In a dark and cold Chicago alley, a young woman strolled along the cracked sidewalk. She was searching for the man in the blue hat. He always wore that blue hat. He wore it in his Instagram photos and his Snapchat stories as if it was glued to his head. Has anyone ever seen him without that hat? No, that would just be weird. While on her daily search for the man, something caught her eye and she paused her favorite song, “Conga” by Gloria Estefan. Squatting among the pigeons and feeding them bread, a blue hat stuck out like a sore thumb. Although bread isn’t actually good for them, he probably means well and is just looking for some friends. She thought it might be him, but he always seemed like a “doggo” type of guy, so she hesitated. Frozen in doubt, she tried to check his Instagram to see if maybe he did like pigeons,-maybe he was that weird and onto a new trend. Maybe we’ll start calling them “pigeos.” She was so distracted thinking of how pigeos might become the next hot trend that she almost didn’t notice him walking away. She ran after him, now frantic in her movements.
“You, sir!” The man in the blue hat did not respond.
“Hey #$%!” He turned around.
“Who, little old me?” he asked innocently. “How did you know my name was #%&? Have we met?”
“Did anyone ever tell you you’re handsome?”
“Oh no, sir. It is my first time out of doors, and Papa forbade mirrors in the house lest we fall victim to vanity.”
The young woman nodded. “That is some reasonable parenting there.”
“And what do they call you, doll?” #$% asked.
“My name isn’t doll, #$%,” she replied. “It’s [redacted].”
“Well [redacted],” said #$%, “let’s head down to the ol’ sodey shop and get us some root bear floats?”
“What’s a root bear float?”
“It’s slang for a condition involving liver bloat.”
Another young woman appeared out of the shadows. It was she who talked about having a bloated liver. [redacted] and #%&! gasped.
“Yeah that’s right. It’s me. Hell yeah.”
She held a dramatic pause for precisely three-and-a-half minutes. No one dared to speak, instead waiting for her to end the sweet, awkward torture.
“You pieces of dry bread wanna buy a house?”
[redacted] and #%&! shrugged. “Why not,” they
“Hell yeah. Let’s go.”
They passed the ol’ sodey shop on their way to the real estate broker’s office. [redacted] asked if anyone wanted to listen to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan, but she was quickly shot down by a disgusted look from #%&!. Who does this guy think he is? Gloria created not just music, but art. Anyways, she let this one slide so they could continue on their journey. The woman from the bushes smelled like old banana bread with playdough mixed in, whatever one would imagine that smelt like, but man was it questionable.
Once at the office, the crew looked around wondering if this was the right real estate broker for them. There was a dying mini palm tree in the corner, perhaps to remind the staff of a warm sunny place that wasn’t here. A constant reminder that they’re forever trapped in a job that doesn’t fulfill them. Just a job to make ends meet. Just something to put food on the table, nothing more and nothing less. There is no paradise here, only a means to an end. This story isn’t about that, though. There was just a palm tree in the corner that someone desperately needed to water. Who is in charge of the plant maintenance anyway? Well, the bush woman was over there sniffing it and whispering things to it. “Who are you again?” [redacted] asked. The woman from the bushes, with her deathly smell, made [redacted]’s stomach sick as if stuck on a roller coaster of death. “I’m Gwendolyn Cilantro Smith,” she said. “You smell horrible,” #$% said. “Shut the hell your mouth,” Gwendolyn snarled. #$# sighed impatiently. “I’m done here.” He pulled out a box of matches and a gallon of gasoline no one had noticed before. “We gotta cover our tracks, what do you say?”
The two women nodded. They grabbed the gasoline and set about pouring it out. Gwendolyn paused before the dying palm tree. The poor thing didn’t deserve to live in an awful office where no one cared for it, a manifestation of the employees’ dying hopes and dreams. Gwendolyn carefully picked it up and carried it outside as #$# prepared to light a match.
As the three new friends proudly watched the real estate broker’s office go down in flames, they reflected on what they learned from this night’s journey. ##&$ fantasized about all the pigeons he would catch when he took that job in NYC, where the real estate broker business would relocate after their office and documents were all mysteriously destroyed and all of their employees took this as an excuse to finally quit.