Category Archives: Fiction

Episode 42: I’m Important, Too

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Forty-two —

The phone rings. It’s 6:30 in the morning.  No call at this time of day can ever bring good news. Anna picks it up. The voice on the other end asks for Anthony.

“Alright,” she says. “I’ll get him.” Barefoot, she shuffles along the deep pile upstairs carpeting to the edge of the staircase. She half whispers-half hollers down, “Anthony! Anthony! Phone!”

Nothing. She mutters, “If this wakes the baby, I’m gonna brain him.” She goes down three steps, again whisper-hollering, “Anthony, phone!”

She must repeat this process three times, making it all the way down to the first floor front entrance where she can actually see Anthony, sprawled on the sofa that for so long had been her sole perch. His mouth is wide open. His eyes — as they always are when he’s asleep — are eerily half open. “Anthony!” she says, this time aloud.

“Whuh?”

“Phone! And don’t wake Chet!”

“Who is it?”

“I have no idea.”

“Just take a message.”

“I most certainly will not. I am not your secretary.”

“Alright, alright. Just tell’im to call back later. You can do that, can’t you.”

“Jesus Christ,” she says and tiptoes up the stairs. But the guy on the other end won’t go away. “It’s urgent,” he says. So Anna trudges back downstairs and proceeds to logroll Anthony off the sofa. He hits the floor with a muffled thud.

“What the hell?” he says.

“C’mon, get up. It’s important.”

Anthony scales the stairs to the second floor as if he’s walking up to the top of the John Hancock Center. He makes sure his voice sounds as groggy as possible so as to impress upon the idiot caller his utter exhaustion. But the caller is no idiot. It’s one of Anthony’s contacts from the People’s Law Office, Barry Paulsen. Anthony snaps alert hearing the tone of Barry’s voice.

He speaks clearly into the receiver. “Barry, man. What’s wrong?”

Barry says: “The Chairman is dead.”

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The Chairman


Now Anna leans against the bathroom door and watches Anthony brush his teeth. “Where you going?” she asks.

Anthony continues brushing, then takes a huge gulp of water to gargle with. Anna grimaces as she sees gargle mist flick over the medicine chest mirror. “I said, ‘Where are you going?’”

Anthony wipes his face with the hand towel and finally responds. “They’re picking me up in twenty five minutes.”

“Who’s picking you up? Why? Where are you going? Anthony, you promised to stay home today. Damn it, we have things to talk about.”

“Anna look, this is important.”

“Hey, I’m important too. We have to talk. This involves you.”

“I haven’t got time!” Anthony says pushing past her.

Anna follows him as he grabs a clean shirt and buttons it up. “Make time,” she says.

Anthony wheels around to face her. “Anna!” he says. “Stop being a child!”

The word child cuts like a knife in the belly. Anna is about to unleash a torrent of verbal abuse upon her nominal husband when he cuts her off.

“Anna, listen to me,” he says, calmly and slowly, as if he’s addressing a brat. “The Pigs just murdered Chairman Fred.”

“Oh my God.”

“Yeah. So whatever you have to say can wait.”

Anna remains silent for a moment. Anthony descends the stairs, takes his Army surplus parka off the hook near the front door, slips into it and zips it up. Anna leans over the railing and again speaks in that half whisper-half holler. “Actually,” she says, “it can’t wait.”

“Anna!” Anthony hollers. “Stop being such an infant!” The word infant is a punch to her gut. Anthony slams the door behind him.

The tips of Anna’s ears become scarlet. She hears a car door slam. The car drives off. She is — as usual — alone. She screams, “You arrogant son of a bitch!”

And now — now! — baby Chet wakes up. Anna mutters, “I’ll brain ‘im. Swear to God in heaven. I’ll brain him.”

To be continued

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

Episode 41: Black Is Beautiful

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Forty-one —

As far as Anthony Pontone is concerned, there’s one last glimmer of hope that this whole Changing The World business just might be worth all the killings and clubbings of the last year and a half. There’s a guy on the West Side — a kid, really — who has the magic. He’s getting people excited and he’s getting things done. He’s serious and he has energy to burn. His name is Fred Hampton.

Hampton

Fred Hampton

Anthony has done a few stories in The Seed about the Black Panther Party’s Breakfast for Children Program that’s filling the empty bellies of a lot of poor black West Side kids. That’s how he met Hampton.

Here’s what Anthony has learned about Fred Hampton: He began making noise in the mid-60s at Proviso East High School out in Maywood, just a couple of miles west of the city limits. He earned varsity letters in football, baseball, and basketball. He won a Junior Achievement Award in 1966. He was tall and handsome — he even had dimples — and the sound of his voice could make a girl or a crowd swoon. He could have been “one of the good ones.”

But in addition to his physical prowess and magnetic personality, he had a keen eye for injustice. He looked around the slums of suburban Maywood and saw hunger and idleness, poverty and police brutality. As a high school junior, he came to the conclusion that nobody was going to help his black brothers and sisters climb out of the shithole. LBJ’s War on Poverty and Great Society were sops thrown out to keep The People quiet. The federal government wasn’t going to be our savior, Hampton told Anthony in an interview. They talk to us about pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. Bootstraps — bullshit.

Hampton had learned early on that the only straps The Man had in mind would be used to lash the backs of those who couldn’t keep their mouths shut. Try as he might, Fred Hampton couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

He began organizing fellow Proviso East students. They demanded at first that more black teachers be hired. Then he expanded their range. There should be more black members of the town school board. Oh, and none of this Negro or Afro-American shit. We are black.

Black is beautiful. That was Hampton’s message as he criss-crossed Maywood. He led the effort to set up a Black Cultural Center in the town complete with a black history gallery. Black, baby. Black is the word.

As Anthony took his notes and did his research, he found himself, like Proviso East’s girls and the growing crowds who attended Hampton’s speeches, swooning.

Hampton

The Chairman

Two years ago, in the fall of 1967, Hampton led a crowd of dozens of young blacks to Maywood’s city hall. They were going to demand that the town build a swimming pool and recreation center for its kids, things surrounding towns had been doing for years. But those towns, Hampton noted, were white. Why, he reasoned, can’t black kids go for a swim?

Hampton and a few others strode into the council chambers but the rest of the crowd was barred from entering by Maywood cops. There weren’t enough seats for everybody, Hampton was told. Fine, Hampton responded, we’ll stand.

Can’t do it, the cops said.

Then move the meeting to a bigger place, Hampton said.

Ha ha, the cops said.

The crowd began to stir. The cops got edgy. Someone got the bright idea to break up the crowd using tear gas. That broke them up, alright. They began racing down Maywood’s commercial strip, Fifth Avenue, breaking store windows and rocking the cars of passing motorists. Just like that, Maywood had its first riot.

Hampton was arrested and charged with mob action. News of the arrest made its way to Washington, D.C. where J. Edgar Hoover ordered his name added to the FBI’s master list of Key Agitators.

A year ago, Bobby Rush, the founder of the brand new Chicago chapter of the Black Panthers, told Hampton the Panthers needed him. Hampton did not hesitate, he jumped right into the West Side fray. Hampton brought his peculiar energy and organizational skills to the Panthers. In addition to the Breakfast program, the Party started free law and health clinics. Hampton and Rush traveled from one end of the West Side to the other, exhorting growing crowds with speeches about black self-determination. They put out their own newspaper and began a campaign that called for — whoa! wait a minute here! — community control of the police.

Black Panther Party

Panthers

One day Hampton demanded a hapless Good Humor man pass out all the ice cream he had in his cooler to some neighborhood kids. The Good Humor Man would tell the cops Hampton had stuck a pistol in his ribs. Hampton was quickly arrested, the cops treating him as if he’d blown up the U.S. Capitol and a church for good measure. The Chicago Police had already been briefed by Hoover’s local agents. Get ‘im, the agents urged the cops.

But if they were going to get ‘im, the cops learned quickly, they’d better run fast. Hampton flitted all over the city, trying to raise money for the Breakfast program, urging pregnant mothers to visit one of the Panthers’ free clinics, and even brokering a peace between the warring Blackstone Rangers and Eastside Disciples. Hampton had brought together the SDS, a Communist youth organization or two, a half dozen black and Puerto Rican street gangs, and the Panthers. He said that turf wars and rivalries only played into the hands of The Man, keeping minority youth in a state of perpetual poverty. In  May, Hampton held a press conference, declaring a new force in the city of Chicago — a “rainbow coalition,” in his words — comprised of thousands of young people, some of whom were not averse to packing heat. By the summer of 1969, Fred Hampton himself had become a force.

