Monday, March 10, 2008

Homicide: Life On The Killing Streets

I have seen dead people. My father's first partner became a homicide detective on the north side. In the mid 70s, he stopped by for a visit and I was able to see b&w photos of some stuff that sears the mind. An off-duty cop shot dead ion his car. The Grimes sisters on Willow Springs Road, a crime still unsolved. A ground view level view of a woman who jumped from the 86th floor of the John Hancock Building, her leg dangling from a lamppost like pantyhose. And Judith Mae Anderson's remains, severed limbs and torso in a drum that floated out on Montrose Harbor on a summer's night in 1958. Barry Cook was arrested for that one, he was paroled in 1973, went to Houston and fell off the earth. He did a lot of bad things before he killed Anderson, and I wrote a novel centered around him called BROTHERHOOD OF THE DISFIGURED that my second agent never marketed in any true sense. Being the crazed fool I am, I eventually tore the pages into shreds. I bring the photos and the images up, because, even after seeing the b&w blood and faces deflated of life, I still can hear--more a faraway echo now--the dying woman's voice from Saturday's mock jury. Perhaps its an echo that implores me to not let the voice go, to stay in my mind with the images of the killing streets I saw back in the mid 70s, splayed out on my kitchen table...Wayne


Anonymous said...

When I was about four I wandered through a bunch of my parents books -- all in Polish, but at that age all language was Polish to me. One of them was a brown, softbound book, the binding already about to go as if it had been cheaply-made, or many times read, or both. The book had a number or photographs, most if not all taken at the death camps. Starved persons staring from faces that look more like skulls, every rib -- every bone visible. Dead bodies stacked up five, six, ten high waiting to be thrown into a furnace or into some mass landfill-like grave.

I don't believe you can see things like that -- like the death camp photos or the photos from the homicide investigations -- without having it change you in some profound way. Or at least some children can look at such things and never see the world the same way. Maybe those are the one who become writers, I don't know. The ones who can look at such things and feel nothing -- those are the ones I worry about.

It may have had a profound effect on a number of immigrants -- people who came to this country to escape the atrocities and insanity and death -- to come here and learn that evil had emigrated and settled before them, that travels everywhere without benfit of passport or papers.

-- Rich

Charles Gramlich said...

Like Gaiman's American Gods, we take our evil with us wherever we go.

Lana Gramlich said...

I can't even handle roadkill, nevermind human julienne.

Steve Malley said...

Once, a disturbed young woman with a bit of a crush dropped off a little gift for me at the tattoo shop: a textbook for crime scene folk. Over 600 pages of homicide photos, many in bright and glossy color.

I didn't sleep right for weeks, and kind of wished I'd never parted those covers.

HemlockMan said...

Is BROTHERHOOD OF THE DISFIGURED forever lost? No copies? Say it ain't so!

Your second agent must have been a piece of work.