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  • Natalye Childress

Chicago Style

Art by Paul Rios


He was drunk, but his eyes shone through the dimly lit room, steady and bright. Nothing got past this boy with the steel face and vibrant will. Graced with the grit of someone beyond his years, he was undoubtedly rare.

As human beings come and as human beings go, he was imperfect – uncertain and scarred, disenchanted and tough, full of convictions, conflictions and complications.

Yet here was someone whose words inspired her, whose writing made her want to be better. What he said, it intrigued her. A passionate drifter, he was someone she desperately wanted to know.

She began a silent list of fitting adjectives. At her wit’s end, fed up with half-hearted friendships and dead-end relationships, she was ready for something different. No more being comfortable with the commonplace. She wanted a new life full of unpredictability, where each day she did something that scared or challenged her. Step one would be putting herself out there, of making a new friend. She had heard scattered stories about him, but figured she would decide for herself. So far, so good.

A toast was proposed in celebration of his 29 years of life, albeit a day or two early.

They held their glasses high. A clink and then through the air, until a look of purposeful hesitation shot across his face.

“No, no,” he said, slamming his Pabst down. “You have to hit the table first.”

Again, up, then down, before drinking it in one fluid movement. It went down smooth and deep, just like the boy.


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