Chris Till

Archive for the ‘grateful dead’ Category

2. Kreepy Krawlers

In christy canyon, glen ellyn, glenbard west, grateful dead, iggy and the stooges, jim morrison, jodie foster army, marijuana, Stoner Noir on April 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police bombed a row house in a crowded neighborhood from a helicopter. The resulting inferno destroyed 61 houses and killed 11, including five children. The residents of the targeted house called themselves MOVE, a small local religious fellowship.

Mole City

      “We should do something crazy tonight,” said Angela, squatting on the concrete floor of Mole City with Nick and Rose. Mole City was a tiny concrete room fifteen feet below a manhole cover in an old suburban neighborhood in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. By climbing into the dry storm sewer outlet at a small lake and walking hunched over for about a block, enterprising youths could enter Mole City. Colorfully spray painted, it was a tiny underground party club. In 1985, it was punk rock heaven.

      “Like what?” asked Nick, sitting in front of a pair of votive candles.

      “Ummm… we could put crazy glue in the door locks of the police cars over at the Civic Center or…”

      “Me and Oreo put glue in the locks at the bank once,” interrupted Nick, scraping his metal pipe for resin. “I ain’t going anywhere near the cop shop tonight. There’s probably a warrant on me for missing the court date on that weed possession thing.”

      “I know!” said Angela, nudging Rose. “Let’s trip tonight! Who’s got acid?”

      “What?” asked Rose, a mile away. “I was spacing out.”

      “Let’s trip tonight,” insisted Angela. “Nicky 666 is gonna turn us on.”

      “Nicky 666. Ha,” said Rose without laughing.

      “If I had acid, we’d all be tripping right now,” he said. “How about let’s just get super stoned and sneak into some rich folks’ house and creep around?”

      “That’d be trippy…” Angela said, as Nick lit a Marlboro Red.

Ox and Amber

      “Try that convenience store in Lombard just down from that bar,” said Ox.

      “Okay,” replied Amber. “But I don’t really care if we drink tonight or not.” Like Ox, a high school senior, she was driving her mom’s white ’81 Chevette hatchback late on a Monday night.

      “Well I told Nick and Angela and them all that I’d try to get some wine,” said Ox. They’d already tried one store in Glen Ellyn and now drove down Crescent Boulevard out of town.

      “Oh great,” she said sarcastically. “Well, then, we must drink tonight. Of course. I mean, do we really have to party every night? We could just go to my mom’s house and like bake cookies.”

      “Bake cookies? Come on Amber. It’s a kick ass night out. There’s a party in Mole City. It’ll be fun. Where’s your smokes?”

      “I’m out,” she said, as Ox rummaged through her purse, finding a half pack of Newports. “Nick is creepy. He looks at me in a disgusting way, like leering and laughing. And Rose just sits there, looking depressed and weird. You know?”

      “Baby, why you smoke menthol?” he said, lighting one. “They are disgusting.”

      “And Angela just totally flirts with you right in front of me.”

      “That’s totally not true. Anyway, it’s like whatever you wanna do, do it. I wanna party a little, I’m gonna party. It’ll be fun. Nick is cool. He laughs at everybody… Ernie’s supposed to be bringing some kick ass new weed too. You like him, right?”

      “No. He’s stoned all the time. He’s all right, I guess. I just… Are you directing me? ‘Cause I don’t really know where to go.”

      “Yeah, just keep going straight,” he said, as they drove past the dark hollow of the Churchill Woods. Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” played on the radio.

      Glen Ellyn was a terrifyingly wealthy old suburb west of Chicago and Amber and Ox were two of its children. Their bodies looked full grown, but their minds were as gullible as new born kittens. That particular evening, the night felt young, but was filled with just enough reckless energy that a single heedless decision could derail it forever into uncharted territory.

      “Ox, it’s just… I feel like they’re your friends, not mine.”

      “God, Amber. They’re your friends too. Why does everything have to be so difficult all the time?”

      Finally, they pulled into the White Hen parking lot as a loud yellow-jacket ’72 Chevelle Malibu pulled out. The big-haired strawberry blonde at the wheel eyed Ox as she passed. For a moment the AM radios in each car synched up, both tuned to WLS.

      “More more more, more more more!

      “Cool car,” said Ox, adjusting the rear view mirror and trying to flatten his thick mullet with his hands. Wearing a black Led Zeppelin t-shirt and a cut-off Levis vest, he looked like a typical teenage burnout. Yet, due to his almost giant size, he could sometimes pass for older.

      “You wait here,” said Ox, getting out and slamming the car door.

      “Yes sir,” said Amber, sulking and hiding her cigarettes under her car seat. The WLS news came on. Police in Philadelphia had firebombed a cult house, starting an inferno that burned two city blocks and killed a dozen people. Amber changed the station.

      Trying to look tough, Ox carried two bottles of Boone’s Farm wine to the counter. Over the radio, the middle-aged cashier listened to the same radio broadcast of the police bombing.

      “Crazy,” he said to Ox, squinting. “MOVE? Radio said they’re some kind of Negro back-to-the-land anti-government cult. Still I don’t see why the police have a right to bomb their house like that. It don’t seem… Hey, you’re Ox Lancaster.”

      “No,” said Ox glumly.

      “Yes you are. Why didn’t you go out for football this year? I mean, last year, you started on a team that won state. This year, you might of could of got a college scholarship. I seen you play Proviso Black your junior year and you done…”

      “Hey look,” Ox interrupted. “I’m kind of in a hurry here. Gimme a box of Marlboro Red.”

      “Ox Lancaster, how ’bout that? Look, Ox, I can’t sell you no liquor. You ain’t of age. I’ll sell you the smokes but…”

      “Whatever. Stupid laws. How much?”

      “See right there? Lombard Police. Two ninety for the smokes.” A patrol car had pulled into the parking lot in front of the store.

      “Damn police state,” said Ox, paying the cashier and leaving. The cashier watched Ox leave and shook his head in doubt.

      “Youth is wasted on the young,” said the cashier, frowning and waving a greeting at the cop in his car.

Mole City, Part Two

      “I am gonna get messed up tonight,” said Angela. “And seduce Ox.”

      “Yeah right,” said Rose. High school juniors, Angela and Rose could pass for twin sisters. Skinny shapeless blondes with identical puffed-up fried fluffy hair and black eye shadow, they both wore loose black t-shirts and tight stone-washed jeans. Yet, their personalities were opposites. While Rose was dark and quiet, Angela was sassy and loud.

      “Do it,” said Nick, three years older, sticking a homemade mix tape into his cassette deck. Wiry, Nick had a shaggy mohawk and wore ripped jeans with a studded belt, an old flannel shirt with a skull stenciled on the back, and a studded collar.

      “You jump him and I’ll jump Amber,” he said. “She wants me.”

      “You wish. Nick, you know you’re the only one I want,” cooed Angela fakely.
      “Yeah right,” he said. “This tape is kick ass.”

      “She’s serious,” said Rose, fixing her intense eyes on Nick. Shadows from the candles danced dully on the sewer walls. One graffito read: ALIEN SEX KITTEN.

      Joy Division’s “Transmission” played on the tape deck. Nick scraped resin from his little metal pot pipe with a butterfly knife.

      “When’s Ernesto getting here?” he asked.

      “I don’t know,” said Angela. “That boy operates outside of time. Rose, when’s your true love getting here?”

