Good news, bad news.
First the good: another sunny day and hardly any traffic on I-94. You’d think that the Apocalypse might have slowed down global warming since there are so few of us left alive to drive automobiles or properly regulate coal-fired power plants. But Chicago is all sun and fair skies.
You’ll be glad to know that Dad—mine, not yours—is doing splendidly. He still plays Ultimate in Wicker Park on Fridays, can produce a decent cartwheel when called upon, and he still runs the magic shop every day. The zombies have taken a particular liking to our product line. But Dad manages to cope. He claims he doesn’t mind the zombies. Once in a while, he manages to sell them clown shoes or a whoopee cushion.
The other news is that Levi’s dog was wandering the alley behind the magic shop. Not Nimby—he’s been gone a few years—but Griffin, the young border terrier. Griffin didn’t want to come, but once he did, I checked his tags. One had Levi’s old number on it. Same one I’ve been dialing and dialing. No question, then—this was positively Grif and not a look-alike. He seemed well-cared for, or maybe he was just finding plenty to eat in the alleys.
I ended up bringing him home. This may have been wrong of me. If Levi is still alive and Grif escaped his apartment somehow, Levi will be concerned when Grif doesn’t turn up.
The other bad part was that the neighborhood is profoundly deserted. Only the North Side is still open for lunch—the first restaurant to open in the neighborhood seems to be the last to fold. The lettuce in the salade nicoise has not gotten any fresher, let me just say.
In the old days, everyone at the North Side knew who Dingo was. But this time, not a single North Side waitress admitted to having been flirted with by him. As far as I’m concerned, this is a sure sign he’s dead.
With Levi, it’s less troubling that the waitresses haven’t seen him. He has the world’s most nondescript wardrobe. And compared with Dingo’s dreads and rock star smile, Levi’s thinning hair and furrowed brow are less memorable. Plus, he’s gay, and therefore never a player in the waitress arena.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.