The Music In CansChapter from
Left of the Loop
, a NovelBy Tim W. Brown“Bong lung disease?” Stark asked me after I coughed and spat onto the brick street. Rubbing and patting our sweaty bodies with towels, we were walking back to our loft from the Sangamon Track, where we had worked out, if you could call it that, for nearly ten minutes.“Yeah. You know how exercise brings it up from your lungs,” I answered.Stark laughed, then choked, then coughed and spat himself.The Sangamon Track stretched along the far side of the train tracks located abouttwo blocks north of our loft. It wasn’t any real track, of course; rather, it was a four-block-long slab of concrete set between the Chicago Northwestern triple-track mainline on theone side and various spurs which led to the packinghouses on the other side. Onweekdays, eighteen-wheelers parked there and were loaded up with meat fork-lifted outof refrigerator cars spotted on the tracks. Since Friday afternoon, however, theneighborhood was devoid of the frantic meat-related commerce normally carried on; being Sunday, this place turned into the Sangamon Track.Our workout consisted of running a few laps up and down the Track. After awarm-up lap, we timed ourselves with this high-tech stopwatch of Stark’s that somehowrecorded distance through jiggling while we jogged. The laps we ran were 0.4 miles, ashort 600-yard dash. Stark, like usual, had the better time, but this is no surprise, becausewhen I was a junior high schooler I regularly puked running the 600.“Check that out,” Stark said, directing my attention to an individual crawlingalong the gutter in front of our loft, hand feeling the bricks out in front of him as hecrawled.“He’s blind,” I said. “Look, he’s got one of those white canes and he’s wearingsunglasses.” From the hand holding his cane, we noted that he dragged a green plasticgarbage bag, too. When he came upon a couple dozen beer cans strewn along the curb, probably the same ones Stark and I threw out of our windows the night before whentidying up after band practice, he began to pick them up one by one, crush them betweenhis hands, and drop them into his garbage bag.