The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 24

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

As Steele sauntered up Geary street, a smile spread across his face. He knew exactly which trick he would execute next and be ready to visit the cute hostess he met earlier. He turned around walked past the ladies who had ogled him and went back into Lefty O’Doul’s.

Another hostess stood at the podium and greeted him with a mischievous smile. “Hi! Weren’t you in here a few moments ago?”

“Yeah. I came back to leave a tip for the hostess who got us the table we asked for,” replied Steele. “Is she here?”

“Oh, that’s Marilyn, but she left work early today. I could put your tip in an envelope and give it to her tomorrow.”

“Darn,” he said as he snapped his fingers in emphasis. “I wanted to thank her personally. Are we talking about the same person? The girl I want has a cute turned-up nose and blonde hair, like you.”

“That’s Marilyn. Sometimes people get us mixed up. We’re the same height, but I’m heavier. I wish I were thin, like Marilyn.”

Steele saw her insecurity, as she had looked downward in embarrassment. He took this opportunity to flirt with her further. “I didn’t notice that. You both have the pretty blue eyes, too. Have your worked here long?”

“Marilyn’s been here for almost a year, but I just started last week,” she said as she smoothed out her uniform. Steele saw her lean forward over the podium making it easy for him to sneak a peek at her breasts. He had already spied her white lacy bra. He kept his eyes on her face. The little twit was teasing him. A voice in his head said, She’ll get her share soon enough.

“Marilyn’s been a great friend to me. I’ll be sure to let her know you came back to tip her,” she said and began to restacked the menus in front of her.

“I’m fairly new in this big town and there is so much to do and see. Would you like to go out with me sometime? I’m Jim. Jim Stetson,” he lied. “What’s your name?”

“It’s Amy, and I’m glad to meet you, Jim. I know what it’s like trying to find a niche in this city. That’s why I really appreciate Marilyn’s help to find a place of my own. I used to rent a room with a bath in a residence club on Larkin and Sutter, but the place felt seedy. It was Marilyn’s advice that saved me. Now I live in a nice one-bedroom apartment across the hall from her. It’s nicer to have someone you know close by. Do you know what I mean?”

Steele felt as if he had hit a jackpot. “Yes. I can imagine how much safer you feel,” he said but secretly laughed at her stupidity. “Can I buy you dinner tonight? What time do you get off?”

“Let me see,” and she looked at her watch. “It’s about 5 o’clock now. I won’t be off until ten tonight. That’s a bit late for dinner. How about tomorrow night? I have the day off.”

“That sounds great, Amy. How about six?” and Steele flashed her one of his sincerest smiles looking directly into her eyes. “I won’t forget your deep blue eyes, Amy. Can I have your address and phone number?”

“Sure,” she said and reached under the podium for a napkin. Amy wrote the information on the back of it and signed it with a heart. “Call me if anything comes up, and if you can’t make it. I’ll understand.”

“Nothing is going to stop me from coming your way, Amy. I promise,” said Steele and he gave her a click of his tongue and a wink. At the door, he turned to wave and to enjoy the smile on her face for the last time.


At Powell Street, Steele grabbed onto a pole on the outside of an already full Hyde Street cable car just as it started up the hill. That was easy. I’ll pay a visit to Amy’s neighbor across the hall tonight while she’s busy working. How convenient things can be.

Checking his watch, he calculated he would be on time to meet Stetson. What a pig that guy is. He fouls up his life and now he nags at me about what I do. Heaven forbid that I disappoint Big Jim Stetson again.

Like flash cards, memories of his work today sped through his mind. My, oh my. I’ve never been busier. And tonight might be a double-header, twice in one day, in fact. That’s a record for me. A sardonic smile spread across his face and the people near him turned to look away.

Steele felt a familiar itch; he needed to blow something to pieces. He needed to hear the noise of chaos, to feel the vibrations of the explosions, and to see the results of his work. It had been too long since his last major event in New York. But that was only a bank. Banks were small time jobs to Steele, although this last one brought a big reward, $1.2 million dollars. He didn’t need to take on another job, but the excitement of the one Stetson described turned him on. He decided, what the heck, I’ll do this job for the fun of it.


Stetson’s new revelation about Marilyn as the next victim, caused his whole being to tighten with tension. He walked with urgent steps toward the Buena Vista Cafe and when he opened the door, his mind and body were ready for a fight. A crowd had already gathered for the dinner hour and the whole place resounded with laughter and noisy chatter. A semi-bald man, dressed in an expensive blue suit with a red carnation wilting in his suit’s keyhole lapel, gestured extravagantly the story he was telling his friends and a wide swing of his hand barely missed poking Stetson in the eye. Stetson grabbed the man’s arm and twisted it back. The laughter at his table stopped and his friends watched with their mouths agape. “Better watch it, mister,” said Stetson and then let go of the man’s arm. The old man stared at Stetson for a moment then pulled the sleeves of his suit back into place. He made a quiet comment to his friends and their laughter resumed once more.

As Stetson moved through the crowd deeper into the cafe, he felt an eeriness he couldn’t put into words before. He now saw how none of these people had any idea that in just minutes the Serial Killer was about to be walking into their favorite meeting place. How ironic, that he, a police officer who was supposed to protect them all from danger, had invited the Serial Killer into their world of comfort.

He stopped and stepped aside to let the people behind him walk by first. He spotted Marilyn seated at a long table with five other friends at the back of the room. Good. She’ll be safe there. His eyes scanned around the room for Steele. The handsome killer had not yet arrived. Stetson pushed his way back toward the front door through the incoming tide of people. He claimed two empty barstools just vacated. He chose the seat closest to the door where he had a view of the whole room, including the flow of tourists walking outside the continuous panes of the cafe’s windows. From that point he had a view of the front door as well. He saved the other barstool for Steele, figuring that Steele would be looking in toward the front door and not where Marilyn and her friends were sitting.