Anthony learned all this and one more thing: Everybody calls Fred Hampton “The Chairman” now.

J. Edgar Hoover thought himself a lucky man after Martin Luther King Jr. was disposed of, but his good fortune was short lived. Right now, he might wish he had King back on his hands rather than this new kid. Here’s a kid so brazen that he comes right out says he’s a Commie rat! Talks about greedy pigs and this proletariat garbage and revolution.

At least King had the good sense to conceal his nefarious agenda. Civil rights? Bah. The burrhead was pink.

Hoover

The Director

But this Hampton kid, he’s red through and through. What makes it even worse is he and his cohorts are armed. Hoover’s men entered into Hampton’s FBI file an interview he’d granted to the Sun-Times. “What this country has done to non-violent leaders like Martin Luther King — I think that objectively says there’s going to have to be an armed struggle,” Hampton told the reporter.

Oh, This Holy Land is in mortal peril. The gorillas are coming in from the jungle. Never has J. Edgar Hoover been so desperately needed by good Americans. This is the culmination of all his work these last fifty years. Thin blue line? Please. There’s no line standing between civilization and the wild. There’s only me. Lord in heaven, my sacred duty is before me. I will not fail you nor the good white Christians of the United States of America.

In February, the Director sent the word to his Chicago field office: infiltrate. Get someone inside that local Black Panther chapter, right now. Break up those bastards and put a stop to all those “serve the people” programs.

So the Chicago Special Agents turned up a petty thief named Otis Bryant in Cook County Jail. He wanted to get out in the worst way and the FBI was only too happy to accommodate him. All he had to do in return was go to the West Side and join the Black Panther Party.

By November, Chicago’s cops had raided Panther offices and hangouts three separate times, arresting more than a hundred gorillas. In one of the raids, in July, the cops ransacked the Panther headquarters, destroying office supplies, food cartons for the Breakfast program, and medical supplies for the free clinics. They set some small fires and beat the hell out of the Panthers they’d caught in the office. That summer shootouts between the cops and the Panthers almost became commonplace, with two dozen killed or wounded. Otis Bryant had provided his FBI handlers with invaluable inside information, which they’d passed on to the Chicago police, leading to the raids and shootouts. One problem: The cops had not yet been able to put the squeeze on Fred Hampton.

Bryant enjoyed his work. He was good at it. He rose within the Panther hierarchy. He made a lot of suggestions, some of which seemed a tad strange — like his proposal that the Panthers procure a shoulder-mounted missile launcher and aim it at the fifth floor of City Hall, the location of the mayor’s office. The rest of the Panthers laughed at this one even though Bryant was dead serious. He also suggested that the Chairman was in mortal danger from the Pigs and would need constant protection. Bryant suggested the Chairman have a 24-hour bodyguard. That was a good idea. So good that everybody agreed the bodyguard should be none other than one Otis Bryant.

Just before Thanksgiving, Bryant met with his FBI handler to collect his monthly stipend. He stuck out his right hand and clasped the thick roll of cash. With his left hand he passed along a detailed map of the apartment Fred Hampton now lived in on West Monroe Street. He’d drawn it carefully in pencil, taking special care to to indicate exactly where the Chairman’s bedroom was, even noting precisely how many inches from the door his bed was.

To be continued

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

Episode 40: Revolution. Baby.

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

— Forty

The construction barricades and canopies surrounding the John Hancock Center were removed months ago. It’s now the most celebrated building in Chicago and the second tallest skyscraper in the world, topped only by the Empire State Building. That’s fitting for the Second City.

Thousands of Chicagoans and visitors from around the country have been drawn to this site to crane their necks awkwardly and gawk at the behemoth. Today, December 3rd, 1969, Anna Pontone is one of them. She’s been here before, of course.  She’s seen the hundred-story monument grow from a hole in the ground to a black steel and brown glass tower whose upper reaches often are shrouded in the clouds. Every time she learns she is pregnant, she walks the Magnificent Mile and ends up at 875 North Michigan Avenue.

Yeah, Anna’s pregnant again, time number three, none of which have been planned. This one is a tad less jarring than the previous two were. For one, she’s married now and so this display of fertility isn’t a mark of sluttiness or stupidity. For two, she’s essentially been alone since she and Anthony got married a year and a half ago, what with him off Making The World A Better Place. Their first child, Chet, is now tottering around their Natchez Avenue home and putting words together in little sentences. Another child just might make, with Anna and Chet, a happy little threesome, a real family.

At least that’s what Anna is fantasizing as she gazes skyward at the 1,125-foot high roof, a few high brushstroke clouds wisping above it against a deep blue sky. Anna has been able to push from her mind the knowledge that this little life growing inside her is the result of rape. The law might not say so, considering the rapist was her husband. The memory of that night on the kitchen floor in early October when Anthony dragged her to the tile floor and forcefully put himself inside her is becoming dim. It’s a hell of a lot better this way. The more Anna thought about it in the days that followed, the more she either wanted to put a knitting needle inside her womb or Anthony’s thorax, right into his no-good heart.

She thinks: This is driving me out of my mind. I don’t wanna end a life. Jesus Christ, what am I? I hate this feeling. I hate it. Knitting needles! My God! And Anthony’s my husband. I loved him! Wait a minute — what did I just say? I mean, I love him. I really do. Even though he’s such an asshole. For better or for worse right? Well, it’s for worse right now, okay? Gotta get through it. I can’t go crazy. Gotta keep my head on straight. I got a baby inside me. It’s the best thing that could have happened.

She stares upward for a moment. She thinks: I don’t want to take a life, I want to create it. I don’t want to be a killer.

Eddie Halloran feels comfortable having a bete noir in his life. Its presence makes him focus all his energy and concentration. It keeps him from thinking about the bottle of Jameson’s stashed under the seat of his Olds Toronado while he sits in his County Building office. Boy, has he found the blackest of beasts to obsess over as the year 1969 draws to a close.

Hampton

Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton is a handsome, articulate, passionate orator. He can hold the attention of ghetto single moms, hard-as-nails street gang members, white lefty radicals, and even liberal North Shore financial donors to his Breakfast for Children Program. Just three years ago, he was a precocious high school senior, organizing students and speaking out against racism at Proviso East in suburban Maywood. Now, he’s on the verge of national prominence.

In a speech earlier this fall, he said this: “We’re gonna fight with socialism. We’re gonna have an international proletariat revolution.” Talk like this can scare the hell out of people. Like Cook County State’s Attorney Eddie Halloran. And FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

But then Fred Hampton turned things personal. Eddie Halloran has been telling the frightened voters of Chicagoland that he and his men are fighting on the front lines against the negro South Side street gangs like the Blackstone Rangers and the Eastside Disciples. These gangs, in fact, are morphing into something more than punks who terrorize high school freshmen for their lunch money. They’re becoming a threat to Our Holy Way of Life, thinking nationally and even globally rather than restricting themselves to the schoolyard. They’ve changed their names, even — the Rangers now fancy themselves the P Stone Nation, what the hell ever that means, probably some Mau Mau shit, and the Eastside Disciples now say they’re the Black Disciples. White Chicago wonders, What is this “black” shit? Does this have to do with that “black power” stuff? What’re these crazy shines up to?

Whatever they’re up to, Eddie Halloran assures them, we’re gonna stop them. This, he says, is a War on Gangs.

Hah, Fred Hampton has responded, that’s just a code word for War on Black Youth! Fred Hampton, now the chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party goes a step further. “Eddie Halloran,” he says, “is nothing more than a racist pig.”

When Eddie Halloran hears this his face turns crimson. Goddamn it, he thinks, I go to Catholic mass every goddamned Sunday morning. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I love my fellow man. I give alms to the poor and comfort the sick. I slogged through eight years at Notre Dame and Harvard Law, hoping to devote my life to justice, hokey as it sounds. I worked days in courtrooms and nights ringing doorbells for the Party. What do I get for it? Am I a rich man? Hell, no! Sure, I got a nice Olds but I see these Mobsters driving around the neighborhood in Caddys. I’m an honest guy, a working man, when you really think about it. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be mayor. Is that so wrong? And now this bushy-haired prick calls me a racist. I’ll be goddamned. Lord forgive me, but if I ever get my hands on that son of a bitch….

