The guy behind the counter at City Lights Books had grey hair, old lady glasses and a bushy beard that apparently swallowed his mouth.
“Umm, excuse me?” It was the third time I had to say that. He was deeply into a small book of Chinese poems.
“Jack Kerouac said he met a guy here recently named Henry. Talking with the owner about some land swindle at Candlestick Point?”
He lowered the book, scratched a chin somewhere inside the beard. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see his fingers again.
“Seem to remember that…The owner would be Mr. Ferlinghetti, but I am Woodrow.”
“Fine. So you were here that night?”
“I would have been. It was our Thursday Prose and Bread Raising Night. We have another on the 28th, you know.”
He reached for a flyer and I stopped him.
“Please. I’m kind of in a hurry. Kerouac said this guy’s name was Henry, but I need a last name.”
“I’m sorry. I think Jack’s off to Mexico with a friend. But his name’s Neal, not Henry—
“Hey, pal. Lay off the reefer and listen to me. The Henry who was here. In the bookstore. Talking about a land swin—
“Oh, him. Henry North.”
He went back into his book. I was a second away from putting my Zippo to the bottom of his beard.
“Henry North? Okay. And who’s he?”
Woodrow shrugged, produced a grimy tissue and wiped his nose. “City guy, I think. Runs some kind of jury. Frankly I found him boring, and he never bought a book.”
“Is Mr. Ferlinghetti around?”
“No, in New York. Looks like you’ll need a local phone directory. They sell those across the street.”
I thanked him for his minimal help. The phone book had twelve Henry Norths and about 25 H. Norths. To hopefully save time I trudged over to the nearest paper, The San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, and asked to see a city editor. He didn’t have a beard, but had a lot less time.
“Right. Henry North is the foreman of the city’s grand jury. Used to work for Metropolitan Life. What swindle are you talking about?”
“I don’t know, exactly. That’s why I wanted to talk to him.”
“You a tipster?”
“No, kind of a…private eye. If you know where I could find him, it would help a lot.”
“Not a clue. And the jury office is closed for the weekend by now. I can tell you for sure, though, that there’s no land swindle whatsoever going on with Candlestick Point, and you’d be wasting your time looking into it. Don’t you read the paper? That new ballpark’s going to be a gold mine for this city. Tell you what…” He plucked a business card out of his vest pocket. “Give me a ring if you ever hear something worthwhile I’d want to write about.”
He disappeared into a smoke-filled newsroom. I grabbed one of their papers on the way out. It was owned by Hearst, and sure enough, had a blocky Hearstian headline across the bottom of the front page: ALL SYSTEMS STILL “GO” FOR NEW GIANTS PLEASURE PALACE.
I trashed the paper and headed up the street. Got halfway home when it suddenly occurred to me:
All I said to the editor was the word “swindle”. I never even mentioned Candlestick Point.
S.F. 000 100 110 – 3 7 1
CHI 000 010 000 – 1 4 2
W-Miller L-Drabowsky HRS: Wagner, Mays GWRBI-Schmidt
Stu Miller gives the Cubs nothing, Say Hey and Daddy Wags leave the Wrigley yard, and the Giants are in today’s three-way tie for first.
PIT 010 000 000 – 1 5 2
PHI 201 103 00x – 7 9 0
W-Roberts L-Kline HRS: Hall, Bowman GWRBI-Philley
The Phils rebound after yesterday’s tough extra-inning loss behind Robin Roberts and more big hits from the crack law firm of Bowman, Anderson, and Philley.
L.A. 200 001 001 – 4 5 0
STL 005 000 00x – 5 6 1
W-Mizell L-Williams HR: Furillo GWRBI-B.G. Smith
Another nice rebound, engineered with a five-run 3rd off Stan Williams comprised of two singles, two walks, a double and Bobby Gene Smith triple. The Dodgers make it interesting late, but Vinegar Bend holds the fort.
MIL 010 010 102 – 5 15 2
CIN 101 010 102 -6 8 0
W-Klippstein L-McMahon HRS: Covington-3, Hoak GWRBI-Hoak
Game of the Day, bar none. The Braves nearly double Cincy’s hits, Covington hits three straight dingers to lead the majors with 15, but with McMahon pitching the 9th to spell the overtaxed Robinson, Crowe walks with one out and Don Hoak puts one over the boards with two outs for the shocking ambush win.
BAL 201 100 143 – 12 13 0
BOS 000 300 000 – 3 4 2
W-Portocarerra L-Bowsfield HRS: Nieman, Taylor, Triandos, Buddin GWRBI-Nieman
Good lord, do the O’s ever enjoy Fenway Park. And nobody in the A.L. is enjoying the pitching stylings of Arnie Portocarrera right now, who improves to 5-1 with an ERA of 0.87. Actually, the Red Sox aren’t enjoying anything. They’re 4-12 in the month of May. Baltimore has a better record than any team in the National League.
NYY 100 200 000 – 3 7 2
WAS 001 000 100 – 2 5 1
W-Larsen L-Kemmerer HR: McDougald GWRBI-McDougald
Eleven wins in a row for the Juggernauts, despite a game the Nats come close to possibly tying. Larsen walks five guys and Washington manages to leave every one on base. For the record, Andy Carey gets injured for the fourth time this year, and it still hasn’t meant a bloody thing.
CHI 000 013 000 – 4 9 0
CLE 200 402 10x – 9 12 1
W-Narleski L-Wynn SV-Kelly HRS: Phillips, Colavito, Ward GWRBI-Colavito
The Rock gets it going, Preston Ward puts it out of sight, and the Tribe pretty much steamrolls the sorry Sox. Cleveland, by the way hops ahead of Boston and Detroit into fourth place by percentage points.
DET 010 000 000 – 1 6 0
K.C. 200 000 00x – 2 6 0
W-Garver L-Hoeft HR: Virgil GWRBI-Cerv
Not much to say about this one. Two-run triple by Cerv in the 1st, solo blast by Ozzie Virgil in the 2nd, and the starters put out the closing sign from there. The A’s rise to just a game and a half behind the Red Sox.
TEAM RUN DIFFERENTIALS
Red Sox +5
White Sox –24
National League through Friday, May 16
American League through Friday, May 16