On Labor Day I invited my darling neighbor and her two, tall, very tall and mature 6th and 8th grade daughters to the Art Institute of Chicago's stunning temporary exhibit, Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity. With my membership card in hand, the four of us breezed in to spend a couple of hours drooling on the carpets over the delicious clothing paired with outrageously gorgeous art. Leaving my friends to go through the exhibit--yes, again!--I popped across the street to the bus stop in front of the Chicago Architecture Foundation to go home.
As it is Labor Day and CTA on holiday schedule, the bus stop was deserted except for one tattooed white man sitting with his back to me on the curb of South Michigan Avenue. Hope he doesn't lose his toes, I thought as I glanced at him.
Four minutes. The CTA read out said, four minutes.
Tattoo man stood. Turned around to look at me. Like Thelma Ritter in Rear Window I take no notice, I'm use to be looked at. No big deal. I don't make eye contact though, but out of the corner of my marvelous peripheral vision I see Tattoo Man look at me from a variety of angles. They are distinctly not friendly looks.
He looks at me finally and spits on the ground between us, like some actor showing his disgust.
Uh-oh, I think.
I move to the far side of the bus stop, out of his sight line I hope.
Tattoo man follows me.
I move to the other side of the bus stop.
Tattoo man follows me.
Another man chatting on his cellphone and wearing a blue number 8 jersey comes up to the bus stop.
Tattoo man finally comes up to me and challenging shouts, "You watching me?"
"No," I say quietly realizing what we have here is a failure of taking medication.
"Well then SHUT THE FUCK UP", Tattoo man bellows.
"Okay," I say as humbly as possible thinking it time to leave the bus stop.
As I begin to turn to walk down the block, the man in the number 8 jersey comes up to me.
"Are you with him?"
"No," I say half laughing at the absurdity of the idea.
"Oh, I thought maybe he was your boyfriend."
The man in the number 8 jersey says, "You can call the police."
"Oh, no I say," imagining a scene with an non-medicated schizophrenic gone wild.
"Well," says number 8, "what bus are you waiting for?"
"The number 4," I say.
"Me too. I'll have your back, " he says with a smile displaying teeth in need of some serious dental care. But he is gorgeous to me and just in the nick of time. I'm thrilled to have this man as my Guardian Angel. We chat about subjects he chooses, his girl friend had recently died; and as I listen to his story, I find a beautiful man under that number 8 jersey.
The angry tattoo man disappears.
Was he never there? Did I imagine it? Or did my Guardian Angel scare the evil one away.
Whatever, my great thanks to Eddie. And I hope you enjoyed the hot dog you were going to get at your friends house and your life find the path you need.
Bless Eddie, the Guardian Angel of Chicago