To be continued

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

Episode 39: Unsportsmanlike Conduct

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Thirty-nine —

Julie Baby lives in the Drake Hotel at Michigan Avenue and East Lake Shore Drive. The historic Drake stands at the west end of Chicago’s most exclusive block, the centerpiece of the Gold Coast. Ann Landers lives on this block, for pity’s sakes. The block’s eight fussy old highrises face north, looking down at the skimpily-clad sun worshippers on Oak Street Beach the way a clutch of stately dowagers might look upon so many floozies and hooligans through their lorgnettes.

Of course, that’s in July when Chicago enjoys it’s all-too brief summer. It’s early October now. The street gutters are already dammed with fallen leaves. It’s jacket and heavy sweater weather. This morning, when Anthony walked out of the house, he did what most Chicagoans do; he exhaled sharply — yep, he could see his breath.

In fact, no fewer than four Natchez Avenue neighbors checked to see their breath as they left their homes this morning. They were, in addition to Anthony:

  • Lenny LaFemina, assistant corporation counsel in the city’s Law Department
  • Jerry Pergler, Northwestern University journalism student, WBBM-TV intern, and — for today at least — freelance reporter
  • Sal Sanfillipo, one of Chicago’s Finest…, er,  a police officer, let’s leave it at that.

All four will converge outside the Drake Hotel. Julie Baby’s place.

Julie Baby. That’s the name Abbie Hoffman has bestowed upon the Honorable Julius J. Hoffman, appointed judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois fifteen years earlier by President Eisenhower. The Hoffmans share a surname but Abbie and Julie Baby are not related. Boy, are they not related.

Hoffmans

Hoffmans

Julie Baby has made it undeniably clear since their trial began in his courtroom in April that he doesn’t like Abbie and the rest of the Chicago Eight. Doesn’t like, hah! Loathes, is more like it. He has already ordered Bobby Seale bound and gagged in court. (Then again, Seale did yell out that the judge is a pig, a fascist, and a racist.) Judge Hoffman has called Abbie and Jerry Rubin obscene. (But, too, they have dropped the F-word a time or twenty.) Abbie shot back that the judge was the only obscenity in the courtroom — that, and Julie Baby was a shande fur de goyim (an embarrassment before the gentiles.)

So, things aren’t exactly going swimmingly for Abbie and the boys. If the trial were a ball game, the officials might invoke the slaughter rule. The Weathermen have decided to take the game directly to the head referee, the Honorable Julius J. Hoffman, right outside his front door. Oh, are they pissed! Almost as pissed as Julie Baby is that his old pal, Da Mare, was so humiliated by them and their kind last year. Julie Baby is gonna make somebody pay. But not before the Weathermen try to make him pay as well.

Chicago's Gold Coast

East Lake Shore Drive

Somebody blew up the statue at Haymarket Square three days ago, on Sunday. The statue stood overlooking the Kennedy Expressway, depicting a turn-of-the-century cop holding his hand up, commemorating the Haymarket Massacre, another in the city’s long history of police nervous breakdowns. Now, nobody’s actually saying the Weathermen bombed the statue but…, well, y’know.

And here they are today, about 400 strong along with another 400 lefties, peaceniks, and little old ladies in tennis shoes funneling through the narrow pedestrian underpass beneath Lake Shore Drive, gathering at the Michigan Avenue intersection. Bad vibes all around, baby. The peaceniks and the little old ladies who just want this stupid war to end are tut-tutting the Weathermen not only for, as they believe, blowing up the Haymarket statue, but for wearing motorcycle and football helmets as if they’re ready for war themselves, for surreptitiously clutching stones and bricks, for the rage that burns in their eyes.

Weathermen

Weathermen

Bad vibes. The cops already have strategized what to do about all these commie bastards wearing helmets, robbing them (the cops) of the sheer joy of smashing their skulls. The word is passed — hit ‘em on the back of the neck, hit ‘em in the small of the back, in the kidneys, whack ‘em on the backs of their knees, go for their balls.

Bad vibes. The sound of broken glass. Car windows are being smashed. Store windows shattered. The Weathermen had said “The Power’s In the Street!” in the weeks before these Days of Rage. No one needed to be a Weatherman to know which way that wind was blowing.

Days of Rage

Bad vibes. Lots of teargas.

Bad vibes. Some of the cops have unholstered their service revolvers.

Bad vibes. The mass of marauding protesters has broken up into smaller groups. The cops are trying to break these up by driving squad cars directly into them. Somebody’s gonna get killed, man!

Bad vibes. Anthony is scared. This isn’t just a case of out-of-control cops swinging their nightsticks at anything that moves. This is the real thing now.

Days of Rage

Anthony thinks, Maybe I oughta get the hell outta here. His thoughts are interrupted by the deafening thud of a lead-gloved fist hitting him flush in the eyeteeth. Anthony tumbles to the pavement, lucky that whoever had cold-cocked him had hit him with the square of his knuckles, diffusing the blow a bit.

Bad vibes. Anthony struggles to his feet, blood gushing out of his nose. He hears a gunshot. Then another. And a third. This is not a game.

Bad vibes. A guy bumps into Anthony, almost knocking him again to the pavement. The guy has a grenade-sized jagged rock in his hand. To the guy’s right, about fifty feet away, a familiar figure raises his revolver and aims. Sal Sanfillipo does not want to see one more store window broken, goddamn it. To the guy’s left, also about fifty feet away, Jerry Pergler stares wide-eyed at the tableau before him. The guy looks into a triad of hollow black depths: Sal’s two blank eyes and the barrel of his gun. “Fuck you, pig,” the guy screams. “Kill me, motherfucker!” Sal thinks, Wit’ pleasure, you piece a shit.

Anthony actually pees — not too much, a tablespoonful, maybe — in his pants.

Now a human battering ram blurs into Anthony’s field of vision, driven by piston-like legs hardened by four years of Coach Ara Parseghian’s two-a-day drills. This battering ram, this missile, this A-bomb in wingtip shoes propels himself into the body of the guy in Sal’s gunsite with the force of a Volkswagen Beetle. The poor sap with the jagged rock in his hand expels simultaneous bursts of air and intestinal gas that might have made Anthony titter had he not feared the poor son of a bitch might be killed by the tackle. The guy’s Raggedy Andy body whomps into Anthony’s, nearly knocking him again to the pavement. The guy, still clutching the jagged rock, hits the sidewalk on his backside, the momentum of the blow sending his feet back over his head, the start of a triple backward somersault. Oddly, the man who has tackled him, assistant corporation counsel Lenny LaFemina, lies inert in the gutter.

Anthony and Sal rush to the guy with the jagged rock in his hand and Lenny, respectively.

“You okay, man?” Anthony asks the guy. The guy nods, woozy.

“You okay, buddy?” Sal asks Lenny, but Lenny does not respond for a piece of his fourth cervical vertebra has punctured his spinal cord. “Oh my fuckin’ God,” Sal hollers, “he’s paralyzed!” Another nearby cop hollers back, “That guy kicked him in the head!” A third hollers, “He hit ‘im wit’ sumpin’!” Yet another hollers, “It was a lead pipe!” A fifth hollers, “Naw, it was a rock, get it outta his fuckin’ hand!”

Now Anthony is shoved out of the way as the five cops cuff the guy, a process which entails the use of three nightsticks, a blackjack, a pair of brass knuckles, and Sal’s special little trick, the five-fingered ball-sack twist which causes the guy to squeal like a scared queer piglet.

By the end of the afternoon, Lenny LaFemina learns he will never walk again.

By the end of the afternoon, Anthony Pontone learns the guy with the jagged rock in his hand will be charged with attempted murder.

By the end of the afternoon, Jerry Pergler has gone to the WBBM-TV news editor and then to the city editors of Chicago’s four dailies, hoping to sell his eyewitness account of the incident. Each of the media gatekeepers dismisses Jerry with some variation of this message: “Beat it, kid. Whose fuckin’ side are you on?”

It is now dark. Anthony, riding the Lake Street el home, stares out the train window at the West Side and Garfield Park and the east end of the war-torn Austin neighborhood. Lots of empty lots, the burned-out shells of three- and four-flats having been razed months ago, the lots now owned by smart speculators like his dad, Tony the Fist Pontone, and his father-in-law, Al Dudek, and Rocco Bianco and Mickey Finnin. The Brothers put the torch to their ratholes after Martin Luther King was killed but that didn’t get them any better homes to live in. Anthony thinks back to August, 1968, when he and his cohorts made The Whole World Watch. Lotta good that did; the war’s still going on. Anthony flashes to the day’s events on East Lake Shore Drive. But Bobby Seale’s still bound and gagged.

