Here is a synopsis of “San Francisco Secrets”–
Noted novelist and newspaper editor Edgar Watson Howe once said. “A man who can keep a secret may be wise but he is not half as wise as a man with no secrets to keep”
As the spring of 1958 arrives in San Francisco, it seems that baseball player turned private eye, Sam Slater and his fiancée, TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan, are surrounded by people who have secrets.
A prominent doctor, John O’Dell is being blackmailed by someone who has discovered a dark secret from his past. When the private investigator trying to catch the blackmailer is murdered, Dr. O’Dell hires Sam Slater to try to pick up the pieces. Someone is playing for keeps and will do anything to protect their own secrets.
Meanwhile, Amelia begins her new job as an international stewardess which takes her on adventures to New York City, London, Paris and Rome. In hot pursuit is a womanizing older pilot who has his sights set on Amelia.
Their lives get even more complicated when a mysterious woman from Sam’s past returns.
Sam and Amelia’s relationship will be tested as they work together to solve the mystery on the foggy streets of San Francisco.
Here is a three chapter sneak preview of “San Francisco Secrets”
PLAYING THE ODDS
April 8, 1958
Sam and Amelia enjoyed another sunny day for their drive to Golden Gate Fields. Sam drove his 1957 Chevy out of the city across the Bay Bridge towards the racetrack which sits on the edge of the bay in Berkeley.
Sam loved his new Chevy more every day since he bought it from Ted Steele in Monterey last month. The couple rode with the windows down as they crossed the bridge into the always warmer East Bay. Amelia had a scarf tied around her blonde hair which billowed in the stiff breeze. She wore her sunglasses and looked so glamorous to Sam.
Soon she would be his. He could hardly wait. It seemed like it had been a long time even though Sam and Amelia had only been together for about eight months. Sam couldn’t imagine life without Amelia.
As he pondered their time together he asked, “So how many days do you think we’ve been together since we met at the end of last summer?”
“Hmmm, a penny for your thoughts? Are you looking at me wondering ‘who is this woman that I’m about to marry?’”
“Hardly,” Sam responded as he reached over and took her hand. “I was just thinking how amazing it is that you’re so important to my life and I love you so much, even though we’ve only been together for eight or nine months. Then I thought about how we’re actually only together for a few days each week.”
“Actually it’s been 217 days and 16 hours.”
“That sounds like you’re marking time until you get released from Alcatraz,” Sam said.
“No it doesn’t,” Amelia said slugging his arm. “I actually counted it up yesterday. It was September 3 about 6 p.m. when you rescued me from those guys near Seals Stadium. I’ve never forgotten that moment. It’s when the man of my dreams arrived.”
“I’ll always remember that night, or what you did for me on the day Jimmy died,” Sam said. “Remember when we talked all night at your apartment?”
“Of course I do,” Amelia responded softly.
“It’s been a pretty action-packed 217 days together. A year ago I was playing baseball and all alone. I couldn’t have imagined the turn of events which came into my life.”
“Me neither,” Amelia sighed.
Sam reached over and began to rub her knee under her skirt. “We’re going to be okay, aren’t we Amelia?”
“Don’t worry, Sam,” she replied. “Everything’s gonna be great.”
Sam was not sure what they would find at Golden Gate Fields today but it would be a beginning to try to solve the puzzle. Sam suddenly felt like someone had popped his balloon of anticipation when he drove into a largely empty parking lot outside of the track.
“What? No races today?” Amelia exclaimed.
“I don’t know. Let’s find out,” Sam responded with a perplexed look.
They walked by the complex of stables and saw various thoroughbreds being attended to and groomed. Amelia had always loved horses and gasped when they walked by the grandstand and saw the expanse of the track.
“This place is gorgeous,” Amelia gushed, “It’s so big. I had no idea…”
Her reaction to the emerald green race track was interrupted by a man wearing a brown hat, khaki pants and a long sleeved white shirt, approaching them.
