By Michael G. Glab
— Thirty-three —
Early Tuesday morning. Probably. It’s still dark isn’t it?
Anthony finds himself waking from a dream — or is it a nightmare? — in yet another hospital emergency room. The last three days, he’s spent much of his time either in a police lockup or some ER or another.
Here’s the dream/nightmare:
A thousand protesters surround the statue of General John A. Logan on a small rise just east of Michigan Avenue, across the street from the Conrad Hilton Hotel. Known as Black Jack for his dark skin. Served in the Mexican American War and the Civil War. Utterly forgotten save for the rare sharp-eyed tourist who’d happen to notice someone had put up a statue of him on a horse across the street from one of the largest hotels in the world. But on this day, Monday, August 26th, 1968, good old General Logan’s name and bronze likeness are flashed around the world on TV newscasts.
The Siege Of General Logan
Protesters fill up every single square inch of the little hill leading up to the General Logan statue. Some of them climb onto the statue itself. One guy stands on the horse’s rump and thrusts his arms into the air as if he’s the commander of a revolutionary army that has just defeated the world’s combined forces of corruption, racism, imperialism, and greed. Someone gets the bright idea to wave a Vietcong flag and, like bulls in front of whom a red cape has been waved, the Chicago police charge. Swinging their billy clubs and jangling their handcuffs, the cops clear the hill in lighting-quick time. One kid refuses to come down from atop General Logan’s horse’s ass and so the cops form a human chain to reach him. The cop at the top of the chain yanks the kid down; he tumbles and breaks his arm.
Anthony watches this with his face pressed up against the grease-smudged reinforced rear window of the paddy wagon into which he’s been thrown. During the charge, Anthony was stumbling around, reeling from tear gas as well as the effects of the concussion he’d suffered via a patrolman’s billy club Sunday night. One cop took a look at him and concluded he was all doped up on pep pills or goof balls, slapped the cuffs on him, and tossed him into the nearest meat wagon. Thanks to the concussion and lack of sleep, Anthony was so out of it he couldn’t even feel the pain of his head clanking into the metal bench after he was heaved into the wagon.
Anthony has shaken the cobwebs out enough to realize that what he’s seeing — a young, white, dedicated, committed, college-educated dissenter being pulled down from the statue and cracking his radius and ulna — trumps all the thousands of arrests and skull-bashings of protesters in Warsaw that March and in France that May, the 72 Czechs and Slovaks killed last week by the invading Soviet forces attempting to crush the Prague Spring, or even the bloody Tet offensive in Vietnam that January. That guy’s busted arm, Anthony concludes as he watches the incident unfold, will be the Boston Massacre of 1968. Anthony is filled with a warmth, as if his fondest dreams are about to come true. The good people of these United States of America will rise up in righteous indignation. Texas cowboy presidents will be thrown out of office. Piggish big city bosses will be chased out of town. Repressive cops will be disarmed. Corporate wolves will be made to scrub bedpans in hospitals. Our black brothers will be welcomed into halls of power and justice. It’s a new day, a new age, a dawning, holy Christ in heaven, this is the turning point! Thank, you, thank you, thank you, whoever you are, Mr. Brutal Pig, for breaking that poor guy’s arm. It’s the last act you and your kind will commit in the name of tyranny.
With that, Anthony’s eyes roll back and he collapses in a heap on the floor of the meat wagon, unconscious. Even as some of the chicks in the wagon scream for help and some of the dudes pound on the walls with their shoulders, trying to get the cops’ attention – Hey man, some cat is dying in here! — the tubbo driver shifts into drive and the paddy wagon lights out for the East Chicago District lockup. He hits every pothole and curb on the two miles up Michigan Avenue to Chicago Avenue, Anthony bouncing on the floor like Raggedy Andy, the chicks and dudes sobbing and cursing, mourning as the life slowly slips out one of their foxhole comrades.
Only Anthony isn’t dying. Tubbo pulls up to the prisoner entrance at the station house. He lugs himself out of the driver’s seat with great effort and duck-walks to the rear of the paddy wagon, throws the door open, and finds sixteen hippie broads and fags screaming at him all at once about their dying compatriot. “Aw, shut the fuck up,” he says as he begins to yank the occupants out, elbowing a guy in the balls here and squeezing a broad’s braless tit there. They’re forced to step over Anthony’s prone figure.
The last guy out says, “This is repression, man!”
Tubbo says, “Blow me.”
A sergeant comes out and palpates Anthony’s carotid artery. “He’s alive,” the sergeant says. “Take him over to Passavant.”
Tubbo says, “Okay,” and duck walks back to the paddy wagon’s cab where he lugs himself into the driver’s seat with great effort and begins a leisurely six-block drive to the emergency room.
It’s now two-thirty, Tuesday morning. Mayor Richard J. Daley hours ago pounded his gavel to open the 1968 Democratic National Convention at the International Amphitheater. All told, there are nearly 25,000 military and paramilitary personnel on hand to protect our great country from the countless hordes of unwashed, doped-up, perverted commies who want to destroy our holy way of life.
Had they taken the trouble to count, those armed centurions would learn that there really weren’t the more than one hundred thousand protesters organizers had hoped for — there were barely ten thousand of them. Hell, there weren’t even enough heads for all those troops and feds and cops to break.
They don’t have anything to fear right now from one of those ten thousand. Anthony Pontone lies in a bed in Passavant Hospital, an IV bottle hooked up to his left arm. This is his second visit to the hospital today, his third since Sunday night. This time he’d been picked up by an ambulance crew from Hugh M. Hefner’s Playboy Mansion lawn, tottering between consciousness and unconsciousness, a condition brought on by Patrolman Sal Sanfillipo’s night stick. He gathers up his belongings and tiptoes out of the ER. He finds a public telephone, drops a dime, and dials home. Anna answers.
“Anna, it’s me.”
“You have to come down here.”
“I’m in the hospital. I guess I passed out.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay.”
“Then why do I have to come down there?”
“Huh? ‘Why do….’ Pardon me? I’m your husband, man! I’m in the hospital.”
“But you said you’re okay.”
“I want you to come down here right now! I’m at Passavant, you know, downtown by the Water Tower.”
“Anthony, I’m not coming downtown. Listen to me — I’m pregnant. Do you hear me? Preg-nant! This baby’s gonna come out any minute. I can’t go traipsing all over the city bailing you out of jail and picking you up from the emergency room every half hour, alright?”
“And you’re a fucker.”
Anna and Anthony hang up their respective phones. Anna thinks, Even though he’s a fucker, he really should be here with me.
To be continued
All fictional characters, descriptions, and situations are the property of the author.