#221: Hover

September 25th, 2013

From the top of the Metra platform, the helicopter looked like it was hovering over the Best Buy.

It wasn’t of course. It was probably hovering over the highway, looking down on the early morning push of cars in and out of the city in a cold, snipping wind before the sun even has a chance to turn the purple sky sunrise orange.

To the east, to that part of the sky the sun had a chance to tease out the beginning of an orange-red dawn, there was a helicopter there too. It dove and swooped a bit before settling in a spot just over the downtown skyline.

I coughed a bit in the cold.

“Buzzfeed!” a man about 20 feet away called to me.

“What?” I asked.

“Bless you!” he repeated, walking a little closer.

He was short and fat, bald but making up for it with a gray-black beard. I turned back to watch the one over the skyline.

“Been there a while,” he said. “There were four earlier.”

“Four?” I said. “I only saw the two.”

As I said it, another one swooped by above.

“Do you know what’s going on?” I asked.

The man just shrugged and looked back at the one over the Best Buy. The three helicopters patrolled the skies, hovering and swooping, shining lights out of the purple skies to the west and the pinkish orange ones to the east.

Amber Alert? Police manhunt? They were too far west for a body in the lake. Were they guarding the skies to keep someone from leaving the city or to keep someone from getting in?

“Do you think they might be traffic helicopters, like watching the highway?” I asked my new, bald friend, hoping.

“The one I saw earlier was police,” he said.

We waited for the early train as helicopters swooped the sky. The orange and pink spread to the purple areas of the sky, leaving the eastern part a tinge of blue that would soon take over the city.

More commuters piled onto the platform. A friend of the bald man, ending our conversation. A gaggle of private-school kids heading north out of the clutches of CPS.

Trains came and trains went and our own little schedules and little concerns soon distracted us from whatever horrible thing was happening that scrambled the helicopters to the lightening skies above.

Comment on this story

Read about the water bottle entrepreneurs of a Chicago heat wave (just because)

What's this?

You are currently reading #221: Hover by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.