“Can I help you folks?” he asked.
“Yes,” Sam replied cheerily. “I guess there’s no racing today.”
“No sir,” the man replied, “no racing on Monday or Tuesdays but we’ll be going full bore the rest of the days.”
Amelia, who looked very summery in her yellow dress with a full skirt and her hair pulled back into a ponytail, turned her charm on the man, “Where’s my head? I guess I got mixed up on my days. I’m Amelia Ryan. This is Sam Slater. We’re investigating the disappearance of a man in San Francisco and wanted to talk to someone about the racing here at Golden Gate Fields.”
Sam flashed his private eye ID as Amelia took the lead.
“I’m Jacob Brown. Everyone calls me Jay. I’m a trainer here,” he explained. “What would our track have to do with this guy disappearing?”
“I don’t know, Jay,” Amelia said with her stewardess smile and a flash of her blue eyes. “I was hoping I could find someone who could help me. I love horses but I’m so dumb about all the racing things.”
“Well, ask away, Amelia,” Jay responded. “I don’t know everything but I’ve been around racing since I was a kid.”
“The horses are so beautiful,” Amelia said as they watched a thoroughbred thunder past them on the track during a workout.
“They’re something special,” Jay said.
“While you talk with Amelia would you mind if I just walked around a bit?” Sam asked.
“No problem,” Jay replied, “just stay away from the track. There’s a lot going on there right now during the workouts.”
“Sure thing,” Sam said as he began to stroll towards the grandstand.
“Oh, Sam, do you have that little book of Harry’s?” Amelia asked.
Sam reached into his breast pocket and produced the small notebook they found on Harry’s sailboat. Sam shot Amelia a knowing glance as he handed her the book and walked away.
Sam had discovered that Amelia could really turn on the charm, flash her beautiful smile and blue eyes at guys like Jay and get twice as much information as he could. Amelia was hardly an innocent. Sam teased her about her ability to manipulate men in these situations.
Sam thought he would take a look around and get a feel for the track. As Sam turned his back on Amelia and Jay and began to walk away, he heard Amelia say, “So Jay, how can you tell a good horse from a bad one?” Sam shook his head and chuckled to himself.
Jay began explaining what he looks for in a good horse. “Are they light on their feet? Are their ears pricked forward? That can mean the horse is spirited and confident. I look for an arched neck, or a slightly raised tail, too. Of course the jockey matters. A good horse can become a great horse with the right jockey,” Jay continued.
“Is Silky Sullivan a jockey here?” Amelia asked.
Jay began to laugh. “No, no. Silky Sullivan has four feet instead of two. Silky Sullivan is one of the hottest horses in California right now.”
“Oh,” Amelia said as she covered her mouth with her hand letting out a girlish giggle. “What about John Henry? The man who is missing left a note that said ‘Silky Sullivan Determine John Henry.’ We couldn’t figure out what Silky Sullivan was determining…”
“I’m not surprised, Amelia,” Jay said smiling, “That’s the name of three horses. Silky Sullivan is a horse, Determine’s a horse and so is John Henry. I think your friend was just listing three horses who run regularly here at Golden Gate Fields.”
“Oh, okay that makes a lot more sense,” Amelia said as she turned on her full wattage smile, reached over and squeezed Jay’s arm. “Thanks for being so patient with my stupid questions…”
“No problem, Amelia,” Jay replied.
“Our friend wrote down some dates,” Amelia said as she read the dates on the list in the small notebook to Jay.
“Those are all race days here at the track,” Jay said. She thanked him and he assured her that she could drop by any time.
Sam walked around the track, watching the horses working out, then walked up into the grandstands checking out the betting windows.
When Sam sauntered back to retrieve Amelia, he began to laugh at what he saw. Jay was holding a gorgeous chestnut race horse by the bridle and Amelia was patting the thoroughbred who was eating an apple from her hand.
As they walked towards the car, Sam quipped, “Give you fifteen minutes and you have Jay and the horse eating out of your hand.”
