I look at the view above most of the time while I’m home so it’s past due to’ve been painted. Just out of view is the bookshelf to which I’ve returned several times as a subject. The books and other bric-a-brac always draw me back.
Last Friday while waiting for the Metra at 35th Street I saw a stocky middle-aged man in a Cubs jersey and cargo shorts walk into view on the platform across. He lay down on one of the benches for a minute then got back up and paced around. A woman in a Cubs t-shirt appeared on the platform as well. After an announcement that outbound trains toward Joliet were to be boarded on Platform 1—where I was—they both hurried over.
The man appeared first and lay down on a bench again while the woman hovered uncertainly behind the schedule board by the stairs. I had been trying to do a drawing of Sox Park in my sketchbook but this couple made me uneasy so I stopped drawing. Then, the man got up and threw a black plastic case with all his might in the direction of the woman. It hit the concrete wall within inches of where she was standing and shattered. Then he walked over to her and threw something else close-range right in her face. She slipped down to the ground and they struggled for a few seconds before he let go and walked back to lie down on the bench. I was looking right at her and she signaled with her hand as if to indicate that everything was ok. She got up and went down the stairs from the platform.
When the train came he walked over to the head of the stairs and waved his hands and she appeared and followed him aboard. I saw them walk through my car together but a few minutes later she walked back in alone and sat down across the aisle from me on the upper level. She sat there staring into her phone doing her best not to cry. I finally asked her if she was alright and she made a so-so gesture with her hand. A couple minutes later I had to get off and I told her to take care as I left and she thanked me.
It’s been haunting me since then. Should I have done more? Gotten between them? So hard to know when to step into strangers’ lives.
South Side Weekly published the short piece I wrote last year to induct Shel Silverstein into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. There are also a couple of other pictures of mine used in the issue as illustrations.
The Chicago Tribune published my review of Layne Mosler’s Driving Hungry in this week’s Printers Row magazine. If you don’t wanna register or deal with the Trib’s paywall but still wanna read it write me back and I’ll send you a text file.