Sunday, March 15, 2009

Scared Shitless in 1965

I'm still amazed by the event on the train yesterday, you'd think after 3/5 of my life riding the el I'd have had at least one unfortunate encounter before this. The cops here are very colorful, filling out their reports that they caught the guy boxing his clown or approaching zenith. Truth. Not certain if anyone at all could watch that Drug Bust video, let me just say it was funny. A live newscast from Minneapolis, it cuts to a reporter talking about a drug raid when a cop walks out the open door with a cardboard box with a gigantic dildo bouncing around like a squid over the edge. I bet those rascal cops timed it just right. The reporter was clueless. Well, enough of that.

Here's a story I've wanted to tell for years, to try and wedge it into a story. The photo is of the three-flat at 2724 West Crystal, I lived there from 1959-1966. Third floor. All of these images connect, so bear with me. There were some two-flats on the block, and these had quasi-garden apartments. You'd walk down the gangway then step down two or three steps and see inside a window, go back up three steps (yea, us polaks, go figure) to the door at the rear. Well, one such place, closer to California Avenue, always reminded us of a witch's lair. Probably because of the Aurora models. My older cousin Dennis had quite a few and my auntie Ceil lived maybe two doors from the "lair." It was really just a basement that looked more industrial than the rest. And there was a big dent in the center of the floor, and I suspicioned it was for the witch's pot. It didn't help that the woman who lived there had stringy grey hair.

Here's where I go nutso overdrive and I swear it is all true. My mother would say that it never happened, but she won't ever admit that she'd take my dad's police belt and whip my balls with it. For spilling milk or leaving a Tonka truck on the stairs. I was outside that summer sitting on a bench, about every third flat had a walkway to the street with a bench there. I look up in the sky and see this big golden ball with a spike on it. I stand up to see it better, I had seen blimps before, and the witch's screen door banged open. And a guy with his face completely bandaged came out and started walking straight at me (of course, he could have been going to the doctor's office on Washtenaw, but I was six, man). I ran home, ran up the four flights (yes, we were on the third floor, I never did get the extra flight at all), banged on the damn door forever, my brain in overdrive that I heard the foyer door open below. Finally, my ma opened the door, for all I know she hadn't even been home, but out on the porch smoking with the neighbors. Which is where she went right back to, through the kitchen door. I hid under the couch in the parlor until my father's shift was over and he came home, maybe two hours later.

So, to recap: I see the golden object, then I see the guy in bandages, now, lots of men still wore suits in the mid-60s, but I could see not one bit of his face, I had to recall if they were actual bandages or just a white smudge as I thought it over under the sofa. And I recall the foyer door opening as I'm banging to get in. And there's my recollection, you can see why it would be hard to wedge into a story because its too damn long right now...but that was the first time I was petrified with fear. And I will swear I saw this gold thing floating in the sky.