By Kahlil Crawford
PROMPT—No one noticed ...
IT'S ALWAYS MIDNIGHT BENEATH THE NOBLE TREE…
It's pouring outside. Al dashes down Lincoln and into the Y lobby then tosses his rain-soaked Sun-Times into the flooding trash can. He races up the staircase to his 4th-floor room.
It's not home but it's home. The high ceilings and view of Dinkel's bakery are like a slice of heaven to him.
Al cuts on the stereo and blasts System of A Down. The Armenian band's frantic chords, painful wails, and tales of ethnic persecution amplify his suffering and pierce his soul. Al knows better days are ahead. He also knows that struggle (re-)builds character. So, for the time being, he is embracing the struggle.
The struggle of joblessness affords him regular visits to the library where he likes to spend time studying ethnic and cultural history from different points of view.
See, one day Al realized he didn't have a point of view beyond what he was taught as a child, so he set out to develop his own. Now he visits unlikely places, makes unusual friends, and takes random lovers—class and racial lines blur to enhance his human understanding.
He also frequents the Bourgeois Pig and the Noble Tree—both Victorian coffeehouses where he likes to sip coffee, write and read books or collects some to peddle along his used bookstore route. His (least) favorite is Ravenswood Books. Jim, the owner, just hired a lovely young blonde who's quickly adopting his cheap bargaining tactics.
Kahlil Crawford is a Chicago native and the Author & Co-Publisher of ØRGΛN C1TY.