Friday, February 13, 2009

Ballad Of Little Red Riding Hood In Blue

I don’t believe in reincarnation.
If I did I’d be more comfortable
with being murdered two years in a row
between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

Last year and this year started with a bang.
Not one bang. Rather, the rat-ta-tat-tat
of a Thompson submachine gun firing,
bang-bang-banging me to another world.

I don’t believe in karma. If I did
I’d suspect my incarnations were stuck,
replaying the exact same exit scene,
no growth, no regression, just loud, hot lead.

Both scenes begin when a beautiful cop—
an oddly familiar woman in blue—
steps out of the shadows in a garage
and forces me up against the brick wall.

I think the cop is going to frisk me
but behind me I hear strange clicking sounds.
When I look over my shoulder I see
the cop has a loaded, cocked tommy gun.

She takes off her hat, shakes out her red hair.
I recognize her and start to wonder
why the moment has a deja vous feel.
The cop pulls the trigger and starts firing.

Machine guns fire and then reload themselves,
pumping bullets one after the other.
Do incarnations sometimes just reload
and deja vous you through the same living?

My friend in the pretend blue uniform
works the trigger, sending short, controlled bursts
of forty-five caliber slugs through me,
killing me then and killing me again.

I see the bullets rip holes in my chest.
The bullets ricochet off of the bricks
in front of me. My first thought is, “I hope
chips from the bricks don’t hit me in my eyes.”

But then I think, “Well, it hardly matters
because the automatic weapon fire
from this woman’s Thompson submachine gun
is pretty much cutting me right in half.”

In the film version of the incident—
Lifetime’s made-for-cable TV movie—
after I collapse to the garage ground
the beautiful red-haired woman in blue

walks over to what’s left of my body
and, with the tommy gun in her left hand,
uses her right hand to aim a shotgun
and fire a coup de grâce blast to my head.

I couldn’t say if that TV flourish
really happened then or subsequently
because by that time in the proceedings
I’m transcendentally gone, dead, dead, dead.

I blame myself. I didn’t own a car
when I lived by the lake on the north side.
But when I moved down to the south suburbs
I had to have a car to get around.

I never, not once, could have been surprised
in a garage by a blue sans merci
south side Little Red Riding Hood with guns
if I just never had gotten a car.

I might have gotten sold down the river
by a north side Little Red Riding Hood
but it’s more romantic to get gunned down
at a theater than in a garage.

At least to me. I never should have left
the north side. Even twice-told fairy tales
of magic girls with heavy weaponry
are more cool when you’re north of the river.

* * * * *

This is the week of St. Valentine’s Day. All my posts —

Prelude To Little Red Riding Hood In Blue

The Eternal Thompson Gunner

Death Itself And The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Ice Cream And The Mayor

— were inspired by the cool photos and very interesting text of Turner Publishing’s new book, “Historic Photos of Chicago Crime: The Capone Years.” I’ve heard—yeah, I’m connected, I’m cool—that the book was used by costume designers and production designers on Michael Mann’s new film, ‘Public Enemies,’ in which Johnny Depp plays John Dillinger. (Dillinger mythology, of course, is that he was betrayed by a ‘lady in red’ and gunned down outside the Biograph theater on Chicago’s north side.) I enjoyed the book a great deal and I highly recommend it. Consumerism! Buy the book! Consume, consume consume!

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