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Timothy Michael Flaherty

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Blackenstaff Chicago
By Timothy Michael Flaherty
Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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a day in the life

   A cold and snowy trip I took as a truck driver to a place called Blackenstaff Chicago....


I was in the diner watching the snow pour from the sky, everything was covered in white except most the people. I kept peeking outside to see that my rig was still parked where I left it. On the corner near the diner was a large barrel with fire coming out of it and half a dozen souls huddled around it sharing a paper bag full of content as the snow just poured down on them. They'll worry about keeping warm later but for now in this moment the fire was roaring and spirits were high.

The wind was wicked as only Chicago knows it would cut right through you like a knife and take your breath away. "Honey I ain't pouring this coffee just because everything is white today, when the snow melts it will be black again.What you doin in this part anyway?"

"Calm down baby you know I drove all the way here so you knew I was alive."

"I don't know you."

"Yeah but you do now and being white is only skin deep as far as I can see."

"True but if you were to know me than I could make you walk like a man."

"I'm here because you knew I already walked like a man even when your coffee taste like crap."

"You be a bold white boy, I'll give you that."

"I was bold the day I was born and I stopped being a boy when you were in grade school."

"O.K. I'll remember that tomorrow baby."

"What you complainin about Dora I'm good looking and you know it, the snow and better than what your lookin at now so make me some eggs and put some love into it."

Ha! Ha!... "You got it baby."

In the corner was an old black man sizing me up just drinking coffee listening to the idle commentary. He had an old grey hat on his head and was dressed for the cold as a puddle of water surrounded his feet where the ice and sow had melted off him.

I got my eggs and toast and slid into the corner booth opposite the old man.

"You don't belong here."

"O.K. where do I belong?"

"Not with me!"

"Look I got no reason to hate you so why you hate me? You been sittin over here sizing me up the whole time I thought I'd give you a closer view."

"You can sit as long as you mind me and don't lie to my face."

"Why would I lie?"

"You are white."

"Hey Dora get my friend some eggs too on me."

"Chance baby can you throw a piece of that cooked fat back with my eggs?"

"You know the doctor said no fat back daddy, so you ain't getting that."

"That's a fine looking daughter you got there."

"Don't go on tellin me what I don't already know, it's like sayin the snow is cold or somethin."

"True.I dropped a load up on 12th street and got some turn around time so I stopped here to get some food."

"Where you coming from?"

"Someplace near Washington D.C."

"So you knows black folk."

"No, I know folk."

"Look at you tryin to change my mind over eggs.I guess you inclined to know where the road ends and the story begins young man."

"The road hasn't ended yet and and the story is written in the eyes of everyone I meet."

"What's yours?"

"Chance is my story, her mamma died three years ago and I'd like to see her finish college and raise my grandson in a better world than these streets offer up."

"Where's the father?"

"You just full of questions."

"I just like to see the whole picture it helps me realize why people act the way they do."

"People gonna act the way people are gonna act and that fool street peddler that became the father of my grandson decided that twenty years in prison was more important than family. I believe sometimes it takes a real man to set an example for other men to follow."

"Maybe your that real man God wanted to be around your grandson so he doesn't end up like these streets."

"For a white man you seem to know who you are."

"Sometimes." Hey Ms. Chance, can I get a refill?"

"I suppose since you buyin the eggs."

"If you know God than how come you came here?"

"Maybe God turned me here to talk to you and eat some eggs?"

"Could be."

"Just keep on keepin on and he will be with you as he is with me every mile of the highway."

"I know that young man."

"Hey it was good eggs and coffee but I got to roll on." If you don't mind I'll pray for you and Chance and your grandson."

"I can accept that young man be wary of the ice."

"The Lord will keep me."

As I rolled through Chicago I could see the mist from the cold blowing off the streets behind me, I knew that there was a lot more than just the snow behind me.

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