Anthony thinks, This isn’t working, man. None of it. Anthony realizes he’s a lot more pissed off right now than he was when he decided to go to the street outside Julie Baby’s home this morning. Days of Rage, hah! This is Anthony Pontone’s Moment of Rage. He wants to pound on the windows of the el train as it pulls into the Ridgeland Avenue stop in Oak Park. Anthony is so filled with hot energy that he decides to walk home from the station. The two and a half mile walk takes him a little less than an hour. Anthony feels as though he wants to climb out of his own skin.

Bad vibes, man. Anna’s home. Sitting at the kitchen table, wearing one of her dad’s oversized old dress shirts, the top three buttons undone, her pendulous mom-breasts clearly visible, her now-thick thighs calling out to be squeezed.

Anna says, “What happened now? There’s blood on your shirt.” Anthony does not answer. Instead, he grasps Anna’s ponytail and pulls her close to him for the first time in…, months, is it? Maybe a year or more? Anthony smashes his mouth against Anna’s. She pushes him away, “C’mon now, Anthony. Whaddya doin’?” Anthony pulls Anna by the hair down to the floor and rips open her old man’s oversized shirt, three buttons clinking off the fridge. Anna says, “No!” Anthony says nothing as he unzips his blue jeans. Anna feels as though she’s going to hork. Then again, this man is her husband and doesn’t she have a duty to give herself to him? She resists the twin urges to hork and to claw his eyes out as he puts himself inside her.

To be continued

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

Episode 38: Reunion

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Thirty-eight —

Lenny LaFemina earned his law degree from Northwestern University in 1966, just a couple of months before Anthony Pontone arrived on campus. Even though the two now live on the same block, the fact that they are NU alums (actually, in Anthony’s case, an almost-alum) does not mean they’re the closest of pals. It’s doubtful there are any guys working in the city’s law department who can claim as a friend a scraggly-bearded radical whose dedicated planning and toil helped lead to Mayor Daley’s great humiliation.

Lenny became Assistant Corporation Counsel a little more than two years ago, in fact, the very day Anthony threw a can of red paint in the direction of former United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Al Dudek, now knowing what Anthony has become, might wish his daughter Anna had fallen in love with and married Lenny.

Then again, there is the fact that Lenny is, well, a Jew. Not that Al has anything against the Jews, mind you, but a man doesn’t necessarily want to see his daughter married to one. It’s only common sense.

Lenny played for the Northwestern football team. He is short and stout — not in the overfed sense but built, as they like to say around Galewood, like a brick shithouse. He was a lineman, playing both offense and defense. Coach Ara Parseghian always had a hell of a time getting Sidney out of the game — even that day he suffered two sprained ankles in the Ohio State game. “Sit down, Lenny,” Ara said. “I will not,” Lenny said. After Ara had sent out a substitute, he actually had to physically restrain Lenny from going out on the field. Lenny sulked the rest of the game and even afterward, when the team trainer was taping up and icing his ankles. Lenny walked on crutches for the next week but to this day tells friends he’ll never forgive Coach Parseghian for taking him out and ruining his perfect record of playing every down of every game for his entire senior year.

Lenny traded in his NU jersey — number 77 — for a nice, lawyerly suit. Today, though, he’s wearing one of his old, crappy Robert Hall suits, the one with the cheap lining and only two sleeve buttons. Nor is he wearing one of his fine Sulka shirts. He began shopping for shirts and ties at Sulka on Michigan Avenue only a week after going to work for the city because he’d heard that’s where Mayor Daley shops. Of course, Lenny only buys one shirt or tie at a time — a junior Law Department attorney can’t be expected to spend like the mayor of the city, after all. Anyway, Lenny’s wearing a cheap suit today because things just might get rough out on the streets.

The LaFeminas aren’t the only Jewish family that lives on Natchez Avenue. The Perglers live directly across the street from them. The rest of the neighborhood figures that the Perglers and the LaFeminas are all close friends and do everything together, including going to services at that synagod thing or whatever you call it because, y’know, that’s what the Jews do — they stick together. Truth is, the LaFeminas and the Perglers can’t stand the sight of each other (when Mickey Finnin first learned of their mutual animosity he was stunned — “But they’re Jews!” he gasped.)

The LaFeminas read the Tribune; the Perglers the Daily News. The LaFeminas keep kosher. The Perglers eat cheeseburgers every Saturday night at the Prince Castle across the street from St. Paul Federal. The LaFeminas attend services at the conservative B’nai Israel temple in Oak Park. The Perglers…, well, the Perglers haven’t been to services in years. Mort and Alicia LaFemina voted for Dick Nixon in 1960. When Harry Pergler came home early from work the day JFK was assassinated, he found his wife Rachel passed out on the bathroom floor from an overdose of St. Joseph aspirin.

Harry and Rachel’s only child, Jerry, attends Northwestern. His and Anthony’s paths crossed often because Jerry, as Anthony once did, studies journalism. On the day of Jerry’s bar mitzvah, when his Uncle Aaron asked him what he was going to be when he became a man, Jerry answered immediately and loudly: “A crusading journalist!” Uncle Aaron roared. Jerry thought, You old asshole, I’ll show you. Both Anthony and Jerry dream of bringing down powerful, corrupt men. Jerry, though, knew from the start he’d do it from the inside whereas Anthony eventually concluded he’d have to do it from without. Jerry is now a junior in the Medill School of Journalism. He already works as an intern for WBBM-TV. He’s only assisting the floor director right now but he knows — just knows — he’s going to be on air sooner rather than later.

Jerry’s taking the day off classes today because the action’s going to be on the streets and he wants to be where the action is. He’s even got a couple of reporter’s notebooks in his back pocket and is carrying a fistful of Bic pens.

Three Northwestern men — Anthony Pontone, Lenny LaFemina, and Jerry Pergler — are converging on the Drake Hotel. They’re not going to meet for lunch and talk about the Wildcats’ chances of going to the Rose Bowl this year. They’ll be joined outside the Drake by some 800 protesters, many of whom are Weathermen, and about 2000 Chicago cops.

Days of Rage Poster

To be continued

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

Episode 37: Days of Rage

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Thirty-seven —

Now Tree and Al are grandparents. Try as she might, Tree cannot continue to pretend (outwardly) her daughter doesn’t exist. She (Tree) tells herself this new detente is the right thing: Anna is now a mother herself, deserving of respect and honor. No longer is she the putain college brat who started all these troubles. So Tree is this close to fully re-embracing Anna, except for the presence of that goddamned Anthony Pontone she’s married to.

Tree has gone so far as to give Al her blessing to visit Anna every evening to bring her bags of groceries, formula, and more than enough money to pay the utilities. Now and again, Tree makes a nice lasagna and wraps a titanic slab in tin foil for Anna’s care package. With all the twenties and fifties Al is slipping into her hand, Anna now has enough money that Anthony can stop by occasionally and take what he needs, for he has to eat too. Anthony times his visits to coincide with Anna’s sleeping schedule. She knows he pockets a twenty every time he swoops in but she doesn’t protest — besides, who’s she going to protest to? Anna makes no effort to hide her little stash of money. Even though he is a fucker, Anthony still is her husband and Anna doesn’t want him to starve. To get run over by a garbage truck? Maybe. But not to starve.

Neither Anthony nor Anna can remember the last time she called him Mr. Brown.

July and August. Astronauts land on the moon. Chappaquiddick. The ritual and gruesome murders of a half dozen people in the Benedict Canyon neighborhood just north of Beverly Hills. Woodstock. The greater world swirls. Anna’s stagnates. The novelty of raising a child with absolutely no help from her husband has worn thin. No help with the diapers, the midnight feedings, the rockings to sleep, the bills, but, Anna concludes, perhaps the worst thing is the solitude. Oh sure, for the first few months, the little eating and poo-ing machine was all the human company Anna needed but now, with him reaching the advanced age of one year and able to keep himself occupied by batting at the multi-colored mobiles hanging over his crib and jamming everything in the world into his mouth, Anna has at least a couple of hours a day during which she can brood about the state of her marriage.

For most of the first year of his son’s life, Anthony spentg as little time as possible at home for a variety of reasons, the most immediate two being the dirty looks Al and Tree shot at him every time they caught sight of him and the shit-eating grin Sal Sanfillipo wore whenever he saw the commie fag hippie neighbor he’d clubbed into dreamland twice — or was it three times? — the year before.

