Friday, March 30, 2012

Carson, Ernie, & Ryan

Seen on the waiting for the Red Line to 95th at about 8:20 a.m., March 28th, 2012 

Here we have Carson, Ernie, and Ryan: boys in men’s clothing. At first glance they simply look like three businessmen waiting for the train. But look closer. Their hair is cropped too close to their heads, a poor attempt to conceal how messy it would be if they grew it out. Their casual smiles are actually grins; they are still giddy that they have Grown-Up-Jobs in a Big Office Building Downtown. Their dress shirts are too tight. They are overly-focused on their looks, betraying the fact that they have not yet settled into the monotony of office life. Pull t-shirts over their heads and put a can of Coors Light in each of their hands, and they’re still last year’s rowdy frat boys. They hope you can’t see it, but their camouflage is so very weak. 

Managed to fit in one more story before the end of the week. Hopefully things will slow down at work a little bit next week, or at least the week after that. We won trivia on Wednesday, which was amazing. Tonight I'm going to Steampunk Chicago's Clockwork Vaudeville at Ace Bar. It's the first time I've ever had to pull together a steampunk outfit. This should be interesting...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Seen on the Brown Line to Kimball at about 8:15 p.m., March 22nd, 2011 

Marco knows the nightmares will come if he sleeps in his bed. Melting faces, screaming dogs, living forks and knives—all manner of horrors. Luckily, he has found a way to escape them.

After he has rinsed off their dinner plates, Marco goes into his bedroom while his mother starts one of her telenovelas. No matter how dramatic the story, she always dozes off while watching them; Marco finds her every morning curled up on the threadbare couch wearing her clothes from the day before. When the telenovela ends he slips into jeans and a polo shirt. He needs to look respectable, like a little adult, or people will question why he’s alone. He opens his window and shuffles down the drainpipe to the alley below. It’s only one floor. 

Marco scampers to the Brown Line station. Sometimes he goes towards Kimball, and sometimes he goes towards the Loop. It doesn’t really matter. Once he’s on a train, he sets his iPod alarm for 2 a.m. That’s when the Brown Line stops running, so he gets off wherever he is and, his head still foggy from dreamless slumber, sleeps on the platform until the trains start up again at 4 a.m. His mother saved for months to get him the iPod for Christmas. It’s probably the most useful thing she’s ever given him, but she’d be furious if she knew how Marco uses it.

With the alarm set and the headphones securely plugged inside his ear canals, Marco lets the rumbling of the train lull him to sleep. The deep, chugging noise is like a bolder lullaby, and he feels more secure in the worn plastic seats than he does in his mother’s arms. What’s more, the fluorescent lights and the screeching wheels scare the nightmares away. It is the perfect place to rest.

Excited that I actually managed to post a story. Work is CRAZY this week, so I think the stories are going to be few and far between for a little while. I hope to get back to them soon!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Willard; Mona & Alistair

I'm back from Los Angeles, and so is PTKY! Here are two stories about some people I saw during my vacation.

Willard: Seen in the Hollywood Hills at about 1 p.m., March 16th, 2012 

They always slow down in their convertibles, their wasteful SUVs, their self-righteous hybrids. They always slow down and glare at me. They slow down enough to see the food and grease stuck in my scraggly beard, the holes in my t-shirt, the rust on my junk car that I’m washing. Their eyes are yellow with disgust. They can’t believe the audacity of someone like me living so high in the hills, so close to the Hollywood sign, that icon of glamor and expensive real estate. They speed away from me, an eyesore, a blight. They make me laugh.

Mona & Alistair: Seen at Zankou Chicken at about 2 p.m., March 17th, 2012 

Mona & Alistair both think they’ve done pretty well. Mona likes Alistair because he’s English and she enjoys listening to his accent. It makes up for the fact that he talks too much, especially about how he’s a vegan except that he eats fish. Alistair likes Mona because she always laughs at his bad jokes. It makes up for the fact that she tries to look younger than she is by wearing cheap juniors’ department clothing. As they dip their pita into Zankou’s world famous garlic sauce, neither of them worry about bad breath. They both enjoy being able to taste the meals they’ve shared on each other’s tongues when they kiss. 