“Funny boy, but wait until you hear what I found out.”
Amelia excitedly informed Sam that the three names–Silky Sullivan, Determine and John Henry–are horses. She also told Sam that the notations of the March dates by “GG” in the notebook, were all race dates.
“Good work, partner,” Sam said. Then he couldn’t resist.
“You’re so amazing when you turn on your giggly, innocent little girl act. ‘Oh Jay I’m so dumb about horses…’” Sam said in a mocking falsetto voice.
“Watch it! My ‘act’ as you call it, seems to work on you. Are you making fun of me?” Amelia asked.
“Not at all… just an observation.”
She let that topic drop when she remembered another tidbit from Jay. “Oh Sam, guess what else he said about that other note of Harry’s?”
“The one where that said, ‘Big Losses High Stakes.’ High Stakes is a horse that pulled a big upset on one of those March racing dates. There were big losses because High Stakes was a long shot. He beat a horse which seemed like a sure thing. Gamblers had ‘big losses’ that day.”
“Someone lost a bundle on High Stakes?”
“Right! So, Harry was making notes about a guy who was betting…gambling at the race track!” Amelia concluded.
“Harry was tailing someone and watching them at Golden Gate Fields. ‘Someone’ had a gambling problem,” Sam said pensively. “But who? A man with gambling debts would have a motive for blackmail.”
“How do you figure?” Amelia asked.
“Blackmail is a quick way to raise a big chunk of cash,” Sam replied.
Sam felt like it was time to check in with Dr. O’Dell. He fished a nickel out of his pocket and went to a pay phone near the grandstand at Golden Gate Fields to call the doctor. The receptionist said he was with a patient but when Sam gave her his name, she told him to hold. The doctor got on the phone and asked Sam to come by the office–he was anxious to talk to him as well.
Sam wondered if there had been a development.
The traffic on the Bay Bridge was heavy coming out of Berkeley. Sam thought that there must be an accident on the bridge deck ahead. It was going to be a slow go back into the city.
As traffic crawled along, they were both lost in their thoughts, trying to absorb the mysterious notes left behind by Harry. If only they could ask Harry just a few questions, Sam knew they could quickly resolve things.
But unfortunately, picking up the trail left behind by Harry was much harder. Harry had definitely hit onto something and found a likely suspect. But who?
Amelia turned up the radio and began snapping her fingers as she swayed in the front seat to the top song of the year–”At The Hop” by Danny and the Juniors. Sam smiled as he watched her dancing and flirting with him.
Then her mood changed when Elvis’ latest hit “Don’t” played next on the radio. Amelia knew every word to every one of Elvis’ songs. Sam had not heard an Elvis song for several months when The King was not singing a duet with Amelia.
Elvis songs always made her amorous and put her in a romantic mood.
Amelia began singing along and rubbing Sam’s neck and cheek. She was mockingly trying to hit the low bass notes with Elvis as Sam laughed.
Don’t feel that way
I’m your love and yours I will stay
This you can believe
I will never leave you
Heaven knows I won’t
Baby, don’t say don’t
Sam finally was able to maneuver his Chevy off of the bridge where traffic was still barely moving. Amelia kissed him on the cheek as Sam took the off ramp into downtown San Francisco. The lovers headed up Telegraph Hill to talk to Dr. O’Dell.
April 8, 1958
Telegraph Hill is one of the outstanding geographical features of San Francisco.
San Francisco is a city of hills and Telegraph Hill is one of the most spectacular ones amongst the city’s 44 hills. It is one of the top seven hills in San Francisco and rises 284 feet into the air from the sea level of the nearby Embarcadero.
Some parts of Telegraph Hill are so steep that instead of sidewalks, there are steps. There are several charming neighborhoods and classic Victorian houses. The bars of the Telegraph Hill area were the home to the Beat Generation poets of the 1950s.