And the result of all the planning and hard work he and his cohorts had done to get a hundred thousand protesters in Chicago to flip the bird to the Party of Death? Well, only a tenth of them showed up after all, but man, they made the Whole World Watch. And — right on, man! — the Party of Death was evicted from the White House.

Only the new occupant is one Richard Milhouse Nixon. In the first six months of 1969 — the first six months of the new Nixon administration — some 4500 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Vietnam. In June, Life magazine runs photos of 241 American soldiers killed in action in a typical recent week. The magazine-reading public is aghast. Vietnam becomes not Lyndon Johnson’s war nor Bob McNamara’s war, but Richard Nixon’s war.

By the Fall, Anthony is enraged not just by the war but by something else, something, he is not quite yet prepared to understand, more personal. Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, in March had pushed a federal grand jury to indict eight men for planning the Convention riots. Anthony wonders why he wasn’t indicted too; damn it, he’d worked harder than any of them. But Abbie and Jerry are big. As are Rennie Davis and Bobby Seale, Dave Dellinger and Tom Hayden. And just for good measure, The Man also threw the book at a couple of harmless East Coast intellectuals, Lee Weiner and John Froines. When Anthony reads about the indictments in the Sun-Times, the first thing he says to himself when he comes to the last two names is, Who?

As far as Nixon’s Department of Justice is concerned, Anthony Pontone doesn’t exist even though he chartered buses, participated in negotiations with City Hall for marching permits, helped set up self-defense seminars in Lincoln Park, put out the call for medics and nurses to help with any potential casualties and, for chrissakes, even made sure the 24-hour diner on the first floor of the Lincoln Hotel had put up extra urns of coffee for the kids who were gonna sleep overnight in the park — that is until they were beaten, gassed, and chased out by Mayor Daley’s pigs. Fuck, man.

As for Mayor Daley himself, the last thing in the world he wants is for a Chicagoan to be indicted. No way he wants one of his own lumped in with all those frizzy-haired, pointy-headed outsiders who started all the trouble. Plus, Daley’s no dummy; he makes sure, through his man in Washington, Dan Rostenkowski, that the Justice boys wouldn’t hand in an indictment against the son of the powerful Northwest Side mob boss, Tony The Fist Pontone.

And when Tony The Fist gets wind of the strings Daley had to pull to keep Anthony out of court, he directs Al, Mickey Finnin, and Rocco Bianco to do business with the mayor’s kid, John, the insurance man. John Daley happily draws up policies on all the burned-out shells and vacant lots on the West Side they’ve been snapping up.

“You sure knew what you were talkin’ about that night,” Mickey says to Tony the Fist of the summit on Al’s back porch as the West Side burned the day after Martin Luther King was killed. “Everybody wins. We get our nice little real estate investments there. Old Man Daley’s kid gets our business. Even the Coloreds get their street named after that Martin Luther. Boyo, like they say, this is the city that works.”

West Side Riots

Everybody Wins

All Anthony has to show for the enormous amount of work he did in the spring and summer of ‘68 are two permanent lumps on his head. Or is it three? The least The Man could do is file federal charges against him — and put his picture on the front pages of every newspaper in the country. But no, all he gets is dirty looks from Anna parents and that brutal pig Sanfillipo grinning at him.

By the end of the summer of 1969 the rage Anthony feels for this fucked-up, unfair, corrupt, sick world has eaten a hole in his stomach. He must spend more time at home — Ugh, that Pleasant Valley Sunday, square, straight prison with Anna as a bunkmate and the 24-hour din of a squalling baby, how did this all happen to me?

Anthony lays his head down regularly on Natchez Avenue now because he must watch his diet; milk and farina, white bread and peanut butter seem to be the only foods that don’t cause him to double over in pain. Regular sleep keeps the agony at bay as well.

The forced domesticity brings about an unintended consequence. By late September, spending time with that 24-hour a day squalling infant turns out to be, well, not so horrifying after all. “Man,” Anthony tells Anna, “he really doesn’t cry all day long anyway.” In fact, holding little Chet in his arms actually calms Anthony’s roiling stomach.

(Anthony had insisted they call their baby Che, after Fidel’s pal. Anna told him no way but he went ahead and had the nurse fill out the birth certificate with that name anyway. Later, after Anthony had left the hospital, the nurse came in and showed Anna the birth certificate. Together, they came up with the idea of simply adding a T after Che. And so, Chet it was. Naturally, Anthony was deeply offended that the two women had conspired to defy him. When Anna would complain about his absences from home, Anthony would say, “How can I spend time under the same roof with someone who’d do that to me?”)

Guevara/Castro

Che & Fidel

That was then. Now, who’d have ever guessed Anthony would find himself falling in love with his baby son?

Anthony has become so fond of the little pistol that he finds it difficult to leave him the morning of Wednesday, October 8th, 1969. But a man has responsibilities, especially a man consumed by rage.

Anthony kisses Chet on the forehead and lays him in his crib. “I’ll see you tonight, little man. Don’t get yourself in any trouble,” Anthony says as he pinches Chet’s big toe. Chet responds with a hiccup and a fart. Anthony chortles.

Anna’s voice comes from the kitchen. “Anthony, are you leaving? Where you going?”

“Out,” Anthony says.

“‘Out,’” Anna repeats aloud. “I’m married to a teenager.”

Anthony doesn’t hear her. He trundles down the stairs and lets the front door slam behind him. He’s on his way downtown. These are the Days of Rage.

Days of Rage Poster

To be continued

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

Episode 36: Festival Of Life

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Thirty-six —

Late Wednesday afternoon.

Al Dudek holds his daughter by the elbow and leads her down the front steps. She takes them one at a time, looking as if the giant anvil in her abdomen might soon cause her to topple face-forward onto the concrete walkway leading to the sidewalk. Al applies a vice grip on Anna’s arm.

“Daddy?” Anna says in a small voice.

“Yeah, hon?”

“It hurts.”

“Oh, sure,” Al says, the comforting, wise, almost-gramps. “It’s gonna hurt. That’s the way it is.”

“No, no,” Anna says. “You’re hurting me. It’s alright. I won’t fall down.”

“Oh…, oh! Aw, honey, I’m sorry.”

He helps her into the back seat of the Deuce and a Quarter where she can lay back for the ride to St. Anne’s. Satisfied that she’s comfortably settled in — as comfortable as can be under the circumstances — Al calmly walks around to the drivers side and gets in. Under normal conditions, Al is perhaps the slowest driver in the city of Chicago. His turtle pace behind the wheel has been an endless source of derision among Anna and Joey and Tree for years.

Today is no different. Especially today. Al wants nothing to go wrong as he drives his daughter to the St. Anne’s Hospital Emergency Room for the birth of his first grandchild. In fact, his pre-drive ritual is even more drawn out than usual as he slues his torso to lock his door, adjusts his rearview mirror, checks the proper position of his seat, and gives the pedal a tap to hear the little roar of his 360-horsepower, 430 cubic-inch V8 engine, an automotive power plant that 99.9 percent of all Galewood fathers would utilize to the limit of its capability were they rushing their pregnant daughters to the hospital. But not Al, for he’s never been a man to let events cause him to veer from his plodding path.

“Daddy?” Anna says again in a small voice.

“Yeah, hon?”

“Please let’s go.”

“Okay, okay, hon. We’re goin’.”

With that, Al shifts into drive and proceeds south on Natchez Avenue at a pace far more fitting for a Sunday drive than any kind of obstetric urgency. But Anna does not protest. She knows Al is racing — for him at least: He hasn’t even lit up a Tareyton for the drive.

Traffic is fairly heavy as Al turns right on Austin Boulevard from North Avenue, it being nearly rush hour. Al’s got the AM tuned to WGN so he can hear Flying Officer Irv Hayden’s reports. But the traffic copter is hovering not over the intersection of North and Austin or even the Spaghetti Bowl interchange west of the Loop but over the Grant Park Bandshell. That’s where some twelve thousand protesters have gathered to hear speakers call for peace, call for revolution, call for calm, and call for action.

WGN Traffic Copter

Hundreds upon hundreds of cops are massed in formation to the west of the bandshell, along Columbus Drive. Each holds his billy club with two hands, some of them twisting their sticks, much as they’d love to twist the necks of the long-haired pukes gathered before them.

Chicago Police captains and commanders have been having a hell of a time holding the line back. But now that Jimmie The Jungle Man Finnin, playing his role to a tee, has strung the Vietcong flag up on a flagpole that moments before had sported Old Glory, the brass is no longer in charge of this blue-shirted army.

