Acknowledging Sister Carrie (T. Dreiser’s Caroline Meeber)
This was the great city? This is why she left Waukesha? She went down Van Buren Street, her sister’s address scrabbled in her eighteen year-old mind, her memory of her father and his former workplace, the shuttered grain mill, sketched against her mother’s farewell kiss.
When she heard gunshots, she knew this was a dreadful place. She retraced her steps and headed towards the Lake. A family passing by, ice cream cones in hand, laughing in the hazy afternoon sun, buoyed her spirits. Surely, good things must await her.
Chicago had the Art Museum and she’d heard of Millennium Park, Second City and the Lyric Opera. It was as she neared Lake Shore Drive that she first noticed the big, burly men in the yellow vests and the runners coming up Michigan Avenue.
Looking down an alleyway, she saw camera crews and long trailers and make-up artists splatting blood on the bodies of actors and actresses dressed up like tourists, bystanders and policemen and she remembered. Oh, in the deepest part of her heart she wanted to be an actress.
As she gathered herself, she knew Chicago was not the right place for her. She should go to Hollywood, that is where she should go. She was thinking these thoughts when she heard the first explosion, rattling the windows and then she was down, knocked over by the blast.
That is when she heard the strangest thing. She could have sworn a voice called out, “And Action”. And as she rolled over, she saw actors and actresses with blood-splattered clothes pour out of the alleyway and mingle with the runners crossing the finish line and the same voice booming, “Roll it, Roll it.”
~ Stephen J. Bergstrom