About 3:00 AM Reggie from downstairs signaled up to Phil there were two guys sitting in a car parked outside. Kenny inside his office facing out Turk, motioned to Phil there was a car parked across the street with three or four people in it. One minute later Fillmore Slim dressed to the max, blue cowboy hat, matching pants and jacket, long reddish hair, gold jewelry, and sunglasses, made a quiet, but flamboyant entrance. He had a stunningly dressed white girl following behind him. She was wearing a skin-hugging knee-length skirt trimmed with white fur. The matching top was also trimmed with white fur. The fur looked real. She looked real. Fillmore Slim stopped at the entrance for a moment, nodded to Phil, got a nod in return, and entered. Sitting at the bar near the door Slim nodded to the girl - she pulled a hundred dollar bill out her blouse and signaled to the bartender. She ordered two Irish coffees, handed the bartender the hundred, told him to set up the bar and have a good time with the change.
Slim asked the bartender, “Who’s in charge here? Who’s the cat sit down - discuss business?”
The bartender told him that would be Kenny and went back to the office – Kenny came out front to the bar. The conversation was short. He told Slim he ran Kenny’s, said he kept a nice business and if it was a legal problem to see his lawyer. Kenny told the bartender to give Slim and the girl a drink then he headed back toward his office. At that, Slim went over to a small table, sat there, and attracted a small group. They talked a while. Sociable enough, when Slim got up to leave he left a pile of twenties on the table.
On his way out Fillmore Slim stopped at the door next to Phil, “Ain’t no one knows anyone in charge. You know anyone in charge wants to talk, you know me, you know how to find me - just go to the Fillmore and ask.”
Phil replied, “No one’s in charge here.”
“No, I’m not sayin’ here, I mean the blocks, the Tenderloin,” and with a grand sweep of his arm for emphasis, “this whole mother-fucker. Got to be some top cat runnin’ shit.”
“Not that I ever heard - we’re all loners here, no one answers to anyone. We’re not like the rest of the city.” And he trailed off with, “This is the Tenderloin . . .“
Hearing that Fillmore Slim left.
Phil turned to signal to Chantelle to come to the door, but she was already halfway there by the time he turned around. Quietly Phil asked, “Hey Chantelle, what was that all about? What was everyone talking about?”
“It was mostly Slim talking. We listened. He wanted to know who ran the show – he thought we have some kind of boss or something. And was asking us queens who takes cares of us – who’s pimping us – we laughed. I don’t think he knows how things work here. I managed to grab four of the twenties he left on the table when he left.”
“Can you find Tripper Bob for me? You’ll have to use the pay phone in back. I can’t get you the house phone, I can’t even use it. Kenny’s been on it since he talked with Slim. Maybe call The Trapp for Bob, I don’t know.”
“Yeah sure. If he’s around and not dopesick, I’ll get him here. Something’s up, huh? I mean there’s shit going on, huh? Yeah, I’ll find Bobby.”
Twenty minutes later Tripper Bob came upstairs and sat on the table edge next to Phil. They both reached the same conclusion; Fillmore Slim was trying to take over the street scene in the Tenderloin. He wanted his girls on the street making money for him. He was taking the trannies, queens, and working girls off the street and they were a part of the scene. Without them there would be a lot of changes in the Tenderloin – changes that would be bad for the locals. But no one was in charge so no one did anything . . .
Diane was a working girl who was mainly around Ellis and Jones - good girl, everyone knew her. The next night a car pulled up alongside her, two guys with cut down baseball bats jumped out, knocked her down, and smashed both her ankles. Doc said she would walk again, but it wouldn’t be for some time. Everyone agreed Diane was a good girl, she didn’t deserve this. The attacks were more frequent and the injuries becoming more serious.
A few nights later Tripper Bob ran into Chantelle in Compton’s. She wanted to go to Kenny’s so they walked up Turk Street together, but both were slowed down by her walking with a cane. Halfway up the block a grey Buick slowed down to walking speed. They must have thought Tripper Bob was some insignificant john, or maybe they couldn’t see him too well - Bob had a habit of avoiding streetlights and the night fog was thicker than usual. The car just drove slowly alongside the two with an air of malignant authority. Suddenly the passenger yelled out the window, “You been told to keep off the street, bitch. You was warned. Now you gonna to have to learn the hard way.”
Bob quickly and quietly told Chantelle, “Keep walking. Soon as they stop and a door opens duck down behind the next car we come up on. And keep away from me.”
The car stopped. The passenger and one guy in the back seat started to jump out with cut down baseball bats. Chantelle dove, ducked, and fell behind a car parked in front of them. Without hesitation and as he ducked behind a parked car, Tripper Bob opened fire hitting the first one who got out in the body. Doubled over, groaning, and clutching his stomach the wounded guy tried to crawl back into the car. The driver returned fire while the other guy pushed his wounded accomplice into the back seat and dove in. With squealing tires the car sped off as Bob up from behind the car he’d ducked behind fired several more times making nice spider webs in the back window.
As Bob clicked the gun’s safety on and put it in his coat he turned to Chantelle, “You okay?”
“Yeah, I think so - just scared.”
Bob helping her up and handing her the cane, “Alright, we’re going to Kenny’s.” As they started to walk Chantelle put her arm around Tripper Bob but he brushed her off with, “Don’t start any of that shit with me - alright? I don’t need anyone hanging on me. Especially a queen.”
“Okay Bobby, sure. And thanks. Really. Thanks. And I won't hang on you. I'm sorry.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. When we get to Kenny’s you don’t say shit. I’ll tell Phil, but no one else knows. No one."
At Kenny’s entrance, Reggie said he thought he heard gunshots down a block or so – asked if Tripper Bob and Chantelle saw anything, got a description, or anything.
Bob said, “Yeah, we heard it too. Passed right by us. Didn’t see anything cuz . . .”
Chantelle interrupted quickly with, “Cuz’ I grabbed him and told him I wanted to do him right there, between the cars. I don’t know what came over me. He pushed me away and said, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ and I think a car passed us just then. We weren’t paying attention."
Reggie seemed to accept that and said to Bob, “Oh. You going to tell Kenny?”
“Naw, what the fuck we going to tell him, we didn’t see shit.”
Upstairs and inside at a small table Tripper Bob motioned to Phil to join them. Bob told him the story adding, “This is bad shit. I hit one of them and put their car in the shop for a while. I don’t like it and I don’t like Reggie. I got a bad feeling. I don’t know what he’s up to. He can’t be working with anyone from the Fillmore – they want his ass. I know Reggie left the Fillmore because he had some problems there. He moved to East Bay, stayed a few years, then moved back to the city and settled here in the Tenderloin. I know he’s up to something.”
“Okay, so we set him up. I’ll come up with something tonight - if we’re wrong nothing happens, if we’re right we’ll know right away.”
At closing the regulars gone, the hired workers came inside to collect their pay for another night well done. Phil got his $60, so did Reggie, Tiger, and everyone else was taken care of. Chantelle was allowed to stay even though she didn’t work there. As they were counting their money before they left, Phil asked Chantelle about her new place.
“Oh, it’s really nice. I’ll be in it tomorrow night. I’m going to have to get used to working that corner near the drug store on Eddy, but at least I won’t have to walk too far. Second floor, right above the entrance – good view of the street.”
And she went on about when she’d be leaving her place, the corner she was going to try to work, and everything else they wanted Reggie to hear. The set up worked.