“Hey there, Jim,” said the owner of the cafe. “What will you have tonight? The usual?”

“That’s right. I’ll start with an Irish coffee tonight. I’m waiting for a friend,” said Stetson.

“You got it,” the owner said and he left to make his specialty. Stetson watched as the man who made a reputation with his espressos, fill the espresso glass with Buena Vista’s famous blend, and then apply the cream over the backside of the spoon for a lofty layered effect. When the masterpiece arrived, a piece of New York style cheesecake accompanied it. “The treat’s on me, Jim. We’re running out of cheesecake fast tonight. I know it’s your favorite,” he paused and waved at someone in the back of the restaurant. “Pal, I got to go. No time to chat. Enjoy.”

Stetson took a bite of the cheesecake. He looked up in time to see Steele walk in the door.

With his fork still in his hand, he waved over the heads of the other customers at Steele, “Over here!” He hoped to catch Steele’s attention before Steele could spot Marilyn in the back of the room.

However, timing today, did not seem to be working for anyone except Steele. Six people came toward the door, right to where Steele stood. Young and pretty Marilyn in the midst of them, holding on to the arm of a young man who wore the traditional grey tweed sports jacket with a blue grey tie, and a sharply creased pair of grey slacks. Stetson noted that Mark was definitely competition for Steele. At the same time, Stetson saw Marilyn’s smiling face freeze when she saw Steele grinning at her. She pulled and squeezed the arm of the young man beside her. “Mark…”

Mark turned, “What’s the matter Marilyn?”

Stetson watched the scene as if it were playing in slow motion. Mark seeing the fright on Marilyn’s face, Mark turning and looking into Steele’s hard grin, and then seeing for himself that the grin turned into a sneer. A sneer that expressed hate, anger, and danger.

Stetson’s senses kicked into action as he could almost feel Steele’s message toward Mark, and he saw Steele’s fist close tight. He quickly put his hand on Steele’s arm to stop him from hitting the young man who had Marilyn’s affection. Steele’s arm felt rigid, just like his name, the arm felt like steel.

Quicker than a chameleon, Steele’s face changed into a smile of friendliness. He said, “Hi, I’m one of the regulars where this sweet one works as a hostess. How are you all tonight?” He stretched out his open hand for a handshake. All of Marilyn’s friends had turned and were watching the two men. Marilyn tugged at Mark to move on, “Mark, let’s go now. I’m famished,” she said.

However, Mark stood in place, spoke with assertiveness, and extended his hand to receive the handshake offered. “Yes. I’ve heard all about that place and its many regulars. But I don’t think she’s mentioned you yet,” he said with a smile in return.

“Well, maybe another time,” replied Steele with a hard grin still on his face.

Stetson saw how Steele shook Mark’s hand with intentional force for a few seconds longer than was natural and finally let go.

“Let’s catch up with the others, Mark,” said Marilyn, and she brazenly moved between the two men, and pulled him away.

Stetson noticed how her eyes averted his, and Steele’s.

“Well, there’s a surprise for the day,” said Steele to Stetson. “I wonder what’s waiting for us the rest of the night.”

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California


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The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 23

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

I sat in the front seat of the van with George who drove smoothly through the many curving paths of the Saratoga woods. As we got closer to town, my thoughts were about Eric. I had been eager to call him ever since we left the city and my intuition had been needling me that Eric might be that special person I had been hoping to meet. Now that I’m on my way to calling him, my nerves are firing off like a machine gun, and my fingers are tingling with reverberations. Would he be mad that we didn’t go to his aunt’s house as he arranged? I sensed not. Especially not after I tell him how Stetson chased us all the way to Russian Hill. Wouldn’t he be glad we didn’t bring the danger directly to her?  If the creep had caught us, he might have put us under arrest for some reason, maybe for what happened at the hospital. Looking back now, I know I did the right thing by coming here. No one knows where we are, and George is right, we need to keep our location a secret.

“Haley, what are you going to say to Eric tonight?” asked Jeanne.

Her question startled me. “I’m not sure,” I said.

“Well, tell him for me, I said thanks for all the help,” Jeanne said. “It would have been a lot scarier situation if he hadn’t been there.”

“That goes for me, too,” said Krista. “I wouldn’t be so calm now if he hadn’t loaned us his van to escape the whole scene. I think I would’ve gone crazy if he hadn’t been there to take charge of what we needed to do and get us away from my apartment.”

“What I want to know is who trashed our apartment, and why us? Was that The Creep harassing us some more?” Jeanne wondered aloud.

“I hope not. But worse than that,” Krista said as she twirled an elastic around her hair and put it up in a short ponytail, “it could have been the work of the Serial Killer and some others. You don’t think he’s been murdering those other girls by himself, do you?”

“Maybe he is after us. Mrs. Hamlin was a sweet and loveable old woman. I’d consider us sweet and loveable young girls. We are about the same age as the other victims. It could be us he’s after,” said Jeanne with a tremble in her voice.

In the rear view mirror, I saw how her smile had changed to a downturn frown. “What could the Serial Killer want with us?” I said. “With so much damage, it must have been a bunch of hired men.”

“He’s been killing girls up the street from us,” said Krista, “why come to our building? You and Jeanne have an apartment that faces the street where you could easily call for help from the windows. Unlike mine that’s at the back of the building. You also have a grocery store and a pharmacy right across the street. There would’ve been a lot of people to hear your cries for help.”

“I would have been screaming and throwing things at the window. A window breaking always catches people’s attention,” added Jeanne. “Maybe this has something to do with Mrs. Johnson. Haley, squeeze Mrs. Johnson in your call.”

