It was one of those beautiful fall days British novelists called Autumnal in novels about English country sides that never existed. I was out distributing Brady literature just east of my hood, in Uptown.
I was passing a restaurant, when a group of people walked out. They looked like the usual denizens of Uptown, ragged, skinny, undernourished, pinched face, stringy colorless hair; their parents did not look much better. Then I realized they were not homeless. Their duds were those eco greenie weenie clothes. The restaurant was one of those fission food places cropping up. This one sold sushfu- tofu sushi.
I handed them some of the lit. One of the scarecrows, a woman- I think- hissed. She pinched her already wrinkled pinched face and threw the piece back at me. “How can you support such a looooooooathsome individual.” That is how the hipster, effete, affected over educated talk these days.
They surrounded me. The kids looking angrier than their parents. I tried to explain Quinn’s failures, the women talked about abortion and mammograms. I tried to explain about the state’s insolvency, the men screeched about social service programs. I tried to explain the state’s bad situation, they all yelled about unions and gays. I tried to explain about businesses leaving Illinois. The children, with tears on their underfed faces, bawled out screeds about- the children.
They were pointing fingers, raising an lowering their skeletal arms, and shouting as loud as their wheezing allergy riddled lungs would let them.
Then I heard an adenoidal yell. “YO, YO, YO. WHADYA ALL YABBERIN ABOUT HERE.!” I froze. I knew that voice. I’ve heard it most of my life. It was my old South Side grammar and high school pal, Joe Bagadonutto. The high school year book listed him as most likely to succeed. In crime.
What he was doing on the North Side, I didn’t know, and didn’t want to know. No one in their right mind wanted to know anything about Joe Bagadonutto. Once a guy said hello to him. After some friendly chit chat, the poor mook made the mistake of saying- “nice seeing ya Joe.” Joe beat and kicked that poor slob within an inch of his life. “Ya ain’t ever seen me anyplace er anytime!” The guy was his older brother.
Anyway, Joe waded his refrigerator sized body into the small crowd, giving me some breathing room. I needed it. The reek coming off the hemp clothing was making me high. They cringed. That’s what happens when a guy the size of a refrigerator, wearing a silk suit like Joe, wades in. People cringe. The knowing run for their lives.
“How the hell kin ya vote fer dat Quinn guy? He’s unnatcheral. Ya know one a dem abomidables. He’s an abomidable of nature and before God.”
“Ah, Joe, abomidables?” He gave me one of those looks. The look a pitied person gets. Right before that person gets a backhand to the chops.
“Yeah, ona dem abomidables. Like dem abomidable whatchmacallits ya always reading about. That Quinn is unnatcheral I tell ya. He ain’t human.”
One or two of the people snorted. “Hey, ya bums. Ya wanna snort, I’ll get ya da good powder. After I put yer heads thru dat plate glass winder dere.”
He looked down at me. “I taught you gradiated. Dinna ya learn nuttin in dat gymetics class?” Ya know when dey talked about dem hydrids? Ya musta been ona dem kids thought genes was pants hippies wore or sumptin.”
I thought it best to let him talk.
“Yeah, Quinn is like one a dem hydrids. Kinda like a one night stand between a tea cup poodle and a a Great Dane. Ya know, bam, ya gotta Great Doodle. Ya know what a jackalope is right? I seen da pictures. Ya know, like ya go ta Vegas. You wake up a week later wid a plump chested midget talking about a dead rabbit. Ya know ya got problems. Yer gonna have somtin unatcheral comin.”
Now, we all looked in rapt attention. Joe was really getting wound up.
“Pat Quinn is one dem seaguins. I read about em in Natchinal Enquieter when I was away in college.” Joe never went to college. It’s what his organization calls prison.
“Dey had pictures and everything. A seaguin is a hydrid boid. It’s one dem crossover breeds. Its what happens when a sea gull and a penguin do the big nasty together. Ya know what I’m sayin here?”
One of the women tried to laugh. Joe bellowed. “I- axed- you- a- question? Ya- know- what- I’m- sayin- here? I’m- havin- a- conversataion- here!” She immediately cowered. Behind her child.
Joe went on. “Look, ya bunch a mooks, the evidentiary is all over da place. Look at his name- Quinn- seaguin. But look at the creature. Ya kin allays tell what a creature is by just lookin at it.”
Joe stopped to catch his breath and wipe his considerable brow with a catcher’s mitt sized paw. “When ya see dis guy Quinn talk, he stands like a penguin. Froze to da ground. But, he flaps his arms and squawks like a sea gull. See, I tink his daddy was a penguin and his mudder was a sea gull. Ya get the mannerisms and voice from the mudder.”
“Me, I’m fer Brady. He’s human. If I could vote, dats who I’d vote fer!”
The children led their cringing parents away, shaking their scraggly heads. I just stood there in awe. I never realized Joe actually cracked a book in high school, let alone learned anything. I just thought he convinced the principal he would burn the school down if he didn’t graduate.
But, hey, what do I know? I was the idiot who decided to talk politics with shriveled scraggly people wearing hemp clothes on a nice Autumn day in Uptown.