Tuesday, August 18, 2015

THE AMERICAN DREAM VS. THE COUCH POTATO


Mike Penkas has been kind enough to take stories I had typed on my old Smith-Corona Galaxie Twelve and get them computerized for me. For those of you unfamiliar with my character The American Dream from the 80s and 90s, check out the photo above and it will help you make sense of the story below.

The American Dream Meets The Couch Potato
by Wayne Allen Sallee
The following dialogue will be later photocopied and distributed throughout the City. It is important that the Children understand where I am coming from. It is Sunday the Twelfth of June in 2988 this is an old typewriter and there is no one key only an ell key. It is actually then the year 1988. I am sitting on a street corner at let me see Sangamon and Liberty which is part of the Maxwell Street Flea Market that everybody in their right mind has heard about.
I am sitting by a man who tells me that his name that he goes by is Fabian Migillicuddy though his pals laugh at this like I am being “dissed.” I know what “dissed” means because I am of the Street. Fabian sells all kinds of typewriters and clowns and even has a Cuddly Duddly from the old Ray Rayner Show if you are old enough to remember this. Remember diver Dan and Miss Minerva? How cool. I do. I have been around the Maxwell Street area (The Police Station, 7th District you see every night at the beginning of Hell Street Blues and also in the movie the Blues Brothers they eat in Nick’s). I have patrolled here because the dreaded Eighth Street Man was seen eating in the Silver Grill on Depot Street just two blocks south of here. But I realized suddenly that I had to recount my incident involving the Couch Potato before the Haldol makes me forget.
So Fabian let me sit here and type on this smith-corona Corsair Deluxe with no One Key.
Perhaps he will let me have this as an exchange for patrolling what was known as Bronzetown in the days of Capone and his ilk. I will be visiting relatives in Kentucky soon and could put this instrument to good use on the Greyhound bus rolling down Interstate Sixty-Five. The passengers would not mind because all citizens understand The American Dream.
The incident I am to relate happened to happen just days ago. I was patrolling further north than usual particularly because of sightings of the Eighth Street Man. Andrew who I see at the Lawson YMCA sometimes he said that he might be up around Sheridan in the Rizzy area known to the city as Buena Park. Also lots of drugs are dealt there now and I can only pray and wonder what it will be like when the hapless Cubbies start playing night Games in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. I will be stopping drunkards and carousers from urinating on people’s lawns the whole week.
On the particular night in question I was patrolling Hazel Street and came across several children making a big production number out of running up and peeking in the front window of a house specifically right at the corner of Junior Terrace there by the Monterey Apartments. In the heart of the City yet you’d be surprised that many on the street speak only Polish and that far north by the Lake is strange. So I knew that these kids were fooling with a hardworking person of Polish descent and I don’t have to tell you that I too am of Polish descent though I cannot reveal my name other than The American Dream. I am becoming quite well known.
I watched what they were doing for several of my minutes and then came forward without still letting them see me. Everyday kids mind you. Not crackheads and their diseases, like so many youngsters today. And I am so glad that young blind Justice did not live to see all of this that the City has become.
The children like you and me once were would take turns running up to the door of the two-flat and ring the bell, sometimes a child feistier than the others would look in the window. To the left of the door. Something about this set-up made me check it out and I tell you now I am glad I did.
There was a man sitting in a chair directly opposite the picture window. He was sitting in a big green chair the kind like you see Art Linkletter or the Medicaid people sell on TV. When they aren’t showing commercials for singles clubs and parties and Hot Love. Behind him on the wall was a framed picture of Pope John Paul II as he is from Poland you know as well as I do. The TV was on and it must have been under the window area because you could not see it. I know it was on though because, when it got dark after the kids were called back home and still respected their parents enough to go straight home after being called the second time, then you could see blue light coming from under the window and hitting the man’s face. He was dead you know.
As well as I do. The children had been making a game of who would get closest and maybe thought that ringing the doorbell would wake the elderly man up from his nap. There was mail in the mailbox did I say? A copy of the Enquirer and Star, the elderly man who was dead was named Jablonski. Stashu Jablonski. Mr. Other mail was for voting and social security. No one watched as I went through his mail because I was hoping for a purpose.
Then it all came to me. A way to teach the children respect. Sure maybe they didn’t know that the man Jablonski was dead, I mean he never moved but still, I just felt they needed to be put in Their Places.
I waited until it was very dark and some punk from the Monterey Apartments was playing a Don Rickles album really loud. Didn’t he or she know that it was summer and other people had their windows wide open too? Then I broke the window under cover of the noise, the back one by the door. The elderly man was stinking a bit but my ski mask covered up the smell. Also, it was a long day for me and I wasn’t the nicest of smellers too.
I guess he died during the day because no other lights were on even in the kitchen. I hoped that he did not have a dog like my beloved dead so long Scoopy because the dog would certainly be eating the elderly man’s feet.
He wasn’t eaten at all. Just dead, maybe from angie or some other heart thing. You see this all the time. This was last Friday so I knew the children would be back for their innocent harassment of this dead man.
I was ready but knew I would be hungry before it was all over. But it would be worth it because the children would understand.
I will skip ahead as the only thing on Insomniac Theater was The Saint in New York. Boy I laughed over that I tell you. So I will skip ahead now.
At about ten o’clock they came again. Was there nothing else to do on Hazel Street? What did I do you ask. I took all of my Strength but I was able to prop myself up behind the elderly dead man and when I knew that the children were at the window. I. Shoved.
Okay maybe. Maybe I shoved too hard because Mr. Stashu hit the TV set with his waist and fell into the window where it broke. He had kind of a big nose like my psychiatrist don’t tell him I said it though and it smashed against the glass. If that little scamp Blind Justice my sidekick had not died searching for the King of Rock and Roll last summer at Navy Pier 9 (for his resurrection of course, we thought then), he would have rushed around front to see if the man’s nosehairs were pressed against the glass as well.
All the children backed off and ran away screaming or something except for one. Could he be brave enough to be my new sidekick I was thinking then to be honest.
I chose that moment to open the door. Go Home and Learn To Respect the Dead, I told him. If he gave me the answer I was looking for then maybe he’d be fit.
He pointed at the old man with an artist’s hand. Do you mean him? he asked and I nodded. He’s a couch potato is all. who are you? He asked and I told him that crippled and insane, I am The American Dream.
You know what I think, he said then, I think that you’re dead too. He gave me the finger just as the picture of the Pope fell off the wall.
He ran off then. Here then is the message for the children at large.
Don’t mess around with dead people because it will always get back to you.
I called the police and told them that the boy who gave me the finger killed the old man by scaring him quite badly. I described both of them completely.
Something should come of it you know as well as I do.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

