My roommates were stepping out for pizza and ice cream while I was thinking about smoking half a cigarette. Peeking out the window I couldn’t help but notice the five squad cars taking up the eastbound lane with a small army of uniforms amassed in front of 555 Haight. Not too long ago I found myself wondering how long it’s been since they yanked a body out of that flophouse so I grabbed my camera and headed to the roof.
After pulling one of their wayward compatriots back out of Noc Noc where he’d accidentally disappeared the last three cops were inside. I scanned the windows of the building looking for any signs of activity but most were dark. A block down Haight I noticed another squad car with its lights on blocking part of the street and a paramedic parked in a bus stop. No one was moving, and I wondered if the cops had stormed 555 Haight (with a brief and confused stop at Noc Noc) searching for someone involved with the ambulance down the street.
Still nothing happening across the street but I hear sirens approaching. A second ambulance barrels down Haight heading east blowing through the intersection. I check the front of 555 Haight but the cops haven’t come back out. The ambulance kept driving past us and disappeared down the street.
The first indication that there was anyone in the building across the street resulted from their very large and angry dog reacting to the sirens. This dog’s bellows are echoed by a couple large dogs tied up in front of Toronado, but after a minute or two everyone calms down.
My roommate Jamie, burdened with ice cream, stops to talk to her friend who works at Rosamunde. They gossip about what’s going on, watching the same door as me.
Finally, some action! Three cops step outside and I held my breath waiting for the rest of the squad to trickle out. But then nothing happens– just these three cops hanging out waiting. I check down the street to see what the other squad car and ambulance are doing only to find they’ve left.
After a tense several minutes the rest of the police leave 555 Haight with two civilians in partial custody. They take the taller guy off a way and stand talking with him while the other, shorter person (who I thought was a girl but Jamie later told me was just a short guy) disappears into Love & Haight. Most of the cops stand in the middle of the sidewalk bullshitting while this informal interrogation takes place. In the end the tall guy is let go and he crosses the street and goes to hang out at Molotov’s. A couple minutes later the second person leaves Love & Haight packing cigarettes. The police don’t even look at them and they too cross the street and go to Molotov’s.
Most of the cops slowly say goodnight to one another and drift off their their various squad cars. No ambulance down the street, the suspects have been released to go hang out at the bar– but these three cops just kept standing out front of 555 Haight. So I waited. They started talking to a cluster of people hanging out with the two large dogs tied up in front of Toronado.
The cops eventually make their presence known and a message is relayed through the crowded bar until the owner sticks his head outside. I’m the owner– is there a problem? One of the cops, shorter than everyone else and the only female who had been on the scene, motions him outside. He steps outside but she backs down the sidewalk and motions him to follow. He steps forward slowly until she begins whipping her arm violently and he scuttles over. They have a long talk.
The woman cop lets the Toronado drinker go and he joins some friends and his dogs. Jamie told me later that the cop had threatened to ticket him for leaving his dogs tied up out front for so long but decided to let him go with a simple warning.
After berating the dog owner the three cops seemed to have run out of things to do and they went to their respective cars to leave. Scratching my head I went back inside to where my roommates were both just returning from their various preoccupations. Did I get any good pictures?
According to both of them there was a similar brouhaha in front of 555 Haight yesterday but Fro didn’t catch what Jamie’s friend from Rosamunde saw. Paramedics yanked someone from the building who had blue feet and the medical examiner was on hand later in the evening. All of this I missed because I had my blinds closed. Word on the street is that someone got their skull bashed in with a hammer.
But the Jamie remembered something from a couple days before. Someone rang our doorbell at three in the morning and she figured it was her friend who was too drunk to ride her bike home and buzzed them in. Turns out it was some stranger looking for Chaz’s apartment, and he was so drunk it took Jamie some convincing to turn the guy around. When she didn’t hear the gate slam shut she stuck her head back out in the hall and caught the guy pissing in the doorway and had to run down the stairs yelling at him to fuck off.
And when Jamie was talking with her friend from Rosamunde this guy named Chaz walked up and told them what he’d heard about this death by bludgeoning. So I scanned the local papers and websites and blog sites and searched for any information about a body being found at 555 Haight Street to no avail. No reports of murder, no reports of assault, no missing posters up on the street, nothing being talked about in line at the grocery store… Nothing…