Mayor Daley has chosen one of my favorite books for this year’s citywide read. “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler is the first mystery he’s picked. Imagine this gritty tale taking place in Forest Park.
Here’s how it might go:
The first time I saw Terry Lennox he was drunk on Madison Street. The valet parker was trying to pour him into the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s Malibu, but Terry had forgotten he had a right foot and the door wouldn’t close.
“I have a wonderful idea, Terry. Why don’t you take a cab?” the girlfriend said while shoving him out onto the sidewalk.
I helped Terry into my heap and drove him to my studio apartment on Circle. He may have seemed like a lost dog but at least he was housebroken. After that night, Terry and I became friends and we’d meet for 5 p.m. gimlets at a local gin joint.
Then, one night, my buzzer rang at 3 a.m. and it was Terry. He looked like someone who’d been riding the Blue Line all night. “Marlowe, I need your help. I’ve got to get across the border – to North Riverside.”
I didn’t ask him why. He was a friend. Besides, what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. I’d just gotten back into bed after dropping him off at Desplaines and Cermak, when the cops came calling.
They told me that Terry’s girlfriend was in pretty bad shape. Someone had attacked her with a 400 pound decorative elephant. Fortunately they’d only dropped it on her right foot. The cops tried to get me to talk about Terry, but I’m loyal to my clients. Oh, did I mention he’d given me $5,000 for driving him to North Riverside?
I never expected to see Terry again but I was driving down Cermak past the Showmen’s Rest burial plot when my eye caught a glitter of glass. I saw a heavily bearded cemetery worker placing a 400-pound decorative elephant as a grave marker for the fallen circus workers.
I asked the worker some questions but he claimed he spoke Spanish. So, I let him have it. “Don’t tell me you’ve switched from gimlets to margaritas, Terry?” He smiled through the beard.
“Want to have one; it’s almost 5?”
“Why’d you do it, Terry? Why’d you steal a street art elephant that had been painstakingly decorated with cut glass?”
“What can I say Marlowe, Ms. Ela Phish will be happier here. Now, how about that drink?”
“No, Terry, I already said goodbye – I don’t want to make it the long goodbye.”
“OK Marlowe, but I was wondering, does your Mayor Calderone have any recommended reading for the people of Forest Park?”
“Yeah, Terry, there’s no mystery about that – I think he wants us all to read the Review.”