The captains and the commanders now can do nothing to restrain their men. A line has been crossed. The line between good and evil. The line between the freedom of America and the commie tyranny of Ho Chi MInh. The line between forgiveness and God’s terrible retribution. Hundreds upon hundreds of sky-blue Chicago cops become a wave, a rolling instrument of divine justice. These sinners can only be redeemed in their own blood.

The skirmish line moves eastward toward the twelve thousand as if controlled by one mind. The twelve thousand freeze and stare at the oddly creeping onrush. They are as rabbits, perhaps hoping their immobility will make them invisible or maybe they’re made immobile by pure terror. In either case, no makes a move to flee or even assumes a defensive position in the face of the blitz to come. Now, as one, the cops begin to run, first with tentative pitty-pat steps, then with long loping strides as their prey of twelve thousand, also as one and just as suddenly, turns to escape. Now, beefy, paunchy, big-bellied and trim alike, uniformed instruments of Mayor Daley, LBJ, and God himself, rain blows, countless blows, loud, bone-cracking, flesh-ripping blows upon anyone occupying this land of biblical wrath.

Anthony, wiry, fit, and as scared as any of the surrounding twelve thousand rabbits, ought to make good his escape from the dogs of law but as the wave of cops nearly overtakes him, Anthony trips over an upended bandshell bench, pitching headfirst just as a cop’s billy club whizzes within a centimeter of his scalp. The cop, hurdling Anthony, takes another swat for a swinging strike two. The cop doesn’t linger for his third strike as he is far too eager to chase down other freaks so he might hear the satisfying crack of the bat against another hard head. The chase, after all, for dogs, for hunters, for blue-clad deliverers of righteous rectitude, is as thrilling as the catch.

Bandshell

The moment Anthony realizes he’d endured the wave unscathed, he takes off toward Balbo Street where he can cross the Illinois Central overpass and perhaps join Dick Gregory’s mule train, a Poor People’s March first envisioned by the martyr Martin Luther King, just now preparing to set off toward the International Amphitheater.

As he runs, the image of Jimmie the Jungle Man Finnin shinnying back down the flagpole and disappearing safely behind the police line runs again and again through his  mind.

Now Anthony runs smack dab into a National Guard machine gun nest positioned at the crest of the overpass. “Turn around, boy,” some khakied kid yells at him from beneath his gas mask. The kid has to be Anthony’s age. Hell, the kid could have been a classmate from Fenwick High School, but more likely he was from a public school where graduates fight in Vietnam or join the Guard to avoid doing so.

But even in the unlikely event that they had been classmates, Anthony is under no illusion that the kid behind the gas mask will grant him any filial pass. His machine gun, Anthony has to assume, is loaded and ready to fire.

Michigan Avenue

So, Anthony turns around and follows the crowd to the lakefront where the savvier of the protesters have figured out all they have to do is run north a quarter mile or so, up to the Jackson and Monroe street overpasses. They lead the thousands westward over the IC tracks, passing the Art Institute and flooding onto Michigan Avenue where they turn south, trot a few blocks, and gather precisely at the spot the Great Blue-Helmeted Wall was devised to prevent them from getting to. There the protesters stand, on the east side of Michigan Avenue, across from the Conrad Hilton, the street eerily devoid of traffic, a demilitarized zone, with hundreds of Guardsmen standing at arms around the hotel. The standoff will last about two and a half hours — until prime time and the network cameras are ready to bring Chicago to the world.

A nurse prepares to tend to Anna’s nether region. She first helps Anna out of her clothes and into a hospital gown. She rubs Anna’s bulging abdominal dome and says, “It won’t be too much longer now, honey.” Then she unwraps a shaving kit and soaps up Anna’s pubic hair. Swiftly and deftly, she shaves Anna bare and wipes the remaining soap up. She paints Anna’s Mons Veneris and groin with Betadine solution. “You’re at about a half a centimeter, sweetie,” the nurse says, an estimate Anna pays no heed to for she is busy squelching a blood-curdling scream caused by a wave of pain.

Pregnant

Al at the moment is down the hall in the waiting room, at last able to light up a Tareyton. He’s lucky he brought his open pack plus another for he’ll need them both tonight. Back in the delivery room, a harried intern dashes in, bends over and peers into Anna’s birth canal. “Not yet,” he says and, like that, he’s gone.

For the next couple of hours, a pair of volcanoes rumble on opposite ends of town, one very public, in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel at the corner of Michigan and Balbo, the other supremely private some eight miles to the west in a garishly lighted delivery room of St. Anne’s Hospital. Millions watch the volcano blow in the east. Only a nurse and an obstetrician see the eruption in the west.

The protesters at Michigan and Balbo, several thousand strong, clap their hands, sing songs, and shout slogans up toward the empty rooms in the Conrad Hilton. They fail to realize the cops have shut down their egresses both north and south on Michigan Avenue. The National Guard still has its machine gun batteries on the IC overpasses behind the protesters and the ring of Guardsmen effectively prevents them from moving westward. The protesters don’t know it, but they’ve been squeezed into a noose.

Calm Before The Storm

As day turns to night, Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent James Rochford directs his men to dash into the demilitarized zone between the protesters and the Guardsmen ringing the Hilton. The Guard, in turn, withdraws to defensive positions away from the intersection of Michigan and Balbo. Television lights bathe the scene in brilliance. Rochford himself doesn’t know it but he’s suddenly become a TV director. He may as well have yelled, “Action!” with his next utterance. Instead, it was only a less dramatic order, albeit just as simple and declarative. To his assembled captains he says, “Clear the streets.” It takes only a few seconds for those captains to repeat the order into their Motorola two-way radios. When the blue-helmeted, nightstick- and Mace-armed patrolmen on the street get the word, they roar outward in flying wedges into the crowd of protesters. They interpret Rochford’s order to mean Brain every living, breathing human being you see.

Battle of Michigan Avenue

Cops beat tattoos on the skulls of protesters. They drag newsmen by their collars toward waiting meat wagons and riot vans. They drag hippie chicks by their hair. They spray Mace into crowds of terrified hotel guests who are criminally dumb enough to be present in the Hilton on this 28th day of August, 1968. They throw people bodily through huge plate glass windows along Michigan Avenue. Well-meaning but naive preachers who hold their hands up, imploring for peace, are slugged silly. The air becomes rancid with teargas.

Chicago 1968

All the while, the television cameras are rolling. A chant rises up from those protesters whose heads haven’t been bashed yet. Anthony joins them. They chant: The Whole World Is Watching.

At this moment, the delivery room nurse checks Anna’s birth canal and notes that her baby’s head is now crowning. The canal, the nurse writes in Anna’s chart, has dilated to ten centimeters. Dr. Francona picks up his forceps and places its ends carefully along the sides of the baby’s head.

“Are you ready, sweetie?” the nurse asks Anna.

“No!” Anna screams.

“Push!” Dr. Francona says.

“No!” Anna screams.

“Breathe, hon, breathe!” the nurse advises.

U-u-u-u-h-h-h-h!” Anna screams.

Now Anthony sees a blue-helmeted figure advancing toward him. The cop’s arm is raised high over his head. In his hand he holds a shiny black nightstick. Anthony holds his arms out wide. The look on his face is pathetic. Anthony’s submission only makes the cop advance quicker. The cop’s arm begins to travel forward in a sweeping arc. The cop speaks as he brings the wood down upon Anthony’s skull: “You mother fucking, cocksucking bastard!”

Duane Hall/Chicago Sun -Times

Pulling firmly yet gently, Dr. Francona guides the baby’s skull through the birth canal. Anna has never imagined such pain could exist. Her face is soaked with sweat, her skin carmine. She grips the side rails of the delivery table so tightly she fears…, no, she hopes, she’ll break them in half. Anna prepares to help the baby along with one final, mighty push. She screams: “Anthony Pontone, you mother fucking, cocksucking bastard!

At 9:17 P.M., Central Daylight Time, in the City of Chicago, County of Cook, and State of Illinois, as Anthony tumbles to the Michigan Avenue pavement, blood spurting from his scalp, reeling from the nightstick blow he’d hoped in vain would never come, he becomes a father. He’d hoped in vain that would never come either.

To be continued

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

Episode 35: It’s Time

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Thirty-five —

Anna frets about going to hell in the morning. In the afternoon, Anthony walks into it.

