New Novella for November 2012: Angelique in San Francisco

A new novella from Matthew Asprey

2 December 2010 – San Francisco

Final day in San Francisco. A short day. Breakfast in Cafe el Greco on Columbia and a brief wander along Fisherman’s Wharf via Lombard Street – a Vertigo filming location and home to a crooked street. Got shocked by one of the street performers. His gimmick was to hide behind a bunch of leaves and then roar at distracted tourists. I had seen him play the same trick on someone else two days earlier. Fisherman’s Wharf very much the tourist trap. Sipped water and swallowed panadol on the the San Francisco’s National Maritime Park wharf. Disturbed a great orange ginger tom from his nap. Lunch in a tacky Johnny Rocket diner. Chrome fittings and red leather chairs. I had a chocolate milkshake. The table jukeboxes were alas not functioning but they played Motown – not a complete loss. We made our way to San Jose on the Caltrain in the afternoon to rest up in the Ramada hotel. Finished Charles Portis’ Norwood. Good book. Flying to New York in the morning.

1 December 2010 – San Francisco

Matt and I sat at a round metal table near the tram stop on the corner of Castro and Market Street. We had walked from the Green Tortoise Hostel in North Beach down Market Street, 12th Street, 16th Street stopping at a Malai/Thai restaurant, bookshops (Adobe and Valhalla) and the Dolores Mission. I had done about all the walking I was prepared to do with the flu and four hours sleep. Matt munched on a peanut cookie, me on Starburst jellies. A black homeless woman in a red sloppy-joe came up to our table and asked Matt for some food. He broke off a portion of the cookie. She walked off but returned moments later to retrieve a crumb that had fallen on the asphalt. I gave her the rest of my lollies. We got on the tram and headed back to our hostel to a free meal of burritos.

Street Art (16th, 17th Street)

On the way to the Green Tortoise Hostel

San Francisco – Day 1 – 30 November 2010

Lunch at Cafe Zoetroppe – the cafe of Coppola. We entered through old wood and glass rotating doors. The floor was a mosaic of warm red, green, yellow and white tiles. The walls were lined with wine racks. The labels of the wine bottles were rich colours too – purples, burgundy, dark greens. The tables were dark green and white marble. Bottles of balsamic and olive oil sat on the tables. Matt had pasta, I had Pizza Regina. A nice treat to start our trip.

I was surprised to find something a lot like a pyramid in San Francisco. I wasn’t even looking for one there.

My Entry into America

30 November 2010

We began our descent into San Francisco, California after thirteen and a half hours on Flight UA870. I had managed to sleep through most of Eat Pray Love. Lined up on my jeans were a row of Starburst jellies. I ate them one by one, stopping to yawn and swallow. The pressure was building up in my ears and not releasing. I felt like crap. It hurt to swallow. Outside, the shores of America were in sight. “Oh my gawd!” the Hillsong couple behind me exclaimed, “We’re home. I love America. God bless America.” They broke into a soft rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. I chewed on more lollies. The pressure build-up was getting uncomfortable. The Star Spangled Banner turned into the theme song from Full House as we flew over the suburbs. Julia Roberts shouted at Javier Bardem on the overhead screens. I started to panic – if my ears didn’t pop soon I might rupture my eardrums. “The land of unlimited internet, unlimited SMS and Walmart.” I held my nose and blew into it hard. A thin bubbly squeal like that of a balloon releasing air followed. My ears were still blocked but they no longer hurt. The Hillsong girl noted her intent to kiss the ground when she landed. “We so should.”

We landed smoothly and taxied to the gate with my eardrums intact. As we gathered our luggage from the overhead compartment, the overheads screens turned on and off one last time. One of the crew members came on over the loudspeaker. “We’re having some video technical difficulties but we would like to show you our appreciation for flying with United Airlines. Go to for gifts and discounts. Choose from a wide range of duty free items, discounts on future flights, rewards and more” I gave a friendly wry smile to the blonde girl in front of me, wishing to share my suspicion that to redeem our so called gifts of appreciation we would have to spend more money. The girl returned my smile. I felt like I had made a connection. The girl then turned to her boyfriend. “Isn’t that good. Did you hear that? Remember”