It is two days past the fifth of the month, which is when rent checks are due. My rent is $950; I have just checked my bank account, and I have $336.35 there. I am walking back home, thinking about how threes and sixes make for a pleasing number, and how perhaps I could deposit one cent into my account, and then leave town with only my laptop and jump trains from city to city, living by my skills as a hacker, siphoning money from corrupt corporations and donating millions to various charities and deserving young women eeking out hardscrabble lives as writers in overpriced studio apartments, and how I would leave only the crypic string 33636 at the scene of each of my crimes.
I stop to buy a pack of cigarettes. On the corner there's a flyer stapled to a telephone pole that says
Vote James Leo Dunn
PERMANENT AFORABLE HOUSING
Imagine a 288 Foot Tetrahedron
Then there is a picture. An old man with an unkempt beard, wearing a three-piece suit with a brightly colored t-shirt underneath, is holding the skeleton of a small brass pyramid. There's a big image of the eyeball-pyramid from the dollar bill pasted beside his head. Underneath the picture is more lettering, flanked by sketches of triangles.
Elevated 36 Feet Above Your Block
tetrahedron 576 units! 576 sq. ft. tetrahedron
288 a month for 12 years
AND ITS YOURS
I tear off the flyer and put it in my pocket.
Because I want to prove that I am not hiding from anything, I spend an extra amount of time in the lobby of my apartment building. I check my mail and I examine each letter before pushing the button for the elevator. I learn that I am pre-approved for all the same credit cards I've already maxed out, and that one more person in this world is missing a child.
The elevator comes clacking down, a rickety old number from god knows how long ago, with a gilded cage-front door that's peeling in long twisted strips, like the castoff skins of a golden snake. High in an upper corner somebody has hung a white porcelain globe; it sways from a pink ribbon, and there are roses painted on one side. It may be a homemade air freshener, but I can't smell potpourri, or anything other than old vomit, so I prefer to guess that it's some kind of witchcraft.
There's a sign inside: "Please close both doors gently and completely so that others may enjoy the pleasures of this elevator."
Once in my studio, I settle in front of the computer. My cat rubs herself along the side of the monitor, positions her ass-pucker an inch from my nose. I crane my neck around her and see I have new email, all of it from people that I've realized I hate. Instead of reading it I go to Google and I type "james leo dunn."
He's a candidate in my district, running for Supervisor in the November elections. The League of Women Voters has an informational page listing his occupation as "Inventor" and his endorsements as The HOMELESS and his mother. He is opposed to pollution in the Sierras. He intends to pay "the desperate" 49 dollars an hour to dig a great tunnel under San Francisco's hills. The key points about the tetrahedrons also feature here, with little clarification other than "A 288 foot TETRAHEDRON can do it."
James Leo Dunn has also gathered some publicity from the San Francisco Dog Owners Group, who scored all the candidates based on "issues of concern to dog owners." The leash-laws in San Francisco are certainly an incredibly contentious subject, and actually one of the most active areas of local debate; there are protests on one side or the other on a near-weekly basis. Mr. Dunn responded to the SFDOG survey with a poem. "I am the voice of the voiceless," he wrote. "Through me the dumb shall speak/ until a deaf world's ear/ shall be made to hear/ the wrongs of the wordless weak."
The League of Women Voters includes a phone number for the campaign of James Leo Dunn, so I call it. I want to ask him if he'd work towards compromise on the tetrahedrons. Would a scaled-back 166 foot tetrahedron be acceptable? I want to ask him which number he'd rather have, a three-three-six or a nine-five-zero. I want to ask him what he thinks of the poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. His phone rings and rings, so I hang up, dial my mother, and ask her for six hundred dollars.
Tomorrow, or the next day, I will pay my rent. And in the future I will close both elevator doors, gently, and completely. I will keep an eye out for missing children. I will surely vote for James Leo Dunn. And if I make a mistake it won't be in jumping the wrong boxcar, or leaving a clue to my true identity; it will be in continuing to love you, San Francisco, mad and devastating as you are, my city of merciless dreams.
The Frisco Kid is generally to be found all likkered up and spoiling for a fight. She's a sexy Wild West gunslinger in the great tradition of Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane, only a little less with the sharpshooting and a little more with the booze-fueled marathons of Star Trek and sodomy.