April 17, 2019

Downtown Summer Afternoons


Off the train in the rain but the sun slices its way through the dark dark skies of a June morning in the Windy City...catch a bus and get off at the zoo just in time as the gates open and all the animals take their places in their homes of artificiality--lions, tigers, and bears Oh My! elefantes too--porcupines pointing their hypodermic needles at the onlookers eating popcorn with dirty fingers...puddles disappearing into the sun leaving no trace of where they’ve been...like transients in dirty flannel shirts moving from corner to corner, town to town, state to state with dirty bucket hats and a backpack to their name, their claim to fame...I shuffle off and head downtown to the buildings that call me and my legs are dead when I arrive...I grab some coffee at a coffee shop and watch the people going by...the pretty young and not so young girls in high heels click click click down the boulevard and stylish dresses and the men in shiny blue suits and Italian boots and they’re all in cahoots with each other don’t ya know?...a couple cups and I’m stumbling down the sidewalk trying not to get run over by CTA buses with the rotating sign on the top that I swear has my name on it sometimes...it’s coming for me I know but I hide in the stores on the Magnificent Mile...Crate and Barrel, and all the stores in the Water Tower Place--Henry Kay, Marshall Field, Accent Chicago, and all the stores I don’t remember anymore, but I remember the glass elevator that went from the ground floor to the seventh and I’d ride it up and down, north and south...going over to Loyola University across the street posing as a student and see what I could steal from the bookstore...a couple of pencils or pens--wasn’t worth the risk but I did it anyway because I didn’t have nothing else to do...a trip to the local jail would have been an interesting diversion and I had no aspersions to having a record--I didn’t have much else---at least that I could call my own...meet some interesting people in jail—or so I’ve heard...fall asleep on a park bench under trees in the shade...wake up and there were my friends...the Santa Fe building, Prudential building, John Hancock building--filled with busy people daydreaming dialing and filing and doing busy work and staring out the windows at the clouds and the sailboats on the lake if they’re up high enough drifting along with the old men captaining them splitting the blue...I bet they think they’re real seafaring men/\/\/\ zigzag around the waves and the water breaks and crashes and flashes but it’s all a trick...I stop for an early dinner or a late lunch or a later breakfast at my favorite pizza place and get a window seat upstairs and wait for the little dumbwaiter to bring up my order—while I wait I watch the taxicabs zipping by...and see two men arguing outside but I don’t know what about...stare at the psychedelic tablecloth and the depression brown floor and the ceiling which has big old wooden beams...I eat and leave to catch the 4:28 but I don’t care if I make it or not...can always hang around the coffee shop and the bookstore some more and again until the clubs open...little clubs dug underground—foxholes and Somme bunkers and down a few stairs with the ubiquitous neon sign in front advertising what everybody knows they got already.