Found in the Fullerton Boathouse washroom 10/12/2011: One dk gr duffel bag, no ID. Contents:16 yellow-lined letter-size sheets/water-damaged/handwritten pen and ink. Ref. voluntary M/P report 62443 filed 9/3/2011 out of the 1-8: Subject—Neil Preston. Request/Contact—Ann Preston, 1224 N. State. Action: None. Priority: Low
Ann signed up for a pottery class last week and today is her first class. I’m sitting on a bench in Lincoln Park north of Fullerton. Looking east, boats are beginning to fill the marina. I’ve been here almost an hour, just watching the park fill up after the workday is over. Joggers are out in droves, dogs are being walked and baby strollers are being pushed. More green than brown now, everywhere. I can sit here, comfortably, in a light jacket, as the sun sets. I’m only seven short blocks from our condo on Diversey, but why go home if Ann isn’t there? When I was in my twenties and an active runner, I looked at the people who sat on park benches for hours and wondered why some of them stayed as long as they did. I’d see the same old lady near the zoo on my run south and 45 minutes later she’d still be there on my way north. Day after day, week after week. I felt a little pang of regret when she wasn’t there one day, and after that I never saw her again; I should’ve said hello, or smiled, or something. The sun is just setting now. 6:14. Two minutes later than yesterday. In a half-hour Ann will be home.
Cloudy. Cool. Windy. Sweater and a down jacket. Gloves. In just a few days, the marina has filled in almost completely. Today is Ann’s second class. There’s a fog on the lake so I cannot see where the horizon is. It’s a little unnerving, so I stop looking. Despite the temperature, the joggers are out again. The same mix of dogs and children, old men and strollers. Grey overwhelming the greenery. The only real color—kites, half a dozen. Bright-colored box kites and flat kites with rainbow tails. A little boy, couldn’t be more than six or seven years old, is being pulled by a large box kite several hundred feet above him. His father—I guess it’s his father—running alongside. Ann brought home her first pot after her first class a few days ago. She asked me what I thought of it, and although I thought it was juvenile, I realized that this was her first try and she was not a natural artist—that is, not a painter or drawer—so I told her I liked it. What does it look like to you? She asked me. I said it looked like an upright football cut off at both ends. Which it did! She made a face. Well, it’s my first try, she said. Yeah, I said, first try. You’re gonna be great at this. I kissed her. She froze. What did you do after work? she asked me right away, before I could ask her about the class itself. I told her that I sat in the park, just enjoyed the outdoors, I said. Looking at people. For an hour and a half? she said, You did nothing? I thought maybe you might make dinner or something. So I asked her if she wanted to go out. Jesus, no, she said. I’m tired. We didn’t make love that night. Marty Gustavson is trying to screw me at work, speaking of screwing. That’s funny! But it’s not. 6:22. Can’t see the sun but it’s setting now. I’ll be late getting home. Nothing to eat in the fridge. Ah well.
Here on the bench again. Been trying to save my job so have been working late.
Beginning to wonder if I’m cut out for this writing therapy. Can’t seem to do it at all unless I have some kind of gap in my schedule, like the nights that Ann is at her class.
Here on the bench. I’m supposed to show Ann my writing, just like she’s supposed to share her art experience, but she hasn’t asked to see anything I’ve written, so there you go. She brought home another pot, her second, a week ago, and now it appears that she will make one pot a week, but she hasn’t felt like bringing her work home since the second pot, which I told her was just a wee bit, a tiny bit, very tiny bit lopsided but otherwise beautiful. Marty was supposed to open the store every day week before last, meaning I could arrive ½ hour before opening instead of 1 hour. So, 8 AM instead of 7:30 AM. The Horders at the corner of LaSalle and Division gets a ton of business the first hour of every day, so it’s not something you can be lax about. Friday I came in and Tiny Holgraf—who is the group store manager, and not tiny at all—was waiting when I walked in early. 7:45 AM. He grilled me. What time are you supposed to be here? 8 AM, I said. Really? He said. You think that’s enough time to get the store ready? Marty is here for that! I said, but I was nervous. Good thing he is! said Tiny. Tiny’s a huge guy, built like a pro wrestler, and I don’t think he gets much back talk ever. Where is he now? I asked. I was angry but didn’t see the value in getting angry at Tiny when it was Marty who had screwed me. He’s getting coffee, said Tiny and wouldn’t you know that’s just when Marty came in all smiles and handed Tiny a cup. Black eh, Tiny? he said. And he handed me a cup. And you get a two sweet-n-low latte, eh Neil? But what could I say right there? You asshole! You’re on the sheet for opening this week, not me! Why are you fucking with me? But I didn’t. And Tiny made it tough by softening: Hey, Neil, no biggie. We cover for each other. That’s what we do. You’d do the same for Marty, eh?
The store’s off 15% from last year, he added, which we already knew for months. So let’s do everything we can to get those sales up. Thanks for the coffee, Marty! He said on his way out. I’m thinking now: This is how it starts. You read about the end results. Some guy beats the shit outta some other guy, or knifes him, or shoots him. That’s what I felt like doing to Marty, down the line.
Second day in a row. Couldn’t pass it up. 70 degrees. Blue sky. Not a hint of pollution. You can see the Water Filtration Plant miles out into the lake clear as can be.
Shirtsleeves rolled up. Park thick with people now. A temporary trailer went up last night renting Rollerblades. The rowers south of Fullerton are either raising or lowering some longboat or waxing oars and keels of various sized sculls. Fishermen are speaking a myriad of Slavic tongues talking of God-knows-what. Young singles jog, skin glistening, smiling and greeting one another as they pass each other and by me. They are enjoying the unofficial bond that having money creates. This is odd, though. Across the jogging path from me is a guy. He was there when I arrived. Now that I think about it, he has been here every day, too. He doesn’t seem to move at all, which is why I didn’t notice, I guess. I am drawn to activity, unless it is nature I’m watching, like sunsets or the ripples on the water, which come to think of it are activities of nature. He is writing on a pad of standard-sized paper, and just a second ago—which is why I noticed—he tore a sheet of that paper off and placed it in a dark leather bag to his left on the bench. So we have a kind of bond. I wonder what he is writing. And why. Now that I have noticed him I can’t take my eyes off him. I am waiting for him to look up. He doesn’t. For long periods he just rests the pencil on the paper. He is dressed all in black; too warm for today, I think. He is so obvious now. How come I never noticed him before? Strange.