      “About ten, he said,” replied Rose. “It’s supposed to be totally seedless weed. Naperville Windowbox.”

      “Naperville Windowbox? That stuff sucks,” said Nick, taking a resin hit and coughing.

      “Well I could call out when the going gets tough, the things that we’ve learned are no longer enough,” he sang along to the tape.

Amber and Ox, Part Two

      “Just let me off here if you don’t wanna go,” said Ox, sitting in the passenger seat. Amber had parked behind the football bleachers by the lake.

      “And you don’t care if I don’t go? I mean, we’ve got school tomorrow. Look, if you wanna see Angela that bad, why don’t…”

      “Amber,” interrupted Ox. “I don’t care if Angela is there. You’re just making that stuff up. Anyway, your mom doesn’t care what time you get home. I mean if you wanna go home and bake cookies, be my guest, I’ll just see you to…”

      “Okay I’ll go,” she interrupted, getting out and slamming the car door. “Come on, your buddies are waiting for the great Ox Lancaster.”

      Short and very busty, Amber wore a ripped denim mini-skirt, old green Converse, and a black leather jacket over a tight orange Reeces Peanut Butter Cups t-shirt. She walked quickly, leaving Ox to catch up with her.

      “That’s right, me and my boyfriend are going on a date in the sewers tonight,” she said. “You better not let your buddy Nick drool on me, Ox.”

      Ox shook his head and stuck his hands in his pockets. They walked the rest of the block to the Mole City entrance in silence.


      “Just Say ‘NO’ to Nancy” by the local hardcore punk band, Slave Revolt, played on the cassette deck. In a moment, Nick, Angela, and Rose all stopped moving or speaking. Nick turned off the tape deck.

      “Friend or foe?” he called down the sewer pipe.

      “It’s Officer Mike Hunt of the Glen Ellyn Police Department,” replied Ox, in a deep voice. “Come out with your hands up and your pants down.”

      “You’ll never take us alive, pig!” shouted Angela, as Nick turned the tape back on. “Unless you got liquor!”

      “Maybe he’s got some weed,” Nick whispered to Angela. With Nick’s face close to hers, she quickly kissed him on the cheek. He looked at her quizzically.

      “She loves you, Nick,” said Rose somberly.

      “Shut up, Rose,” said Angela. “Ox, sweetie, hurry up, I’m thirsty.”

      Ox and Amber kept walking hunched over down the storm sewer pipe towards the candle glow.

      “I should have brought a flashlight,” said Amber.

      “It’s fine,” said Ox. “I can see the candlelight up there.”

      Nick whispered to Rose and Angela. Angela snickered. As soon as Ox and Amber made it to Mole City, Nick blew out the candles and Rose shrieked.

      “Come on dude!” exclaimed Ox, searching his pocket for a lighter. Coolly, Amber lit her lighter, reached down and relit the candles.

      “Welcome to the afterworld,” said Angela, imitating Count Dracula. “You get me something to drink, Oxie?”

      “We tried, but no luck. This cop in Lombard was like staking out the White Hen. I got some weed, though. And smokes.”

      Nick, Angela, and Rose ignored Amber. She sat in the sewer pipe on the edge of the main chamber.

      “You got weed, dude?” said Nick. “Let’s smoke out. We’re thinking about getting super stoned and doing something freaky.”

      “Yeah, like what?” asked Ox, settling down on the floor and fishing a plastic sandwich bag of weed out of his front pocket.

      “Like… sneaking into some rich folks’ house and just creeping around.”

      “Kreepy krawling!” said Angela snickering. “Freaky, man. Right, Rose?”

      Rose just shook her head, off in her own world. Glen Ellyn had two classes of kids: those who lived in houses and those who lived in apartments. Most of the kids who lived in houses didn’t even realize the depth of this class divide, but those who lived in apartments certainly did. Amber and Ox grew up in houses, the others in apartments.

      “Where’s Ernie and Isaiah and them all?” asked Ox, fidgeting with his weed bag.

      “You wanna roll a joint, dude?” asked Nick, passing him some Zigzags.

      “Uh, I haven’t seen Isaiah since Maureen the Beauty Queen tried to kill herself, but he supposedly just split for California or something,” said Angela.

      “That’s what he told me. He went to see his Uncle Zen or something. Angela, may I have a cigarette?” asked Rose.

      “Maureen’s out of the mental hospital,” Amber said. “She’s okay.”

      “How you doin’, Am?” asked Angela, smiling faux-pleasantly at Amber and handing a Marlboro Light to Rose.

      “Fine thanks, Angela. Another day in paradise. Yourself?”

      “Okay. I like your jacket.”

      “Sure, man, it’s hump day,” said Ox, taking the papers from Nick.

      “Thanks,” said Amber. “My mom’s boyfriend gave it to me.”

      “Oh yeah?” said Angela. “I wish one of my mom’s boyfriends would give me a leather jacket instead of a…”

      “Y’all hear about the police bombing them black people in Philly?” interrupted Nick. “Bombed their house from a helicopter and burned down the whole damn neighborhood. Pigs. Oh here’s the tune.”

      “When they kick out your front door, how you gonna come?” sang Nick, turning up The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton.”

      “Great song,” said Ox, rolling a joint with difficulty over his baggie. “The only rock band that matters. I heard something about it on the radio.”

      “Come the revolution, that’s the only way they’ll get us out of Mole City,” said Nick dramatically. “Pigs’ll drop explosives on us through that manhole cover up there.”

      “What?” asked Ox. Nick chuckled.

      “So, Am, you miss cheerleading?” asked Angela, casting a sideways glance at Rose.

      “Hell no,” lied Amber. “It’s totally superficial. Me and Ox both decided we’re done with all that fake stuff.”

      “Oh hey, speaking of which, you hear they’re gonna make a movie in town this summer?” said Angela. “Like a Hollywood movie filmed at the high school. We should all go be extras in it. We’ll be like the mean stoner kids.”

      “With your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun,” sang Nick to the tape.

      Ox lit the fat joint, took a big hit, and handed it to Nick. Nick raised the joint in the air, said “hail Satan,” and hit it.

      “Yeah,” says Ox, exhaling. “It’s good. You gonna smoke tonight, Amber?”

      “No,” she said, hitting the joint after Nick handed it to her.

      “Cool. You’re hilarious when you get high,” said Ox.

      “They’re fake,” said Nick to Angela, taking the joint from Amber.

      “I thought so,” said Angela, looking at Amber.

      “What?” asked Amber.

      “Uh, your boobs,” said Angela.

      “Yes, you’re right. They’re just balloons I tape to my chest,” said Amber. “Very clever of you to figure it out.”

      “This smoke is good,” said Nick, taking a hit while holding his butterfly knife in his other hand.

      “Boobs are just fat anyway,” said Angela. Rose nodded.

      “You two are just jealous ’cause you don’t have any,” cackled Nick, looking Amber up and down appraisingly. Amber looked at him disdainfully and zipped up the front of her leather jacket.

      “I love me some Reeces Peanut Butter Cups,” said Nick. “Don’t you, Oxford? Oh yeah. We is gonna get super st-st-stoned tonight…”

A Very Dark Night

      A second joint later, the five teenagers made their way back down the storm sewer pipe. Hunching their way through the pipe, the faint circular light of the outside world was visible ahead.

      “Damn, I scraped my head again,” swore Ox. “Damn it.”

      “Get lower, big boy,” said Angela.