“Right. I’ll ask Eric to tell her we’re safe. It would be dreadful if she heard about Mrs. Hamlin on the news. Oh my gosh, she might have heard about it already. She’ll be so worried about us.”

George turned right off of Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road. “Here we are. There are a lot of treasures to be discovered in these shops. Please try not to worry so much now. Mattie and I intend to keep you safe,” he said and he twisted the right end of his mustache again. “Haley and I will be back after her call.”

I watched as my two best friends and Aunt Mattie got out of the van. They closed the door behind them and waved good-bye to us. George drove ahead and turned left toward the Los Gatos Roasting Company. At about the same time every day the aroma of coffee beans floated around the neighboring stores. We were there at the right moment as the rich aroma floated through our car’s window and helped me to calm down from the impact of the day. That part of our day was over, I hoped. I thanked God we didn’t have to face it alone.

“Haley, I suggest that you take one step at a time, then things will be smoother. Don’t worry. After you update Eric about what happened, he’ll understand the continued need for secrecy,” said George.

“When will I be able to see him again?”

“Soon. Mattie and I will work it out. I promise. You both need to trust us. And what’s more, you are not going to lose him. He doesn’t want to lose you either, Haley.”

I looked at George for a moment and then turned away. How did he know? My heart filled with longing. It had felt good to be in Eric’s arms. I wished he could have held me longer. What could I say to let him know how I felt about him without sounding foolish, or scaring him off? Something in the back of my mind nagged at me, Let him take the lead.

Blinking back tears I stared out the window. If it had been a rainy day, I would have been crying along with the raindrops. I was tired, and so much scary stuff had happened. Where is my life going?

Quick memories flashed through my mind. Eric’s face as he knelt in front of me at the hospital and dressed the cuts on my knees, and how he looked when the creep put out his arm and blocked me from Mrs. Johnson’s bedside. The pain must’ve shown immediately on my face. Eric fought for me, he defended me, and he wanted to protect me…

George’s voice brought me back to the moment. He had parked in front of a glass paned door with Celeste’s Fine Italian Food, written on it. “Let’s go inside, Haley, my very good friend, Giuseppe, owns this place. We met in the service a long time ago. You’ll like him.” There was gentleness in his face and once again, his eyes seemed to twinkle.

As we stepped inside, the aroma of rich meat sauces enveloped my senses. “Oh, it smells so delicious in here. I might get hungry all over again.”

A man with the shape of a thin bowling pin, and a receding hairline of wavy black hair, approached us. He, too, had a mustache, but a black one. Giuseppe was shorter than George, he stood about 5 feet 5 inches tall, wore a black suit, a stiff white shirt, and a black bow tie. In his hands, he held menus and he moved with ease between the tables covered with wine glasses and dripping candles. Grape ivy framed the entrances and the corners of the dining area.

George waved his arm in greeting. “Giuseppe, this is my niece, Haley.”

Giuseppe smiled big and opened his arms to greet me. “Ah, Welcome Haley. I am so very glad to meet you.”

I leaned forward and accepted his hug.

“Please, come and sit down. What can I get for you tonight? We have lasagna, manicotti, eggplant, and three delicious sauces for spaghetti and the biggest meatballs in town. Are you hungry? Would you like some wine?”

“Thank you, Giuseppe, but not this time,” said George. “We’ve had an unusually early evening meal tonight, but we are here to ask a favor. May we use your telephone?”

“Certainly! Whatever you need is my pleasure to provide! Come into my office,” he said and led us to a back room. In a wood paneled room, a well polished rosewood roll top desk sat in one corner. A matching swivel chair faced us. Behind it stood a graceful replica of a stork carrying a lampshade. A comfortable floral couch in muted autumn tones was positioned against the wall opposite near a corner window. The room had the ambience more like a sitting room than an office. A wedding picture of Giuseppe and his bride hung in a beautiful gilded frame over the couch.

“Your wife is lovely,” I couldn’t help saying.

“Thank you. Thank you. Celeste is busy in the kitchen now. She will look forward to meeting you, Haley. Oh! Be careful when you lean back in that chair, it can be scary when you are not used to it,” he warned and smiled. “I will be with the guests in front.”

“I’ll be out front with Giuseppe, Haley.” George leaned over to me and said, “Remember, make the call short.”


I quickly dialed the number Eric gave me and he answered before the second ring.


“Eric, it’s Haley.”

“Oh my God, are you okay? Where are you calling from?”

“We’re all okay. I drove to my aunt’s house and she and her friend, George are going to take care of us. But I have to tell you this first, we can’t talk long because your phone line might be tapped. George promised me that I could call you from somewhere else tomorrow.”

“Tell me where I can meet you,” said Eric.

“I can’t do that. I’m too far away and my aunt and George have advised me to keep our location a secret for now.”

“Tell me, what happened. Then I’ll share some of what’s happened here.”

“I’ll try to make it short,” I said. “The Creep spotted us and chased us all the way to and down Lombard Street. We hid in someone’s driveway and ducked out of sight. Then I headed for the freeway. It was all a narrow escape, Eric. I drove in a panic but I didn’t do any damage to your car. Oh, and I just realized a few minutes ago that while we were trying to get away from him, we probably drove right by your aunt’s house. Please tell her we are so thankful that she was willing to take us in,” I added. “If I had gone to her house, I would have led Stetson right to her front door.”

“You’re right. But how did he find you in the first place?”

“It was weird. He spotted us as I crossed over Bush at Powell and he was sitting in a cab. He chased us in a taxi cab!”

“I’m really glad you got away. I can’t wait to see you again, Haley. I have so much to tell you,” said Eric.

“I feel the same way and I can’t wait to see you.” I paused here but decided to keep talking. “Tell me, quick, what’s happened there with you?” I asked. And then before he could reply, I added, “Oh, George said that he’ll have your van in your aunt’s driveway by tomorrow morning.”