Anyway, I had a really good time in L.A. Some of what I did, in no specific order: old L.A. Zoo (abandoned cages to crawl through!), Museum of Jurassic Technology (lots of really weird stuff!), Griffith Observatory (Tesla coil!), The Edison (amazing fancy nightclub that should really be called The Tesla because everyone knows Tesla was better!), The Impov Space (improv comedy almost as good as in Chicago), Watts Towers (Italian immigrant built crazy towers out of junk that are, much to the dismay of local residents, extremely structurally sound!), karaoke at Brass Monkey (super fun divey bar where celebrities sometimes go but I didn't see any!), Sprinkles cupcake ATM (exactly what it sounds like!). I did many other things as well. Now, back to work. And I'm going to see Megafaun tonight! So busy all the time. In a good way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Seen on an Eastbound Fullerton Bus at about 3:50 p.m., March 13th, 2012 

Ross is a “work hard, play hard” kind of guy. The focus and dedication of his “work” side grows in the alert hairs of his well-trimmed beard. His “play” side resides in his casual striped newsboy cap, which may be slightly too juvenile for a man his age. Not that he’s old. It’s just that he’s in a precarious position.

Ross used to be a cheap-beer-guzzling party guy with no dreams for the future. When he hit thirty, however, he decided to become a craft beer enthusiast and get some dreams. Now he owns a small company that designs smartphone apps. In order to stay ahead of the curve on new technology, he hires only young people, straight out of college. And Ross knows what young people straight out of college like to do. 

Ross’ office kegger parties are legendary. They play flip cup on the edges of their desks and beer pong on the conference table. Ally the secretary usually ends up puking in the trash can. The owner of the office building doesn’t like it, of course, but Ross always stays late afterwards to clean everything up, and he tacks a little extra money onto every rent check. His mother thinks he’s too close to his employees, but Ross thinks otherwise. He needs their fresh, idealistic, innovative minds to keep his business going. He needs them to think that he’s an inspired and friendly leader. He needs his employees to love him, and they do. 

Sorry I didn't write a post yesterday. I was working from home, and then I had a crazy night full of sushi and befriending a somewhat drunk British man. Long story. Anyway, I'm going to LOS ANGELES tomorrow! Woohoo! I'll be there until Tuesday, so there might not be any stories while I'm there. I'm hoping that I'll be able to write a few tales from L.A., but we'll see. 

Monday, March 12, 2012


Seen waiting for the Red Line to 95th at Fullerton at about 8:30 a.m. 

The rain is so familiar to her today—Audrey has rain déjà vu. Not so long ago she was standing at the base of a mountain in Peru, early in the morning, happy. The warm, petrichor-perfumed rain swam down her blonde braid, bounced off her eyelashes, freckled her flushed cheeks, moistened her pink lips, rolled along the curve of her neck, filled her proffered hands. Perhaps the Peruvian rain missed her touch and followed her back to Chicago, unlike Diego, who stayed. 

A very brief flash today! Only 82 words. Hope it's a good story. Guess what? I LOVE THE CHICAGO WEATHER RIGHT NOW. It's amazing. It'll probably get cold again before summer rolls around, but a girl can dream...
Yesterday I was walking around Wicker Park, and I bought Adam Levin's collection of short stories Hot Pink. Hm...reading this review has made me realize that Hot Pink isn't actually released until tomorrow. Wonder how that happened? Magic? Human error? Anyway, I'm excited about it. I love short story collections.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Seen waiting for the Red Line at Fullerton at about 8:15 a.m., March 8th, 2012 

Today I am grateful, for this wrap is squeezing my neck, and this hat is knotted tightly beneath my chin, and my head rests safely on my shoulders. Lord knows it’s sometimes more precarious! I just picked this one up the other day; I thought her face looked kind, and she wasn’t buried too deep. The headstone said her name was Ashley. Well thank-you, Ashley! Bet you never thought your skin would be battered by the cold Chicago wind again! But don’t worry. I’ll take good care of it.

I’ll need new legs soon. This pair is starting to rot, but the flesh is strapped in good by my thick green tights. Ha! I remember the first time I had this problem. Everyone thought I had some kind of skin disease; one young man even offered to take me to the hospital. The hospital! Not much they could do for me. Oh, I’ll tell you, being one of the walking dead does have its trials and tribulations.

Sometimes I wish I could have a slimmer, more attractive figure, but all the mass around my middle keeps me balanced and steady. I have just the right amount of breasts, buttocks, thighs, and fatty upper arms, all bound together in a torso-ball with medical tape. The tape’s a bit itchy, but I can’t complain. At least I’m still here, surviving in the best way I know how. 