      Making their way out of the sewer pipe onto the grassy shore of Lake Ellyn, the night was dark. Foreboding clouds covered the sky with no moon visible. The lake was absolutely still and perfectly reflected the thick cloud cover.

      “It is exactly midnight,” intoned Angela, doing her Dracula imitation again. “Children of the night, awake.”

      “I am st-st-stoned,” slurred Ox, imitating Nick. The five began walking aimlessly along the east shore of the small lake.

      “Ox?” asked Amber quietly, pulling him aside as the others walked ahead. “I’m kind of tired. You wanna go back to my mom’s house maybe and…?”

      “Baby, come on,” Ox interrupted. “You still wanna make cookies or something? Let’s keep hanging out. I mean, if you wanna…”

      “Oh never mind,” she said, shaking her head.


      “I’m not leaving you alone with…”

      “You two lovebirds coming?” interrupted Angela, looking back at Amber and Ox.

      Ox took Amber’s hand and led her back to the group. Just then a police car came down a cross street towards the lake.

      “Pigs!” Angela called.

      In an instant, they all went down, flat on their stomachs, laying on the grass by the lake. The police car drove slowly down Lake Road and passed them. Rolling onto their backs and watching the impenetrable midnight sky, they waited for a minute to get up.

      “Damn pigs,” said Nick, getting up with his tape deck. “I ain’t goin’ to jail tonight. Screw it.”

      “Damn, it’s dark,” said Angela.

      “It’s almost new moon,” said Rose quietly. “In Taurus. The Bull. It’s a night for breaking through barriers.”

      “Breaking through barriers?” said Nick. “Rose, you is one trippy gal. And that’s just one reason why I love you. Hey, you know that funky old mansion on Crescent with the brass lions in front of it? Some super old dude lives in there by himself. He’s like a 100. Let’s go hang out with him.”

      “You know him?” asked Ox.

      “Hell no. Well, I used to mow his lawn way back when. He never used to lock his doors. Follow me, my pretties. And once we start climbing the hill, let’s be real quiet.”

      “Angela, maybe we should just go home,” said Rose. “I’m feeling kinda tired.”

      “You ain’t going nowhere,” said Angela, taking Rose by the hand and pulling her foreward. “Your mom don’t care when you get home and neither does mine for that matter. Let’s keep partying.”  

      Nick led the gang down Lake Road and cut up the hill on a wooded private drive, quietly singing “Guns of Brixton.”

      “You can crush us, you can bruise us, but you’ll have to answer to, Oh the guns of Brixton.”

The Dark Mansion

      Silently, the gang approached a dark two-story Spanish Colonial mansion just on the other side of the hill. They stood among the trees in the back of unfenced yard, looking across the wide rear lawn.

      “There it is,” whispered Nick. “It’s just one old dude, about a 100 years old. Let’s just go in and move some furniture around to freak him out.”

      “Freaky,” whispered Angela, grinning.

      “I am not burglarizing someone’s house,” whispered Amber. “Right, Ox?”

      “What are you talking about? It’s not burglary if you don’t take anything,” whispered Nick. “Come on, Ox. I’ll bet you five bucks the doors are open.”

      Uncertain, Ox looked from face to face. Rose looked terrified and Amber shook her head with disapproval.

      “I’m telling you, it’s a trip,” whispered Nick. “Just to go to in there and feel the fear. It’s like butt hole surfing down a hill of pure fear.”

      “Oh man man man,” whispered Angela. “You’re coming with, Rose. Let’s just go in for a minute.”

      “Ox, this is stupid,” whispered Amber. “Let’s just go home.”

      “Oxie’s coming with me,” whispered Angela, taking him by the elbow and leading him towards the house.

      “Hell yeah,” whispered Nick, wide eyed. “Okay, Amber, you’re the lookout. If anybody comes or anything, just whistle as loud as you can. And guard my tape deck.”

      “You guys are idiots,” whispered Amber. Nick handed her his tape deck and the four crept towards the house. When they got up to the back door, Nick turned to them.

      “Okay,” he whispered. “If we have to make a run for it, everyone split up and meet back at Mole City. Okay?”

      “I can’t move,” whispered Rose. Nick tiptoed up to the back door and turned the doorknob with his flannel shirt covering his hand. The door was unlocked.

      “You punks owe me five bucks,” he whispered. “You first, Ox.”

      With hesitation, Ox stepped towards the door. Suddenly, Angela pushed him into the house in front of her. Ox tripped over the sill of the door and almost fell into the house. Angela grabbed Rose’s hand and pulled her into the house with her. Nick followed them, shutting the door quietly.

      Cursing Nick and Ox and all of them, Amber crouched in the furthest recess of the backyard. She could hear her own heart beating.

      The four kreepy krawlers stood on the carpet just inside the dark house. Waiting for his eyes to adjust, Nick sat down on the sofa and Ox sat next to him. Angela nestled down between Nick and Ox and put a hand on each boy’s knee. Rose stood still as a statue just inside the door. Gradually, their eyes adjusted somewhat. Smelling of leather, the room appeared to be a well-appointed living room.

      After sitting in silence for a minute, Nick stood up and signaled with his head for the others to follow him. Angela pulled Rose with her. The next room was the kitchen. Without the others noticing, Nick picked up a butter knife and slid it into his back pocket.

      They crept into the dining room. The dining room opened onto a grand stairway.

      “Move the chairs around,” Nick whispered. As Angela and Ox quietly began to move the dining room chairs around, Nick silently darted up the stairs when they weren’t looking. At the top of the stairs, he could faintly hear snoring.

      Creeping towards the snoring, he found the old man’s open bedroom door. Reaching just inside the doorway, Nick flicked on the light switch on the  bedroom wall. In a flash, the old man’s eyes opened and Nick silently slipped back down the stairs.

      Instead of turning towards the dining room where the others were, Nick took the other way around to the back door. Quickly slipping out, he shoved the butter knife into the bottom of the exterior door casing to prevent the door from being opened from the inside, then sprinted towards Amber in the back yard.

      “A light just came on upstairs,” whispered Angela to Rose and Ox, in the dining room. “I think somebody just woke up. Where’s Nick?”

      “He’s not here?” whispered Ox. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

      The old man sat up in his king-sized oak bed and slid his feet into his slippers. In the light, his bedroom was luxurious and wood-paneled. Tastefully framed woodcuts of American pioneers hung from the walls. In one, mohawked and shirtless Indians lay the woods outside a pioneer log cabin, tomahawks in hand, getting ready for a terrorist attack.

      A World War One veteran, he kept his old service pistol in his night stand. He slid open the drawer and pulled out the gun.

      “No good thieves,” he grunted, picking up his phone and dialing 469-3131.

      “Amber, come on!” whispered Nick, rushing up to Amber in the backyard. “The old dude woke up. Where’s Ox and Angela and uh…? We’re all meeting at the Bahas. Come on!”

      He took his tape deck from her, grabbed her hand, and ran with her by the side of the house to the front yard. Heading in the opposite direction of Mole City, he led her down the driveway to Crescent Boulevard.

      “Where’s Ox and the girls?” she whispered to him, once they reached the street, both still running.

      “I don’t know,” replied Nick. “They must have come out before me. I thought they would have gone to you first, but they must be ahead of us.”

      Inside the dark mansion, Ox tried to open the back door, but he shook so much he couldn’t get the door open. Rose stood paralyzed in the dining room, beginning to cry. Angela grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the back door.

