On the way back to the office, I had this undeniable thirst. I tried to ignore it, but it was too strong, and I was not. Mac's Bar and Grill was one of my old haunts just off the Embarcadero on Greenwich and Sansome Street. It was an old brick two-story building built just after the 1906 earthquake. It was always dark inside, which I loved. It was a good place for anyone not wanting to be seen. Since it was not far from the business district, there were usually a lot of "suits," which included those from banking, corporate attorneys, and high-powered corporate executives, with their cute little secretaries, secreted in the booths in the back. Peons like me sat at the bar or at one of the tables scattered around the floor. "Shoeless Louie Swensen," the larger-than-life Norwegian who was the owner who also tended bar was a 'hope to die' Dodger fan - the hated rival of the San Francisco Giants. Growing up in Riverside, California, the weather was usually hot. Louie hated to wear shoes because of the hot weather from a very young age. Even with San Francisco's often much cooler temps, his habit of not wearing shoes continued. If he did wear anything over his feet, it would be rubber-thong slippers.
Louie was the perfect foil for any Giant's fan who wanted to verbally joust with the big Norwegian about which team had the better players after belting a few drinks. There was a lot of loud shouting and arguing back and forth and a lot of laughter.
Louie stood about 5-10, maybe, 5-11, and was as wide as he was tall. He had actually played for the Dodgers as a catcher when he sustained a career-ending injury. He was blocking home-plate when the opposing player rushing headlong down the third base path to hopefully score slid into Louie and destroyed his ankle. His career was over. To make matters worse, it was his rookie year after spending eight years in the minors.
On top of that, the player who ruined his career was not only a Giant's player but was the great Willie Mays. Louie had the black and white photograph of that play blown up and hung on the wall behind the bar. Willie actually helped Louie with the finances to purchase Mac's. He would stop by for a beer when the Giants were in town to reminisce or commiserate, depending on who told the story.
I enjoyed the "give and take" with Louie, as did most patrons. When it came to the Giants and the Dodgers rivalry, Louie could 'needle' as good as anyone and sometimes better. Louie would often have 'inside' info related to my business or anything that he felt I would be interested in. Today was no exception. Louie would wait for the right moment to 'bend my ear,' and what he had to impart to me today I was not prepared for. "Your pal, the D.A., is in the private room upstairs with his latest honey," said Louie, in a near whisper, nodding his head toward the rear of the saloon.
You couldn't reach that room from inside of Mac's. There was private parking in the rear and a flight of wooden stairs that led up to the second floor. A large shed adjacent to the parking lot blocked out the view of the back of Mac's and gave anyone entering from the rear some cover. Especially those who wished to be incognito. Once inside, there were storage rooms, an office, and a private room which was more like an apartment with all the amenities you would find in a small apartment. I knew this because I had used it before myself. Lee must have driven to Mac's after I saw him at Scoma's with that beautiful young intern. I must admit I felt a bit jealous, yet at the same time, I had mixed emotions.
I knew of some of his liaisons. We had discussed a few of our 'conquests' over a few drinks when egos and tongues are loosened by the booze and humility flies out the window. We never discussed such things when sober. I'm sure he regretted disclosing such sensitive information to me even though we had been friends for years. I did have concern for his welfare. I had his back as he had mine. That also included the Mayor. All three of us lived in the projects as kids running wild over those hills of Hunters Point. Because of their positions in the cities' political sphere, we were tight, yet there was an invisible line I couldn't cross, and I knew it. So, my old friend was up in that room doing who knows what, and I had a good idea what the "what" was I had concern, naturally. There is always the chance of being caught or at least seen, especially by someone who could do serious damage to Lee's reputation.
San Francisco is not a large city geographically. It is only seven miles wide by seven-mile-long. So, it is dangerous for someone with a high profile like Lee to get caught in an illicit affair with his intern or anyone, not his wife. It would be disastrous to his career and his marriage. Mulling over all of these thoughts ruined my buzz and screwed my thirst. I pushed a twenty toward Louie and left. I drove slowly past the parking in the rear of Mac's. I automatically glanced over at the wooden stairwell. I saw Lee with his right arm low around the slender waist of the intern with his hand clamped over her right buttock. They seemed to be laughing as they descended the stairs, and all I felt at that moment was jealousy.
To be continued…