2724 WEST CRYSTAL: MY CHILDHOOD









I was born in Humboldt Park and lived in the top floor of a three-flat. I think my novella "Lover Doll" in Ellen Datlow's anthology LITTLE DEATHS has the most description of the time frame circa 1959.  I went back a few weeks ago and took photos, ignoring the hipster hangouts as much as possible. One shot here is of the Humboldt Park lagoon. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

MY LATEST ACTING GIG



Last Sunday, I played the part of "Old Man"--no stretch there--for a film written and produced by Kevin Edward Epperson at One Tear Productions. We filmed on a bench in front of an Ace Hardware close enough to the Sheridan elevated that we had to stop filming several times, and my scene, alongside my "wife", was the last to be filmed. I'll post more about this in the next few months. You can find Epperson on IMDb and I know he'll have a stellar career in years to come.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

BAD GRAMMAR THEATER: MAY 2015




 Here's a photo taken during my reading at Bad Grammar Theater, hosted by Brendan Detzner, last month. I read half of my novella "Days of Fiction Past", as yet unpublished. I'm always able to get some great shots of UIC and the skyline. My shirt was from the Salvation Army and I wasn't even aware that it was for a benefit for prostate cancer and that the Willis Tower was lit up in prostate cancer teal. It was a full moon, so here are two shots I took on my bus ride home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

MONGREL



I was involved with a Kickstarter program involving my good friend Andrew Mitchell Kudelka and Ed Dunphy.  They were trying to put out a complete series for their comic character Mongrel, and for people who donated a certain amount of money, they would receive a trade paperback with the comic plus an original story by me, with artwork by Andrew. The story is set both Chicago in 1958, at the site of the still unsolved murder/body dump of the Grimes sisters, and then jumping to Waverly Hills in Louisville, Kentucky. A sanitarium during a massive tuberculosis epidemic in the Ohio Valley during the 1930s, I have also used the setting in a novella I wrote for DARK DESTINY in 1994.

Monday, May 11, 2015

MARNIE'S, NEAR MORNING

Someday Sid and I will finish writing this novel. Back in the day, we were sending passages to each other via AOL Instant Messaging.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I AM THE AMERICAN DREAM






I AM THE AMERICAN DREAM, a collection of American Dream stories, will be published by Crossroad Press in the next few months. Harry Fassl had me dress up as AD to go with a story published in SEQUITER and Peggy Nadramia published the title story in her magazine GRUE. Illustrated by Douglas C. Klauba, I've added pieces of his other work, for "Corky's Quickies" in GRUE, as well as "Take The "A" Train" in (NOT) ONE OF US. As you can see from my recent illustration, I still am The American Dream.