      “I’ve got intruders at 722 Crescent Boulevard in Glen Ellyn. Come immediately,” the old man gruffly told the 911 operator. He hung up, turned out the bedroom light, and walked out of his bedroom, pistol in hand. Hearing noise from the back of the first floor, he slid open the second-floor hallway window and intently watched his backyard with his pistol ready.

      Nick and Amber ran down the sidewalk along Crescent Avenue. Not talking now, they headed for the Taylor Avenue Underpass and the dark safety of the railroad tracks, the Prairie Path bike path, and the Bahas. In the distance, a police siren began to wail.

      Angela pushed Ox aside and tried to open the back door. Turning the door knob and pushing the door with her slight shoulder, she couldn’t get the door to move. It was solidly stuck shut.

      “Bust it down, dude,” she whispered to Ox. Ox, almost a giant, lifted his right leg and smashed the doorknob with the bottom of his foot. With a loud crash, the door flew open. Pulling Rose, Angela ran out first and Ox followed.

      The old man saw his prey from the window: three dark figures fleeing across his back lawn. As a teenage American soldier in 1918, he had killed six Germans in France with this gun. He raised the pistol and set his sights on the thick body of the largest of the three fleeing thieves. The gun was a Colt .45 semi-automatic, blue steel with a walnut grip.

      In the back of the backyard, Ox, Angela, and Rose paused for a moment looking for Amber. In the distance, they could hear the police siren wailing.

      When the thieves paused in his backyard, the old man set his sight on the big head of the largest of them. He intended to just shoot through the window screen.

      “Where the hell is Amber?” whispered Ox, looking back at the dark mansion. “And Nick? Let’s get the hell outta here.”

      The old man pulled the trigger. The hammer rose. The hammer fell. Click. The gun was not loaded.

      “No good rotten thieves,” the old man said, watching them run away, disappearing over the back of the hill, towards the lake.

The Prairie Path After Midnight

      A warm spring night, Nick and Amber walked east along the crushed white limestone gravel of the Prairie Path. Both tried to catch their breath from the run. The siren had stopped.

      “Those guys probably got ahead of us and already got a fire started at the Bahas,” Nick said, no longer whispering. “That was one trippy scene inside that house.”

      “That was stupid. Why do you even want to do stuff like that? And I’ve got school tomorrow,” Amber said petulantly.

      “Yeah, well… Hoowee,” said Nick, exhaling deeply. “The old dude must have heard us. I don’t know. Ox bumped into a chair and knocked it over, that must have woken him up. You got a smoke?”

      “No,” she replied, digging in her jacket pocket and handing him a Newport. He lit it and watched across the railroad tracks as the dark blanket of clouds began to peel back.

      “Thanks, I’ve actually been liking menthol lately,” Nick said, exhaling. “Check it out, the stars are coming out.”

      “Nice,” said Amber, looking up and across the tracks. “So, like where do you live anyway?”

      “Nowhere, really, I got a fort over on the other side of St. Charles Road mostly.”

      “A fort?”

      “Yeah, there’s a big empty field behind those tracks on the other side of Ackerman Park and… yeah, I just live out there pioneer-style.”


      “Hey, it’s this society that’s crazy, not me.”

      “I didn’t mean crazy-bad. I just meant crazy-different. You’re different, that’s all. Like in a good way, probably, okay?”

      “Yeah? Hey, you wanna know what’s crazy that I noticed? Like, in this town, of all the people I know, like nobody has a dad. Nobody. Think about it. You, Ox, Angela, Rose. Me? None of us. Ernie. Isaiah. Maureen. No dads. Talk about crazy.”

      “That is messed up.” Smoking, the two walked quickly down the dark bike path.

Mole City, Part Three

      Ox, Angela, and Amber sat in the main chamber of Mole City, panting. Angela lit the two votive candles, which cast strange shadows on the spray-painted walls. One graffito read: RISE.

      “That was freaky,” giggled Angela, eyes shining. “Like it was scary as hell, but you gotta admit, you felt totally alive in there.”

      “I am never doing anything like that ever again,” said Rose, pale and trembling. “I have never been so terrified in my life.”

      Ox started cackling. Angela joined him. Both felt exhilarated.

      “What a trip,” he said. “It was like…like…I don’t know. I just felt like… Hey, where the hell is Amber and Nick anyway?”

      “I hope he got out of there, but it looks like…” said Angela.

      “It was like…” Ox interrupted. “I mean, like yeah, I was scared but it was like I was totally aware of like every little…”

      “Total awareness, man,” interrupted Angela, sarcastic but grinning. “Looks like Amber-ger blew you off, huh?”

      “I guess,” he said.

      “Her loss,” said Angela, getting up and sitting in his lap. Rose was rocking back and forth on the floor, holding onto her knees.

      “Roll us a joint, big boy,” whispered Angela, biting his ear.

The Bahas

      East of the Underpass, the Prairie Path gradually diverged from the railroad tracks. In that divergence, several acres of woods grew between the bike path and the tracks, hidden by a steep ridge that rose along the path. Another secret party spot, local youths called those woods “The Bahas.”

      ” Ox? Angela? Rose? What the hell?” called Nick, walking down the ridge into the dark Bahas. “If you guys are hiding, I’m gonna kick your asses.”

      Amber followed him, feeling uncertain. She zipped her leather jacket all the way up.

      “Ox?” she called. “Ox? This isn’t funny.”

      Nick started picking up small branches as they approached the cold fire pit. He broke up the branches and dropped them into the pit.

      “Rip up that box, Amber,” he commanded, pointing to an empty Miller bottles 12-pack box in the pit. “Please. Maybe they’re behind us. Maybe they took the tracks or are coming through the back way, by Jenny Bell’s house.”

      Soon, they had a small fire going. Nick found more branches and broke them up, building up the fire.

      “I used to be a boy scout,” said Nick, as Amber raised her eyebrows. “Yeah, I know.”     

      Amber sat on a large log used as a fire-side bench and lit a Newport. Nick turned on his tape deck: the Replacements “Androgynous:” “now something meets boy and something meets girl, they both look the same, they’re overjoyed in this world.”

      “You thirsty?” Nick asked, offering her a silver flask. “Good stuff.”

      “What is it?”

      “Like whiskey. Mostly. Try it. It’s good for the nerves.”

      “Holding out on us, huh? I see the way you are.”

      “Well, there ain’t much. If I shared with everyone… you know.” With the fire burning, he sat next to her on the log bench.

      “I like this song, Nick,” she said. “It’s sweet.”

      Hesitating, she took a small swig from the flask and handed it back. Nick just held it between his hands without taking a sip.

      “Hey Amber, I know I been kinda rough on you. Like hazing you and all. I’m just not used to hanging out with girls of like your caliber. I guess you used to kinda scare me a little.”

      “Thanks, I guess, but I scare you? Now that is weird. You’re like the scariest guy in town and I scare you? Huh.” Nick handed her back the flask and she took another small swig.

      “Yeah, right, well, like I’ve never hung out with a cheerleader before, I’m like a total burnout freak and you’re like the hottest girl in town, going out with Mr. Football Star and all.”

      “Hey, I’m not a cheerleader anymore and, thanks, but I really don’t think I’m the hottest girl in town either.”

      “To me, you are.” Nick turned and faced Amber, gently taking both of her hands in his. “I would kill for your love.”

      “Oh my god, you are totally freaking me out,” Amber said, taking another swig from the flask and feeling a bit woozy.

