The policeman was still outside being harangued by the near hysterical woman who'd lost her dog. The traffic warden, as far as I could tell, was getting ready to punch her, and a small crowd were gathering. The sharks in this burg can scent blood before it even hits the water and I could see one of Mad Frankie's men, an Anger Manager moving around with a ledger, undoubtedly opening a book on the event.
I clutched the stiletto to my chest like a protective periapt and walked casually behind the counter and through the doorway into the back room. The owner, Joaquin Murphy, a lesser drag queen I'd met one night backstage in the White Theatre while looking for a drug pusher, was sat on a bean-bag with his head in his hands, sobbing pitifully. He was still in drag, and was surely upset about a bad review he'd had. I stepped over him, grateful that my empathy had died years ago and long since rotted away, and let myself out of the back door of the coffee shop. Behind the coffee shop was an alleyway a little too clean for the likes of me, so I shuffled out of it as fast as I dared, head down and one hand fidgeting with my fly, and headed for the bus-stop.
My transport options are limited in this burg. I've not yet successfully hailed a taxi, and on the two occasions I've managed to get into one I've redirected the driver at gun-point in order to meet people who've usually only wanted to kill me. I'm known amongst the taxi-firms now, and if I raise my arm funny near at the kerbside they'll try and run me down. Popularity in this town can be fatal.
The bus drivers don't like me much more as the bus tends to empty soon after I get on, but they can't stop me. So long as I hide when the bus is approaching, and then move fast, I can get on before they can get away again. It's not the best way to travel, but it works for me.
I boarded the bus with the usual amount of fuss and went and sat behind an elegantly-dressed elderly woman -- all chintz, flowers, and rose-water perfume. It took less than thirty seconds before she was alighting from the bus, her perfumed scarf pressed against her face like an impoverished grandchild with a pillow who is determined to inherit sooner rather than later. The rest of the bus followed suit in dribs and drabs. When the bus was empty save for me and the driver she turned round in her seat and bared her teeth at me.
"Where to, McArthur?" she hissed. "It'll be easier to just get rid of you than watch innocent people get hurt panicking to get back off my bus."
"You take all of the joy out of life," I said, digging in my pockets for a toothpick. "Take me to the de Havilleau museum. I have some research to do."
She snorted back a laugh, indicated, and pulled out into the oncoming traffic. I could hear the screech of brakes and the screams of small children as we did a U-turn, holding the road with just two wheels for four long seconds, and then we were off, heading down the Boulevard of Poisoned Dreams towards a rendezvous with a researcher.