A sunny day, cool, in Chicago
I find myself in a joyous mood as I walk down Lake Street, marveling at the passersby. They seem affected by the passage of time in a way I cannot fathom. A hobo asks for change, and as I reach into my pocket I find a sack of glass eyes. Some of the eyes are reptilian. The hobo sees this and starts yelling. I try to pacify him by offering him the sack. He grabs the bag and flees down to the beach. I watch impassively as he wades into the cold waters. People yell and attempt to persuade him to come out, but be refuses, venturing ever deeper into the lake until he disappears. I leave the scene and spend the rest of the day trying to think of a word that rhymes with "orange." I finally think of a word, but I cannot pronounce it without serious consequences.
Nighttime, still in Chicago, somewhere just south of the North side
A group of college ruby players encounters me playing guitar beside the entrance to the L. Something in my music sobers them, causing a cessation of their bawdy song. They carry me upon their shoulders to a dilapidated apartment where we drink whiskey and recite poetry. I wring dark words from their souls, and each confesses terrible deeds. I cackle and howl and devour cigarettes. Consciousness deserts me, leaving a black hole in my memory. I wake up in an alley, covered in bruises, lying in a bath tub which looks to have been drudged from the depths of Lake Michigan.
A blues bar on a Saturday night, the cold creeping in
I wander in, grabbing a table to watch an ancient black man play a resonator with a bottle slide. His voice speaks hardships that I am all too familiar with. A waitress comes by and offers me a drink. I hand her too much money and ask to see Buddy. He comes out of the back after a while, dressed in a navy blue suit, the fat hanging off of his cheeks, jiggling with every step. I show him the contract that he signed on the crossroads. He shakes and pleas, asking for more time. I tell him that I'm just a collector, nothing more. He cries and cries, yet I do not console him.
A comedy club, sometime in November
The fat man tells jokes about his fat, and the audience laps it up. There is a lady in a black dress smoking a cigarette from a holder. I sit at her table without asking. She asks if she knows me, and I say yes. "From where?" she asks. "Memphis," I tell her. "We met at the grave of the King." Her eyes widen, and I smile. She puts out her hand. It is marvelous, white and smooth, lacking lines, only a thin downy covering of black hair ruining its beauty. "I want to stay here," she says. I tell her that's fine. I have a drink and watch out of the corner of my eye as she slips something into it. I drink it anyway. When I come to, it's me in the dress, smoking the cigarette. The fat man is still joking about his fat. I walk up on stage and hit him with my purse. He goes down immediately, blood dripping from his skull. I open up the purse and there's a brick inside. I flee, throwing my high heels in a garbage can, police sirens echoing through the night. My hands have lines, unlike hers. She has fooled me again.