Mole City, Part Three

      As Rose lay curled on her side on the concrete floor, hands folded beneath her head, Ox took off his jean vest and laid it across her small body. Angela still sat in his lap, rubbing his back.

      “Ox, I love the way you feel. Like a man. Not like a skinny little stoner boy.”

      “I thought you loved Nick?”

      “Well, all the girls love Nick, right? I guess I’ve always loved him and all… probably always will. But! I think it’s really actually probably like brother-sister love, you know, not boyfriend-girlfriend love.”

      Angela kissed him quickly on his lips. He hugged her. She bit his lip.

      “Ouch, that hurt,” he said, feigning pain. She ran a hand under the back of his t-shirt and scratched his back. Rose appeared to be asleep or at least pretending to be.

      “Oxford Lancaster,” Angela cooed in his ear. “Looks like you’re all mine tonight.”

The Bahas, Part Two

      As the midnight stars spangled above the dim trees, Nick stared into Amber’s eyes. Leaning forward, he kissed her once, softly, on her lips. With hesitation, she kissed him back. From the tape deck, the Replacements played “Sixteen Blue:” “your age is the hardest age, everything drags and drags…

      Tenderly, he ran his hands through her hair and down her cheeks. For a moment, his body trembled. Finally, in the May firelight, he kissed her again, deeply, and unzipped the front of her leather jacket.

      Running both hands inside the front of her orange t-shirt, he cupped her bare breasts. Both Amber and Nick let out a deep sigh. A tiny breeze passed and the two teenagers fell into each other.


6. The Search

In Amy Carlson, blizzard of ozz, Corey Haim, glen ellyn, glenbard west, grateful dead, led zeppelin, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, Sean Hayes, Stoner Noir, the clash on April 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm

On June 30, 1985, after a sixteen-day ordeal, the Lebanese hijackers released the remaining 39 Americans hostages from the TWA flight. Soon after, Israel released over 700 Lebanese and Palestinians captured during its occupation of Lebanon.  “Let me further make it plain to the assassins in Beirut and their accomplices, wherever they may be, that America will never make concessions to terrorists,” President Reagan said upon the hostages’ release.[i]   

The Anarchy Center

      “I bet she’s buried out along the railroad tracks somewhere,” Ox said to Weasel, crossing the railroad tracks at the downtown Glen Ellyn train station in the late afternoon. A giant ex-high school football star, Ox wore a cut-off denim vest and black Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Pointy-nosed with stringy long hair, Weasel wore a wrinkled black Black Sabbath t-shirt.

      “Who?” asked Weasel, putting a Tootsie Roll in his mouth and dropping the wrapper.

      “The girl who disappeared? What’s her name? Mary Lou Whatsername?” Ox played air guitar as they walked. Weasel kept his hands in his pockets, his head down, and kept bumping into Ox’s side. Ox punched him in the arm and pushed him away.

      “Watch where you’re going, dill wad,” Ox said.

      “I never seen that chick in my life,” said Weasel. “When I got busted that night at the Bahas, the cops kept asking me about her.”

      “We was in jail on that weed thing that day.”

      “Yup, that’s what I told those fools.” The two boys walked across the train station parking lot toward downtown.

      “I think I saw her around, but I didn’t know her,” said Ox. “Seems like she didn’t have any friends or something.”

      “Tough luck for her,” said Weasel, chewing the candy with his mouth open.

      “Hey man, let’s cruise over to the Anarchy Center.”  

      “Is it still a hang-out place? I thought Teddy was on tour with Slave Revolt.”

      “Yeah, Slave Revolt’s on tour but that weird old dude he was living with still runs a swing-door at the apartment.”


      “Hey, I got ten bucks, if you got like five, we can call Ernie and get an eighth. You got a fin?”


      “Right. Maybe he’ll sell me a short eighth then. Hey, maybe Angela’s there. I could use a little you-know-what, you know what I’m saying? Dude, check out that car. What is that?” A yellow jacket ’72 Chevelle Malibu rumbled by on Main Street.

      “It’s a Malibu 350, ’72,” said Weasel, squinting at the car. “The timing’s all screwed up. Some hot chick with big hair and a leather mini-skirt drives it.”

      They entered the apartment building just south of Soukup’s Hardware and walked to a door under the stairs. The hallway smelled of weed and dust. Ox knocked on the door of the apartment, known to the local kids as “the Anarchy Center.” Nobody answered, but they could hear music and voices within.

      Finally, an old man with a receding hairline answered the door. “Yes?”

      “Hey man, remember me?” said Ox. “I was here a couple weeks ago, friends with Teddy?”

      Owitz, in his early 40s, stood reluctantly aside and they walked in. The doorway opened into the main room. Amber, Maureen, Rose, and Tommy the Elf sat on the floor around the coffee table smoking and talking. A slightly rotten smell pierced the cigarette smoke.

      “Hey dudes. What’s up, Angela?” said Ox, not looking at Amber. Ox and Weasel plopped down on the old couch and pulled out cigarettes.

      “How long’s Slave Revolt on tour for?” Ox asked Owitz.

      “A month at least. They’re supposedly in Denver or something right now,” the old man replied grumpily, sitting on the sofa as Ox and Weasel moved aside.

      The apartment was two rooms long and narrow.  Really, it was like a hallway that had been split into two rooms. It was also windowless, ill lit, and messy. Graffiti covered the walls. Punk Rock Is Revolution. Smash Capitalism. Destroy the State. Just Say Yes.

      A tape deck played Iggy and the Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The old man, looking like a dissolute high school science teacher, sat talking about science with tiny red-haired punkish Tommy.

      “What about if three lasers were used?” asked Owitz, overly enunciating his words.

      “Three lasers would mess up the symmetry. Holograms can only use two lasers. It has to do with the refractions created when the…” explained Tommy, sneaking looks at Maureen.

      “So where’s your other half?” Ox asked Rose, borrowing Weasel’s lighter. Though Rose and her best friend Angela looked like twins, skinny shapeless girls with fried fluffy blonde hair, Rose was the dark quiet one and Angela was the sassy one.

      “Angela?” replied Rose quietly. “She’s out looking for you, I thought.”

      “Dude, gimee my lighter back,” said Weasel to Ox.    

      “Hey Rose, you wanna call up Ernie and see if he’ll sell me a short eighth?” asked Ox.

      “Yeah, seriously,” Tommy told Owitz. “Hey, you hear what Reagan said? Like he thinks he’s Rambo? He’s gonna do a Sylvester Stallone on the terrorists next time they capture Americans? What an idiot.”

      “He thinks he’s still making movies,” said Owitz disdainfully.

      “Unless anyone’s got five bucks to go in on an eighth?” Ox begged loudly.

      “Why didn’t you go to the Dead show?” Amber asked Maureen, leaning back on her arms. Whereas Amber was a short and busty hottie, Maureen was a slender beauty. “I thought that guy bought you a ticket.”

      “The nurse dude?” replied Maureen, examining the ends of her hair. “Yeah, he did, but, you know, he just drove me crazy with his talking and, like, always asking me if I was okay.”

      “Yeah? Huh,” said Amber, looking at her watch. “Nick said he was going to be here like forty minutes ago. It’s so predictable. As soon as you give a guy what he wants, he doesn’t want you anymore.”

      “Yeah?” asked Maureen, inquisitively. “So you and Nicky did it, huh?”

      “Of course not,” Amber said, fidgeting. “Hey Owitz, are you going to the liquor store?”