The lawn in front of the Grant Park Bandshell is packed; ten thousand people or more are here. It’s MOBE’s biggest event of the week. Dellinger’s speaking. So are Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Jerry Rubin, and Tom Hayden. Convention delegates staying at the Hilton would be able to see the crowd here easily, only none of them is standing at his window, gazing to the southeast. They’re all at the Amphitheater this afternoon fighting over a proposed peace plank. Young McCarthy and McGovern delegates are clamoring for the party to make an official statement that the war is wrong and will be wound down just as soon as Hubert Humphrey takes office.

Burroughs

William S. Burroughs In The Bandshell

The old line delegates, the big city bosses and cigar-chomping, flatulent, carnivore, rye on the rocks, cow-town Chamber of Commerce pasty-faced Michelin Men would rather spend the night at a goddamned MC5 gig than vote for the peace plank, what the fuck ever MC5 is. They have a lot more in common with George Wallace and good old “First Strike” Curtis LeMay than they do with Clean Gene and McGovern. And they would much rather — happily much rather — head over to the Crystal Pistol to catch a good strip show than sit in a subterranean coffeehouse and listen to that queer Ginsberg read his poetry bullshit. There’s a lot more of them than young peaceniks and before anyone knows it, the peace plank is rejected.

The news of the defeat filters through the crowd in Grant Park, thanks to the few who’ve carried transistor radios with them, and now some are suggesting the whole ten thousand of them start marching over to the Amphitheater and show those phony democrats — small d — what The People want…, no…, what The People demand, man!

In fact, the crowd begins to stir, like attendees at a family picnic gathering up their blankets and baskets before the big thunderstorm hits. And the whole ten thousand of them might indeed have walked the four and half miles to the Amphitheater where they would have ringed the convention hall, only this four acre tract of lakefront park is itself ringed by hundreds of Chicago cops in full riot gear and, behind them, hundreds of National Guardsmen standing at arms, cradling their M-14s with fixed bayonets and full magazines.

The cops are ready. Earlier, they’d handed out flyers warning the the hordes streaming over the Illinois Central overpasses  not to march anywhere after the rally for they lack the permits to do so. But, man, why do we need a permit, a worthless piece of paper, when the lives of innocent Vietnamese children are at stake? Not to mention our own skins, should our college deferments ever fall through.

So the Gang of Ten Thousand mills about — dancing, wiggling bees in a hive manufacturing not honey but rage. And the cops match their choler. Anthony, at the perimeter of the throng, takes a few tentative steps toward Michigan Avenue. When he gets within five feet of the line of blue-helmeted cops, one of them snarls, “Step the fuck back, you communist prick.”

Acutely aware of the healing gash in his scalp and eager not to suffer another, Anthony shrinks back into the crowd, certain that the thousands will provide him a cushion of safety against the cyclone of nightsticks about to be unleashed. Deeper and deeper he goes, nauseated, dizzy, at moments feeling as though he’ll pass out in the heat and humidity. Anthony stumbles through the mass of people for what seems an hour until he reaches the edge of the bandshell where a flagpole provides him a spot to lean.

But a couple of guys elbow him out of the way and shinny up the pole. They detach the fluttering American flag. A few hundred yards away, the sky-blue-helmeted line sees Old Glory coming down and summon all the will they possess not to charge into the mass of long-haired, unwashed communist pricks and break some heads.

Oh, what a lark, what a riot — in the haha sense — this taking down of the American flag, this symbol of the imperial war machine, this pennant of racism, this standard of corporate greed. The guys shinny down the pole and are greeted as triumphantly as returning Vietnam veterans are not. They are the heroes of the day, men of courage and ingenuity, willing to do valiant battle against red, white, and blue streamers whipping in the wind. Anthony summons the energy to slap them on the back.

Anthony sees a kid skulking around the welcoming party, his shirt bulging with some package or item — who knows what the hell he’s hiding. The kid, of course, looks familiar.

Anthony thinks, through his fog, Oh Christ, you’ve got to be kidding.

Next thing Anthony knows, the kid starts shinnying up the flagpole and when he reaches its apex, he pulls out the mystery package and unfurls it. It is deep red and blue, yes, a flag, with a little yellow star in the middle. Aha, Anthony thinks, the Vietcong flag. He recalls Monday afternoon at the General Logan statue. He knows what can happen when the blue-helmeted-line sees that VC flag. Anthony unconsciously caresses the bandage over the rip in his scalp. Oh shit, man, he thinks, don’t do it. Don’t do it.

But the kid can’t read Anthony’s thoughts so he proceeds to clip the Vietcong flag to the halyard. He rappels himself down the flagpole, hardly even reaching the Earth before the blue-helmeted line tears into the crowd.

Police Attack

Like a scene from a Godzilla movie depicting the evacuation of Tokyo, the ten thousand move en masse, twenty thousand churning legs, in the direction opposite the charge of the blue-helmeted line, the east. A determined group of club-carrying avengers of the flag can run faster than a much larger mob of hippies and pacifists. The cops catch up to the crowd, chop-chop, and the swinging begins. Clunk, clunk, clunk.

Longhaired kids drop like bowling pins. Even Rennie Davis takes a pounding, so much so that he’s left motionless and unconscious on the Grant Park lawn as the wave of Chicago cops passes over him.

Rennie Davis

Rennie Davis, Unconscious

Anthony runs as fast as he can, considering the 23 stitches in his head, and the several thousand-body traffic jam in front of him. He turns to look back at the advancing police line and sees it churning toward him, spewing fucks and cocksuckers and grunts and flying spittle. He also sees that kid, the Vietcong flag hanger, swallowed up by the blue-helmeted line.

Anthony, his brain still running some moments behind real time, forgets what he knows about the kid. He feels a brief pang of sympathy for him. Those cops might kill the poor son of a bitch.

Just as the Vietcong flag hanger is grabbed by a half dozen cops and swallowed up by them, not for swift, brutal retribution, but enveloped for safety, Anthony blinks his eyes against the late afternoon sun and the tear gas and recognizes for the second time in minutes Jimmie Finnin. The Jungle Man is patted on the back, slapped on the back, and pushed back to the west, toward safety, his work for today is complete.

And the dust storm raised by the charge of the nightstick brigade comes nearer.

Police Line Attack

At this very moment, Anna picks up the phone and dials the number of Big Al’s Meats. The receptionist answers.

Anna says, “Can I speak to Al Dudek, please?”

“Who’s calling?”

“His daughter.”

Anna waits thirty seconds or so for Al to come on the line. It feels more like a year.

“Hello, Anna? What’s wrong?” Al says.

“It’s time, Daddy. The pains are five minutes apart.”

“I’ll be right over.”

To be continued

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

Episode 34: By Any Means Necessary

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

Thirty-four —

Middle of the night, Tuesday/Wednesday, August 27th and 28th, 1968.

Anthony has no idea how lucky he was to be hooked up to an IV bottle in the emergency room at Passavant Hospital. Of course, he thinks he’s among the most brutalized, unfortunate human beings on this planet. Hell, Igbo children in the breakaway republic of Biafra, when not having their limbs severed or trying to snatch flying insects out of the air to fill their distended bellies, give praise to Chukwu for not visiting upon them the horrors that one Anthony Pontone must endure in Chicago.

Poor Anthony. He wanted so badly to be in Lincoln Park or Grant Park or at the International Amphitheater or running wild through the hallways of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Changing the World, Sticking It To The Man, Smashing The State. Man, if he was able to crash in a few doors in the Hilton or fling a teargas canister back at some fat cop, it’d be one small step toward Freedom. He’d suffer ten more concussions if only they’d guarantee the dismantlement of the Police State, the Military Industrial Complex, and the Ghettoes, in that order.

Too bad he’s been stuck here nursing a bruised cerebrum, for he’s missing a lot. There were the pacifists gathering at the Amphitheater in the afternoon, ringing the place, several hundred of them, picketing. Strangely the cops allowed them to picket all day long and in fact will allow them to stay overnight near the convention hall, go figure. Anthony listens to reports on the radio at the ER nurses station that four of the seventeen newsmen beaten over the last two days by the cops have been injured so badly they’ve been hospitalized.

And it was LBJ’s birthday tonight — er, last night, now — and Yippie! threw him an Un-birthday Party at the rickety old Coliseum. A couple of thousand freaks paid their respects to the President of the United States by calling him a pig and wishing this birthday would be his last. LBJ, naturally, was unaware of this as he was busy ordering B-52s to drop thousands of bombs on straw hut villages from eight miles high over Vietnam, for that’ll halt the spread of Communism sure as praying real hard to the Almighty will prevent his cigarette-, stress-, and fat-ravaged ticker from inevitably bursting like a water balloon. Nevertheless, Abbie and Rennie and Dellinger and Ginsberg and Terry Southern and Jean Genet and William S. Burroughs and Dick Gregory, all hollered at him from the Coliseum lectern and, God in heaven, Anthony wishes he were there.

