YOUR BLACK CARDS CAN MAKE YOU MONEY SO YOU’LL HIDE THEM WHEN YOU’RE ABLE
Where were we? Right—the gauzy shields we lace over our eyes so we don’t have to see what we don’t want to see. To wit:
Once again I am out at 3am crime fighting. Gets in the blood, you know, the challenge of it, the satisfaction, the costume, particularly the sequined tights and the alligator boots. Plus, there’s the whole save-the-world thing. Plus again, cool accessories. I love a sturdy tiara. But…still.
As it happened, the other night I’m walking along Lower Wacker, right down the westbound lane, not many cars, and I had my invisibilitator capacitor, which is much like the flux capacitor, but without the daddy issues, and so I’m invisible and transparent, so any cars that do blunder by will go right through me. This is the best angle from which to see both the river and the inside wall of the Wacker tunnel, which houses various doorways to various messenger centers at various office buildings and the occasional portal to another dimension, which you have to keep your eye out for, they’re rather nondescript, but once you see one, you don’t forget it, and that’s what I was looking for when I was crime fighting at 3am the other night.
You see, Alert Power Love Reader, it’s a heavy load to carry, this crime fighting thing and now I’m in the process of losing my mind. This makes crime fighting particularly difficult. My mind seeps out of my ears and it does so at the most inopportune times. Sometimes it’s brutally embarrassing—gawd, like that time at the Grammy’s during my acceptance speech (AWKWARD) and that other time, right before the gun went off for the Olympic road race, I mean, thank god for helmets.
Anyway, my mind oozes out from behind my ears in slushy goo that looks like cottage cheese, so I usually eat it because in addition to losing my mind, I am also dealing with the inevitable onslaught of osteoporosis, and cottage cheese has a lot of calcium.
Ever been to Lower Wacker at 3am? The tourism board doesn’t include pictures of it in its literature. The portal door that caught my eye rests under the 55 W. Wacker building. I knew it was a portal door because everyone else thought it was a rectangle drawn on the wall in chalk.
Anyone who knows anything about portal doors knows they are always drawn in chalk, just like in Pan’s Labyrinth, which I have just watched three times in a row, and now I realize I may have to hire a fairy to guide me through my portal experiences, but hell those suckers are expensive—they’re union, you know—who can pay those rates? And yeah, I get that I should provide lunch, but a specific clause for Cheesecake Factory? Do you have any idea how many calories are in even the lightest meal there? How do fairies keep their fairy skills sharp when they’re porked out on French fry fat?
I’m gonna name my punk band French Fry Fat.
So I float over to the portal door under 55 W. Wacker because you are nothing on Lower Wacker if you don’t float. I pull out my stick of chalk as I approach. This particular section contains multiple cardboard box homes and three dogs who are inherently unhappy. When I get close, I tip toe. I pull my chalk out of my gun holster, which is where I keep my portal-drawing chalk among other crime fighting tools like Windex and allergy medication.
I unsheathe my chalk and set it on the upper left corner of the portal and start to trace the door. I hear cracking knuckles behind me. Instinctually, my free hand grabs for the Windex. “You can’t go in there,” the voice grumbles.
I turn to look. He’s one of the inherently unhappy German Shepherds native to this section of Lower Wacker, standing on his hind legs, filing his nails as he leans against a support beam. “Says who?” I say, turning around, making no effort whatsoever to conceal my weaponrous Windex.
The German Shepherd doesn’t look up from his nails. They are gorgeous nails. French manicure. I watch him file. He’s gonna file that polish right off and they charge for touch ups, regardless of reason. Like, you can’t just go into a salon and say, “I was picking a fight with a delusional trespasser who eats her own brain to maintain a calcium balance,” and expect a nail technician to understand. I mean, this is why they use top coat in the first place.
“I thought only poodles cared about their nails like that,” I say. Instantly, the German Shepherd is in my face—nail file dropped in the sewer drain, his snout breathing Mad Dog fumes into my mouth. “Nail care is what separates us from the savages,” he says. He looks me up and down. I can see from his sneer that I’m not a danger to him. “Who the fuck are you?” He asks. He’s just caught a glimpse of the Windex. Now he knows he’s not dealing with a novice.
“I’m the one who’s gonna walk through this doorway. See?” I hold my chalk in front of him. It shines like the fake smile of a game show host. “So. Who the fuck are YOU?” I say. Then I crack my knuckles because two can play that game. “I’m the one who’s gonna save you from yourself,” he says.