      “Uh no. Why?” replied Owitz, not looking at her.

      “Me and Maureen want some vodka for tonight.” Amber, wearing a ripped jean mini-skirt and tight green t-shirt that read “I’m Up Here” with an arrow pointing to her face, got up from the floor and sat next to Owitz.

      “Please?” she asked, giving him a shy smile.

      “Yeah maybe,” Owitz replied, staring at her chest.

      “Hey everybody. Owitz is going on a run to Malloy’s if anybody wants anything,” Amber said. “I’m getting vodka for the Towers party tonight.”

      “Dude, get me cigarettes,” said Ox, still avoiding acknowledging Amber. “Marlboro Reds. Box. Can I owe you?”

      “Yeah, man,” said Tommy the Elf, reaching into his pocket for money. “How ’bout some Mickeys? I think they’re having a sale on 12-packs. I got five, no, seven bucks.”

      “All right,” said Owitz, collecting the money. “Marlboro Reds dude: no fronts. From each, according to his ability and to each, according to his need. But no credit. I gotta make something off this too if I’m the one walking down there, right?”
      “Yeah, you guys,” said Amber, sticking her chest out. “Don’t be dicks. Make it worth his while. He needs money to help smash the state. Right, Owitz?”

      Iggy and the Stooges “1969” played on the tape deck: “It was 1969, okay? War all over the USA.” Ox, Weasel, and Tommy talked conspiratorially to each other. Tommy looked up at Owitz appraisingly.

      “You ask him,” demanded Ox.

      “What was the date?” asked Tommy.

      “I don’t know,” replied Ox. “What the hell? I can’t even remember her name.”

      “Mary Lou Thorsen,” Tommy told Ox. “You ask him.”

      “He did it. I’m sure,” said Ox. “He’s got the body in his closet in the back room. That’s what that nasty smell is. The smell of death. When he leaves, we’ll check the back room.”

      As Owitz collected the money and left for the liquor store, Rose made a call from Owitz’s telephone.

      “Owitz makes his living off welfare and shaving money off kids’ liquor orders,” snickered Ox. “Hey, Amber, I think he likes you.”

      “Shut up, Oxford,” said Amber. “You know you’re the one he likes.”

      “Did you see the way he was looking at you?” Ox asked. “I think he actually slobbered on himself. He’s gonna ask if he can take your picture.”

      “Gross,” said Amber. “I hate perverts.”

      “Ernie’s not home,” Rose told Ox quietly, hanging up the phone.

      “Hey, let’s look in the back room,” said Ox loudly. “We’re pretty sure he’s got Mary Lou Thorsen’s body in there.”

      “What?” Amber asked, standing up.

      Ox, Weasel, Rose, and Amber poured into the back bedroom. Maureen stayed in the front room.

      “If there’s a body back there, I am seriously going to vomit,” Maureen said to nobody in particular.

      “I’ll stay up here with you, Maureen,” said Tommy in a kind voice.

      “So, you really got a scholarship out in California?” Maureen asked. “You always were like the smartest kid in class.”

      “It’s no big deal,” said Tommy, looking sheepish. “University of California at Berkeley. Berkeley’s supposed to be real cool, though, and, I don’t know, I just really like physics so…”

      “Lucky you. Seriously.”

      “Thanks, Maureen. Hey, I got you a present.” Tommy reached into his pocket and pulled out a small jewelry box.

      “I love presents!” she said. “Why’d you get me a present?”

Taking the box from Tommy, she opened it and found a pair of silver earrings with feathers on the end.

      “I dunno. I saw them and thought they’d look good on you.” Maureen thanked him and went into the bathroom to try them on.

      Owitz’s bedroom was both messy and filthy. Mattress on floor. Bed unmade. Dirty clothes and dirty plates strewn about. Bookshelves with books on science and left wing politics. The kids stood in front of the closed closet door.

      “All right, you guys,” said Ox, smoking a cigarette. “On the count of three. One, two…”

      “Hold on, hold on,” interrupted Amber, arms wrapped tightly around her chest. “It’s his closet. It’s like private. Let’s just leave it alone.”

      “Scared?” asked Ox scornfully.

      “No. Yeah. Shut up,” said Amber. “I’m getting like goose bumps. Let’s just call the police.”

      Rose stood in the back room as far as possible from the closet. She shivered slightly.

      “Open it, dude,” Ox told Weasel, as Ox made a drum roll on his thigh. Weasel paused and looked closely at the closet door. It didn’t fit the jamb properly, standing about three inches above the floor. Nicks and chips laced the well-worn beige paint on the edges of the door as well.

      “Come on, dude,” commanded Ox. Weasel had his hand on the door knob. Rose shuddered and Amber backed up.

      “Hold on, hold on,” said Amber. Weasel paused.

      “What?” asked Ox, frowning at her.

      “Ummmm… Nothing. Just hold on for a sec,” Amber replied, backing up and standing next to Rose.

      “One two… THREE!” shouted Ox.

      In the bathroom, Maureen admired the feathered earrings that Tommy gave her. He stood in the doorway, watching her look in the mirror.

      “Thanks, Tommy,” she said. “That’s really sweet.”

      She kissed him quickly on his cheek and walked out of the bathroom. He watched her walk back into the living room and softly touched his cheek where she had kissed him.

      In the back bedroom, Weasel pulled the closet door open. As a baseball bat fell out with a thud, Rose screamed. A couple dress shirts and pants hung from hangers. On the floor of the closet sat a stack of pornographic magazines, some dirty socks, and an old Kentucky Fried Chicken box.

      “Shut up! God, that’s annoying,” Ox told Rose, who covered her mouth. “Look at the KFC box! It’s got maggots in it!”

      Indeed, the chicken bones in the KFC box crawled with countless pale maggots. With the closet door open, the reeking smell seeped into the room. Amber ran to the front room, over-dramatically gagging and holding her hands over her mouth.

      “Look, it’s the Witzer’s porn stash!” said Ox, grabbing a Penthouse from the floor. “Weas, get that KFC box out of here.”

      Ox took the Penthouse to the front room. It was the February 1985 issue. Grimacing, Weasel gingerly took the KFC box out the back door.

      “Check it out,” said Ox, settling into the front sofa next to Tommy. “It’s got an interview with Henry Lee Lucas in it and an article on serial killers.”

      “Sex and death,” said Tommy. “Jim Morrison would love it.”

      “What?” asked Ox, not understanding.

      “He must have already dumped the body somewhere,” said Weasel, returning to the front room and opening his eyes widely in mock terror.

      At the same time, Nick and Angela stood just outside the front door. As Angela raised her fist to knock, wiry and mohawked Nick squeezed her skinny bottom. Ever the sassy one, she smiled, stuck her rear out, and slapped his hand.

      “You love it,” he said.

      “You wish,” she said, knocking.

      “Come in!” hollered Ox. “Hey! It’s open!”

      “What’s up, my people,” said Nick, striding in and standing in the center of the room. Angela followed, grinning.

      “Hey Nick,” said Ox, smiling. “What’s up, Angela? We was just checking Owitz’s closet for the body of that chick who disappeared.”

      “Yeah?” said Nick, sitting on the couch. “That’s not where the body is.”

      “So where were you?” Amber asked Nick irritably.

      “Hither and yon, you know. I was there and now I’m here. Why?” Nick replied, acting oblivious.

      “You said you were gonna be here almost an hour ago,” accused Amber.

