Saturday, August 13, 2005


Exercise #2

This exercise is a rememberance of a major moment in my life, written in first person present. Part one is from my point of view, part two is from the point of view of another person in the story, part three is my point of view again, summing up the story's significance. The assignment was written in class, the first part in ten minutes, the second in five, and the third part in two minutes. This is why it may seem incomplete, since I had to stop writing on command in each part.


It's hotter than hell already at it's not even 8:00am. I see on the cover of then Sun-Times that a woman took a dive out a 90th floor window of the John Hancock Building last night. I pick up the paper to read on the bus on my way to work at Cotter and Company, the distribution arm of True Value Hardware on Clybourn Avenue.

The story is gruesome. She bounced off the side of the building twice on the way down and they have a picture of the building with a dotted line tracking her flight. The reporter tells his readers about how she broke apart into pieces and how some of her landed into an open convertable top car of some poor unsuspecting slob driving on Delaware Place- the worst kind of surprise I can imagine.

The day unloading a boxcar of Bobby Hull hockey games plods on as I sweat through my clothes. It must be at least 100 degrees inside the boxcar. At 4:00 I can't wait to get out into the fresh air. I can't face the overcrowded bus so I decide to hitchhike home. A Volkswagon stops at the corner of Diversey and Clybourn. A friendly face beackons me to join him.

I notice the windshield is plastered with FOP stickers. Being a hippie kid I would be reluctant to get into a car with someone affiliated with the Chicago Police, but I'm already in and I want to get home.

"Did you see the Sun-Times? I can't believe that woman jumped out of the Hancock Building!" I say as we pass a row of newspaper boxes.

"She didn't jump," he says to me.


I've been on this case for eighteen straight hours and my C.O. has ordered me to go home and get some rest. I can't believe what I've seen and heard today and last night. This motherfucker's guilty and I'm going to nail his ass to a tree in Grant Park for the whole world to see.

I'm going to pick up this kid. I can't be alone with my thoughts. I'm ready to burst.

"She didn't jump. First of all, kid, let me tell you- I've been working this case all night. She was naked. No way could she break that window. It's practically bulletproof. The guy who owns the apartment first tells me he wasn't there, then he tells me he was in the bathroom and didn't see anything.

"Then he tells my partner he tried to stop her but couldn't reach her in time."


Six months later the coroner's office announced that it was a suicide and the police investigation was ordered halted. Officially there was no crime.

That's when, as a teenager, I found out that justice was for sale to the highest bidder.


The detective told me so many of the details of this case I did not have the time to recount them in the exercize. The Hancock Building was still only a few years old and it was easy to find people who had been on the building crew. Construction workers remembered a hardhat guy had bet his life on the strenghth of the windows, and at a lunch break took bets, with many workers in on the bet, putting up five bucks a piece that the windows couldn't be broken. For around what would have been a month's pay in those days, the construction worker, a big bruiser wearing a hardhat, ran as fast as he could, head down, and bounced off a window. The owner of the luxury condo owned a large business just off the Kennedy Expressway. Just after the case was settled he sold his business and left town. The business was sold to a company that was commonly thought to be a mob front for money laundering. I can only think that his business was sold to buy off the coroner's office.

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