Sorry there was no post yesterday. Work got awfully crazy. It was pretty crazy today, too. But I don't see much of a point in starting a new project at 4:30 p.m.  I'm going to see Showboat tonight with my family at the Lyric Opera! Excited about that. As for what the rest of the weekend will hold...only time will tell.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:45 a.m. 

“You are what you eat,” his mother always told him, and Roald couldn’t agree more. He loves food—not just the taste, or the way it satiates the grinding hunger in his stomach, but also the way it looks, smells, and feels. Roald is more than happy to become what he eats. The blood of the rare steak he consumed for dinner last night soaks his fat cheeks. The sticky maple syrup that topped his pancakes at breakfast now seeps from his armpits on this unseasonably warm morning. His corpulent belly is the accumulation of years of desserts: sugary cupcakes, chewy cookies, jiggly puddings, velvety fudge.

Roald isn’t stupid. He knows that butter fills his veins and cottage cheese clogs the chambers of his heart. But those are some of his favorite foods! What a delicious way to go. 

Can I just say that I love Drivel & Wit Chicago? It is the best writing group. Of all time. Ever. This is a fact.

Trivia tonight. Time to kick some ass. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Seen on the Metra Union Pacific North Line at about 7:50 a.m. 

Nicki sulks onto the train with her pink backpack. Her momma named her Nikki, but she spells it Nicki like Nicki Minaj because she loves Nicki Minaj and because the girls at school will like her better that way. She doesn’t like a lot of things her momma does: her momma doesn’t have a job, her momma never gets her lazy ass off the couch to look for a job, her momma dates lazy ass men. Her momma’s a stupid bitch. This morning her momma couldn’t even afford to buy Nicki a student-price ten-ride train pass. Pathetic. But Nicki knows she’s not like her momma. Nicki’s like Nicki Minaj—she’s going to make something of herself.

Sorry I didn't write a story yesterday, but I was working from home in the suburbs--hence my taking the Metra this morning. I suppose I could have written you a story about my adorable dogs, know...

Today is a good day. It is over 60 degrees outside, it is sunny, and writing group is tonight. Hope you're having a good day, too.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:40 a.m. 

Marlene used to be a dish, and she wants everyone to know it. Her red beret is artfully tipped to one side, allowing her soft, white curls to pop out over one ear. Even though her beauty has sagged and paled and wrinkled and warped, she still wants to convey that she is a fashionable and tasteful woman. It is all she has left.

When she was young, everyone thought Marlene looked like a movie star. “You’re prettier than Judy Garland!” they’d say. People were always comparing her to Judy Garland. She had to dodge proposals left and right. Ed Wilkins, the butcher’s son, asked her to marry him three times! Eventually she settled on Richard Smith. He wasn’t necessarily the most affectionate husband, but he was handsome; he prized her beauty and paraded it for all their friends and neighbors to see. This was all Marlene had ever wanted, to be adored, and the adoration never ceased. “A fine couple!” people would say. Their marriage was a success.

But now Richard is gone, as dead as her good looks. All Marlene has left to cling to is the hope that people will be able to recognize the gorgeous woman she once was. If they just look at her, really look, they’ll have to see it… 

Weekend! Hooray. My dad recently started working in the city, so we're grabbing drinks at the Beatles Happy Hour at Delilah's. Drinking with my dad--aw yiss. You wish you were as cool as my dad. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Seen waiting for the Red Line to Howard at the Fullerton Station at about 8:15 a.m. 

I can see them staring at me. More specifically, staring at my godawful hair. I asked for red—a nice, tasteful-yet-fun-loving red. And what did I get? Fire engine. Raggedy Ann. Bozo the Clown. Leprechaun. Maybe that’s what I’ll tell people. I’ll casually laugh it off: “Oh, haha, I’m just gearing up for a great St. Patrick’s Day!” Oh God. This is torture. Not just for me; I feel like I’m assaulting everyone else’s eyeballs. Is there anywhere near the office I can buy a scarf? First Google search when I get into work today: “Best hair salon in Chicago.” 

Drabble on purpose today. It was almost 100 words, so I added a few more to reach the drabble level. On a literary note, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference is in Chicago this weekend, which means there are a whole bunch of fun, literary off-site activities around the city. You should go to them.