      “What is that nasty smell in here?” asked Angela, screwing up her face.

      Ox shrugged as Tommy kept sneaking glimpses at Maureen. Feeling constricted in the small smoky apartment, Weasel wanted to leave, but felt self-conscious and unable to stand up and excuse himself. Instead, he sat and tried to laugh when the others laughed.

      “Leave the back door open, it reeks in here. So you guys searched Witz’s closet?” asked Angela. “Where’s he at? I want some cigarettes.”

      “He’s on a run to Malloy’s,” said Rose. “Amber’s getting vodka for tonight.”

      “Right on, Amber,” said Angela. Amber looked at Nick darkly.

      “There was some rotten Kentucky Fried Chicken in the closet,” Ox finally told Angela. “Weas, open up that back door to air this place out, huh?”

      “If you wanna keep doing what we’ve been doing, you can’t be running around with other girls,” Amber tersely told Nick, while looking at Angela. Weasel got up and fanned the back door back and forth to air out the rotten smell.

      “I wasn’t hanging out with Angela, if that’s what you’re asking,” said Nick. “We just ran into each other in the hallway as I was just getting here.”

      “Yeah, right,” said Amber, frowning.

      “Look, I don’t have a telephone,” Nick said. “What am I supposed to do? Why you being so possessive all of a sudden?”

      “I am not being possessive,” Amber replied.

      “Hey Amber, check it out, this chick in the magazine looks like you. Christy Canyon,” Ox shoved the magazine in front of Amber to make her see the pictures. She pushed it away.

      “She says, hold on, she says here that she recommends that every woman make an X-rated movie. She says she loves making porno movies. Says every woman should make one. How ’bout that, Am? Check it out, Nick, don’t it look like Amber?” Nick took the magazine and looked.

      “The face is different, but the body is the same.”
      “You guys are both jerks,” said Amber, disgusted.

      “So why you so sure that girl who disappeared’s body ain’t in Owitz’s closet?” asked Ox, leafing through the Penthouse again. 

      “Sure seems like you’re being possessive,” Nick told Amber, ignoring Ox.

      “What are you doing after summer?” Tommy asked Maureen.

      “Maybe go to junior college,” she replied. “Maybe model for a girly magazine if my skin clears up.”

      “Yeah?” Tommy said. “You should come out to California with me.”

      Carrying a brown paper grocery bag, Owitz walked in the front door. Amber jumped up to greet him.

      “Thanks Owitz,” she said, sliding her vodka bottle out of the bag. “Hey, Maureen, let’s take off.”

      “Sure,” Maureen said, standing up.

      “Hey, can I come with you?” Tommy quietly asked Maureen.

      “I guess,” Maureen replied ambivalently, looking at Amber, who nodded her head in affirmation. Slipping the vodka bottle into her purse, Amber walked out the front door without saying goodbye to anyone. Maureen followed, looking back at the others and shrugging.

      “See you guys at the Towers later,” said Tommy, taking the bag with his beer and leaving. “Maybe.”

      “What’s up with Amber?” asked Owitz.

      “She’s all jealous that Nicky was talking to me,” said Angela, smirking. Ox tried to show Weasel some pictures from the Penthouse, but Weasel just scowled.

      “Come on, dude,” said Ox. “Check this chick out. Christy Canyon. ‘Queen of the X-Rated Cinema.’ Naked, she looks just like Amber.”

      “That guy is such a selfish jerk,” said Amber, as she, Maureen, and Tommy walked to Amber’s Mom’s car in the downtown parking lot across the street. “He’s even worse than Ox. Why do I attract such jerks?”

      “Most guys are at least partial jerks,” said Maureen. “Sorry Tommy.”

      Getting into Amber’s Mom’s Chevette, the trio drove towards the railroad tracks. With the bell ringing and red lights blinking, the railroad crossing guards came down.

      “So, has he been messing around with Angela the whole time he’s been supposedly going out with me?” Amber asked Tommy.

      “I really don’t know,” Tommy replied. “I mean, Nick’s probably been with a lot of girls, but not that I know of.”

      “So that means ‘yes’?”

      “No, Amber, I really don’t know,” said Tommy. A freight train passed, heading towards Chicago.

      “Gotcha,” Amber replied. “Hey, you two wanna go see a movie tonight?”

      “What about the party at the Towers?” Maureen asked.

      “I don’t wanna go to the stupid Towers. I’ll buy your ticket. You can come too, Tommy.”

      “Sure, I’ll go,” Tommy said, looking at Maureen hopefully. As the train passed loudly, they sat in silence.

      “Hey, Maureen, you wanna go be an extra in that movie they’re filming at Glenbard this week?” asked Tommy, over the sound of the train. “They need kids for a big crowd scene or something.”

      “Yeah? Maybe,” Maureen replied, rifling her purse for cigarettes.

      “I think it pays like twenty-five bucks or something,” Tommy said. “How ’bout I call you?”

      “Sure, whatever,” Maureen replied, lighting a Camel filter.

      “Hey, you guys wanna see my modeling portfolio? My mom’s boyfriend, I told you, is like a professional-quality photographer and he did it for free. They’re good.” Amber handed Maureen a manila envelope that had been sitting between the front seats.

      “Damn, Amber,” said Maureen, looking at the 8″ by 10″ photos of Amber posing in her black bikini. “These are pretty sexy. Your mom’s boyfriend took these? You said he wasn’t a perv.”

      “He’s not. He was totally professional. Like I said, he says he can get me some modeling jobs in Chicago. Once I turn 18, which is in like two months.”

      “You sure you wanna let Tommy see these? Tommy, you 18 yet?” Maureen laughed and handed the pictures to Tommy. He looked at them quickly and handed them back.

      “So what do you think? They’re good, right?”

      “I can’t believe you modeled in your underwear for your Mom’s boyfriend. Does she know?”

      “It’s not underwear. It’s a bikini. Anyway, my mom wouldn’t care. She was out of town. As usual. Don’t tell her though, okay?”

      “So, where’s her body, Mr. Know-it-all?” Angela asked Nick, back at the Anarchy Center. They sat next to each other on the floor, leaning against the wall.

      “Who?” Nick asked.

      “Nobody,” Angela said.

      “Oh, you mean the girl who disappeared?” Nick asked coolly. “Yeah, her body’s over off St. Charles Road.”

      “What? Are you serious?” Angela exclaimed. “What the hell?”

      “Hey! I didn’t have anything to do with it,” said Nick. “I swear.”

      “Who’s got weed?” pleaded Ox in a faux desperate voice. No one responded.

      Nick pulled a tape out of his pocket and put it in Owitz’s tape deck. JFA’s “Jodie Foster’s Army” blared: “he shot Reagan, he shot the pig, didn’t he?

Maureen and Isaiah

     Stoned and blue, as usual, Isaiah stood in front of a payphone in a Santa Cruz laundromat. Filling the slot with seven quarters, he dialed Maureen’s number.

      “Please leave a message and we’ll call you back as soon as we can,” sounded Maureen’s voice on the answering machine.

      “Hey Maureen,” he said glumly. “Just wanted to say hi. I hope everything’s good out…”

      “Hello Isaiah,” Maureen said sternly, picking up the phone.

      “Hey baby.”

      “I’m ‘baby’ again, huh?”

      “I don’t know. Sure. How you doin’?”

