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Drums of Chicongo
8/11/20 8:30 A.M.
I had the following ominous messages about Chicongo while packing in Pittsburgh:
“The fellas were lighting up Chicago last night over some college bound rapper getting shot for firing on the cops…I guess he held up his student loan application but the bullets went right through…”
-Mister Grey reading his phone news at breakfast
“You are going to be opening the gates of hell in Chicago, Baby Cakes—be careful…yes, you are the Devil, so I suppose you’ll be okay…”
-Miss Ezz by phone
“They looted the expensive stores downtown in a massive coordinated effort last night and this morning.”
-Text

So what was Chicongo like?
I’ve never been out and about, only go in and out by train into the vast train yard with a half dozen tracks and fleets of freight and passenger cars. It seems to be on the south side of town and, as usual, the train puppet sees the ass end of the city, the backyards, barred windows, graffitied fences and abandoned stuff of an industrial hub turned into a cattle yard of human consumption. The skyline is pleasing and the waterways are chocked with yachts large and small. The dilapidation of large frame houses is contrasted with soviet-style barred apartments for the aspirational ivories around White Sox Stadium.
The train is a clear fifty feet above the streets, on an entirely higher level than the chute-like lanes. People look like tiny toy cars, like a boy’s scattered matchbox collection.
Finally, as I hoof it into the station I notice that body-armored Amtrak police are there, four strong, with two black labs. Are they bomb dogs or drug dogs?
I don’t know.
Inside the station we are warned not to leave and I see four other cops, an expansion of the normal compliment of two Amtrak cops at Chicago’s Union Station to eight, a four-fold force increase.
When I approached the stern ivory matron at the counter with the Amtrak cop asking on my train, she flashed a hand of warding and said, “Step back, sir—social distance.”
I asked my question and she seemed not to believe I was a ticket holder and might be angling for space to rest, as it was before 9 A.M. and my train was not due until 7:00 P.M. Discovering that I was a ticket-holding hobo instead of a squatting homeless man she warmed up and pointed out my waiting area.
Two panhandlers, both ebony, a fallen kang and a wing-clipped quean.
The kang was portly, in his thirties, and shuffled with hands in pockets under fitted hat, up to each pale man and asked for change.
I shook my head, “No,” and he shuffled away, soon accosted by a police officer who said, “Come with me, sir.”
The quean was darker and of hard cast and approached each and every non-Amish ghost in our turn, asking something, She crept up to me and asked, “Could you help me out, sir? I’m trying to get to Aldis and get some food.”
I looked at her and said, “No.”
She said, “Thank you,” like a professional panhandler, without malice and went on her way, did the circuit of the great room which had 25% of normal occupation for this time of year and returned, asking me again with big sad eyes. I said, “Miss, I don’t have anything for you,” and she slunk away downcast and bracketed down to the light-skinned ladies in their $600 weaves and continued her pleas.
Finally, at 6:30 we headed for the train, me behind a squat ebony giantess of great girth. I was carrying my T-cane in my left hand, parallel to the floor when our line stopped and slunk and the little Asian chick behind me bumped my cane with her bag and the head of the cane bumped the woman’s giant butt and she turned around offended, stepping out of line and glaring up at me as I said, “I’m sorry miss,” and her glare waxed baleful and she circled the pillar and went on as I was ushered up into my car by a conductor.
The terrified denizens of this gas-lit world are increasingly expecting and anticipating offense from we men of malevolent ghost kind.
On the train, a man I boarded with was speaking to a coworker about their job at the coastguard yard. Apparently three BLM militia men climbed the fence to vandalize the facility the previous night after they failed to crash a small truck through a plexi-glass barrier. They were arrested and were being held on federal charges facing a possible two years. He said that now Marines with orders to shot were guarding the coast guard base. He went on to explain his various duties attending the light houses under his care, including the hoisting of a 3,000 pound battery with a crane.
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