hands in the armpits of his sports jacket, jogs in place, pretends to wait for an early-bird bus that he will not board. The street is empty... save for graveyard-shifters straggling home... a taxi or two... a patrol car... and some zombie-like leafleteers out littering windshields.
Had me a dream:
Streetlights blink, as Franchone shivers on the doorstep of his outpost.
This is lame! Don't even know the woman and here I am at cock's crow, losing shut-eye, missing work to tail some scrawny babe who mentioned, was all, Z's name; because of what? My passing interest? My commitment to a phantom novel? Or has something about this immigrant wormed its way underneath my skin? I've got an itch, for sure, and it's more than carnal. More than curiosity. What I can't quite figure out is... how the hell to scratch it?
A garbage truck ROARS. Its churning jaws devour the urban trash in gulps; its wake is noxious; yet, for all its odious clamor, not a solitary soul protests, as if this scavenger ruled, top dog, in the city's primal food chain.
I said "our," "our Savior." Freudian slip; give credit to dear ol' Dad—those preachers sink their hooks in deeper than you'd think. A "crucifixion"? I'm not sold on psychoanalysis; dreams mean zilch compared to reality. What we say about our dreams, however, can prove telling. Except in this case:
Another din, another crazed behemoth shatters the predawn hush as a monstrous street cleaner, ushered by a Go-4 squad, makes sleep-starved Franchone jump. Gigantic brushes scrub the asphalt with a sham of sanitation, spritzing curbstones, vacuuming refuse, sucking up everything in sight—aside from the hapless, ticketed vehicles owned by forgetful San Franciscans who will pay a hefty price for their parking place's plight.
Okay, where is she? Still inside or has the GRAY-HAIRED GIRL slipped past me? Ring-and-run; this calls for reveille; cock-a-doodle-doo, girls; rise and shine. My ass is NUMB. If I'm awake, it's only fair that you be, too.