This post, as my title suggests, is about a spooky experience that occurred right here in the heart of Logan Square, Chicago. I sometimes relive this horror in my dreams … and wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, tears and melted chocolate chip cookies. Seeing that this is the designated “spooky” month of the calendar year, I’ve decided to share this unearthly tale with my loyal readers. Before I begin I must forewarn the young and the elderly: this story is both gruesome and obsolete.
Even though the horror occurred over sixty-six days (1,584 hours) ago, I have yet to forget what transpired on this particularly steamy August afternoon.
It was only days after I wrote my highly controversial blog about Chicago being a beautiful, yet unfriendly city (yes, I’m sure you all remember that post in great detail … I believe I got three hits that day). It was like any other summer afternoon in Logan Square: hot, noisy and humid. I had just returned from a stressful shopping excursion at Target and noticed that the vacant parking spaces on my street were uncharacteristically plentiful. The barren street should’ve been my first clue that something was amiss.
I parked directly in front of my building and haphazardly loaded my arms and feet with dozens of target shopping bags (I’ve become a master at avoiding multi-trip visits to my car after grocery shopping). The quickest way to access my building is through the back door, conveniently located in an alley and nestled between two large, aromatic dumpsters.
As I waddled down the gusty corridor, I wondered how I could be sweating so profusely even whilst roaming through the nucleus of an urban wind-storm. Suddenly I heard the hum of a car’s engine behind me. I paused, irritated, and then shuffled close to the wall of the alleyway, proudly managing to maintain the contents of all seventeen bags. I glanced over my shoulder as a loose-leaf coupon for cat food flew out of one of the bags and slapped the windshield of the Nissan truck crawling towards me. The automobile stopped immediately and the coupon danced along the slanted glass (rather elegantly for Friskies I thought) before it dismissed itself into the heavy, stinking atmosphere. My hair whipped around my face and stuck to my sweat-moistened cheeks as I attempted to shift my gaze towards the truck to get a good look at the driver.
After a few seconds of vicious hair-beating I forfeited my gander and turned back to the door. As I inserted the key I heard a car door close abruptly from behind. Without thinking twice I performed a barbaric roundhouse kick on the unlocked door, grocery bags swinging around my thighs and calves like some sort of zippy carnival ride. I personally considered the force of this kick to be rather intimidating, even to the illustrious Billy Blanks, but unfortunately the person behind me was not the mastermind behind the smash hit workout series, Tae Bo.
Just as I landed the kick, a man-hand slapped the face of the door to prop it open. I paused as the wind rattled my plastic bags and terrified brain.
“Hi there, need some help?” The young man whistled through the roaring wind with a smile.
“Uh, no … no thanks.” I said in a puny voice.
“Are you sure? You have a lot of bags there!”
“Yeah, I’m sure. I’m really strong. I do a lot of kickboxing,” I said this time with more confidence … an attempt at arrogance. The kickboxing mention didn’t seem to affect him.
“Hah, okay then,” he replied. “My friend is moving out today and I’m here to help him but he’s not answering his phone. Mind if I just follow you in here?”
It was too late for me to give a prompt “yes” or “no” to this question as we were already in the building. The door slammed shut in the wind.
I began shifting my weight towards the stairs. The bags bumbled on my arms and legs, making it impossible to exit from the situation in a graceful manner.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” He inquired.
“Yeah I’m fine.”
“What floor are you on? I’ll help you open some doors.” He said charismatically. My heart was racing. He seemed charming and to my naked eyes appeared normal by my country-root standards, but something still seemed amiss about this young buck. I started recalling the story of Al Bundy … or was it Ted? Either way, both dudes freaked me out. I smelled a foul plan afoot, but I knew it wasn’t my feet for I had just washed them! (OK, I snagged that one from Mel Brooks).
My intuition’s “red amber alert” signal was going off, but I instantly recalled my blog about the unfriendly and cold interactions I’ve witnessed in the city thus far, so I pressed my inner “ignore” button and replied, “Second floor.”
My heart pounded in my ears as we approached the second landing. I thought, “I never took anatomy but I’m pretty sure my aorta ticker just traveled somewhere it shouldn’t be …” He opened the door in a gentlemanly manner as I teeter-tottered into the hall. He laughed at my cumbersome appearance. I frowned at his mockery. Was this some sort of game to him … a mere jest to this monstrous killer with a murderous plan!?
“I’m good from here…” I said with a hard smile and scurried away like a cockroach with tumorous arms and legs.
“Have a good day!” He said and then disappeared up the stairs.
I scrambled for my keys and exploded through my apartment door like I was running from Crichon’s version of the velociraptor (which was apparently much larger / scarier than the “real” raptors of the Cretaceous Period … wow … nerd alert).
After catching my breath and shedding a plethora of crinkling plastic bags onto the floor, I shamefully reconsidered my actions. Was this gregarious man really someone I should have been concerned about? I started to feel guilty for behaving so uncharacteristically cold. He was just some dude helping his friend move … on the hottest day of the year no less. Heck, this guy should probably qualify for the “friend of the year” award for that matter! And here I was with my oodles of Target trinkets, behaving hypocritically sour … behaving like all of the other cold Chicagoans I like to put down at dinner parties.
That’s when I realized it … the epiphany hit me on the head like a frying pan full of egg … I had become … snarly.
Then I saw a ghost in my apartment!