dense buildings

Chicago Gothic

The fog is dense, seemingly swallowing buildings whole. No matter where you look, it’s always two blocks away, but you know it’s following. The public art looks more menacing than ever.

Sometimes you swear the Orange line never makes a turn towards Midway. Was that Harold Washington Library again? How many times have you passed it now?

The pothole has taken another car. It hisses angrily at the tow truck here to steal its prey. Bystanders remember what happened last time.

February drags on. No one knows when they last saw the sun. The winds howl and slowly claw the skin from your bones as you seek cover behind the next building.

The geese are everywhere, crowding out the humans. Their beady eyes and sharp beaks follow your every move. The sandwich you had in your hand has disappeared. You didn’t need ten fingers anyway. The stump oozes like the construction tar on Roosevelt.

Da Bears! Da Bears! It’s as if everyone has forgotten why they call them the Monsters of the Midway. But not you.

Urine and steaming garbage perfumes the alley. In the distance there are peals of laughter from the sports bars. Go Cubs! someone shouts, punctuated by the teetering of high heels on pavement. You hear rustling. A friend of a friend is said to have disappeared here, you think as the rats descend.

The city is hungry. Organizers scramble to lure unsuspecting tourists to the Taste of Chicago. They are never heard from again, but we wipe our hands clean. Some sacrifices must be made. Another year of borrowed time.

“Portillo’s,” they moan. “No, Hot Doug’s,” groan the others. You inch away as they begin to shuffle towards one another. You never cared for Chicago dogs anyway. You’ll take that secret to the grave.

“I’m a runner! I got grandfathered into the marathon this year!” Their eyes are full of fear. You don’t ask what they’re running from.