There’s a wild flock of feral parrots that live in the trees on Telegraph Hill and one of the outstanding landmarks of the area is the spectacular Coit Tower.
Coit Tower is a 210 foot monolith rising above the San Francisco landscape. It was built in 1933 and inside the tower is a series of colorful murals painted in 1934 by local artists as part of a Public Works Art Project.
Dr. O’Dell’s office was located on a flat area of Filbert Street on the west side of Telegraph Hill. Sam and Amelia looked for the office and finally found a nearby parking space. It was always important to turn your wheels into the curb in this area of San Francisco to prevent parked cars from becoming runaways.
The office was quiet as Sam and Amelia entered. It appeared all the patients had gone home and the receptionist was putting things away at her desk as the business day wound down.
She instantly noticed Sam and Amelia enter the office. She flashed them a smile and said, “Are you Mr. Slater?”
“Yes,” Sam nodded.
“Dr. O’Dell wants you to come right back to see him in his office. Please follow me.”
They entered the dark-wood paneled office and found Dr. O’Dell sitting at his desk smoking a cigarette. Behind him the walls were covered with floor-to-ceiling shelves full of medical books.
Dr. O’Dell immediately arose to greet Sam but eyes focused on Amelia.
“Hello, Sam, good to see you again. Who’s the lovely lady?”
“This is Amelia Ryan. She’s actually my fiancee and partner in my business. She assists me in my investigations,” Sam said as Dr. O’Dell greeted her warmly.
As the three settled into their chairs, Dr. O’Dell began, “your fiancee?”
“Yes, we’ll probably be married in the next week or two,” Sam said.
“Congratulations. You’re a very lucky man, Sam,” Dr. O’Dell said, “nice to meet you Miss Ryan. Apparently, you’re almost Mrs. Slater.”
Amelia blushed and said, “yes, I am. Please call me Amelia.”
“Thanks for meeting with us. I uncovered some things I wanted to talk to you about.”
“I was amazed when you called, Sam,” Dr. O’Dell said as he took a long drag on his cigarette. “I was about to call you…oh, I’m sorry, I’m being rude…do you two care for a cigarette, coffee, another kind of drink?” The doctor popped open the cigarette box sitting on his desk. Sam and Amelia each took a cigarette and the doctor offered them a light.
“You were going to call me…” Sam began, but he was interrupted by a man who stuck his head in the office. The man was a stern looking, angular man. He was tall with curly black hair which was starting to recede. He had intense green eyes and looked somewhat perplexed.
“I’m off, John,” the man said, then noticed Sam and Amelia. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were with patients…”
“No, no, come on in, Bernie,” Dr. O’Dell said, “This is Sam Slater and Amelia Ryan. They’re private investigators. This is my partner, Dr. Bernard Ellis.”
Sam and Amelia greeted him. Sam suddenly felt a little uncomfortable and it seemed that Dr. Ellis was really looking them over. Sam didn’t know if he was just ogling Amelia or what was going on.
“Sam is a longtime friend of Jimmy Jankow, who did some work for us in the past. Sam has taken over Jimmy’s business,” Dr. O’Dell explained. “Amelia is his business partner and fiancée.”
“Congratulations. Yes, I do remember Jimmy,” Dr. Ellis replied. “That was a terrible tragedy–his death. I remember reading about that in the paper. Jimmy was a good guy.”
“Yes, he was,” Sam replied simply.
“Nice to meet you Sam and Amelia,” Dr. Ellis said quietly. “I think I saw you pulling up outside. That’s your red and white 1957 Chev out there, right?”
“Right,” Sam said with a smile.
“Bernie’s quite a car nut,” Dr. O’Dell explained.
“That’s a beauty, Sam. Parking can be a real challenge in this neighborhood,” Dr. Ellis responded. “Hey, I’m sorry, I interrupted. I’ll get out of your way. I was just letting you know that I’m calling it a day, John.”
“Okay,” Dr. O’Dell replied. “Will I see you tomorrow or are you headed down south?”
