The Duke of Yelp
by Jerry Guarino
Who is this person?
Said Armen, the owner of the new bakery. Armen
looked around at his customers, sitting at café
tables, drinking tea or coffee and eating
desserts. Meanwhile, John was on his computer in
the second- floor apartment next door. He was
playing a game of hide and seek with Armen.
Guess its time to make another
appearance said John. Whenever the café
was busy, John came in, bought a cookie, hung out
a while and checked in, but since he also checked
in from his apartment, Armen had no idea whom the
Duke of Yelp was.
The modern coffee house was not a bohemian or
flower child flophouse. Instead of a bearded man
playing a guitar, there was jazz and spa music
coming out of ceiling speakers. Tie-dye cloth and
beanbag chairs gave way to expensive leather
furnishings expertly matched to create an
ambience of warmth and relaxation. At least a
dozen people were connected by phone, laptop or
iPad, tapping away while talking with companions;
heads bobbed and eyes darted up and down.
Although Armen was playing catch up, it seemed
all young people were skilled in tech use. He
just hoped none of them were hacking into his
computer to get credit card information.
Great shortbread, John said to the
cashier. Ill take
The dark-haired girl with Mediterranean looks
selected four unbroken cookies and put them in a
bag. Will that be all? she said
And a coffee, said John as he
selected a large take-out cup and lid, then
filled it from the self-service decanter. While
John was waiting for his change, he tapped on his
iPhone, checking in to the location.
Armen heard a ping from his computer and looked
around the room. He walked over to his computer,
set to the Yelp page that showed his bakery/café.
This one person keeps checking in with the
name Pat27. Hmmm. Could be a man or a woman. No
picture. He needed another way to find him
A 20-something Asian woman with faded jeans, soft,
brown boots and a pink cotton sweater walked in;
Johns head came to a stop as he saw her. He
watched as she bought a tea and raspberry scone,
sitting at the corner table and opening her
kindle to read. Normally not one to take chances,
John decided this was worth the risk. He walked
over to her table, paused, presented his bag and
said, Have you tried the shortbread?
The woman gestured for John to sit down, No,
I would like that. Im Amy.
John smiled. John and he sat down
next to her.
I dont normally take desserts from
strangers she said.
I dont normally offer them,
said John. Are you from the Mission?
No, the Sunset. My friend is in the wine
Armen walked around the seating area, glancing at
screens. People continued to come and go. He
decided to secretly take snapshots of them with
John wondered if her friend was male or not; he
hoped she would offer this information. Yes,
it looks like a fine place, a little upscale for
this neighborhood though.
Amy broke off a nibble of shortbread and
swallowed. Well, thats my friends
way of meeting rich guys.
John put his hand on the table. And you?
Amy took a sip of her tea, and then put her hand
on the table closer to John. Money comes
and goes. I dont waste it, so I dont
John was feeling comfortable now. Yeah, me
too. But I guess you can tell by the way I dress.
Amy looked John over. You look fine, do you
mean the plaid, flannel shirt?
John nodded. Holdover from winters in
Amy leaned forward. UCLA, but I grew up
here. Youre not from here, are you?
How would she know that? John had no discernible
accent. No, Boston. How did you know?
You speak more slowly than natives.
After about an hour of social dancing, John and
Amy walked out, went up to his apartment and made
Back in the bakery, Armen looked at the customer
pictures he had on his phone. It was 10:00pm,
closing time when a man in a mask came up to the
register, pointed a gun at Armen and demanded the
money. The gunman tapped something into his phone.
Ping. The dark-haired girl took the
money out and handed it to the gunman.
You could almost make out a smile from the robber
as he turned to leave. Remember the Duke!
When the police arrived, Armen showed them Johns
picture. This is the guy whos been
casing my place.
John escorted Amy back to the wine bar. Who
is this? said Jenny as she saw John with
John extended his hand. John, this is Jenny,
a sorority sister visiting from L.A.
Jenny could tell where Amy had been. So,
John what do you do?
Amy gave her a nudge. Hands off girl, I saw
John was flattered with the attention of these
two beautiful women. Would you ladies like
Amy and Jenny said in unison champagne
In his peripheral vision, John caught them
whispering to each other as he walked to the bar.
Three champagnes please, but lets
keep it under $25.00.
A waitress from the wine bar pointed out John to
a policeman, who was letting them know about the
robbery next door. OK, I see him.
As John and the women were toasting, John pulled
out his phone and checked in to the bakery one
last time, after they had closed. This would give
Armen a laugh when he got in next day; it was
just harmless fun.
The policeman, seeing John posting on his phone,
confiscated it, looked at the posting for the
bakery. Turn around Pat27, we got you
and led him out the door in handcuffs. Or
should I call you Duke?