Monday, February 19, 2007

Saturday Night, An Elevated Hell



Saturday night is a different story than what you see from above. I went to the north side to look for the new T. Jefferson Parker novel, trying to keep certain things from my mind, one of them being that I'd be incommunicado with a good friend of mine for a few days. Always a dame, right, Indelli? (A line from one of my Jonny Algiers stories.) But by the time I got back downtown it was dark, and men were marking their territory on the steam vents, one which is barely visible behind the bus at the Chicago Theater. I came up the subway steps to go to the elevated Orange Line, still thinking and in all reality attempting to forget the -10 wind chill. I locked eyes with a man pacing on the steam vent across from the theater, we both looked away, each of us perhaps trying to find a grain of spirituality before returning to the cold reality of the night. In more ways than one. I gave him a fiver and climbed the wooden stairs to the platform two stories above.

10 comments:

Yvonne Navarro said...

I can't believe the cold hasn't broken yet up there. It sounds just awful.

HemlockMan said...

Some years back, I saw a particularly pitiful homeless person who tentatively approached me, standing off about a dozen feet trying to, I suppose, go about asking me for a handout. I had some cash in my pocket and gave her a ten. We both looked up to see a cop stalking toward us with baton in hand (or whatever they call those head-knockers in San Diego). She beat a hasty retreat and the cop really glared at me.

-10 on a steam vent. Damn.

Sidney said...

The news of the man found a year dead in front of his television set has had me thinking about humanity and isolation. It's not the first case of its type of late, the other was in Pravda a few weeks ago.

Sometimes a fiver goes a long way but such sights and stories are always sad.

Charles Gramlich said...

Once when I was broke in Texas and had just enough money for a supper at Shoney's, a homeless guy asked me for some cash for a sketch he'd done. I told him sorry, that I barely had enough to pay for my own meal. Later, when I got up to leave and asked the waitress for my bill she told me it was "taken care of." Turns out an elderly gentleman had heard my comment and paid for my meal with his. I'll never forget that. I wish now I'd given the guy with the sketch some money.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

my next post will deal with charles's comment. von, the temp is in the 40s again. james and sid, the steam vents are home to many a soul, and it is more heartbreak when they stop their pacing at curl up in fetal position to sleep.

HemlockMan said...

The worst homeless situation I ever witnessed was back in the late 80s when I was in Philadelphia. I was there to pitch a comic book series to a publisher active then (Comico). One evening I was walking around downtown with the publishers and I swear every spot that was even remotely covered by some type of overhang or ledge had a homeless person underneath it trying to shelter themselves from the cold rain, generally with some type of carboard covering over and beneath them. I never forgot those images.

etain_lavena said...

here you will find homeless kids on every corner if I have food with me I rather give them food, if you give them money they go and buy glue to sniff(a cheap drug).....the world is a horrid place....:(

spoon said...

i love the way you describe such a simple event.

etain_lavena said...

I posted both places:)

Sheila said...

Thank you for your get well wishes! Yes, we will have to talk about comics and superman! Wednesday is new comic day in Michigan as well.