“Whoa! That won’t be a good idea,” said Eric. “Driving my van back here tonight is not an option right now. Your picture is on the front page of the Chronicle. A photographer took a random picture trying to show residents leaving the building and he caught you, Jeanne, and Krista about to open the door of my van.”

“That’s definitely unwanted publicity,” I said.

“The problem is more than that. My license plate number is easy to read in this photo. Stetson might already have men watching for you driving my van. So it’s not a good idea for anyone to be driving it.

“I’ll tell George and he’ll work something out,” I said.

“Stay where you are and be safe Haley. I want to see you again, and soon, but your safety needs to come first.”

“Eric, I can’t thank you enough for how wonderful you’ve been. Ever since I met you, you have been helping and protecting me, and my friends. Oh, I’ve got to ask you right now, how Mrs. Johnson is doing? Can you call her, or go see her and secretly let her know we’re all okay? We don’t want her to hear about Mrs. Hamlin on the news. She’ll be terrified and more worried about us.”

“Sure, the Chief and I will take care of that. When do you think I’ll be able to see you?”

“George said he’s working on that, so I’ll think it’ll be soon.” I fidgeted with the spiral telephone cord and paused, “Eric, I’ll be calling you tomorrow. Though I don’t know what time.”

“I’ll come back here after work tomorrow, but don’t hang up yet. There’s more bad news.”

“What else could be more dreadful than what’s happened?” I asked.

“The place where you’ve been living has now been nicknamed The Murder Building. The Serial Killer has murdered three more people there.

A gasp escaped me and goosebumps rose on my arms. “Who?”

“A mother and her two young girls, in the apartment next to Krista’s. The killer did the same to them as they did to Mrs. Hamlin.”

“Oh no! Those sweet little girls and their mother? I brought them some cookies… that Mrs. Johnson baked.” Haley’s voice had trailed off.

“I can understand how hard this is to hear, Haley. Fontino and his men are working hard to solve these killings. Chief Mullins and I are going to team up with him to help.”

I couldn’t hold back the emotions of dread, fear, sadness, and loss. The feelings all came out of me in sobs. “This is all horrible. Everyone I care about is in danger.”

“Haley, it would be better if you didn’t come back for a while. Keep that hiding place. It will be up to you to call me. I can be here after work to get your call or a message. I’ll be waiting.”

“Eric,” I’m counting on George to keep his promises. My aunt trusts him with her life, and at the moment I don’t have a choice, but I feel that I can trust him, too.”

I saw George peek in at the door. “I’ve got to go right now. I’ll call tomorrow!” I said quickly and hung up. I hoped George had not heard any of my conversation. I had more to say to Eric, but not tonight. I had said, and heard enough.

George and I waved good-by to Giuseppe as we went out the back entrance. In the van I filled him in on some of what I learned. “George, we could all be found just by the license plate number. How will you get Eric’s van back to him now?”

“It might have been a problem, but now that you’ve told me it won’t be. I will have the license plate changed before we move the car. Thanks for the tip though,” said George and he smiled. “You’ve got a great admirer there haven’t you?”

“You were right. Eric does care for me. He’s also very worried about all of us. Fontino and his men found three more bodies in our building today, George. Two little girls and their mother, who lived in the apartment next to Krista’s. All of us, Mrs. Johnson, Krista, Jeanne and I, knew them.” I put my hands up to cover my face as the tears rolled down uncontrollably. George folded his arms around me. Then a meek wail came through, “We’ll never be able to live there again.”

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 22…street-part-22/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

Stetson moved quickly through the crowd at Union Square and hopped onto the Hyde Street cable car. He grabbed onto the first white pole at the front of the cable car as it headed up the hill. A bench seat in front of him was available but he preferred to stand on the outside ledge. As the cable car moved forward short bursts of wind blew against his face and the coolness eased the strains from what he would say was a “crappy day.” Everything he was involved with had become a disaster for him. Even up to an hour ago, Steele had told him about his murderous rampage through the Bush Street apartment building. He had been there on a personal request from Stetson which would be a direct link . If Steele was caught, Stetson knew he would be going down with him, and maybe for all the serial killings. He couldn’t let that happen. Stetson’s heart beat faster. Steele had boasted of slicing the throats of two women and two young girls earlier today and casually threw in how he had so easily taken care of a small dog as well.

A dreadful feeling spread through Stetson’s mind and he knew he couldn’t continue to live this way. He had to follow-through with his plan.

The cable car stopped on Sutter Street to pick up more passengers before attempting the steep slope up to Bush, the street where Haley and her two friends lived. His own apartment was barely two blocks further up Bush. After a slow struggle with a full load of passengers, the cable car stopped on the corner by the abandoned flower stand. Stetson tried to see what was happening in front of Haley’s apartment. Police officers in their blue uniforms and caps kept the curious moving up the street while photographers were taking pictures of bystanders. Then he was distracted by a petite blonde who bumped into his hand as she grabbed the same white pole he was holding onto. She swung around and plopped into the bench seat in front of him. How quickly things can change, Stetson thought. The young girl, out of breath, was the Hostess from Lefty’s.

“Well, hello again,” he said.

She didn’t recognize him at first, she squinted at him for a moment. “Oh! Hello. You’re Stetson, the cop?”

“Shh! Don’t tell everyone here. It’s my day off,” he lied. He bent closer, and said in a low voice, “This is when I get to be a stranger, like everyone else.” He looked around to see if anyone heard her.

“Don’t worry,” she said and laughed. ”There’s too much noise. No one can hear what I said.”

Stetson smiled and looked at her with more interest. In a black wool coat with a small collar, she wore a light blue dress that brought out the blueness of her eyes. A small gold cross on a delicate chain hung on her neck along with a heart that had the name Mark, engraved on it. Her wavy blonde hair, no longer in a ponytail, lay on her shoulders.

