1. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
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    Northeast England

    Winner, pauly pen feathers! short story contest (129) theme: downtown

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, Mar 17, 2013.

    Well done Pen Feathers! PM me the theme for the next contest and we can get rolling - Lemex

    Pauly Pen Feathers
    Colleagues [2005 words]

    “Well you see, Doc, I seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with the downtown area.”

    “Okay, why don’t you lie down on the couch and tell me all about it?”

    “First of all, I really am filled with a sense of awe every time I take a trip downtown. The view of the skyline from the expressway coming into the city is breathtaking. Skyscrapers seem to rise up higher and higher as I drive in closer and closer, until at last I’m in there midst. They tower above me like other-worldly giants holding me captive as I gaze upon their majestic beauty. It doesn’t seem fair that we should be called the ‘Second City’.

    “Do you ever feel like we should be called the first city?”

    “It’s not about being first, Doc. We’re called the Second City because we’re second to New York in population. Actually, I think L.A. is second now, but it doesn’t’ matter. All I know is I just can’t stand it when a New Yorker calls us ‘second’. It seems to roll out of their mouths as a slur, as if they think they’re better than us, when in reality we’re only second in the number of rats that roam our streets and infest our sewers; and have you ever seen the size of a New York City rat?”

    “No, I can’t say that I have.”

    “They’re the size of Doberman Pinchers, Doc. And I’ve heard if you’re not carful, they’ll run up on you in Central Park and snatch your little dog right off its leash. Geez.”

    “By the way, we’re certainly not second when it comes to food. Have you ever seen a New Yorker eat a pizza? They have these thin little ‘things’ they call pizza they fold over like Tacos, or roll up like Burritos, and they eat while running down the street on their way to who knows where.“

    “When we go downtown for a pizza we go to a restaurant, and relax at a table with a red and white checkered table cloth and a candle in the center. We take our time enjoying a Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza with a nice bottle of red wine, eating with knives and forks and cloth napkins on our laps. You know, like civilized folk.”

    “Uh huh, go on.”

    “Well we are second in terms of traffic, I’ll give ’em that. But don’t get me wrong; our rush-hour is no piece of cake. That’s why I love to take the train when I go downtown, no traffic – no mess, and the people on the train are just so nice.”

    “Let’s continue with that for a moment.”

    “Well, there’s the young college kids taking the train to school, their lap-tops open, or a book in their hands, and they’re all caught up in their own little world. Their ears are packed full of ‘buds’ blasting music into their cute little heads. I love the young college kids.”

    “The conductors are nice, too. They’re mostly ladies now, and they’re quite pretty. No more grumpy old conductors. They quietly come by looking sharp in their clean and neatly pressed uniforms, punching tickets one by one, then they go on their merry way just as fast as they came.”

    “Is there anything specific about clean and neatly pressed uniforms you might like to elaborate on?”

    “No, not really, just that they’re … nice, that’s all.”

    “I see, please continue.”

    “Sometimes coming downtown reminds me of my when I was a kid back in the sixty’s and my dad used to take us all for a Sunday drive. He used to say ‘come on, everyone, let’s take a ride downtown and look at the barefoot hippies’.

    “I see.”

    “It took us about thirty minutes to get down here and when we did, man, the barefoot hippies were everywhere. They were so colorful with their tie-dyed tee shirts, beads around their necks, and hair flying in all directions. I loved the barefoot hippies. It’s really too bad they’re not around anymore.”

    “Did you ever wish you could become one of these barefoot hippies?”

    “Oh yeah, in fact in High School I let my hair grow out and I bought a purple suede fringe jacked with little white beads tied to the ends of the fringes. It was sharp.”

    “You said Purple?”

    “Yeah, Doc. Purple. Why?”

    “Umm, never mind. Please continue.”

    “Well, one thing I really hate is coming downtown for jury duty. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve been summoned for jury duty, and they never pick me. I have to get up early and shuffle over to the train station to catch the 7:38, and then walk eight long blocks to the Thompson Center. They make me miss work, and I have to sit around waiting to see if I’ll be needed as an alternate on some stupid jury. I mean, I just hate jury duty.”

    “Do you ever experience feelings of aggression when you’re summoned for jury duty?

    “No. Why do you ask?”

    “I ask because you said you hate jury duty several times. You’re repeating yourself.”

    “Ah, yes. I’ve been told I have a tendency to repeat myself, especially in writing.”

    “Do you like to write?”

    “Yeah, I do.”

    “Well then, I would tend to agree with your critics. Redundancy in writing is definitely a no-no.

    “Got it Doc, I’m working on it.”

    “Do you ever experience feelings of aggression because you have to walk eight blocks to the Thompson Center? Couldn’t you take a cab, or a bus?”

    “I guess the walk’s not so bad, really, especially on a nice hot summer day. The sidewalks are loaded with pretty girls walking quickly to wherever they’re going. Everyone walks fast downtown; everyone except me, that is. I love to stroll and take my time watching the pretty girls walk by.”

    “And what do you think about when you see these pretty girls?

    “I wonder where they go, what they do. Some go work, others to school. Some may be meeting a boyfriend for breakfast or a girlfriend for shopping. I don’t really care where they’re going; it’s just a passing thought.”