Ha. Nice try, manipulative hind-leg standing German Shepherd. “I don’t need saving,” I say, “the world does.” I feel pretty good about that statement until I feel the leaking ooze behind my right ear. I turn and continue outlining the door. I don’t really need a calcium infusion right now, so I don’t eat my brain leakage. The German Shepherd takes a really big sniff of the air in front of him.
“You’re not particularly inherently unhappy,” I say as I continue to trace my doorway on the wall. “No,” he says. “Just a myth. People believe anything you tell them. Especially when you hire paid actors to tell them.” I glance behind me, “Are you a paid actor?” The German Shepherd is filing his nails again. “Yes. I’m Lassie. Timmy’s drowning in the well. Help.” I finish tracing the portal doorway. The German Shepherd says, “I’ll meet you at the river.” “What?” “After you get the shit scared out of you when you look through that doorway, I’ll meet you at the river.”
I push the door quickly and efficiently. I am getting the hell out of the crime fighting super hero thing it is sucking my soul dry even though I love it and I have to move on and I’m about to walk in when I see the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life. I take a step back and swallow. The leaking out of my right ear feels like a waterfall and my heart is beating war drums in my throat. My hands are shaking. I drop the chalk.
I’m across Wacker at the river’s edge before I know it. The German Shepherd is talking to a fish, who is also standing on its hind legs, except it’s a fish, so I guess it’s his hind fins, and he’s also filing his nails. “I just need a fairy, that’s all,” I say to them. “OK,” the German Shepherd says. “I JUST NEED A FAIRY THAT’S ALL!” I feel the need to yell this because humans who yell in order to make their point are always really well respected and listened to. “OK,” the German Shepherd says. He’s smarmy.
The fish spreads his fins in front of him, like a fan unfolding. He looks demurely over at me. “You called for a fairy, yes?” The fish also has gorgeous nails. What is up with this well-groomed business down here? My nails are chipped, picked at, hangnailed, and generally rather disgusting looking. I hide them in my pockets.
“Yes,” I say. “I’m the fairy,” the fish says. “Sure you are,” I say. “You need someone who can see clearly,” he says. “I’m your guy.” “That’s a bold statement coming from a fish with one eyeball.” “She doesn’t get it,” the German Shepherd says. “Hey, you know what?” I snap. “You’re a dog and you’re a fish. I have opposable thumbs. Therefore, I am smarter than both of you together.” I mean, really.
They crack up. Like, blow up laughter like what you did the first time you saw Eddie Murphy do that ice cream bit in his red leather pants. I whip out my Windex and point the nozzle at them. They stop laughing. “Let’s go,” I tell them.
We go back to the portal door. I shove them in front of me. “Go,” I tell them. They walk in like they’re dancing down the Soul Train line. I mean, really. Over the German Shepherd’s shoulder I can see the scariest thing I have ever seen: a mirror, and me in it, trapped, without a way to get out. I stare at it and swallow. I push the German Shepherd and the fish in front of me. “You ready?” the German Shepherd says. “Of course I am,” I snap at him. For the record, Alert Power Love Reader, I was colossally Not Ready at that moment.
We walk forward like a well-oiled Bob Fosse routine. As we get closer to the mirror, I wrap my fingers around the nozzle of the Windex in my gun holster. The trapped me reflection is knocking on the top of the mirror. She’s lost her voice, I can tell. She’s been screaming to get out for quite sometime and now there’s no voice left, but she’s still screaming.
The fish looks demurely behind him, at me. “Count of three,” he says. I nod. I don’t hear the countdown. I run through both of them like Jordan splitting the defense and then I’m on it, the mirror, grabbing its frame with both hands and wrestling it to the ground. It’s not much of a fight, it is a mirror after all, it’s not like it’s gonna fight back. I smash it on the ground anyway, whip out my Windex, and start flooding the mirror with blue liquid. My reflection is suddenly still. And then she smiles. And then she disappears. I am suddenly lighter. My insides don’t feel like knots anymore. My brain isn’t leaking out my right ear.
I look back at the German Shepherd and the fish. I stand up and my tights aren’t too tight and I really love the way these alligator boots make my legs looks longer. The German Shepherd and the fish are filing their nails. “In my next life I wanna be a rock star,” I tell them. “Got it,” the fish says. He nods at the German Shepherd and they head back out to Lower Wacker. I follow.