NYTimes/Glinn[New York Times/Burt Glinn photo]

Then, sure, no question, man, he would have dashed to Lincoln Park where Bobby Seale held court, telling the crowd gathered there that they must defend themselves By Any Means Necessary from the next onslaught by the pigs. Next thing you knew, a couple of hundred clergymen built a massive cross and planted it between the protesters and the line of cops just as the clock struck eleven, the witching hour at which time the crowd must leave the park, although the cops hope they don’t so they (the cops) can crack a few more skulls for they (the cops, again) are getting awfully good at this skull-cracking.

Professor Von Helsing would have been proud of the cross, twenty feet tall, visible from a couple of blocks away, holding off the sky-blue-helmeted line, not because they were so many vampires but good Christians all who wouldn’t dare in a million years sully Our Savior’s Holy Symbol by batting the shit out of a bunch of pinko fucks in front of it. Shows what Von Helsing would know. Sully it they did, as the Chicago Police for the third night in a row cleared Lincoln Park by their version of Any Means Necessary and by now the park walkways and the sidewalks along Clark Street are becoming as pink-hued as the protesters’ commie hearts, dyed by their scalp blood as well as the heavy flow from dozens of broken noses, split lips, and whatever other miscellaneous breaches in their skin that the city’s free-swinging cops can cause. Chief among these free swingers is the clean up hitter, number 5134 on his badge and number nil in the protesters’ hearts, Patrolman Sal Sanfillipo, who enjoys this head-cracking business so much that he must sort of crouch over as he does it, the better to hide the boner it causes.

And that’s why Anthony Pontone is one of the luckiest guys in town. Had Sal caught sight of him, the patrolman’s stickwork on his (Anthony’s) drumhead would have made Ringo Starr look like a pussy, and Sal, if pressed, would be obliged to point out he already does.

Late Wednesday morning.

Anthony has no idea how he did it, but he made his way from Passavant Hospital to The Theater on Wells Street, where he wakes up, unwillingly and with a monster headache. He’d fallen asleep on the rooftop with scads of other freaks, some of whose heads also are heavily bandaged.

Anthony shakes his head a time or two or a half dozen, trying to make the dizziness, the spaciness, the headache go away. He gently runs his fingertips over the bandaged lump where Sal Sanfillipo’s nightstick had dented his scalp. When he presses the gauze down a little too hard on several of the 23 sutures holding his scalp together, he winces, not so much from the pain — which is real — but more from fear that he’ll re-open the wound and have to go back to the emergency room and therefore might miss today’s climactic festivities.

Everybody’s got a feeling about today, that something big is going to happen in Chicago, be it at the Conrad Hilton or Lincoln Park or even, delicious dream of dreams, at the Amphitheater. That’s where the Democrats last night selected LBJ’s coat holder, Hubert Humphrey, to be their nominee for president.

May as well settle in for another four years of living room blood and guts brought to you by the good folks at the Pentagon, taped before a partially alive audience in the fetid jungles of Vietnam.

Anthony, for one, is trying his best not to be discouraged by the Dems’ decision to stay the course, for that’s what the Hump will surely do when he takes the White House in November. The Republicans are running that national joke, Tricky Dick Nixon, along with some nobody from Maryland named Spiro Agnew, against them. Hell, the Party of Death’d have to shoot itself in the foot to lose this election.

So yeah, something big is gonna happen. It might even happen at St. Anne’s Hospital.

Anna’s got that feeling again, that weird, acid-flashback kind of feeling. She’s been up since seven and has been pacing…, well, trudging, through the house in her jams and bunny slippers, hefting her abdominal mound like an enormous sack of flour. She rifles through the cabinets looking for coffee and, finding none, settles on an old Lipton’s Orange Pekoe teabag she finds smushed in a rear corner of the cupboard.

Tea. Blecch. Anna wants coffee. No, needs coffee.

At this moment in time she weighs three tons. Today’s the due date and Anna’s of two minds about whether the heir or heiress will burst into this mad world by midnight. One part of her trusts the doctor the way she used to trust the priest — what he says goes and if he says today’s the day, well then, better pack that toothbrush. The other part of her figures it’s way too much to hope that this medicine ball will drop today. Giving birth has to be a struggle, an ordeal, right? Didn’t the priests used to say part of mankind’s punishment for The Fall was the agony of childbirth, although what the hell do priests know about it anyway? Still, myths and lore persist, even quaint old biblical tales that originated twenty-five hundred years ago and were designed to help a bunch of illiterates wandering around the perimeter of the Fertile Crescent understand Where We Came From and Why We’re Here. Hah! I read Dr. Spock, Anna thinks, what do I need that bullshit for?

Still. Still, still, still…, this whole pregnancy has been an ordeal. And Anna does feel plenty guilty about smoking pot and dropping acid and having sex with her boyfriend and for embarrassing Ma and Daddy at the wedding in front of all their friends and and business partners. And — well, as long as we’re coming clean here — for taking that trip to Denver, you know, to see that doctor…. So who’s to say this ordeal of a pregnancy isn’t a just punishment? And maybe nine months to the day of an aching back and sore feet and peeing every half hour and carrying a 16,000-pound diving bell around in her abdomen and wondering if Anthony’s ever coming home and surreptitiously taking tens and twenties and loaves of Italian bread and Genoa salami from Daddy when he sneaks through the back alley to visit her just might not be enough to balance her books in the eyes of the Lord, Our God.

Hell, in that case, this baby might not come until the year 2010 when people are traveling around with jet packs and we’ve colonized the Moon. Aw, damn, it’s not gonna happen today, Anna thinks. No way, Jose. No how. Damn, damn, damn. Damn! Why’d I ever get high and do it with Anthony in the first place? Madonna, am I an idiot!

God, Jesus, I am sorry, so sorry, so heartily sorry for having an abortion. My only hope is that you’re a forgiving God. Even the priests say you’re a forgiving God. So here’s my confession — I killed that little, tiny, microscopic baby inside me.

God, if you’re really there, I promise, I swear to you in heaven, I will never do something so stupid as getting pregnant again. Honest. And I swear to you I’ll never do anything so rotten as killing the baby inside me again. That’s my pledge to you. In return, all I ask is that you let this little baby come today.

That’s not too much, is it? Really, I realize I’m being a little selfish here. I should be praying for the starving children of Africa and India. I should be praying for the war to end. I should be praying for a million things for a million people who are really, really suffering. But I’m stuck with this anvil in my uterus — oh, I’m sure it’ll be a beautiful little anvil and I’ll love it with all my heart, I swear — but, God, as I’m sure you already know because you know everything, it’s still an anvil right now. Let it come out of me, please!

The teapot whistle blows, signaling the end of Anna’s sit-down with the creator of the Universe. Anna snorts. “Yeah, sure, talking with God. I’m sick of all these one-way conversations,” she mutters. She pours herself a cup of tea and realizes there’s no milk and no sugar. Yuk. She takes a sip. It burns and tastes like cat piss. She dumps the tea into the sink, picks up the last edible thing in the house — a heel of bread — and fills her belly for the morning. She pads into the living room and puts the Hair album on the turntable. She closes her eyes and gently lets the needle down on whatever track karma brings it to. As always, though, no matter how much care she takes, no matter how gently she tries to lower the stylus, when it makes contact with the vinyl it produces a teeth-chattering, multi-tonal whoosh of a scratch. Anna says, “Oh shit!” Normally Anthony would have shouted from whatever far corner of the house he was in for her to be careful with the needle, goddamn it!

Karma has brought the needle to the track, “Going Down. ”

“Ooh,” Anna whispers, “bad karma.” She knows she should pick up the tone arm and place it on another track, but she falls into a trance listening to its lyrics:

Me and Lucifer/

Lucifer and me/

Just like the angel that fell/

Banished forever to hell/

Today have I been expelled/

From high school heaven/

Elevator goin’ down.

To be continued

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

Episode 33: Some Cat Is Dying Here, Man!

BLACK COMEDY

By Michael G. Glab

© 2013

BC Archives Link IV 20130607

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.

Photo/Life Magazine

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.

Photo/Life Magazine

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.

1968 Democratic National Convention

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.

“Hello?”

“Anna, it’s me.”

“Oh.”

“You have to come down here.”

“Where?”

“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?”

“You’re selfish.”

“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.

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