Friday, October 06, 2006

My Home Sweet Home

(friday flash friction)

"Extra Extra" shouts the boy in the wool cap. He's holding a paper high in the air. Above the din and scurry of rats racing towards an imaginary chunk of cheese, I hear his voice echo, "extra, extra, read all about it." Louder it grows, distracting me from the cacophony of awkward silence through which I progress. Diligent in my stride, I attempt to stay focused on the task at hand. I must make it to work and keep my job. I must stay the course. Yet I can't will myself away from the boy's call. I can't control my desire to be let in on the extra extra secret which he holds in his hands; ink stained paper which quite possibly could reveal the meaning of life. God or serendipity could be residing in his hands right this very minute and I'm passing it by. I'm so focused on the task at hand, which was, shit I forgot. I'm so focused on the paperboy that nothing else matters. I break from the herd and in the process cut off an obviously irate rich greaser who shouts an epitaph of my perceived sexual orientation. "Fucking faggot," he swears into the silver bluetooth microphone which dangles from his left ear. In his right hand sat a venti latte which now stains my designer blue jeans. "God damn asshole," I hear his voice trail off as he continues following the river of rats northbound on Michigan Avenue.

"Way to go," the inner voice without reason states. Anxiety begins to trick me into believing my leap was all a big mistake. For a second or two I doubt my intuition. Maybe I should step back in line; I will be late for work. But the voice of intuition has grown powerful. It reaffirms my decision. "You've wasted too much of your precious life following these robots, break away," the voice speaks, inaudible yet registering loudly in my conscious albeit tired mind. "Didn't have enough caffeine this morning,' the voice of anxiety fires back. "You have A.D.D., you can't focus, you're tired and you need caffeine," it continues. "Follow your footsteps one by one and I'll lead you" responds the voice of intuition. I think back to a recent yoga workshop. "Breathe deep, focus on your breath and only on your breath." Feet progressing one in front of the other I take a long deep breathe and watch for angry pedestrians.

A face of beauty crosses my periphery and I turn to look. She's gorgeous, perfect for me. "She's the way out of this lonely misery," the voice of depressive tendency chimes in. "Don't be a fool, stay focused," retorts the voice of intuition. She's beautiful, a living renaissance painting: long slender legs, dressed smart in light green and khaki, hari curly and still wet, dangling seductively around her shoulders. In two seconds time I see no imperfection in her complexion. She's carrying a book whose cover I recognize from days spent daydreaming in Borders bookstore. "Look out jackass," another angry commuter chimes in as I nearly knock him over in my early morning reverie. I regain my footing and realize the paperboy has disappeared. In my minute by minute dose of deficient attention I come up empty handed. The former Marshall Field's clock strikes 8 and I'm now officially late. I'm still ten minutes from the office. My jeans are completely stained and I'm the formal enemy of two Chicagoans.

My boss indicated earlier in the week that if I was late one more time I'd risk suspension and or firing. The outcome would depend on the will of his board of directors. I know through reconnaissance work late one evening that one of the directors, Mr. Board Member, is cheating on his wife. I smile as I'm reminded of his incessant boasting of being a righteous Christian. This much information is enough to blackmail my way out of losing my job, but I feel an urge to let it be and leave the outcome of his illusory life to the heavens above. Or at least I think as much as I regain footing and find my way back into the crowd. Three people in front of me, a redhead inhales a final puff from her cigarette and drops it to the soil of a tree aligning the concrete avenue. She reaches in her purse, pulls out a Razr-phone, snaps it open and begins to gab. Under her right arm sits a copy of the paper boy's paper. Determined not to leave the street empty handed, I speed my trot and pass three dazed and confused commuters. I'm right beside her as the light turns red.

"And you will not believe what Charles did to me last night, the fucking asshole," she shouts. I cringe at the shrill of a voice better left calm. "Charles," the voice of intuition ponders, "I know a Charles." I listen intently as the conversation unfolds. Behind me a sea of eager beavers waits for the light to change. To my left the details of a sin-filled evening unfold. "He told me he needed to go back to his wife, he'd had enough of living the lie. Of course it was after he fucked me." The sordid details are too much not to handle. "Yes, yes, I know," she continues, "I'm headed there right now to tell that son of a bitch what a cocksucking liar he is." Assured that I've found by serendipitous luck a scoop I can't refuse, I step back from the redhead decked in silver and gold and fall behind. Her pace picks up as she begins to approach the 10 story concrete and brick building. Angels peer down from the concrete façade at the commotion below.

A silver 7 series BMW pulls up to the curb a hundred feet in front of me. I recognize the license plate as that of the board member, "Life2Swet." Life is too sweat? Life is too sweet? I can make heads and tails of its meaning yet choose not to. Out of the passenger's side door steps a woman in light blue yoga pants. I see her figure come into focus. The redhead approaches the vehicle ever so swiftly. Always a "leg man," I'm completely hypnotized by the perfection of Ms. Blue Yoga Pants who I've now understood to be Mrs. Board Member. Mr. Board Member, a man five feet four inches tall, balding, skin orange from too much fake baking, and an air of absolute arrogance steps out from the driver's side and meets his wife. She stoops down to hug him and seals the departure with a kiss to his cheek. Anxiety of eager anticipation is stoked inside me as the redhead disrupts the otherwise tender romantic scene of a man and a woman in love with illusion and ostentation. "You fucking asshole," she shouts as she raises the newspaper. She runs into traffic and begins to beat the board member over the head. He takes the blows much harder than one would expect for a newspaper striking one's head. Ms. Blue Yoga Pants intervenes, shouting at the redhead and pulling her hair. Cars honk and pedestrians stop as the two women engage in a catfight. The newspaper falls to the ground revealing a frozen herring. Blood drips from Mr. Board Members head onto his Armani suit. Sirens wail and two police cars pull up. Luckily for Mr. B.M, the police station is three blocks away. A group of pedestrians forms a circle around the melee as if watching an impromptu street performer. Minutes pass and an ambulance comes. Mr. B.M. is taken away in the ambulance and the two women are handcuffed and taken away in separate cars. A female cop enters the BMW and drives it away.

I'm now officially forty five minutes late to work, but can hardly resist the temptation to pick up the blood stained paper. The police were careful enough to take the frozen herring as evidence, but the wind carried the paper away from the crime scene. I followed its path towards Washington St. and intercepted it just before it blew into Eastbound traffic. I step towards the shadow of the Cultural Center to regain my composure. Taking a series of deep inhales and exhales to better process the morning's events, I fall back into a hyped state of relative calm. I place my briefcase on the ground and grab the paper with both hands. On the cover in a Rorschach blood blot which appears to depict the origin of man, is a picture of President George W. Bush. In bold black letters the headline reads, "There's an old saying in Texas...!" Convinced that I'm about to lose my job, I take a deep breath and begin to read.



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