"So who are these vultures you're talking about?" Max was a little annoyed with Myra and wished she'd get to the point.
Myra continued her story. She seemed to delight in the telling of it, adding little dramatic flares here and there while twirling her dark hair around her finger.
"When Nora's brother was alive, he was her protector. But when he died, Nora seemed lost. She had dabbled in the theatre for years and actually had some parts in plays, like "Uncle Vanya." Once her brother died she started frequenting the backstage of the theatres. That's where she met Teddy."
"Teddy?" Max moved over to the table to pickup a golden ashtray. It looked almost too pretty to drop ashes in, but he did anyway.
"Teddy is what friends call him. His stage name is Theodore Williams. He works at the North Beach Theatre and is often in plays there. His brother Joe is a pianist at the Green Street Theatre. Teddy and Joe were with Nora the night of her murder."
"With her? You mean at her apartment? And are these the vultures you spoke of?"
"Well, maybe vultures is a strong word, ...the thing is...you have to understand...that Teddy is 26. His brother is 27."
Max squinted his eyes. "This Teddy bird is 26 years old? How old was Nora?"
Myra got up again off the settee and drew out her answer by walking to the window and staring out as if there was something of interest there.
"Come on, how old was she?" Max's patience was wearing thin.
Myra turned slowly from the window. "Some say 70, some say 62, some say 67."
"What do you say Myra?"
"Max darling, - of course I knew her quite well - and I say 70. I was really quite proud of her. I mean ... really, why not? Why not enjoy life? The night of the murder Nora and Teddy and Joe and Francine all went out. Oh! I forgot to tell you about Francine. She is Nora's good friend and also wealthy and also of a certain advanced age!
"That night they all went out to dinner at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and then to the Green Street Theatre for a show. I know they were back at midnight because I heard them come in. I saw Teddy and Joe leave."
"So, that was it?" Max replied.
Myra got suddenly emotional. She pulled an embroidered handkerchief from her dress pocket and dabbed at her eyes.
"That was it, until about 8:30 am when Nora's houseboy Lok Chu started banging at my door and crying that 'Missy Boss lady is on floor and can't get up!' He was really hysterical. I ran over to her apartment and found her dead with a sheet wrapped around her neck and a scene of a terrible struggle. I called the police and ...and ..." Myra started sobbing.
Max got up and edged to the door. "Thank you - I'm sorry. Didn't mean to upset you."
Myra waved him on between sobs with her handerkerchief. Max let himself out. He knew his next stop would be the Green Street Theatre.
Photos from SF.curbed.com: Palace Hotel Garden Court, Sir Francis Drake Hotel.