Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another day in the neighborhood

I sat doing a crossword puzzle in a nearby coffeehouse this afternoon. At one point, I was speaking with GoodThomas on the phone, when the waiter came by to ask me a question.

Aware that GT was at work, I said "I don't know how your day is going, but a man just stopped by to see if I wanted my slice of cake yet."

The line went dead right around then. Coincidence? Perhaps.


A little while later (after my cake if you must know), I went outside for a cigarette. As I stood there smoking, I noticed a group of five teenagers on the opposite corner, across the street from me. They were standing there passively, not going anywhere. I wondered briefly if perhaps they had taken my stereo. I wondered if they were on that corner to sell drugs.

And then I felt a little ashamed of myself for wondering such things.

A police car pulled up next to them, and two short, white cops who could have been twins burst forth. Two of the kids tried to walk blithely away, the picture of nonchalance, but they were quickly corralled to stand facing the wall of a building, hands atop their heads with the others. The building they were pressing up against housed a small store a few years ago. I don't know what happened to the store. I used to shop there.

They all seemed pretty casual about the whole thing, even the two cops who did not seek backup before undertaking to thoroughly frisk each of the kids standing there. From time to time one of them would turn around and say something that looked like a joke. It was unclear whether he was joking with his friends or with the police officers. After the initial wrangling of the kids against the wall, nobody seemed to be in much of a hurry.

The drugs, if there were even any drugs, were not in any of the obvious places. That much was clear by the fact that all were still being searched with nothing having been held up or tossed to the ground when I finished my cigarette and went back inside.

I was standing at a vantage that would have made a terrific photograph, and I was momentarily disappointed that I did not have my camera before I recalled the fact that people do not necessarily enjoy having their pictures taken while being frisked by police officers, hands on heads, legs apart, cheeks pressed against the wall of a building.

When I left the coffeehouse about fifteen minutes later, all seven of them were still there. The frisking was over, but each of the teens still stood against the wall, still held position. They seemed to be chatting idly, perhaps passing the time. A tiny flock of people had gathered around, and some of them seemed to be talking to either the police or the kids or both.

I walked home.


Anonymous said...

We see similar scenes in Merrie Englande too. Only the other day, we spied one such from our vantage point in the cafe round the corner from Tigger's workplace (it was Omelet Day aka Friday, you see).

Three very drunk persons, one male and two female, were cavorting about around the telephone kiosk outside the law courts. Not one but two police cars arrived and a number of officers emerged to frisk the Inebriated Trio.

The police found nothing of interest to them and finally decamped, leaving the Inebriated Trio to continue cavorting around the phone box and passing bottles back and forth.

We feel a lot safer and freer knowing that our police don't arrest anybody unless they really have to.

Anonymous said...


There is never a shortage of interesting visuals for Chicago residents, is there?

I used to live in Uptown right by the Aragon, and there was always some serious action around there. But I loved living there.

I was more afraid of the lake rats than of my neighbors... Really...


Unknown said...

Going outside to smoke? What sort of uncivilized country is that? I'm joking. I'm really enjoying these daily life posts. There are some really funny lines in them and then there's just some really good writing. Hope you're enjoying your empty time, I have three and a half days left (boo hoo - well apart from the fact that half of May is bank holidays so I'll stop complaining).

Reading the Signs said...

Do you think there might be a connection between the frisking, the cake you were brought and the fact of the line going dead when you were talking to goodthomas? Strange world, Mr. Moon, and getting stranger. Me too.

Anonymous said...

Mere coincidence, I think, Man Topples about the lost cell connection. I didn't even hear your complete sentence before the line went dead, so I didn't get all that you said. I do know that we were winding down our conversation and I was having trouble breathing here at work, so I didn't phone you back. Sorry mate.

I would have loved to seen the photographs that were never taken yesterday.

kj said...

hello, i've jumped over from ces' blog and enjoyed reading this post. you've done a fine job of writing about a unique slice of life. i just wanted to tell you that!


Julia Buckley said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cops, drugs busts - whatever. I wanna know about the cake! Chocolate, victoria sponge, lemon drizzle? Moist? Cripsy? Iced?


Suze said...

Little did the five teenagers realize that they were to be the subject of "blogger fodder".

Loved the title of this entry too... brought to you by the letters "M" and "T".

Oh yes. Since when does a novel warrant parole? Missing you already. (still inside the walls but living somewhat vicariously through your unique take on thangs)

Your former fellow daywork prisoner.

Julia Buckley said...

BTW, I can't view your blog on my normal connectional lately, so I've used the faffy and expensive dial-up espesh. I don't do this for just any old blog you know!

Anonymous said...

I can imagine the whole scenario being played out as some kind of elaborate con job, you know, like Hustle (the ones with Mickey Bricks, not the new ones).

Everyone (the cops, drug dealers, lookie-loos, even one of your cats) was in on the scheme to get your slice of cake! Oh my gosh, the cake! Think back now. Did you actually eat the cake during the *****, or was the cake prematurely swiped from your table by a bus boy that looked like your cat? Maybe that's why you didn't describe what kind of cake or how it tasted. Hmm?

I'm just saying. It could've happened… It always happens in the Garfield comics that way…

The Moon Topples said...

SilverT: I'm pretty sure the police around here do not stop for mere drunkenness, and in any case the kids in question were not misbehaving visibly or audibly before the event.

Minty: I can relate to that. To my knowledge, though, lake rats have yet to steal my car stereo or break a window.

Ver: We don't have anything like your "bank holidays" here. Half of May off for no good reason? The American system would collapse under such a thing. And thanks for saying nice things abbout the writing.

RTS: I'm sure it's all interconnected in some way. Strange world indeed.

GT: I thought I was the anglophile here, but then I log in and see you saying "phone you back" and calling me mate. Who's the limey bastard now?

KJ: Thanks! I hope we'll see you again.

Julia: Red velvet, with cream cheese frosting. It was really quite good.

Suze: Nice to see you here again. Miss you guys, too, but frankly working all the time leaves my brain unable to write much. Hence the parole. Except I can leave the state.

Julia: Is it a problem with my site? Anyway, glad you're willing to take such a step just to visit little ol' me.

Tiny Olive: Garfield comics, such brutal slices of real life themselves...

I did get to eat the cake. Perhaps they realized that I am an honest man and therefore unconnable.

I am heartbroken that I missed the first ep of season 4. Sounds like you didn't care for it though?

Nikki Neurotic said...

Don't you just love rubbing in your not working status in your friends faces? I love doing it. He!

The frisking story is much better than any of the cop stories I have...I must get out to Chicago more often.

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Maht, this episode reads like lyrics straight out of a Simon and Garfunkel song.
I'm thinking America...The Dangling Conversation, you know... :)

(I've just seen your comment on the time zone. True. We're 11 hours ahead!)

The Moon Topples said...

SilverN: Amazing that we have a bustling tourism industry, isn't it?

Susan: So long as it doesn't remind you of the chorus of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover."

And thanks for not spilling the beans when you come by about what my next post will be, since you've probably read it already and all.