‘No, I’m leaving town Thursday, I’ll be here tomorrow,” Dr. Ellis responded.
“Oh yeah, it’s only Tuesday, I don’t know what I was thinking.” Dr. O’Dell said. “See you tomorrow, Bernie.”
Dr. Ellis seemed to give Sam and Amelia another intense once-over before nodding in acknowledgment and then departing.
Sam pounced on the morsel of information about the doctor trips out of town. “So Dr. Ellis isn’t here all week? He leaves on Thursdays?”
“Once, or sometimes twice a month, Dr. Ellis tends to some longtime patients he has in Los Angeles. He had a practice there many years ago. These are some older, very rich people in Beverly Hills. They still love Bernie. He gets paid very well for his trouble. It more than pays for his train tickets to LA a couple of times a month.”
“Dr. Ellis takes a train to Los Angeles twice a month on Thursdays?” Amelia reiterated.
“Yes, usually. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but generally that’s how it works out,” Dr. O’Dell responded.
Sam and Amelia exchanged wide-eyed glances.
“What is it?” the doctor asked picking up on their reaction.
Sam reached into the breast pocket of his sport coat and retrieved Harry Wallace’s small notebook.
Sam and Amelia leaned over the doctor’s desk as Sam showed him the notations in the notebook.
“There are some dates here…” Sam began before Amelia jumped in and said, “we think Harry was following someone to Golden Gate Fields. He recorded the dates when they went to the track.”
“Hmmm,” the doctor responded but he looked puzzled.
“Then there’s this notation about a possible gambling problem. Harry wrote about a card game on a train to Los Angeles. The name of the train is apparently ‘The Golden Gate,’” Sam explained.
“Does Dr. Ellis ride the Golden Gate to LA?” Amelia asked.
The doctor shook his head, “I have no idea. Bernie makes all the arrangements. What are you saying?”
“We’re not sure what we’re saying ourselves,” Sam offered, “it’s just quite a coincidence for Amelia and me to find out that Dr. Ellis apparently rides the train that was noted in Harry’s book.”
“A coincidence for sure. Are you saying that Bernie…Dr. Ellis….has some kind of gambling problem?” Dr. O’Dell asked.
“I don’t know,” Sam said, “we’re just trying to put the pieces together. Like you’ve said, we’re trying to pick up the trail that Harry was on.”
“The puzzle’s going to have to go together rather quickly, Sam,” the doctor said dejectedly. “This is what I was going to call you about.”
Dr. O’Dell handed Sam a note that he had received in yesterday’s mail.
There were instructions and a bank account number where O’Dell was to wire $10,000.
Then the note said,
IF THIS MONEY DOES NOT APPEAR IN MY ACCOUNT BY THIS WEEKEND,
THEN IT WILL BE TOO LATE. ALL OF YOUR PATIENTS WILL KNOW ABOUT YOUR SORDID PAST.
“Oh, no,” Sam said as he handed the note to Amelia. “I was hoping that there would be some kind of drop site where we had a chance to catch him.”
“Which is precisely why he’s doing it this way,” Dr. O’Dell replied. “This guy’s not a fool.”
“What are you going to do?” Sam asked.
“What choice do I have? I guess tomorrow I’ll make arrangements to wire the money from my account and follow the instructions,” Dr. O’Dell said dejectedly.
“How will we know this will be the end of it…I mean is he going to keep threatening you?” Amelia asked.
“I don’t know, Amelia,” the doctor replied. “I need you to stay after this. We’ll have to try to catch the blackmailer after we give him the payment. That’s going to make it very tricky.”
Sam agreed and promised he would do what he could. “Do any of those notes in Harry’s book make any sense to you?” Sam asked.
“No it doesn’t. I admit it’s strange about the train, but I can’t make head nor tails of it.”
“We’re so sorry,” Amelia said in parting. “We’ll do everything we can to help you.”
Sam and Amelia walked out to the car and tried to glean any additional knowledge they had gotten from the tidbits of information they had collected today.
