:: Article


By Edmond Caldwell.

I have never been to Chicago but I have been to “Chicago.” I’m there now, in fact. It has changed a lot since the last time, which was also the first. For instance, the dead sea. I was told I might find the writer here, the chronicler who could tell me about “Chicago.” They said this was where he “lived,” but I wanted to make sure. I wanted to confirm. I sought a confidence, at least, in this. Because you have to start somewhere. You have to have someplace to plant your feet. We left at dawn and my father put his foot over the threshold and stopped suddenly and turned to me with a smile so big it made a kind of frame within the frame. See, he said, giggling hysterically, the journey of a thousand miles really does begin with a single step! This was back when it was exactly a thousand miles from our front door to “Chicago,” but that still didn’t make it funny. Now that the old man is presumed dead, “Chicago” is much closer: one if by land, two if by sea. For instance, the abandoned slaughterhouses. As there is no longer much “life” on the surface I thought I might find the chronicler in the tunnels (without egress to the air or the aquifer, the inhabitants have taken to eating dirt). The network is vast but the tunnels all look the same. It is like those cartoons we watched as kids, where characters fleeing in the foreground kept passing the same palm tree and mountain in the background, over and over again, accompanied by loopy music to indicate “running.” At the time such repetitions disappointed us but I am at last able, after years of therapy, to see them for the Brechtian estrangement-effects they so patently were. It was the custom back then to release the small fry until they had a chance to mature. For instance, the stillness of the evening air. I am running out of “crumbs.” The chronicler’s name is “Donald B.” and I am beginning to think he was someone’s idea of deep cover. Naught but a slim taper to light my going hence, whilst the others pack gelignite, Blackberries, and face-paint. You got mad skillz, homey, whilst I got naught but this slim volume, valedictory.


Edmond Caldwell is a writer living in Boston. His first novel, The Chagall Position, has been rejected by over twenty publishers. He is working on his second novel.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, December 10th, 2007.