    “Do you notice anything specific about these pretty girls?”

    “Doc, all I know is, there’s nothing finer than a Midwestern beauty in a short tight skirt flashing long silky legs pumping up and down the sidewalk; lovely thighs lightly quivering with each and every step, teasing as they approach; conducting the rhythm of my heart with the sound of their high-heel shoes ‘clip-clopping’ against the pavement. Geez Doc, I love this city.”

    “Hmm, you like the quivering thighs, do you?”

    “Oh yes, Doc, I like the quivering thighs very much.”

    “Then there are the ladies wearing short fluffy dresses. I like them, too, especially when the wind kicks up, and the wind is always kicking up, downtown. I love the wind.

    “Okay, let’s move on.”

    “Like I was saying, there were several times I came downtown for jury duty. One of those days there was a guy putting a sign up on the Thompson Center Plaza that read ‘The Joe Clark Big Band today at noon’. It was a beautiful day to have lunch outside and listen to some good Jazz music. I love Jazz music on the Plaza. So I figured that’s the ticket. I’d run over to MacDonald’s, grab a lunch and come back to see the show.”

    “Then I thought I’d probably run into Old Man Billy while I’m at MacDonald’s. Old Man Billy is an institution around here. You know who I’m talking about, right, Doc?”

    “I don’t think so. Please continue.”

    “Well, Old Man Billy sits on the corner in front of MacDonald’s with a tin cup in his hand wearing his blind man sunglasses begging for coins. Funny thing about Billy, he’s got perfect vision. I know this because one day I snuck up on him all quiet like, and inched my hand towards his cup as if I were going to take his money, just kidding of course. I just wanted to test my theory. Sure enough, he snapped his cup away from me with such a jerk his coins went flying everywhere. Then he got up and chased me half way down the street. “Damn Bastard” he yelled at me. Ha, I love Old Man Billy.”

    “But then I got to thinking, if I don’t get picked for jury duty perhaps I’d forget about having lunch on the Plaza and take a boat ride up the river. The Architectural tour is always a treat. Maybe I’d relax in the back of a boat with a Vodka Screwdriver listening to the pretty young tour guide as she explained the history of all of these great buildings while slowly winding our way around the river under a canopy of beautiful city skyline.”

    “You know Doc, I feel sad for people I see walking down the street so fast with their faces all scrunched up into their Smart Phones. They don’t seem to appreciate the art built into this city. They seem to miss the beauty of downtown, and it really is such a wonderful place. Don’t you feel that way, Doc?”

    “Let’s just continue talking about how you feel, shall we?”

    “You know, sometimes I wonder about the river.”

    “The river?”

    “Yeah. I wonder why every Saint Patrick’s Day the mayor spends so much money having the river dyed green. He has his fire boats loaded full of green dye they spray out of their water canons into the river. Funny thing is, the river’s always green, every day of the year. Sometimes I wonder about this mayor. I hate it when he dyes the river green.”

    “Anyway, I was thinking about the river being dyed green, and all, and it made me a little depressed. So I thought if I don’t get picked for jury duty maybe I’d take a train ride up north and catch a Cubs game. St. Louis was in town that day. Then I figured, nah, that’s a bad idea. The Cardinals always beat us. Gawd I hate the Cardinals. Although I have to admin they’re a pretty darn good baseball team. Why couldn’t we have a team like them? I mean, heck, we have all the money in the world. The Cubs are one of the wealthiest teams on the planet, and every single year they just ... ah, never mind.”

    “Alright, try to calm down. Tell me more.”

    “Okay Doc, thanks. Just give me a second.”

    “Take your time.”

    “Okay, so I figured instead of going to the Cubs game I’d take a walk over to Michigan Avenue and park myself in front of the Art Institute. I’d sit next to one of the Lion Statues perched up there at the top of the steps and watch the pretty girls walk by. I love watching the pretty girls walk by.”

    “I’m starting to sense a pattern in this love/hate relationship you say you have with downtown. Do you sense a pattern?”

    “Well, what do you mean, Doc?”

    “It seems to me you’re feeling that all the girls you see downtown are pretty girls. Does it seem that way to you?”

    “Maybe there’s just something about Downtown that makes everyone seem so much lovelier, and so much more alive. The air smells a little cleaner here; it’s cool, and refreshing. Perhaps it’s the lake. I just love Lake Michigan. Don’t you feel that way, Doc.?”

    “What do you say we stop for now and save this conversation for the next time?”

    “Sure, okay. Are you alright, Doc? You look a little pale.”

    “To tell you the truth, I’m feeling a little stressed right now.”

    Well, would you like to trade places and talk about it?”


    “Alright then, come over here, and lie down on the couch and tell me all about it.”

    “Well you see, Doctor, I seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with analyzing other psychiatrists.”

    “I see, go on.”
  2. rhduke

    rhduke Member Reviewer

    Mar 15, 2013
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    Interesting read, congrats :)
  3. Khaelmin

    Khaelmin Active Member

    Nov 23, 2012
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    Well done, Pauly, it was really nice. You had my vote.
  4. JoeRobson

    JoeRobson New Member

    Mar 28, 2013
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    Scottish Borders, United Kingdom
    really cool idea!

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