I assumed it was a lover’s quarrel. You know how those things go. He was yelling something. I didn’t pay all that much attention, to tell you the truth. Until he slammed his fist on the table. Well, you couldn’t help but notice at that point. Everyone in the restaurant noticed. I was sitting behind him, closer than I am to you. Made such a sound. All the dishes rattled. Nearly scared me to death. Naturally, I turned to look. Didn’t want to be nosy or nothing, but I was concerned, you know. He was a big man. And that poor young woman he was with. I mean, what was I supposed to do? That’s when a waiter went over and asked them if everything was all right.
No, the man didn’t say a word. It was the woman that talked. Said everything was just fine, lah di da. Well, I thought that was strange, her saying nothing was wrong when clearly something was terribly wrong. And then she asked for a glass of water. I looked over at my friend Gladys and, well, we didn’t know what to think. Didn’t say anything, of course. And the two of them, they got real quiet after that. Gladys and me, we just tried to finish our lunch in peace. That’s all I can tell you.
They seemed like a lovely couple. All smiles. Came in at lunchtime. Hostess seated them at table four by the window. Looks out onto the sidewalk with a view of the embarcadero. One of our best tables. It took them a long time to order, I remember. A bit unusual for the lunch crowd. Most of them are in a hurry. But we have a policy of not rushing our diners. And those two were engaged in, shall I say, some serious talk.
What about? I couldn’t possibly tell you. I never get involved in the business of our customers. I can tell you what they ordered. It was the insalata caprese for her and, I believe, the pizza bianca for him. She also had a glass of chardonnay and he had the sangiovese, if I’m not mistaken. Wonderful vintage, the sangiovese. You should try it.
Oh yes, you asked about the disturbance. Well, it was nothing really. We don’t have disturbances here. Just a noise, if you will. I couldn’t possibly tell you anything more than that.
Names? No, I’m afraid not. Like I said, we don’t have disturbances here.
I do, I certainly do remember those two. Not forgettable, not them. Looked like newlyweds, so young and all. But I dare say I don’t think they were all that much in love. Seemed like trouble brewing in River City, if you know what I mean.
Handsome man, oh, I’d say late twenties. Tall, dark hair, movie star type. But such a scowl on his face. The likes of him put me off. And she was young. Waif of a thing. Could have passed for fifteen or sixteen, but I suspect she were a bit older ’cause of the way she acted and spoke. Older, like. But she were the boss of those two, you can be sure. Told him exactly what she wanted. No messing with that one.
What’d they get? Let’s see… she bought a beach towel and a swim suit. An off-the-shelf sort, two piece, as I recall. We get a lot of folks come here forgetting to bring a suit and having to get one on the spur.
Color? Don’t know if I remember… Let me think… yellow? Yes, I believe it were yellow.
Name? No, didn’t get one, didn’t ask. He paid with cash, you see. Then she went to the changing room and put the suit on underneath her clothes. The changing room’s back there.
Sure, you’re welcome to look, if you like, but I don’t think she left anything behind. I check after every customer.
I was waiting at the corner. Must have been two-forty-five, something like that. The number 17 was running late. Seems to happen every time I’m in a hurry, you know, like when I have an appointment or something. I take the 17 up to Anglemoor over on the Eastside, if you know it.
Right. I was waiting, like I said, and that’s when they came by, if this is the couple you mean. Gorgeous young woman, but quite a brute she was with.
Well, because of the way he treated her, mean like.
Yeah, they were arguing. Don’t know what it was about, since I had music on. In my ears. Didn’t hear them exactly, but you could tell he was agitated about something. And when they got close, well, that’s when it happened. I mean, that’s when he shoved her, you know.
No, she didn’t fall or nothing. Just knocked to one side.
Me? I couldn’t just stand there, like, and do nothing. I said, “Hey, that’s no way to treat a lady.” Maybe not those exact words, but pretty close. Then he said what you might expect from the sort. Threatened me, like.
No, I just stood there. He could have broke me in half, but what could I do?
No, he didn’t hit me or nothing. Just acted tough.
What was odd was the woman. Smiled the whole time like she were enjoying herself. Couldn’t figure that. But then the 17 showed up. That’s all I know.
The Hotdog Vendor
I don’t know the ones you’re asking about. Big guy, you say? Looked like he works out? Tats on his arms? Smallish girlfriend? Yeah, them’s the ones. He seemed a surly sort, a regular Mister Attitude. I’ve seen lots of his type before. But the girl, now she was one pretty little thing. Do her myself, given half a chance.
Sorry, no disrespect, just giving you the description, like you asked.
No, they didn’t get no dogs. Couple of diet cokes is all. Girl said something about the heat. It was in the mid-nineties. Typical, you know, this time of year.
Close to three, I think. I was about to take my break, so that would make it about three.
Yeah, you could say they were arguing. He was giving her a bad time about something. I didn’t catch the particulars, but it was plenty hot. There was something definitely going on between those two. Wouldn’t surprise me if he beat her up, regular like. Is that what happened? Is that why you’re asking? He beat her up, didn’t he? You’re not going to tell me, are you?
I know the two you’re asking about. Sure. They sat down right in front of me, they did. Not a word to me. I mean, no “pardon us, can we sit here.” Nothing like that. No courtesy whatsoever. Manners these days. But I wasn’t there for the view, so it didn’t make no difference. The girl spread out a towel, and he sat nearby on the sand. It was like they’d been fighting about something.
Well, I wasn’t listening. I mean, it were nothing to do with me. You know, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I suspect there was jealousy involved. Mind you, I wasn’t listening, like I said. I got more important things to do than spread tales.
Well, I’m getting to that. It was the man. He asked her if she was going to see him again.
No, not him. Some other man. Least, that’s what it sounded like.
What did she do? She went for a swim, she did. Pulled off her clothes and went in.
No, not naked. She had a suit on underneath. Yellow I think it was.
Oh, that was after a bit. He sat by hisself for a long time. Finally, he stripped down to his shorts and went in. Thought I’d have a bit of peace after that, but it didn’t last long.
I can’t say exactly, maybe about ten minutes. She came back, picked up her clothes and towel, and walked off. It was the strangest thing. She was laughing, like to herself.
No, never saw the man again. Didn’t even come back for his clothes.
First I knew, a little girl said she saw a man floating. She pointed, but I didn’t see anything. I mean, there were a whole lot of folks floating. That’s what people do here. They swim out a ways, turn on their backs, and float. You can’t tell whether they’re dead or alive.
No, I don’t investigate every time a kid tells me that someone is floating. I wouldn’t be very effective, now, would I? Can’t spend the whole day swimming out on false leads. Look out there, yourself… See what I mean? How many people you see floating? Fifty? A hundred?
Yeah, eventually I did. Someone else reported seeing a fellow floating face down. That’s when I went out and found him. But it was too late. Couldn’t do nothing for him.
Unusual? Not really. Just another dead guy.