“Where are you headed? Going home?” he asked.

“Oh no, I’ve just been home for a quick change. I’m headed for the Buena Vista Café. You know that little restaurant at the end of the line. Oh, how I wish I lived in that area. I love those homes with ivy growing around the windows. That’s where I want to live.”

“Oh, yeah,” said Stetson nodding in agreement. He paused. She was a little chatterbox and he wanted to let her talk some more.

At the same time, the Chinatown Branch of the San Francisco Public Library came in sight. The building shone in the sunlight like a golden brick stronghold with a double-sided staircase leading up to beveled glass doors. The library was Stetson’s landmark that a hard left turn was coming up. It was at this point that Stetson often announced to everyone, “Hold on tight for the curve!” Then as the cable car leaned outward on the curve, first time riders squealed and screamed in excitement. Many regulars that Stetson recognized on this route joined in the fun as well. Hoards of smiles and laughter came his way with, “Thanks for the warning!” However, this time Stetson said nothing. He wanted to give the Hostess all of his attention.

They were both silent but smiling as they rode through the turn like old-timers. Then she spoke, “I’m meeting my boyfriend, Mark. He’s bringing his friends from work to the Buena Vista Café for drinks and dinner. We’re going to celebrate his promotion,” she said with a big smile. “Tonight, it’ll be my turn to be waited on with good food and drinks,” she added.

“That happens to be where I’m going to meet a friend as well,” said Stetson.

“Really?” she said and then was pensive.

“Oh, no…”

Stetson watched her smiling face turned to worry.

“I hope you’re not meeting with that guy you were with at Lefty’s,” she said with a hopeful look in her eyes.

“Unfortunately, yes. He’ll be there in about thirty minutes.”

She let out a deep breath. “That guy gives me the creeps. Oh, I’m sorry. That just slipped out. He’s a friend of yours’, but I can’t help how I feel.”

Stetson heard the distress in her voice. He nodded his head to indicate it didn’t bother him. “He’s quite a flirt,” he said trying to show her sympathy.

“Ugh! When I’m leading him to a table, I can feel his eyes crawl all over the back of me. And when I see him face to face, his whole being seems to pierce me. He really scares me,” she said.

Stetson saw her shudder.

All the time they were talking, the Hyde Street cable car moved smoothly over the shiny silver rails toward the bay. When the grip man stopped at Lombard Street for everyone to catch the magnificent view of the Bay Bridge beyond the sprawl of the city below, Stetson said, “Here’s the beautiful area where you said you’d liked to live. And look, see the sailboats out by the Bay Bridge? Someday soon, I’ll have my own sailboat and be out there.”

“I’ve been sailing with my father before. On a windy day I find it exciting to be cutting through that huge body of water,” she said.

“You’re right there. I love the feel of the wind in my face,” then he changed the subject. “Hey, I’m sorry. My friend is just a casual business acquaintance. I don’t know him well, but I did notice how he has a pointed need for flirting with cute girls.”

Her face reddened a bit. “Thanks for the compliment,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll get there before he does and can convince my friends to go somewhere else for dinner tonight.”

“There’s always Alioto’s nearby,” suggested Stetson. “By the way, what’s your name?”

“They call me Stephanie at work, but my name is really Marilyn Mid…”

“Last stop!” said the grip man, as his gloved hands pulled the big brake backwards. The loud click clacking noise from the brake action, along with the murmurs of excitement from the crowd upon seeing Alcatraz had overpowered her words.

Marilyn smiled at Stetson and said, “By the way, thanks for the big tip.” She slid from the wooden bench seat before he could offer her assistance. He watched as she walked with sure and light steps in front of the cable car. Her petite figure in low tan heels skipped over the second pair of rails to the sidewalk. She pushed through the café door of the crowded restaurant and disappeared.

Stetson stepped off the cable car and weaved through the other passengers who were walking away in different directions. Heading toward the Buena Vista, he looked forward to an Irish coffee. Trying several times, he still couldn’t figure out what Marilyn had said her last name was, and gave up. The next time he was at Lefty’s he would ask the manager. For some reason though, he could not get her off his mind. She had a nice first name, and she looked like a Marilyn, too. Was he smitten with her? Stetson laughed at himself. She’s too young. He visualized her light wavy blonde hair bouncing up and down as she walked, and remembered her beautiful blue eyes. He had also noticed her full lips. She had all the qualities … that Steele would enjoy.

“Oh my God, no!” Stetson said inaudibly. His chest felt hollow as he realized that Marilyn was Steele’s next victim.

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 21…street-part-21/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

Stetson and Steele parted company outside the swinging doors of Lefty O’Doul’s. Steele strolled left toward Mason Street while Stetson had turned right toward Union Square, a place where he could disappear and not be known as a police officer. He had to decide what to do about Steele.

The sounds of fluttering voices and giggling caught his ear. He turned and saw a group of women standing in front of Andre’s, a fashionable boutique, eyeing Steele’s slim figure well revealed in soft blue jeans gliding down the street. He’s doing it again, even without effort, thought Stetson. Steele had dressed in a black turtleneck under his brown leather jacket, and thrown on a dark blue neck scarf. Instantly, he had the mysterious aura of an artist, or a model. Two women dressed in Chanel suits and carrying expensive handbags passed by in front of Stetson. He overhead one of them say, “Sylvia, imagine that handsome blond hunk posing naked. Oh, I could just faint!”

