Minutes (Chicago)

July 14, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard


  • Man who sells live chickens down the street. Every morning he arrives alongside the bakers before the sun risen. He fits a key into the metal gate and shuffles the steely exterior above his head. He fits another key into the front door and, once open, the street is flooded with the sound of scuttling and squawking and clucks; the street is flooded with the smell of guano. To the chicken man it is the smell of morning. He steps inside the room, sips his hot cup of coffee, flips on the fluorescent overhead lights and begins to sweep the night’s seed up off the floor.
  • At the veterinarian office a man with kind eyes, meaty hands and a metal beard sits behind the desk in scrubs studying a thick book. Another customer with a Pomeranian asks him if he is a student. The Pomeranian yaps and prances about in a constant state of masturbatory pleasure. The man behind the desk shakes his head, “No,” he says. “But I will be in the fall. I’m going to school to study Mind Philosophy.”
  • Each morning on Milwaukee avenue, round about ten-thirty or eleven, the shop girls go to their respective shops in their respective shop girl clothes: fancy hats and uni-suit shorts and fanny packs and feathers in their hair, sparkly my-little-pony eyes, elegant painted fingers, high heel shoes recycled from the eighties, side pony tails and scowls. They open their respective front doors and enter dark storefronts, reappearing in a matter of minutes to sweep the street in front of their wares. This they do weakly, using one hand to bat a too-soft and too-small broom across the dusty crevices of their respective stoops. They seem to tire easily, taking regular breaks to sigh and bring the palm to their respective forheads. I watched one girl in the distance, moody as ever and dressed like cinderella, she had a towel and a bottle of windex and she spent a good hour vaguley rubbing the window. She never cleaned the area above her head, but occasionally stood on tip toe, and with the effort one makes for an audience, stretched and failed to reach those parts of the window above her head. These remained smeared. By twelve these girls go back inside and open up shop officially, where once again they langour behind glass counters, heavy with sighs and  nostalgia.

9 Responses to “Minutes (Chicago)”

  1. Moshe Says:

    Chicago’s back.

  2. urbesque Says:

    yes. back attack. bloaw. indeed.

    but seriously, i wanted to write a message about a shopgirl fantasy i had. what one might call a marginal notion. namely, a love affair between a shop girl and a gutter punk, a la romeo and juliette/west side story. i think it would be very nice. i feel such a couple would complement each other nicely while at the same time causing their respective societies to raise eyebrows and scoff and spit.

  3. Thom Atterton Says:

    Could the story/sitcom be called “No Shirt/No Shoes”?

    Or maybe, “You Pooped in my Urinal, And I Love You.”

  4. ‘scoffing and spitting’ can be interesting–how far would you take your shop girl and gutter punk?

  5. Paul D Says:

    Or how about “Means of Production”

    That’s assuming that the punk has socialist leanings and that the shop girl is a believer in the upward mobility that attaches to the retail world.

  6. urbesque Says:

    I feel like the best friends of each should have the political leanings (keep in mind of course, the rule that gutter punks are mean, which i think is crucial, and maybe because you’d need some balance the shop girls (as a group) would have to be fashionistas and a little snooty; shop girls very clean, gutter punks very dirty, but both have the same upper middle class collegiate backgrounds and maybe even sport the same CHROME bags). anyway, i would imagine that the protagonists would accidentally fall for each other, given that what they as a particular couple have in common is that they each dropped out from society in some way. not because of what they do specifically, but because their lifestyle makes it possible for them to avoid thinking about the future, or society. i think the climax of their pillow talk would involve the planning of a revolution.

  7. Pray tell, a revolution of what sort? Social? Intellectual? Political? Artistic? Punks and Snobs against the unenlightned philistines of the world at large? CHOME as commn ground. Why not simple lust at first sight?

  8. urbesque Says:

    I’m into it. I don’t think I’d thought that far. But yes yes yes. I think they would have a pretty hot trist. where would they meet? (because i imagine she wouldn’t be so into a flop house, and he probably wouldn’t be into a hotel….they’d need some middle ground, right? like maybe a grandma’s house?)

    • How about some ‘park’–seeking seclusion in a public space adding to the thrill of ‘doing it’ with the threat of being caught?

      Or the backroom of some greasy spoon?

      Or grandma’s garage–as opposed to her ‘house’?

      Or the reference stacks of the public library?

      Or a corner of the greyhound station?

      Or on a short ride on a commuter Amtrack train?

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