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City Slicker Coconut #3
A Waft of Chicago
As of today I have lived in Chicago, Illinois for exactly one year. Twelve months of walking and riding public transit and I still don’t know where I am going. There are things about this city that I have gotten used to and a lot I never will. I’ve gotten used to all the people everywhere all the time and that I will have to wait in line to do just about anything. I have come to terms with the fact that every time I leave my house twenty dollars seems to spend itself.
All the sirens in Chicago seem to head west. Lights of all kinds are always on or flashing in a city like this. I assume there are still stars in the sky, but I haven’t seen them for months. The birds can’t tell if it’s day or night so they sing all the time.
I will never get used to the smell of piss. Every town has a smell on the scratch and sniff card of important places and locations: Denver smells like dog food and exhaust, New York smells like a touring band’s van, Chicago smells like urine.
I try not to touch anything. I am still getting over the fact that I shared a train car with a dead man: Just me and him. Other than the smell of death and the puddle of liquid crawling up and down the aisle, I thought it a bit weird that there weren’t more commuters in the car during rush hour. Usually, it is hip to hip trench coats, ipods and stressed out faces. He rocked back and forth between stops. I stopped breathing, stomach churning. At each stop the doors would open and people stepped in off the platform, smelled and gagged , looked at me then looked at the man, exited and crammed into another car. Nobody cared, because they were making really good time getting home that night. I told a worker near the stairs and the turnstiles that there might be a dead guy on the Blue Line tonight. He pulled up on his utility belt, looked down at his walkie-talkie and said, “There always is . . .”