by Jerry Guarino
San Francisco is a
wonderful tourist spot. People come from all over
the world to see the natural beauty of the Bay
Area, the Golden Gate Bridge, the tea garden in
Golden Gate Park and Fishermans Wharf, home
of great seafood restaurants, shops and
entertainment venues. But there was one sight
that tourists would rather avoid.
No, Im not talking
about the homeless, but there are many in SF.
Tourists generally stayed out of their way,
occasionally dropping some change into their lap.
The homeless in San Francisco were creative with
signs that pleaded their case, or would dance or
sing (badly) for change. There was a guy who sat
inside a garbage can and would pop out to ask for
money from unsuspecting tourists and ask for
money. His sign said the original white
trash and while it was clever, it turned a
lot of people off.
But my favorite was a guy
known as Bush Man.
Bush Man would crouch on
the sidewalk, between the restaurants and the bay
where boats below would seek tourists for tours
around Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. He
held a bush in a planter in front of himself and
kept very still. That is, until an unsuspecting
tourist would be on their cell phone or chatting
with their companion. It worked particularly well
when a tourist was carrying a drink, which would
inevitably spill all over themselves or others.
With a sudden jump worthy
of an NBA forward going up for a dunk, Bush Man
would pop up and scare the tourist silly. His
smile showed he meant no harm and most people
happily dropped some change or a bill into his
cap. We always brought friends of ours from
outside California and set them up to be scared
by Bush Man. He was an original San Francisco
Years later, in
Arent you the detective who caught
the guy infecting houses with ants and hornets?
Why yes, have you
seen him around again?
No, but I thought you
might look into a more serious problem.
What is that?
You know that pond
down the street, the one where people walk their
selling drugs over there.
The detective suddenly
increased her attention. Really? How do you
neighbor and I noticed that every day between 10
and 10:30 in the morning, theres a black
Subaru parked next to the pond.
Yes, I know theres
only two parking spaces, but people park there
and walk their dogs.
but when this Subaru is parked there, no one is
walking around the pond, with or without a dog.
And why is this
Did you know theres
a small path above the pond hidden by trees?
Yes, Ive seen
it. Doesnt really go anywhere.
Exactly. Except its
perfect cover for someone to sell drugs up there.
You need more proof
neighbor who lives on the corner can see that
spot from her house. She says the Subaru is there
every day and she has witnessed a woman parking
there and walking up that path for about ten
minutes, then returning to her car and leaving.
Hmm. Anything else?
Yes, she has seen the
woman carrying small plastic bags up the path,
but returning without them.
And you say this has
been happening for how long?
Over a year now.
Why didnt you
contact the police?
We did. We gave them
a description of the situation, the car and its
Did they get back to
Yes, they said they
checked out the car and nothing further.
Well, maybe they did
more than that. Let me find out at the station.
Thanks, please let me
The detective checked in
with the officers in her station.
Joe, do you know
anything about a reported drug dealing on my
Yes, two people think
theres a lady selling drugs up there behind
Did you investigate?
Why didnt you tell me?
We didnt want
to bother you. It was probably nothing. We ran
the plate they gave us and the person didnt
have any record or warrants.
Officer, a lot of
drug dealers dont, until they are caught.
Where was the person from?
Didnt it seem a
bit odd to you that someone from Tacoma was
parking there for ten minutes every weekday?
Well, yes, now that
you mention it.
Can we get some
surveillance in that area?
You have those fancy
cameras we got from homeland. Put a couple of
them up there and see what happens.
And post someone in a
plain vehicle to see if that car is still parking
there. In fact, never mind. I live down the
street. Ill look for the car.
The police officers planted
a couple of cameras secretly on the trees inside
that path. The cameras were motion activated and
would send a signal back to a police station
website used for surveillance.
The detective strolled out
of her house before ten oclock to watch the
area. Sure enough, in a few minutes, a black
Subaru parked next to the pond. A woman was
visible in the drivers seat. She sat there
for a short while, making calls on her cell phone.
Then she got out of the car, carrying a small bag,
looked around and walked up the path behind the
Not wanting to be spotted,
the detective stayed out of sight. She continued
walking past the pond, while looking back
occasionally. After ten minutes, the woman
returned to her car and drove away.
The detective went to the
station and checked the surveillance. The cameras
worked, capturing someone exchanging small
packets of drugs for money. But both the woman
and her buyer wore a mask, so they couldnt
identify them. She went back to the neighborhood
and met the person who gave her the tip.
Someone is selling drugs up there. But we couldnt
see their face.
Detective, have you
ever been to Fishermans Wharf in San
The neighbor told her all
about Bush Man.
I see, she said
with a grin on her face.
The next day, a rookie was
camouflaged in army dress and hid in the trees on
Just like clockwork, at 10:15am
the woman came up the path and met someone coming
down the other side of the path, both hidden from
the street. When the exchange happened, the
rookie popped up from behind holding out his
badge and gun.
arrest. And he led the pair down to the
street where the detective was waiting for them.
The woman seemed shocked
and looked at the detective. How did you
Have you ever been to
Man by Jerry Guarino
Copyright September, 2019 All Rights