Sam drove west on Filbert Street, which stretched out into the horizon cutting across the heart of the city. From Telegraph Hill you could follow the long downhill and then clearly see the steep climb of Filbert.
Filbert Street and 22nd Street are considered the two steepest streets in San Francisco. The two streets are among the most formidable hills in the Western Hemisphere with a gradient of 31.5%.
Residents have to walk up stairs from the street to get to their houses and it is one of the areas where there are steps instead of sidewalks. Sam and Amelia drove to the top of the hill and began to descend one of the steepest hills in San Francisco.
As Sam drove down the steep downhill, the first indication that something was wrong was when Amelia heard Sam stomping repeatedly on the brake pedal. She then saw the panic in his eyes.
“Amelia! We don’t have any brakes!”
April 8, 1958
Sam was looking for a place to ditch his car.
A soft place to land.
There was none.
Filbert Street was a concrete jungle–a congested urban corridor with the same trajectory as a roller coaster. The street with stairs instead of sidewalks, also had cars parked perpendicular to the walkways, so the cars would stay in place on the steep hill.
The street was lined with tightly packed San Francisco-style Victorian townhouses with no open spaces.
Sam’s system went into hyper-drive as he scanned the hill for some type of escape route. Meanwhile, he frantically watched the speedometer climb to 40…then 50…heading for 60.
Amelia said nothing but braced herself against the door frame and the front seat.
Sam had to get off of Filbert Street onto one of the side streets that was flatter–but how?
Ahead was the first crisis. In two blocks there was a stop sign that Sam had no chance of obeying. Sam nervously watched cars crossing Filbert ahead. There was no stop sign on the cross street. Sam could only hope that a car was not heading towards them as he was about to speed through the stop sign.
“Amelia! Climb into the back seat and brace yourself!” Sam shouted.
Amelia rolled over the top of the bench seat and prepared to hold on tight while lying in the backseat. In the case of a crash, Sam wanted Amelia to hit the padded front seat and not the dashboard or windshield.
The stop sign was rapidly approaching. Sam could only try to take evasive action. The moment was here now and Sam’s Chevy was going over 60 miles per hour when he whizzed through the stop sign.
Suddenly, out of the driver’s side window, Sam saw a large Mercury speeding towards him. As the Mercury slammed on it’s brakes, Sam could hear the tires screeching. He winced but there was no impact. Then out of the corner of his eye there was a delivery truck suddenly appeared, heading for the intersection.
Sam heard more screeching as the delivery truck driver ran up onto the sidewalk to avoid hitting the speeding Chevy. Sam’s car safely cleared the intersection leaving behind the blaring of car horns.
Ahead in two more blocks was another stop sign on the unrelenting downhill grade of the street as Sam’s car careened down Filbert. He could see a major intersection at the bottom of the hill with traffic lights. It would be a disaster if he tried to speed through the multi-lane busy intersection below. He had to do something before he got there.
Ahead was a slow moving car creeping down the steep hill. Sam had to pass it and quickly. There were some cars headed up the hill in the opposite lane. Sam swerved around the slow moving car as the cars climbing the hill veered onto the sidewalk to avoid Sam’s Chevy. There were more blaring horns.
Sam knew he had no chance of surviving the cross street traffic regulated by the stop lights which was dead ahead. He quickly surveyed the neighborhood. There was nothing but houses and garages to crash into. The only chance was to make a high-speed turn off of Filbert onto a side street and hope the Chevy didn’t roll.
There was just one more chance before the big intersection.
“Amelia, hang on!” he screamed.
Sam veered into the left lane to make his turn as wide as possible. Then he cranked the wheel as hard as he could to make a sharp right turn off of Filbert onto the side street.
The Chevy began to slide as the screaming of the tires grew louder. Sam sat frozen holding onto the steering wheel with all of his strength. The back end of the Chevy clipped a utility pole near the corner and began to spin.
