Cock and Bull

The restoration of the giant shack next door was NOT proceeding according to plan. This much was clear given the view from my window.* The fools they hired botched the job and the shack toppled into my building. Either the shack was stronger than it looked, or my building was a great deal less stable than it seemed. Whichever the case, I had but minutes to gather all of my valuables and escape certain death. I loaded my backpack with rare books. I took an autographed first edition copy of Mamet’s The Old Religion (in which he scribbled ((to me)), “Thank you for your most kind words”), along with a first edition copy of his first novel, The Cabin (which I have yet to read); I also packed my Harry Potter books (British editions all, and a bulky lot, to be sure); and somehow I managed to cram in my thick, hardcover volume of Richard Matheson’s The Twilight Zone Scripts. And then, just as the walls of my wee studio efficiency apartment gave way, I fled. 

Over the next few weeks, as my building awaited repair, the fools working on the now collapsed shack erected a new, larger structure in its place. That one fell, too, but instead of falling to the east, it fell to the west—and flattened a century-old bungalow. Alas, the fools were not deterred from trying again. (This is, in part, what makes a fool a fool, no?) As you might expect, the third time was NOT the charm—for the largest structure yet split in two and crushed the garage on the north end of the property, and, concurrently, crashed into the four story condo at the south end—which, domino-like, tumbled into the street and flattened two Saab 900s, three Pontiac Firebird Trans Ams, and one severely rusted Edsel. 

Upon my return, three months later, very nearly all of Chicago lay in shambles—every building, a victim of that extremely foolish, albeit well-connected, restoration crew. It reminded me of the destruction left in the wake of The War of the Worlds.§ 

10 April 2001 

*[That’s right, I had only one.] 

[Which I have since read, and, sadly, cannot recommend.] 

[Home to, and now grave for, a 1966 Chrysler LeBaron Imperial with green headlights.] 

§[The 1953 version.]

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