Stetson shook his head as if he could erase what he had just heard. He didn’t need any more confirmation that Steele’s enormous appetite for women put him closer to being caught. The man’s looks alone acted like a magnet for women’s attention. Stetson crossed Powell Street along with the crowd of shoppers. The street noise of cars honking, people chattering, and the flapping of pigeons across the grounds, mixed with Jamaican tune played by the corner street musicians banging away at overturned wash basins and cooking pots. This fabric of noise was typical of downtown San Francisco. When he reached the tall statue of Victoria, the goddess of victory, a commemoration of the victory of George Dewey in 1898 at Manila Bay, Stetson had his mind made up. After the many disagreements he had with Steele in the past, and recent unsuccessful attempts to created communications with Jeanne and Krista who worked together in the teletype room of E. I. DuPont’s Western Headquarters, Stetson had lost his patience. Steele’s non-productive attempts were the results of his distraction of hunting and the feeding his desires to kill young blonde girls. Stetson knew he had to get rid of Steele. Permanently.

Since his demotion on the police force, he had no clout with his cohorts, nor did he have anyone he could trust. He had to do this job himself. He remembered that he still hadn’t talked with any of the guys he hired to do the job on Haley’s apartment, but at the moment, he had to let those details go and rely on those thugs to keep their mouths shut. He had much bigger problems to resolve.

For one, he had to get rid of Steele. The serial killer’s death would remove the high-risk situation. His other predicament involved the rich and powerful client nicknamed, Portico. Portico had hired Stetson to carry out a plan to destroy a major portion of the Port of San Francisco using some specific guidelines. When Stetson felt comfortable enough to ask, “Why?” his client replied, “You don’t need to know. I am paying you well to get the information and to set up the job.” At that point, a bodyguard handed over a gym bag packed with $250,000, and guiding Stetson by the arm escorted him out of the penthouse of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Within ten minutes Stetson saw his client leave the hotel in a dark and long limousine.

Stetson needed someone highly skilled to meet his needs for this job, and Steele, a former demolition expert for the Navy came highly recommended by his peers.

Upon hearing Steele’s idea of how he could easily obtain the confidential details of the shipping orders without a break-in, Stetson hired Steele and paid him with half the amount he received, and promised twice as much to come upon completion of the job.

But now, this man, whose skills as a demolition expert made him an asset had become a detriment – a serial killer who in just weeks, had murdered seven people. And as Steele told him this afternoon, the lives of four of those seven people taken before noon today. Two of which were young little girls. The terror Steele instilled in the neighborhood and around the city also created groups of angry men who were ready to do harm to the serial killer without hesitation. They were tired of waiting for police efforts to protect their loved ones and themselves. He and Steele had witnessed the beginning of small mob by men who were eager to be vigilantes. Though Steele enjoyed the notoriety, Stetson did not. He had to be rid of Steele, and he had to do it tonight.

Through crowds of shoppers, tourists, and pigeons pecking the ground for breadcrumbs, it had only taken a stroll around Union Square two times. Stetson made his decision and knew exactly how he would carry out his plan.

After a brief discussion of business, and treating Steele to a big dinner, and several rounds of drinks at the Buena Vista Café with some girl-based jokes thrown in, he planned to entice Steele to join him on a cable car ride back to their neighborhood on Nob Hill. Emphasizing how grand it would feel to see the sparkling lights of the city below Lombard Street where the cable car always stopped, and what a thrilling experience it was to stand underneath the star filled night sky and look out at the Bay Bridge that would be all lit up.

At the boarding point where people waited for the grip man to drive the cable car onto the revolving turntable, he planned to stand close to Steele and deliver a bullet that would stop the murderous heart.

Stetson carefully reviewed the details of his surroundings for that moment. At the end of the line, the front windows of the Buena Vista Cafe looked out at the spot where the conductor and cable engineers pushed the cable car around to go back up Hyde Street. The warmth from inside the restaurant in contrast to the chilly fog would create steamy windows, making it hard for anyone to see what was happening outside. Besides that, there were only a couple of lampposts in that area. The turntable at night would be the perfect setting for Steele’s demise, thought Stetson. Various sources of noise would be the helpful cover for his crime. People often called out to family members, “Over here! We have seats over here!” Everyone would be busy clamoring aboard for a seat for the long ride up and down the hills back to the core of the city. In addition to the rattling of the cable car driven onto the round wooden platform, the rumbling of cables beneath the silver rails would hide any noise of a struggle, or the gunshot.

By the time the gripman and conductor discovered Steele’s body on the ground in the darkness, all the passengers would be screaming in fear. Stetson smiled to himself as he thought of how the leather jacket, dark turtleneck shirt and navy blue neck scarf Steele loved to wear, would conveniently hide the blood. Stetson visualized himself walking along in the dark with others who were heading toward the neon lights advertising great seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Releasing a deep sigh, Stetson’s body relaxed. His hands were no longer held in a fist, and his shoulder muscles were not tensed. He had a firm plan now.

He squeezed through the crowd surrounding the swaying street musicians and hopped on the outside of the Hyde-Powell Street cable car. At the end of the line, he would be ready to meet with Steele. His spirit was up, and he felt surges of energy that made him feel he could run on a track and jump hurtles, even with the two guns he packed on his body. He discreetly pressed his bent elbow against his side. Underneath his loose windbreaker a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic 1911 .45 caliber sat neatly in his shoulder holster. And although uncomfortable at times, he wore an S&W J Frame Colt 1903 .25 acp in his right ankle holster. Uncomfortable or not, that little baby had saved his life through many close calls. “How convenient my two best friends are with me today,” he said aloud. He trusted the noise surrounding him to cover what he said. The Jamaican music alone would prevent anyone from hearing him clearly. Just as no one will hear the killing gunshot by the turntable tonight.

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 20…street-part-20/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

Robin’s evening edition of The Examiner landed with a thump against her front door. “That Jimmy Lee is going to break the glass on my door someday. His arm is getting too strong from baseball practice,” she mumbled to herself. She separated the thick front section of the newspaper and tucked the others under her left arm. As she walked back into the patio she announced, “The Examiner has several pictures on their front page. Is this Haley, Jeanne, and Krista?”

