Doc looked at the clock with the exhausted desperation of the
under-employed. He had five hours left on his shift. Five hours
working minimum wage in which he would make around $40. Had Fancy not
walked into the store at that exact moment he would have thought “I’d
pay my boss $40 to leave now.” Instead he started an inner-dialogue
about the superiority of the color blue.
It was the color of the sky after all, the color of lake Michigan and
the color of her dress. It was not however, the color of her eyes. No,
they were too extraordinary to be primary. They were…angry at him.
“Doc!” She said, conveying more meaning in that one syllable than
Hemingway could in a novel. Her perfect eye brows arched up just a
little too far to be sincere. Feigned anger, and a question. Her face
read “Doc, what did you forget to do this morning?” Doc smiled sadly
and slowly reached into his pocket. He pulled out six crisp
one-hundred dollar bills and handed his debt over to Karli Kloss’
Fancy pressed her right hand to her lips and blew him the type of
butterflies that remind you of middle-school. She danced out the story
looking so radiant that he saw her after image, framed by the
intellectual glow of new books, when he closed his eyes. Frances
Dugard, Light of My Life! he thought…His boss’s cough woke him… 4
hrs, 59 minutes to freedom…
6 hours later Doc was walking down Ashland up towards 51st street. Doc
couldn’t smell the residue of the millions of cattle shuffled through
the stockyards just north of him but he mentally tasted that
industrial residue. It was if his mind could taste the metallic mix of
poverty fueled aggression and empty promises in the air. One month
living in an intentional community and that mental taste already
reminded him of home.
He would laugh at the thought if it wasn’t so depressing but Back of
the Yards was home. He once had a friend who told him that home wasn’t
where you’re from, or even where you live, but it’s where you’re
fighting to get at it. Doc paused for a second at that thought. The
empty trash filled lots looked like a battle field and with his knee
and heart ackin’ at the cold sight of children breaking bottles for
amusement, he certainly felt like a battle weary soldier. Perhaps this
is what soldiers in the Royal Army felt like after WW2. The horror of
France made one forget the battle waged where you were fighting to be.
It is nine o’clock when Doc sits down to pour himself a cold glass of
milk, like a weary coal miner trying to clear his lungs. It is silent
in the old monastery like the ghost of Saint Patrick is secretly
willing him to say a prayer for sanity.
“Is there any remover of difficulties save God? Say God!, Praise Be
God!, He is God. All are his servants and all abide by His bidding.”
The atheist says this prayer and the memory of the mother who taught
him it washes over him like absolution.Sins and mental filth removed,
Doc smiles and the Selma family rushes into the room.
Stephan’s laugh arrives before he does like a sonic boom in reverse
but just as loud. “Hey! Sexy Ladies!” echoes through the kitchen as
Ramon, the middle child enters. Followed by the motherly warmth of
their older sister and the weary cheerfulness of their mother.
As the displaced family welcomes Doc home and asks about his day he
knows that he has found it…for now…and the fight can wait another