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"Wanda Takes Off Her Shirt," a chapter from Left of the Loop, a novel by Tim W. Brown

"Wanda Takes Off Her Shirt," a chapter from Left of the Loop, a novel by Tim W. Brown

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Published by Tim W. Brown
"Wanda Takes Off Her Shirt," a chapter from Left of the Loop, a novel by Tim W. Brown, published in 2001. Originally appeared in the September 1991 issue of The Fiction Review.
"Wanda Takes Off Her Shirt," a chapter from Left of the Loop, a novel by Tim W. Brown, published in 2001. Originally appeared in the September 1991 issue of The Fiction Review.

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Published by: Tim W. Brown on Jul 23, 2009
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07/28/2009

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From
 Left of the Loop
, a NovelBy Tim W. Brown
Set in the mid 1980s,
 Left of the Loop
chronicles the misadventures of two roommatesliving in a decrepit loft building just west of Chicago’s famed Loop. Narrating the story isSpungkdt, a poet who uses the raw material of the surrounding meatpacking district togive his writing verve. His roommate Stark is drummer for a hapless rock and roll band pursuing ever-elusive success. Contemporary pioneers, they confront the ugly sights, rudesounds and foul smells of the urban frontier.With dark humor and biting wit, author Tim W. Brown smashes the popular myth that the1980s were all about BMWs, cocaine and junk bonds for most young people, and hecaptures the essence of an historic neighborhood that has long since lost its soul togentrification.
 
Wanda Takes Off Her ShirtChapter from
 Left of the Loop
, a NovelBy Tim W. BrownThe night Wanda took off her shirt was hot. But not the definition of hot thatdescribes clapping and hollering men gaping at a showgirl taking it off. Rather, it wasChicago-in- mid-August hot; it felt like all the chemicals polluting the air were adsorptinginto a thick paste that covered every inch of your skin. To make matters worse, theneighborhood around Sangamon stank like a thousand refrigerators were thrown open,each one emitting powerful smells of spoiled meat, sour milk and rotting cantaloupe.Adding to the close environment was the band, over for its usual Sundayafternoon practice. The loft had the air of a gymnasium too crowded for peopleadequately to exercise. I say this because they still had not played a song all the waythrough, even after two hours. They’d play through a couple of verses, but when they gotto the chorus, everybody would stop and drink a can of beer. That is, all of them exceptfor Wanda, who drank peach-flavored New York Seltzer. It was during one of these breaks that Wanda took off her shirt.“They say it’s the humidity, not the heat,” said Danny, their bass player.Although I thought this observation was self-evident to anyone who lived in theMiddle West, I didn’t have the energy to shift everyone to a different topic of conversation.“When I lived out west,” I said, “it got to ninety or a hundred degrees, but it wasfine, because the humidity was like eight or ten percent. It was semi-arid country.”“I wish some of that semi-arid shit would blow in here,” said Stark.“I wish I were out at Coney Island right now,” said Rudy, “with a cooler full of margaritas in mayonnaise jars.”I tried to imagine Rudy on a beach, wearing the clothes he was then wearing, hisusual outfit, consisting of a charcoal gray, long-sleeved work shirt, black jeans, and black steel-toed work shoes. The way his clothes hung so loosely off him, I would say that if heever went ocean-side and took off his shirt, he would be the runtiest guy on the beach. Now, none of the rest of us guys had especially great physiques, but at least we were
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