Mission is part of a continuous ribbon of pavement that runs from the cold, dark waters of San Francisco Bay all the way to the Mexican border, 500 miles south. The infamous El Camino Real. A snaking conduit that has spread religion, commerce and trouble in all its ugly forms through the Golden State.

Tonight the first rain of the season was pounding on the roof of my battered heap as I cruised the 12 blocks between 15th Street and Army. 20 years before, there had been a small supper club tucked away in a tiny alley along here.

A cozy little dive packed into the wee hours with a hard-boiled crowd of tough guys, crooked politicians, "legitimate businessmen" and a class of ankle to keep up with them.  No sign - just a pair of numbers on the door to mark the address, though they weren't needed. Trouble already knew the name of this joint...

77 El Deora
Oblique Americana from the inky backwaters of The Bay