Episode 22: They Were Totally Into It

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

Twenty-two —

[The madness of the 1960s is in full swing. It all seems to have come to a head at Anna and Anthony’s wedding. Revolution, racism, organized crime, violence, alcoholism, repressed homosexuality, police brutality — man, it was just a typical wedding on the Northwest Side of Chicago. And remember, nothing ever happens in Galewood. Hah! Here’s the latest installment of the serial e-novel, “Black Comedy.”]

The old Mondi house on Natchez already has been paid for. So has the honeymoon in Jamaica. Otherwise, Al Dudek would take both these prizes away from Anna and Anthony. It kills him to think he would do so. For twenty years he would have forgiven his only daughter for everything up to and including murder. But this? This might be worse than murder.

Not only have the newlyweds insulted every single one of Al’s friends and business associates, Anna’s essentially turned her back on a carefully constructed world, a world in which she’s been able to eat well, buy every new style the kids are wearing nowadays, and go to good schools and get a college education. Al thinks: Anna, God love her, has never missed a meal. She’s never known from need. Not like me and Tree.

And Al would have cut off his left arm if it meant he could shelter his daughter from need.

Sure, Al is enraged by Anthony’s and Anna’s and Robby Waters’ performance at the wedding. Maybe the worst thing about it all is how Tree kept looking at him as if to say I told you so.

Sometimes…, sometimes…, Al just wants to give Tree a crack on the side of the head. Not that he’d ever do it, of course, but sometimes….

So, yeah, Al is hot. But as Saturday turns into Sunday, after Tree has gone to bed with her usual post-nuptial whiskey sour headache and Joey, that testa di stronzo*, has passed out in his room, and Al finds himself in his recliner, alone, the TV on with the sound off, he weeps.

It’s a good thing Al doesn’t know what Anna had Anthony had done after the limousine dropped them off at the TWA terminal at O’Hare. He would have cracked the both of ‘em on the side of the head — and maybe more.

They’d cashed in their tickets for Jamaica and got seats the next flight to Toronto where they boarded a plane for Havana, Cuba. Anthony had convinced Anna that they should take this great opportunity to visit the only true revolutionary society on this Earth. Not only that, there were the beaches.

So the newlyweds visit some elementary schools, an adult literacy education program, a free clinic, and even a revolutionary museum where they gaze upon a pair of Santo Trafficante’s tortoise-shell glasses, Meyer Lansky’s fedora, an outlawed slot machine, and even a poisoned cigar — a gift to Fidel Castro from his friends in the CIA.

And they go to the beach.

BC Archive Link III 20130429

On the flight home, by way of Toronto once again, Anthony casts a wary eye at the stewardess who looks for all the world like one of those Up With People pains in the ass and when he is sure she isn’t eavesdropping, he whispers to Anna, “El Comandante, man, he’s amazing. We need someone like that in America. We need someone to smash the system!”

Anna nods and asked him to rub Jergens lotion on her sunburned shoulders. She can take Fidel Castro or leave him. But she knows better than to argue with her new husband about him. She’d noted the skinny, desperate kids in the Havana streets begging for food and stealing tourists’ luggage. She’d seen the slums behind Castro’s Potemkin villages. She has read about women slogging away in cigar factories while men run the government and business. When she mentioned these things to Anthony he responded simply, “That’s stupid. You sound just like a woman.”

She had a momentary flash that perhaps she was stupid. After all, Anthony was a Northwestern man — well, an expelled Northwestern man — but still, maybe he knew more than she did about this kind of thing. Anna didn’t feel particularly stupid but if that was the assessment of a high school salutatorian and bearded journalist and philosopher, who was she to argue? So she didn’t. It was easier just to lay back and get a nice tan.

Anna and Anthony settle in to their new house. She stays home and reads and hangs curtains. He goes out every day to cover (and foment) the coming revolution.

Exactly one week after the couple have returned from their honeymoon in Cuba, Anthony goes to an antiwar rally downtown. The organizers — Rennie Davis and the MOBE, with no little help from Anthony himself — had hoped for a big press turnout. They’d forgotten that it’s a Saturday and none of the city’s newspaper editors or TV producers feel like paying time and a half for reporters and photographers to cover what will be, in their opinion, just another protest march.

It’s early the morning after the march. Anna has just bailed Anthony out of jail. She listens as he describes the events of the previous day. She finds herself wondering if perhaps he’s exaggerating a bit. After all, she’d watched John Drury on the Channel 9 news and he hadn’t even mentioned any protest march. Then again, Anthony is sporting a lip so fat she can hang her jacket on it. Here’s the story as Anthony relates it to Anna in the cab ride home:

“What? Are you freakin’ kidding me, man? You must have fallen asleep. This had to be on the news. Fuck, man, it was a massacre!

