These 8-year-olds ain't got nothing on me. Duck and cover, duck and cover. That's how you win at laser tag. Top score of the day, bitches. There is a lot of satisfaction to be gained beating small children at a game, with the heavy laser pack reaching their knees, slowing them down. I sweat and crouch down behind the thick barricade, glancing over for those telltale green and red lights, or white clothing glowing blue under UV, or the general hubbub rattle crash of the packs of children, feral and hunting. Is this what war is like, daddy? No, son, this is far worse. I never knew I could so merrily beat children at a game. This makes me a bad person.
The post game sandwich fills me to bursting point- greedy sod asking for a large. Pet stores are depressing. Puppies fight in too many ways, yelping and biting at each other, licking each other's shit as it emerges light brown and sloppy. Cute eyes staring out of dull cages, a water bottle and a food bowl. The kittens jangle my keys as I dangle them out the bars, needleprick claws lashing out. The turtle dives and the guinea pigs skitter and hide. Nature designs it cute and the pet store makes it macabre and disturbing. The only play they get is customers petting them. The mothers in some pet farm churning out their next litter already, industrial magic.
We spend an evening like we spend every evening. TV bound or computer game bound- sofacore- pretending we're not competitive but caring far too much deepdown, or just under the surface in our littlebig celebrations and our bitching. Drinking is boring now, like the boy in a cupboard forced to smoke a pack of cigarettes. My body is giving up limb by limb, organ by organ. Blood is a sludgy slump around clotted veins and my left thigh is turning to stone. Toothache, headache. Bitemarks, pockmarks. I feed it processed junk food as medicine, fizzy pop to wash it down. My liver packed in a minute ago, braincells drowning in bile. She speaks like she's a mouthful of sludge and I can't understand her any more. Enunciate, darling. The rain is Chicago falls mainly on the plain. That drizzle is singing my heart song, a pitterpatter on bug screen and glass and roofslate, puddles forming on the grass. Welcome home.
We're back at the beginning. Parked in Rosemonnt with jumbo jets flying low loud whooshes over our heads. Everywhere is drizzled with a layer of rainwater, shinyslick and darkened. Ticket machines aren't like oyster card machines- i struggle. These coloured routes are not as clear. From our leafy silent suburb we head in through other suburbs which buzz with people and culture, Malcolm X posters stuck in the windows and corner shop bodegas. I am back in London, riding through Brixton, on my way to see the Big Smoke. Brownstone houses and subways make me think of New York City where I've never been, but I'll be there soon, back at the end.
Emerging on elevators at street level and the head leans back. Crane it further, you still can't see the sky. Chicago, where the architects play. I am no student. This is just a modern skyline, the archetype, in blue, grey, and black. Gradation from stone clad frames to the black hulk of the Sears Tower (I care not for its current name), nine separate towers joined and rising up 110 floors, tottering above the Windy City skyline. There are glass boxes cabled to the side so you can stand 1000 feet above the sidewalk. My legs warp and wiggle. Vertigo is a hereditary condition, and it's not getting cured. My sense of danger is keen.
Legs carry you down, down to the fountain where the patrol cars creep and the homeless sell free newspapers for their own needs. That hug was worth $3 and I hope you make it some place better. You sure can hustle. Drizzle drizzles drops of drizzle, soaking my T shirt to see through as I talk art and writing and dreams. Katie has the same dream of punching someone and it having no effect. Do we both feel that inconsequential? Trains spark bluewhite on the rails as they screech round corners and the bikes/cars/taxis/buses bustle and honk the intersections, by the marina where the yachts are moored on the lake for the pleasure cruises for the tourists for the fishing for the pootling for the locals.
We arrive on the Navy Pier, commercialism in its shops and its fast food, gaudy red yellow colour scheme stunning eyes. The stained glass museum is another sideshow devoted to the minutiae. They have no consequence bar their beauty and their status symbol inherent. Long legs stride (why must I remain part of the group- what necessitates me walking with them- i do not have to pose for the group shots- i am a misanthrope) away weary, dusk falling and an orange sky fading to blue but my blood sugar is crashing down so I am cranky and fed up of this dynamic. A long ride home on a sleepy train where everyone cradles their faces and stares at the floor and we are back to do the same again; again.