Both Eric and the Chief stood abruptly, their chairs screeched when shoved back on the stone pavement. Eric took the paper from Robin. “It’s them. This photo was snapped when they were leaving the building and getting into my van.”

The Chief looked over his shoulder. “And your license plate shows real well, too.”

“That means that creep and his men will be able to track them down wherever they are, right?” asked Robin.

“Unfortunately, yes. I wish there was some way I could warn her,” said Eric as he continued to scan the newspaper.

“I’ll give Fontino a call and see if there’s anything he can do,” said the Chief. He picked up his mug and plate and headed toward the kitchen. “By the way, Robin, you’re potato salad was delicious, too.”

“Thank you, but here, let me have those dishes. You don’t need to do this,” said Robin.

“Yes, I do,” he said and waved her back. “My mother trained me to be the perfect guest, Robin, and I value the rewards of being polite.” The Chief then gave her a big smile, leaned toward her and spoke as if a conspirator, “I get the bigger piece of cake for desert.” Robin burst into laughter and walked into the kitchen with him.

He put his dishes in the sink. “I haven’t forgotten we’re waiting for Haley to call. I’ll get off the phone as quick as I can.”

“Don’t worry about that. Just use the new line I had installed in my studio. It has a different number,” Robin said.

The Chief gave her a lingering look. “Okay, thanks. I’ll use that one.” He walked down the carpeted hall and into a room filled with paintings leaning against the walls, and in front of other pieces stored in slots. Books on painting techniques by famous artist loaded the shelves, and an easel stood near the double French doors. The atrium offered a beautiful and restful scene of ferns and flowers swaying in the mid-day breeze.

At her desk the telephone had its place next to a row of brushes ranging from small and thin to tall and thick. A big jar of pencils in a multitude of shades stood on the other side of the phone along with a tray of palette knives.

Robin returned to the patio where Eric sat thumbing through the newspaper for the second time. She sat down in the chair next to him.

“I’ve read everything here about the serial murders twice,” he said. “The front page picture shows Haley and the girls leaving as firemen are coming and going at that time. This is happening before the police arrived,” explained Eric. “Luckily, they weren’t identified by name or as residents there.”

“That a bit of a relief isn’t it?” said Robin.

“Yeah. Until Stetson,” he paused and explained. “Aunt Robin, Stetson’s the cop who harassed Jeanne and Krista in their apartment for disturbing the peace when they weren’t, and the same guy who harassed Haley at the hospital.”

“He’s a bully and a creep,” said Robin.

“Until Stetson and his men see this picture, they won’t have a clue as to where the girls have gone, or how they’re getting there,” finished Eric.

“And not everyone reads the early evening edition of the newspaper,” said Robin, “Until they do, the girls have a bit more time to disappear.”

“Right,” said Eric and he sighed. “I’m praying they are all okay and that they’ll be calling soon.”

The Chief returned with a solemn face. “What’s happened?” asked Eric.

“Well, several things,” he said as he pulled over a chair to sit next to Robin. “Fontino got a tongue-lashing and a threat of extinction from the Mayor who is demanding faster results. Our friend is still at the crime scene and he’s ticked off that reporters are juicing residents of the neighborhood for more information. He says that rumors get started that way and move like wild fire. People coming home from work down in the financial district are joining the crowd. And the worst part, someone has nicknamed the place The Murder Building.

“Ha!” said Robin as she raised her hands to exclaim, “Call it The Murder Building of Nob Hill and tourists from all over the world will come to the scene of the crimes!”

“It’s bad enough that someone came up with the name The Serial Killer of Bush Street, but now, the trouble coming our way will double,” added the Chief.

“Somehow we have to catch the serial killer,” said Eric. “We need to study the cases. Try to find a pattern, or associate the killings somehow.”

“There’s hasn’t been much time between the Bush Street murders, has there?”said Robin. “I’m feeling uneasy, like something bad is happening right now. And not too far away.”

“Eric, I hope your aunt isn’t psychic. I don’t want her to know what I’m thinking,” said the Chief with a sly smile.

“No, not that I know of Chief,” said Eric, and he smiled, too. “It’s called women’s intuition. Isn’t that right?”

“Yep,” she said. However, she wasn’t telling them the truth for at that moment, she had images of something white being torn, something shiny moving through the air, and a strong wind blowing things all around. Pretending she was fine she said, “Any women living near Bush Street is probably more frightened than they’ve ever felt before.”

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 19…street-part-19/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

“Eric,” said Robin, “Why don’t you show the Chief the view out on the patio?”

Accordingly, Eric led the Chief through the living room to the small flagstone patio. “Have a seat over here, Chief.”

“Heavens! What a spectacular view. I can see the whole length of the Oakland Bay Bridge,” exclaimed the Chief.

“Wait until you see it at night,” said Eric. “In the winter I sit here on a foggy night and wait for the lights to come on over the city below and on the bridge. That’s something special to see as well.”

Robin came out to the patio with a tray of hot apple cider in large mugs. Cinnamon sticks swirling in the hot cider created a warm spicy aroma. “Who would have thought that this tiny spot could have such a big view, eh?” said Robin. Her silvery hair sparkled in the sunlight as she placed napkins and coasters on the table.

“This is delicious,” said the Chief, and his eyebrows lifted in affirmation as he nodded his head. “This is just what I needed. Thank you, Robin.”

“You’re welcome, Greg. Listen, you guys rest and I’ll go make some  sandwiches.”

“The fog is starting to roll in now,” said Eric.

The Chief scanned the horizon, “Yep, that’s quite a thick fog bank out there.” He stretched, “Man, I’m getting tired and I still have so much paperwork to do down at the fire station. Right now, I just don’t want to move.”

