Tales from the Life of Jack McKnife: The Alley

The streets of the city at night are littered with the discarded refuse of twentieth century schizophrenia and twenty-something cynicism. Johnny and me were walking through the alley behind The Alley when he stumbled. “We need more beer,” I say, “that’ll get your feet back under you.”

“I tripped on something,” he mumbles, turning back to see what it might’ve been.

“Yeah, your other foot,” I say.

“No,” says Johnny, “it was that thing there.” We moved in for a closer look. There in the streetlight, reflected in the rainbow glinting of the oil slicked asphalt was a spinal cord. A long, fibrous bundle of raw, exposed nerves. We stood frozen, our eyes locked on the thing. We stared at it. It stared back at us, for I don’t know how long, then it slithered off into the darkness behind the dumpsters.

“Whoa,” I said.

“Ditto,” Johnny replied.

Silent stillness for a moment, then Johnny said, “Hey, so how about that beer?”

“Yeah,” I said, “Sheffield’s, right around the corner?”

“On a Friday?” says Johnny, “No way, too many 708ers. How about L&L?”

“On a Friday?” I say, “No way, too many actors.”

So instead we picked up a twelve pack and a couple of Slim Jims at 1000 Liquors and hopped on a #22 Clark southbound. The twentieth century was drawing to a close, but the evening was just beginning.