I was dreaming! I was lying in the green grass of a huge field with trees and flowers all around me. The sky was blue and I was so happy! A little girl with long blonde hair and hazel eyes was twirling around and around in circles. She was laughing, and had a crown of flowers in her hair. Chico was running around her in circles and Blueboy was perched on my arm running up and down and whistling a song. “The green, green grass of home!”
A grey kitten with stripes watched me out of bright blue eyes. She said, “this is a happy dream”. “You get to visit your daughter, it’s good to be happy for a change.” She meowed and laughed at me. I laughed too. I jumped up and took my daughter’s hand and we sang silly songs, and dancing in twirling circles around and around until we fell in the grass laughing.
I woke up! I was sitting in a seat on the greyhound bus bound for Chicago. The driver let us know would be pulling into the greyhound bus station in a half hour. It had been a long trip and was a run on the tiny bathroom .I had been in that bathroom, so I decided to wait. I took my mirror out of my bag and looking at my tired face, I saw instead a grey kitten face with blue eyes looking at me. The blue eyes winked at me and disappeared. In spite of my fears I laughed.
My sister met me at the station. Even though I lived in Chicago for many years, I was used to living in a small town. Tennessee was a clean state. True, you could eat off the highways. There were platoons of men from the state prison diligently cleaning and practically steam cleaning the streets and the highways, The grass was so green it looked freshly painted all the time.
Chicago! I’m not sure how to describe it, especially sense I’d been away for a few years. Filthy, over crowded, loud, obnoxious. There was gang graffiti every where. The elevated trains, or the L as they were popularly called was loud and exciting. Riding one was an experience that was unforgettable. The buses ran every half hour 24/7. I loved it all!
My sister lived in a 3 story apartment house. Saying it was old is an understatement. Even the roaches were old. Oh boy, I had forgotten about the roaches that infested Chicago! Even the suburbs were over run by the nasty little bugs. The stores did a booming business selling roach sprays, powders and everything in a vain attempt to get rid of the little critters. For anyone about to ask, no I did not and still don’t communicate with roaches! I kept a rolled up paper, shoe and spray handy at all times. If I saw one, I’d quickly spray it to slow it down and then hit it with a paper to kill it! Ah yes, victory was mine! Bwahaha!
Chicago was exciting! Two zoo’s!! Downtown was amazing! The sky scrapers. The throngs of people going to work, to shop, to sight see. I loved it all! I went downtown to spend the day. I took the “L”. It was thrilling when I could look down on the crowds of people from the rails high up in the sky! It was scary, and exilerating! I walked all over looking at everything!
The miracle mile was wonderful! The stores on this street were patronized by the rich and powerful. I walked into Nordstrums. I was met at the door by a woman in a suit that must have cost more than my sisters car. It was grey. A grey straight skirt, no mini skirt for this old girl! Came right down to her knees. She wore a shiny white blouse that I later found out was satin, a little cowboy string tie, and a grey long sleeved jacket. Her stockings had a line up the back, and her grey heels were high. Stilettos they were called. Looked like they could kill you in a heart beat. Bam! Right between the eyes!
Her makeup was perfect and her platinum hair was sprayed into place. Not one strand dared to move. She walked in front of me. I was looking at a rack of belts that cost more money than I had ever seen. She said, “I am Mrs. Crouse, and I am the floor supervisor and you are in the wrong store.” Then she said, “I believe Woolworths is on the next block.” Yes, she did, she said that!! Then she took me by the arm, and steered me to the door! What gave me away! My jeans, my T-shirt?
The next thing I knew I was standing outside the store. Well!! I wasn’t about to go back in there. Wondered for a minute if Flora would come and straighten her out! My money would be on Flora! Wrestling match of the century! Fighting Flora and frozen faced Crouse! I’d pay to see that! I surely would!
I was wandering around looking at all the stores, enjoying the breeze from the lake. I crossed over to the next street and there it was!! One of my favorite places in all of Chicago to spend time in. The art institute! It was huge, taking up most of the block. A multi-storied building with steps up to the entrance and two great lions on both sides. Awesome!!
There were classes on the upper floors. people learning to paint, to draw, sculpt to live and love art!! The lower floors were devoted to paintings! Every painting you could imagine! I was in heaven!! I could spend the whole day looking at the different art work. I loved all the paintings, but most especially the paintings of animals. There was a whole wing devoted to all the lovely animals. Kittens, cats, dogs, every animal was represented. There was a painting of Anu, although she snorted and denied it looked like her at all.
I was walking along gazing at all the lovely artwork, when I saw the most wonderful painting of a lion! So realistic! He was magnificent! The king of beast! The painting was enormous. He was in the middle of a pounce, running after some unseen prey! Glaring out of the painting, his teeth were long and pointed, his eyes angry! I was mesmerized, no other word for it, when he blinked and let out a blood curdling yowl! I said to my self, “Come on girl, quit imagining things.” I looked around for the other patrons, but there was no one to be found. The room was dark and I thought uh oh, closing time.
I turned back toward the painting, inching backwards. This painting of a lion was yowling and growling and I was about to wet my pants. I was turning to run when the enormous beast leaped out of the painting straight at me!! I remember praying, “oh lord, please save me, how can this be, holy shit!” I was about to faint when I saw a huge panther jump at the lion!! Anu, fangs bared, chased the lion back into the painting and I flat out ran.
I ran down the hall terrified the lion was after me and terrified he had hurt Anu! I saw the ladies room and ran in! Panting, I locked the door and wildly looked around for a barricade! When my breathing slowed and the lion hadn’t come in to tear me apart, I started thinking again. This was a spirit lion and he came out of a painting. How could this be.
A few minutes later Anu appeared and scared the crap out of me, well, almost! No wounds, no blood on her fangs. I asked her to explain this to me and reassure me that no lions were going to be in the hallway when I left the restroom. Anu said that some very talented, very psychic artist painted with strong emotions, anger, wildness, rage, even love. When a person who could see and understand spirits were near the painting, it was possible for the painting to come alive and exhibit those emotions. I asked her if the lion could have hurt me.
Anu said not physically, but psychically yes. I did not ask at that time what she meant. That was it for my fun day downtown. I had enough fun to last me for awhile. I took the “L” train back to my sisters .I kept seeing the eyes and fangs on that lion and wondered about the emotions of the artist. Thankfully, I didn’t dream that night.
The next day I went looking for a job and I found one within the hour. Factory jobs were plentiful and that’s where my experience was. I would be working with airplane gauges. I sat at a machine and working with tiny metal toothpicks, I calibrated the gauges. It was hard to get the gauges right. Sometimes I did some packing. It was hard work, and boring, but paid a salary.
There was an apartment available on the 3rd floor rear of my sisters building. It was furnished. I moved in. My sister loaned me some blankets, sheets, and kitchen items. It was kind of scary being on my own, but nice too. One of the women I worked with invited me to go a club with her on the week-end to dance. I went and it was really noisy, but fun. I loved to dance and spent most of my time dancing with anyone, my friend, and any one who wanted to dance with me. I lost myself in the music, no fears, no heartache, no thinking, just fun.
I sat down at the table and I heard a familiar male voice say, “lady, would you please dance with me?” I turned around and looked into the face of a smiling Bill Baker!
Bill and Magic!