Eric nodded in agreement, sipped his apple cider, and stared out at the small sailboats and large freighters moving along in the Pacific Ocean. It’s awesome, he thought, that in just a day and a half, he had met Haley and become enraptured with her. What was it about her that fascinated him? What was it that made her different from the other girls he had met? He remembered watching her the night before when she conversed and comforted several families in the hospital waiting rooms. As he assisted the nursing staff with the overflow of incoming patients, he had overheard her kind words of encouragement for an elderly grandfather who broke his leg. He later saw how she helped a young little girl dry her tears from a fall and become a smiling girl full of giggles, ready to see the doctor. In his mind, Haley had unique characteristics. He had always been attracted to this kind of person. Add to that the similarities from their backgrounds where they had both lost their parents when they were young, they definitely had more feelings in common that didn’t need to be spoken aloud.

Haley had just begun to sharing her aspirations for more humanitarian work through her employer’s projects. She had said that as the Administrative Assistant to the District Manager of E. I. DuPont deNemours, Inc., there were plenty of opportunities ahead of her. However, at that moment, Commander James Stetson of the SFPD had interrupted them.

Eric felt the tenseness in his arm when he thought about how Stetson had tried to persuade Haley to accept a ride home from the hospital with him. Then when Eric visually recalled how Stetson’s arm had shot outward and blocked Haley from getting closer to Mrs. Johnson’s bedside in ICU, he pounded his fist on the arm of his chair.

“Are you all right?” asked the Chief? “You worried about Haley and the girls?”

“Yeah sure,” Eric said and he started pounding his right fist into his other hand, “That S.O.B. just walked right into Mrs. Johnson’s room and tried to order everyone around. Did I tell you about how he put out his arm to block Haley from Mrs. Johnson’s bedside? That creep was so wrapped up in the authority of his position, he ended up hurting Haley across the chest.”

“No,” said the Chief in disbelief. “So that’s what caused you two to slug each other?”

“Yeah, that’s right. I was doing okay but then I had help from the orderlies, too,” said Eric. “Chief,” and Eric stopped to laugh. “You should have been there to see how these guys enjoyed pounding Stetson. You would have loved it. They were smiling when they pulled that bull away from me. They hated his guts.” Eric rubbed the knuckles of his right hand. “All three orderlies were laughing so hard when they came back on to the ICU. I overheard one of them say that when they released Stetson from the elevator and into the lobby, the Chief of Police had Stetson pulled over and he disposed the riot act on the creep and then demoted him! Stetson is no longer in charge of the Serial Killer investigations. Too bad Haley and the girls didn’t know this before they took off. I’m sure the memory of his harassments still frightens them. Now, they’re fleeing from the creep and the Serial Killer.

“And what’s more,” added the Chief, “The girls don’t know that two little girls and their mother were also murdered in the same building they lived in.”

“Right. That and the fact they are homeless now, just makes me so frustrated. I can’t do anything to help them. I don’t know where they are, or where they might be headed,” said Eric.

“Eric, stop what you’re doing with your eyebrows. You look like a fiend from the movies,” said the Chief. “Everything will work out.”

“One of them must be pretty special,” said Robin as she approached the table with a large bowl of potato salad and a tray of sandwiches “Take your pick, guys. I made roast beef, ham and cheese, and egg salad sandwiches.”

“Thanks Aunt Robin. All of this looks delicious,” said Eric. He leaned back and said, “Her name is Haley, Aunt Robin. She lives, or did live with her roommate, Jeanne, and they both have a friend named Krista who is with them practically all the time when they are not at work. But right now, their apartment has been so thoroughly vandalized, they’re homeless.”

“I’m concerned for them, too,” said the Chief. “An elderly woman was found with her throat slit in Krista’s apartment. With a serial killer still roaming in the neighborhood, and mobs of angry people wanting justice, more trouble is brewing and spreading all over this city.”

“I wish I knew where they were, and if they are safe. I don’t understand why they haven’t called yet. They had to leave their apartment so fast, all they had was what they were wearing and what money they had in their purses. On a weekday, that couldn’t have been very much,” said Eric. “Girls usually just take enough money in their purses for lunch and bus fare on the weekdays. On the weekends when they shop down on Market Street, they are usually loaded with cash.”

“That’s a good observation,” said Robin as she sat down on a chaise lounge to eat her roast beef sandwich.

“Your van wasn’t there when we got outside, Eric. Their own car has flat tires. They must’ve driven out of town. I think they were more scared than what showed,” said the Chief. “Do you know what I mean?” he added.

“Yeah, I do,” said Eric as he shifted in his chair still chewing on a sandwich. “They’re going to experience a delayed action when they finally settle down for the night. All of them were so busy running from danger…” Eric did not finish his sentence aloud but his mind kept on going. “Well Haley seems the strong one,” said the Chief. She’s taken everything in stride and still has the capability to take care of the other two.”

“I just can’t figure out why they didn’t come here,” said Eric. He rubbed his forehead.

“There’s probably a good reason for it,” said the Chief. “Maybe they decided to go to some other relatives’ home. None of them know Robin. Maybe that’s what changed their minds.”

“Yeah, that might be, but then they have my van. You would think they would call here and leave a message. They know I would need my car to get to work. Haley’s the responsible type, she’d want to contact me right away,” said Eric.

“That’s just it. Haley and the girls haven’t settled down yet. Give them a few more hours, Eric. Then if you don’t’ hear from her, our friend, Detective Fontino could put out an APB and find them.”

“An APB will let the creep and his cohorts know what’s happening. We have to keep it low profile. Just you and me for now.” Crooked furrows came back on his forehead.

“I’m hanging in here with you, Eric,” said the Chief. “Whatever you need.”