      “Great. It’s been a fun summer out here. Lots of parties. Me and that cute nurse guy I told you about saw the Dead at Alpine last week.” Three girls who looked like sorority girls walked into the laundromat with their baskets, all talking at once.

      “Yeah? Cool.”

      “I miss you.”

      “You miss me or you miss the sex?”

      “You. Both… I don’t know. So, is that nurse guy your new boyfriend or what?” One of the sorority girls eyed Isaiah. She had bleach blonde hair and overly tanned skin.

      “Well, he got a little too frisky after the concert, but it’s casual.”

      “Right. Well. I see. Yeah. Still haven’t seen Uncle Zen out here. It’s weird though. If I’d gotten out here two days earlier, I might have gotten busted with him.”

      “Uh huh.”

      “But I got a job at the Taco Bell so I’m not going broke.”

      “Ambitious of you. A glamour job. You probably look hot in the uniform,” she said sarcastically.

      “Yeah well. It’s money. So you’re okay?”

      “Why does everyone ask me that? I’m fine.” The sorority girls laughed at a private joke. The too-tanned one had stopped looking at Isaiah.

      “Oh, I moved too, so don’t send anything to the St. George. Me and that dude Rhion are subletting this little basement apartment while the guy’s in the county jail.”

      “Are you gonna send me a card with your new address?”


      “So, what you wearing?”

      “Up to your old tricks again, huh? I’m wearing super short cut off jeans and a red bandana top.”

      “A red bandana top?”

      “Yeah, you’d like it. Just a red bandana wrapped around like a bikini top.”

      “Wow,” said Isaiah, trying to catch the eye of the bleach blonde sorority girl again. She ignored him.

The Girl Who Disappeared

“I done told you,” said Nick, wearing black jeans and a black Travis Bickle t-shirt. “I didn’t have anything to do with it, but if you promise not tell, I’ll show you where her body is.”

“Nick, you ass,” Angela said. She wore her prized black WLUP FM 98 “The Loop” t-shirt. “You are freaking me out. Just tell us.”

Through the old suburban neighborhood, they walked down Riford Road towards St. Charles Road. As the sky faded into dusk, Rose lagged behind them a step or two.

“What’s up with you chicks, getting all possessive?” asked Nick.

“Dude, if you’re comparing me to Amber-ger…” said Angela.

“Just cause people have sex don’t mean they’re married,” interrupted Nick.

“What do you expect? Going out with cheerleaders, Nicky? I don’t know what’s up with you sometimes,” said Angela.

“Hey, she’s hot,” said Nick defensively.

“She got big boobs, that’s about it. I don’t know why you guys are so into that. Boobs are just fat.”

“If you had anything to do with it, I’m calling…” began Rose, wearing an oversized tie-dye.

“Look,” he interrupted. “I told you I didn’t have anything to do with it. Just shut up and I’ll show you where her body is. If you want. Or not.”

“Let’s just go to the Towers and party,” Rose quietly pleaded.

“Show us the body first,” said Angela grimly. “We can cut over to the Towers on the tracks on the other side of Ackerman Park afterwards.”

“Your wish is my command,” said Nick.
      “If she’s all nasty and decomposed, I’m going to…” said Angela.

“She’s buried,” interrupted Nick, with a bleak look on his face, stopping on the edge of Forest Hill Cemetery. “In here.”

“The cemetery? She has not been buried yet. Her body hasn’t even been found yet, dude. What the…” said Angela

“Quit tripping,” Nick interrupted. “You two are the ones that wanted to know where the body was and I’m showing you. Just relax, all right? Have a cigarette.”

Nick gave each of the girls a Marlboro Red, but didn’t take one for himself. Angela and Rose lit the smokes and the trio stood on the cut grass on the edge of the road, looking into the graveyard.

“I don’t like graveyards,” said Rose, standing apart from the others. “I’ll catch the breath of death, if I breathe in there.”

“Come on, Rose,” said Angela, shaking her head. “Graveyards are cool. It’s destiny, you know? Like some day that’s where we’ll all end up? And, just for the record, I know that you’re just messing with us, Nicholas. But I wanna see what the punch line is.”

“You’ll see. I’m gonna do just what I said,” Nick said.

A yellow-jacket 1972 Chevy Chevelle Malibu 350 with a loud engine drove slowly towards St. Charles Road. Run-D.M.C.’s “King of Rock” played on the car radio. “You can’t touch me with a ten foot pole, and I even made the devil sell me his soul.” The big-haired strawberry blonde driving eyed cooly Nick as she passed.

“Cool car,” said Nick aloud, staring back at her with a hard look. As Rose held her breath, he led the girls through the stone gateway into the cemetery.

“So, where we going, Mr. Scary?” asked Angela. Nick didn’t reply, but walked ahead of the girls, leading them into the middle of the cemetery. They walked in silence. Passing, Rose noticed the epitaph “Peace and Love” on one old gravestone.

“The girl who disappeared is right over there, behind those bushes…” Nick said, trailing off.

“If there is a dead body over there, I swear I am going to scream,” said Rose.

“You are walking on dead bodies right now, you freak,” said Nick. “So start screaming.”

“What’s that Morrison poem?” asked Angela. “Ernie has a book with it, about a cemetery. He can do a killer Morrison imitation. It’s about like tripping in a cemetery at night, it’s like “‘Cemetery cemetery, cool and quiet,’ or something.”

“Creepy,” said Rose, holding her own arms. “I know what we should do! Let’s leave, like right now. I hate doing stuff like this.”

Nick and Angela ignored her. They walked around some bushes. Nick pointed to a gravestone with its back to them.

“There she is,” he said somberly. “The girl who disappeared.”

“Dude, what are you talking about?” asked Angela, annoyed.

The gravestone stood low to the ground, less two feet tall. Its back was unfinished gray granite. Holding her cigarette close to her mouth and taking quick small drags, Rose stood back from the others and looked at her shoes. She wore puffy white sneakers.

As the other two walked around to the front of the gravestone, Rose looked up at the dusk sky. A single cloud floated motionlessly. To her, it looked like a hazy white face with one eye, a Cyclops cloud that stared right at her, judging her harshly. She froze.

Nick and Angela walked around to the front of the gravestone. Reflexively, Angela dropped her cigarette and grabbed his hand. The front of the gravestone was polished smooth. It read:   

Karen Sue Schuchardt

Birth: May 16, 1956

Death: May 13, 1974

Her light shines on.

“This girl died like 10 years ago, numb nuts,” Angela said to Nick. “But she was my age. That’s sad.”

“It’s the girl who disappeared,” said Nick. “In front of the drugstore downtown. You remember that?”

“Are you serious?” said Angela. “That’s freaky. I’m getting goose bumps. I didn’t even live here then…”

“I remember,” said Nick somberly. “Somebody snatched her off the streets of Glen Ellyn in the middle of the day. They found her body in the Fox River or something the next week. Some bad dude… Yeah, so her killer has never been found. Yet.”

“Let’s leave like right now or I am going to totally start screaming,” said Rose. Angela hugged her.

“You said you wanted to know where the body of the girl who disappeared was,” Nick said, smiling evilly. “You didn’t say which girl, though.”

“You are a dick, Nick. Nick the Dick. You better gimme another cigarette right now,” said Angela. As dusk faded away, they all turned and silently walked out of the graveyard. In the distance, the voices of neighborhood children playing summer games filled the air.

[i] Robert Parry, “Colin Powell Being Colin Powell,” New York Times, September 13, 2005.