Tag Archives: Chicago

The Men in the City

The men in the city
Made a deal with the women in the city
The men would work every Tuesday and Thursday
The women would work every Monday and Wednesday
They’d alternate Fridays
The deal fell apart, though, by week three
That’s when they realized the old way was better

(I’ve posted this for the fun of it. It’s the result of a warm-up exercise during Creative Writing Essentials at StoryStudio Chicago. The exercise was to select one of three titles (picked randomly from an anthology of poetry) and write a unique story of exactly 50 words. I excluded “Long May” and “In the Dark I Enter,” and chose “Men in the City.”)

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Filed under Fiction, Flash Fiction, Poetry

The Hustle

Hustle

I wouldn’t have noticed you.

Not if you’d stayed in the crowd walking east on Madison, hurrying to the Loop.  But you crossed south onto Canal, and into the morning shadows.  You didn’t notice me, the woman standing in the alley.  You were looking up.  To the top of Willis Tower.  That’s when I stepped from where I watch, to follow.

That other guy, wearing a suit and carrying a leather portfolio, I won’t try him.  A lawyer or banker won’t listen.  You, though.  Casual pants, a bright checkered shirt, lunch in a green cooler bag.  You will.  And just now, you turned your head to that woman passing by.  She’s a little younger than me, but I’ll still catch your eye.

The men and women walking in front, I see the backs of their heads.  But the top of yours is what I see as you tilt it again, to look up at the buildings.  Your hair is gray and thinning, yet the city’s beauty still fascinates you.

Like the guy I was married to.  In the city he saw only the good.  In me too.  When I would stray he always took me back.  He never said it but he liked not knowing where I’d gone.  I really wanted to make his world as good as he thought.  He left to see if anyone could.

So I’m here.  And I’m coming up next to you because this way works better.  Because if I was walking towards you, you’d study my eyes, my sweatshirt, my jeans.  You might see that I wore them last night, then look past me before I can say…

“Excuse me.”  I say it beside you, nicely, like when your wife’s here and asks someone how to get to State Street.

You look over to me with bright eyes, willing to help.

And so I go on, “I need to get to Bolingbrook.”

Still walking, you look forward.

I see you’re not sure about me.  I keep up and urge you, “Bolingbrook is far away.  I need to take the train.  I have to get home.”

You look over at me again, your mouth closed, lips straight.

You don’t like strangers asking for money.  But I can convince you I’m not a panhandler.  “I came down here yesterday for an interview…at Target.”  That makes me different, doesn’t it?  That I say I’m looking for a job, at a place you’re familiar with?

You stare forward, still walking.

I’ve got one more line that sometimes works.  It’s just for guys.  “My ex-boyfriend left me down here.”

You slow your pace and turn your head to me.

My eyes show I’m hurting and desperate.  I need a fix.

At Monroe the light turns red.  I stop with you.

You look to me and say, “I can’t help you.”  Flat and simple as my husband said when he left.

And as you walk east across Canal, I watch the back of your head.  You walk, and as far as I can see, you never again look up at the buildings.

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Filed under Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story

Tower

Tower

Gray rails curve left
They guide the slowing commuter train
One more mile before the downtown station

Through the window
I study the west skyscrapers
Against the morning’s light-blue background

The tallest building rises black
Its straight edges sharp
All the way up

And just above
Is the wisp of a cloud
White and round

Wait…that’s not a cloud
It’s the moon!

That tower is nowhere close
To touching it

 

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Filed under Poetry