By Pete Moss
"You can take the Packard," says Dragen.
"Thanks but no thanks," I say. "Parking is such a hassle in SF. You can drop us off at the Lake Merritt Station though."
So Dragen drives us down and drops us off at the BART station and we board a train for SF. We get off at Civic Center and go into a nearby Starbucks. I get in line for coffee and Spela plops down and plugs in her phone.
I get back to the table and set down the coffees and sit down. Spela is feverishly fussing with her phone. I grab a newspaper and read about the 49ers while Spela chants an incantation to help her phone charge faster.
A few minutes later her screen lights up. Spela's fingers fly. But she doesn't look happy. She mutters and curses under her breath.
I finish reading about the latest disasters and blunders with the 49ers and set down the paper.
"What?" I say.
Spela is completely absorbed in her phone, scowling and cursing.
"What?" I say.
Spela looks up. "Somebody bricked my phone," she says, looking lost and forlorn.
"Bricked your phone?"
"Turned it off, shut it down, made it worthless, bricked it," says Spela. She looks bereft.
"So?" I say.
"So?!! It's my phone!!! What can I do now? Nothing!!!"
"Oh c'mon. Humans got along without phones for eons. Who was that guy you said wrote the book on PIs?"
"Did the PI in his book have a cell phone?"
"Don't be silly, of course not. Those books were set in the 1930's. They barely had landlines!!"
I stare at Spela.
"OK, OK. I see your point. But how are we going to find this YoYo now?"
"Well....I know the places YoYo likes to hang out. We'll just drop around and maybe run into her."
Spela looks skeptical. "That's so, uh, primitive," she says.
"Well how'd Raymond Chandler do it?"
"Raymond Chandler was the writer. The detective's name was Phillip Marlowe."
"Whatever, how'd Phillip Marlowe do it?"
"Alright, alright. We're in for some old fashioned legwork."
"That's the spirit," I say.
"So where's our first stop?" says Spela.
"Whizzburgers, at 18th and South Van Ness. That's YoYo favorite lunch joint. We can walk there from here."
"Whizzburgers? Sounds disgusting. A typical American greasepit."
"You never had a classic American burger?"
"Well sure, There was McDonalds and Burger King both in Dubrovnik."
"Ha! Comparing McDonalds to Whizzburger is like comparing a Packard to a Yugo."
"Yugos were not bad cars for the money," says Spela.
I laugh. We get up walk out and proceed to Whizzburger. It's a good 20 minute walk and I am hungry when we get there. I order a Whizzburger. Spela turns up her Slavic nose, at first.
Pedro is delighted to have a few bites of Whizzburger.
As I eat Spela finally asks for a bite, and then won't give the burger back.
No sign of YoYo.
"Well? Where to next?" says Spela. There's a dab of mayo clinging to her cheek. I reach over and wipe it off. It should be a nothing gesture but a strange charge passes between us and I swear Spela blushes a wee bit.
"There's a mini-golf place up the street," I say.
"This is another American thing?"
"I can't wait," says Spela, rolling her eyes.
We walk up to the front door of Urban Putt.
"IDs please," says the doorman, a grizzled old white guy with charred vocal cords. He's wearing a cheap black windbreaker with 'security' in yellow letters on the back, some black dress trousers and worn out Chuck Taylors. He has a gimme cap on his head emblazoned with the lurid logo of an off brand tequila.
"ID?" says Spela. I already have my ID out, which I hand over. The doorman barely glances at it and hands it back.
"It's an American thing," I say.
"But any idiot can see I'm at least 30!!!" says Spela.
The doorman looks at me and rolls his eyes. "Sorry Missy, no ID, no entry," he says in a weary monotone. "And no, you don't look anywhere near 30," he adds, a further rasp in his voice.
Spela looks at him. "I don't?"
"No you don't," says the doorman. He looks Spela right in the eye.
Spela melts. She roots around in her bag and comes up with her Irish passport. "Have you seen one of these?" she says.
"Of course," says the doorman. "We get tons of Micks around here. Specially this time of year. But you're not a Mick are you?" He expertly examines her ID. He knows right where to look for the birthday.
"No I'm not," says Spela, impressed in spite of herself. "Where do you think I'm from?"
The old doorman eyes her for a few. "Croatia," he says.
Spela is genuinely impressed.
The doorman hands her ID back. A bunch of people have come up behind us and the doorman is moving around us to check their ID. "Go right in," he says to us.
And we go right in.
Spela's eyes get big. "What is this place?" she says.
"Well it used to be a mortuary. Now it's an indoor miniature golf course, with a bar, and a restaurant. The Scrimshaw Ale is quite nice. Do you want to play a round of golf?"
Spela looks around. She takes in the windmill shaped like the famous Pyramid building, and the first hole, with buildings shaking and sound effects from an earthquake. She walks through the place to Hole #7, 'The Reef' all black light and submarine themed.
We play a round of golf and have a pint of Scrimshaw. Spela is delighted with the whole experience and almost two hours slip by quite pleasantly.
But finally we're done and still there's no sign of YoYo.
"Well, what now?" says Spela.
"There's one other place we can check," I say. "Sam Jordan's over at 3rd and Galvez."
So we hop a 23 and take it over to 3rd and Evans and walk two blocks to Sam Jordan's. We walk into the bar. There's one old man shooting pool at the back and Shrelle, pecking at her phone behind the bar.
Pedro is quite familiar with this place. He goes right in and hops up on a bar stool and puts his paws on the bar and barks once.
Shrelle looks up from her phone, "Pedro!!!" she says. Shrelle reaches under the bar and gets out a piece of jerky and tosses it to Pedro.
"Pete," says Shrelle to me, considerably less friendly than she talked to Pedro.
"I brought Pedro back, you wanna call YoYo?" I say.
"Well I sure will. YoYo been worried sick about Pedro," says Shrelle.
Shrelle gets on her phone. The conversation is short. "She'll be by in a minute," says Shrelle. She doesn't offer us a drink or anything else.
"Wait a minute," says Spela. "You knew all along this is how to get hold of YoYo. Why didn't we just come here first?"
"You just wanted to take me on a date!!!" says Spela.
"So?" I say.