Sam could not remember how many 360 degree loops the Chevy did, before it finally stopped. They were sitting in the middle of the side street with smoking tires but otherwise in tact.
Sam sat transfixed for a minute. Then he realized there was no sound coming from the backseat. He immediately turned to check on Amelia who was laying in the floor where she landed during the impact.
“Amelia?” Sam called.
Amelia crawled up off of the car floor looking disheveled but appeared to be unhurt.
“You okay, baby?”
“I think so,” she replied meekly as she crawled over the bench seat back into the front seat. She immediately began to tend to Sam, who was traumatized but didn’t appear to have any injuries.
“Are you hurt, Sam?” she asked embracing him.
Sam did a quick inventory of his condition. He decided he was unhurt except for his heart pounding so hard that he thought it would burst out of his chest. The couple held one another to try to regain their composure after the terrifying ride.
A crowd was gathering and then they saw a S.F.P.D. patrol car pull in behind the Chevy with red lights flashing.
Sam staggered out of the Chevy to greet the cop. It was then that he noticed the damage to his new ’57 Chevy. There was a big dent in the back panel on the driver’s side where the car had clipped the pole. However, the pole probably kept the Chevy from running through a house and having a more catastrophic crash.
Sam stood sadly looking at the dent as Amelia joined him.
“Your beautiful car!” Amelia whined.
Sam said nothing but then put his arm around her and said, “at least my beautiful Amelia is alright.”
Sam then began to tell the cop the story of his harrowing trip down Filbert Street. He also asked him to contact Detective Vince Marino. He wanted Vince at the scene of the crash and they would need to ride home.
Vince came just as a tow truck was lifting the wounded Chevy up off of the pavement.
Vince ordered the tow truck driver to check the brake lines before taking Sam’s car into the shop.
Sam, Vince and the tow truck driver crowded around the suspended Chevy.
The tow truck driver emerged from under the car rubbing some oily fluid between his fingers and thumb.
“Take a look,” he said to Sam and Vince.
“Look at that, Sammy,” Vince said. “Someone sliced your brake lines.”
Sam quietly looked over the brake line with fluid still dripping out of it.
“The line was only partially sliced,” Vince explained. “By doing it that way you’ll get a few stops out of the brakes before the fluid’s gone and there are no brakes. If they had sliced it through cleanly, you would have noticed no brakes right away. Who ever did this wanted you to get out into traffic where it would be more dangerous.”
“Like Filbert Street,” Sam responded.
“Especially on Filbert Street,” Vince growled. “Someone cut you brake lines while you were on Telegraph Hill. It was an attempt to murder you and Amelia, plain and simple.”
The tow truck driver crawled out from under the back end of the Chevy. “Same on the back brakes, detective,” he said to Vince. “No line pressure. Sliced through just like the front.”
Amelia had been leaning against Vince’s car smoking a cigarette to try to calm her jangled nerves. The three men looking under the car and talking got the best of her. She had to know what was going on. She walked over and said, “What happened to our car, Vince?”
“Someone sliced through your brake lines, dollface. There has to be line pressure with brake fluid pumped to the cylinders on each wheel causing the brake pads to activate and stop the car. Someone deliberately cut the lines. Someone didn’t want you and Sam to be able to stop while coming off of Telegraph Hill.”
“We’re lucky to be alive!” she lamented to Vince.
“I know, Amelia, I know,” Vince said softly. Then turning to Sam he asked, “How in the world did you stop your car?”
“I have no idea. It’s probably a good thing I clipped that pole or we’d be in someone’s living room right now,” Sam said.
“Oh, Sam, your car…” Amelia cried.
“Don’t worry, Amelia. The body shop can fix that good as new,” Vince said. “I’m just glad you two are alright. We can fix cars…it’s just harder to fix people. So, Sam what have you two been up to? I’ll give you a lift home. But I know there’s a story I need to hear. Why were you two up on Telegraph Hill and why is someone trying to kill you?”