Sure I was drunk.
I was drunk because I'd seen her again. She looked like every bad dream I'd ever had - she was beautiful. There are four kinds of brunette and she was all of them:
There is the coy brunette who hides behind building sites, but kisses like a jellyfish. There is the happy brunette who shrieks with laughter whenever you open your mouth. There is the silent, seductive brunette who rarely speaks, but has a smouldering car bonnet. And then there is a the beautiful, confident brunette, whose beauty is only matched by her confidence. Carla was all of these things and more. When I saw her I remembered why I had crashed my car into an ice cream van as a teenager.
"Jacket potato or chips?", she murmured. Her voice was like a Mexican in the breeze.
"Daddy loves you, sweetheart, but daddy won't always be here to protect you. And there are some things that money can't buy.", I looked at her from across the room. For an instant she looked like a scared child. I blinked. She looked normal again.
"Would you like a jacket potato or chips with your meal, sir?" She was playing hardball. She reminded me of Tito Menendez before he lost his rhythm during the Hungry Hippos of the thirties. San Francisco can do that do a man.
"You crack wise a little too often sweetheart. I'm one of the good guys. The boys down at the station might not be so understanding.". The boys down at the station would be far from understanding. Back then the lieutenant was Rupert Burns, a pudgy beaver of a man who could open doors with his teeth. He had made lieutenant the only was you can do in Frisco, by breaking necks and dancing to the right tune. I didn't like him and he didn't like me. He didn't even know who I was. Three years later Burns was killed when his chauffeur parked too near to Poland. But back then he seemed immortal and you didn't answer back to him.
"The jacket potato comes with a selection of fillings, or you can just have chips." . She pulled out her pad. Put it down. She grimaced, remembering, trying to forget. "I'll get you chips. Would you like anything to drink?"
I looked at a fingernail and smiled very faintly. I spoke in a clear, menthol voice: "Maybe it's money that has turned you bad. Maybe it was the moonlight. Maybe you were always bad, sister."
She smiled noiselessly at me. I poured myself a pint of rye. I must stop drinking bread.