Saturday, December 23, 2006

First Images

I had left work early yesterday, around 4:30 PM, and the bus was 45 minutes late, mostly due to the traffic leading to the Tri-State Tollway in one direction and the Crestwood Shopping Mall in the opposite. The rain came down harder, in the oncoming lights from cars and pickups I could see the layered look rain has when the wind only picks up periodically. Getting soaked yet again made me realize the amount of rain we have had this year, as 2005, the Year of My Unemployment, was a drought. It gave me a decent opening line for the third section of my novel-in-progress, CITY WITH NO SECOND CHANCES. I have divided the book into three seasons, with the sections titled Shank Of The Night; Shots Downed, Officer Fired; and Proactive Contrition. I came up with some decent "narrative" thoughts of my character, Frank St. Cyr reflecting on how there had never been so much rain during the course of the years' events. I don't even plan on using the rain as a plot device, simply have the third segment open with that observation. After I had that thought tucked into my head, I shaped a blog entry around it. When I first was consciously putting words to paper with the intent of having them published, I started by writing down feelings, or better yet, conditions. One of the very first things I tried to write about, conveying my thoughts the way a caveman might attempt scratching a rock drawing, was being hungry. I was always broke and starving in college. I lived off of chicken broth from the coffee machine at Stevenson Hall and even took up smoking Marlboro Lights (70 cents a pack) because it cut down my appetite (for those who don't know me personally, I have actually smoked about 20 packs in as many years, many times tossing half a pack away in a fit of self-loathing.) One day, I was walking past the Chicago River one day, heading towards the used bookstores and thrift shops on No. Clark Street (lots now filled by Hard Rock Cafe and other theme restaurants). I was VERY hungry and actually told this to a guy begging for money. I knew he was a drunk living in a flophouse, but that might have been one of the few times I was actually pissed at someone not being truthful about their plight. My stomach was past rumbling, I was close to fatigue. I hadn't flipped him off, in fact I hadn't ignored him like everyone else had been doing. But I saw him on my trip back from the bookstores, hours later, and he seemed to remember me. For all I know he could have been jabbering away the whole time, but in an eerie JACOB'S LADDER kind of way, he looked at me and said, in exactly these words, "I will see you again one day." A dull look in his eyes. And in some way, I have been seeing him--on certain days, in certain forms--ever since. Wayne