As the night became darker and darker, I was having a harder time following the crow. It darted between buildings, down alleys, coming to rest on alcoves and balconies far above me. And yet I was always able to just keep it in sight as it drew me further and further into the San Francisco night.
I really couldn't complain, since I had in fact summoned the crow. Well, not the crow specifically, but I had reached out once again for help from the shadows. As many of my more sharp-eyed readers (well, both of them) will remember, back in March I decided to get to the bottom of the whole Ross Mirkarimi conspiracy. And in an act of journalistic courage that will probably garner me both a Pulitzer and a Darwin award, I reached out to the vast moderate conspiracy to find out how they had engineered Mirkarimi's downfall.
Now, in all honesty, I did not quite get to the bottom of things in the manner I had hoped, which was why now I was returning for a second time. After the dull fulminations of the last month at the Ethics Commission, this week had exploded into a full-blown conspiracy fest, replete with secretive meetings, surprise contenders, and mysterious bomb threats.
So I knew the secret society that controls this town was back in action, despite their protests to the contrary last time around. Getting back to their hidden lair was the problem, since last time Rose Pak had thrown a black bag over my head before I could figure out where it was. But I did have one idea. Ever since, I had noticed the crow shadowing me.
I figured I would turn the tables on them, and I started following the crow instead. And so I found myself in the middle of the night, tracking a feathered rat through the darkened canyons of San Francisco. I knew that if I could just tire it out, it would have to fly back home.
Finally the crow had no choice. Huffing and puffing, it finally weaved into a window of a darkened building hanging off the back side of Telegraph Hill. I walked up to the door and pounded on it until I finally heard the sound of a latch being thrown. With the inevitable creak, the door opened, and I was once again face to face with the house goblin.
It was not happy. "You were not summoned," he rasped. "Why are you here?"
I didn't care, and I knew the layout of the house already, so I simply pushed by him and marched down the hallway. The ballots from the last mayoral election had finally been cleaned up and were stacked neatly down the walls. I walked into the trophy room and looked around for the cloaked figure that had spoken to me before.
He was in the corner waiting for me, almost as if he knew I was going to crash his party. Then I heard that familiar voice again. "So, you want to know what is happening, don't you?"
Of course I did. "I want to know why you told me last time you had nothing to do with the plot against Ross, when obviously you are manipulating things right now."
The figure glided towards me. "In order to answer that question, you have to tell me first who you think 'we" are."
That was easy. "You are the moderate conspiracy that controls everything in town behind the scenes. Rose Pak and Willie Brown and Walter Wong and who knows else. You call in bomb threats, hide CPMC documents and make Ed Lee do your bidding."
"And why do you think that is who we are?"
"Well, it's a plot against Ross, so it has to be the moderates, right?"
I could hear the laugh inside the hood "In order to have a movement like the progressives, you have to have someone to fight against. After all, Don Quixote needs a windmill, otherwise he's just some old guy on a horse."
"But wait, I already know Willie and Rose are part of this!"
"Oh by all means, they are very helpful, windmill-wise. Because in order to keep yourself relevant, you have to keep the battle relevant."
"Hold on, are you saying that you are progressive?"
"Here is the thing about conspiracies. They aren't started by the people in power, they are started by the people who have lost power. But it is in the best interest of the people in power to maintain those conspiracies. After all, what is better for a people who want to appear powerful: Ed Lee telling a truth you don't want to hear, or Ed Lee supposedly lying and getting away with it?"
I was starting to feel my head hurt from this. "So, it's in the best interest of the progressives to keep creating conspiracies, because that then makes them relevant again."
"Of course. I mean, why do you think Aaron Peskin is so eager to be subpoenaed? Why do you think Debra Walker wants in? Because in doing so, they get back in the game. Ross Mirkarimi is the best thing that ever happened to them."
"So this could completely change November...the progressives could make a run at city hall after all."
The figured laughed even harder. "You forgot about the second part. The moderates love the conspiracies because it makes them appear competent and powerful. It's like the British in India. They kept a country of 313 million people in line with only 155,000 troops. How? By appearing to be far more numerous and strong than they actually were.. The 'rulers' love the perceptions of power that the conspiracies create." And with that, the black bag was thrown over my head. Figures. I was more in the dark than ever. That's the thing about conspiracies. Sometimes the only reason they exist is to keep you from seeing what is right in front of your nose.