“We started off at the Federal Building, right? The pigs told us we had to stay on one side of the sidewalk. Can you dig it? One half of the sidewalk for five thousand people, baby. It was a set-up.

“Here it is, Saturday afternoon, there’s no traffic on State Street, I mean none. It’s downtown — nobody’s downtown on Saturday! But here’s the cops — right? — stopping us at every corner for the red light. Come on, now! Try stopping ten thousand people just like that. So the lights change and people start pushing forward but the cops stand in front of us, holding us back. Who knows why. People start shoving and the cops start whacking people with their billy clubs. Every corner, man, whack, whack, whack! It was sickening.

State Street

State Street, That Great Street

“They let us go on to the next corner and same thing happened all over again. I think the cops were diggin’ whacking people, you know? And get this — the cops weren’t wearing their badges or nameplates. This one cop, he was whackin’ the crap out of this little old lady so I go, ‘Stop it, man. What’s your name? What’s your badge number?’ What do you think he did? Boom, right across my face with his billy club. I pulled back just in time or he’d have broken my nose or put out a few teeth. As it was, he gave me this.”

Anthony touches his fat lip and winces. Anna winces with him.

Anthony continues: “So, like, the cops hold back a group of us at one corner but here comes the group from the previous corner and now you’ve got hundreds of people in this tight space. Naturally, they’re going to spread out over the sidewalk. But here’s the cops, whackin’ people on the back of their legs and their asses. They go, ‘Get the fuck back in line, hippie scum!’

“Some of us go, ‘Shut up, man! There’s no need to call us names!’ The cops whacked all of us who said that, too.

“Finally we got to the Civic Center, you know, where they have the Picasso? We had a permit, man. We were going to have speakers and some music and all. We weren’t looking for a fight. But as soon as all the marchers got to the plaza — I mean it, just as soon as everybody got there, twenty thousand people — the pigs told us to disperse. What the fuck, man!

Civic Center Protest

“We went, ‘Fuck off, man!’ That’s when the pigs went wild. They started swinging their billy clubs like crazy. They were hitting everything that moved. Man, you can’t believe the sound of a billy club coming down on a person’s skull. I thought I was going to barf.

“We started running, all twenty five thousand of us, and the cops chased us all over the Loop. I mean we were dispersing, right? What’d they want us to do? They chased us just to whack us for the fuck of it, man!

“Man, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was out in front of Kroch’s & Brentano’s over there under the el on Wabash? You know it, you’ve been there. I tried to duck inside but this big fat cop — I swear to God he looked just like that cop from down the block. He goes, ‘Stay out of there, faggot motherfucker!’ and he started coming at me.”

At this point, Anthony is very nearly bouncing up and down in the back seat of the cab. Anna thinks: Is that a smile on his face? Anna realizes: Anthony’s really digging this.

He goes on: “Kroch’s has this revolving door. I saw the manager bending over trying to trip the locks on it. I knew I couldn’t get in there in time. I figured I’d run but here was this fat cop and he had two or three other pigs right behind him. I knew I couldn’t get away. So I said, ‘Here goes.’ I just jumped at them. Man, they hit every inch of my body with their billy clubs! They were kicking and punching. They were totally into it.

“I grabbed at that fat cop’s shirt and I tore off his breast pocket, you know? What do you think he had in it? His badge and his nameplate. They came clinking out on the sidewalk. I was on my hands and knees anyway so I grabbed for them. I could only get his nameplate. I jammed it down into the crotch of my pants. I was hoping they wouldn’t kick me in the balls because then I’d have this pig’s name on my sack for the rest of my life!”

Now Anna realizes she’s right — Anthony is grinning broadly. He digs the shit out of this.

Anthony reaches down the front of his jeans. He pulls out the two-inch wide nameplate and shows it to Anna. It reads Sanfillipo.

Anna gasps. “It was him!”

“Yes it was,” Anthony says. “The same pig who was twisting Robby’s balls off at the wedding.”

“I hate the cops,” Anna says.

Anthony corrects her: “The pigs.”

The two are silent for a few minutes. Because she’d had to bail Anthony out at police headquarters at 11th and State, the cab had taken the Eisenhower Expressway out to the West Side. The driver exits at Austin Boulevard and heads north. There is a Sinclair station at Harrison Street. A hand lettered sign is taped up on the inside of the station’s front window. It reads, Support Your Local Police.

Anna and Anthony see the sign at the same time. They both shake their heads. Finally, Anthony speaks: “We gotta blow this country up, man!”

To be continued

* A Helpful Glossary

  • Testa di stronzo — Pronounced TEH-stah d’STROONZ, Shithead

 All fictional characters, descriptions, and situations are the property of the author.

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