A Few Days in the Life (August 28, 2020)

August 29, 11:45

Closet with No View, Chicago.

Always glad to be back here, even if the quality of my rooms seem to be regressing consistently. I like this hotel, but I find myself in another closet, like down the street. I thought I had escaped this. Chances are, I’m getting what I paid for.

I’m in town for an important meeting. The rest of my time is open. I might do things, I might not. Time will tell. I might even stay for an extra day of nothing. There’s no rush to go home.

When I left here a month ago, I became listless and uninspired. My writing all but ground to a halt. It would seem all I had to do was come back, and the words have started to flow again. Hopefully, my talent will follow me back home this time. I can’t afford to leave it here. Yet.

17:35

The Closet Redux

It’s HOT outside.

I’ve been here … what? Fifteen times or more in the last three years. And this is the first time I’ve said that! I’ve spent so much time bracing for cold, I seem to have forgotten heat is also a possibility. It feels like St. Louis, so it’s not like I’m unaccustomed. This was just unexpected. Things are supposed to cool down considerably tomorrow.

20:19

My belly is full of ramen, and I’m in for the night. This has been a day consisting mostly of napping and watching Harry Potter movies on TV. Good thing about feeling like I live here: I don’t feel obligated to be a tourist.

Tomorrow is Record Store Day. After my meeting, I guess that’s where the adventure will take me.

For now, chill time.

August 30, 10:23

Closet 227, Chicago

I’m staying in town for an extra couple of days. Business. But I can’t take any more of this room. In a couple of hours, I’ll move a couple of blocks away to a hotel I’ve always enjoyed, where they have what I need at a reasonable rate.

I’m nobody’s diva. I don’t need five-star accommodations. But a little room to breathe would be nice. This is basically the entire room.

I should’ve know something was up when I couldn’t open my door all the way.

It’s almost impossible not to trip over nearly anything in here. On the plus side, neatness and order is pretty much mandatory.

Yesterday was a great day until near the end, when tragedy struck. Almost like clockwork, I spent some time hanging out with my buddy Erik Oldman.

We visited a couple of record stores before taking in dinner and a couple of drinks. As always, our talks were informative and eye-opening. And always pleasant.

As darkness fell, my phone started blowing up with texts and calls. That’s never a good sign. Sure enough, I learned that one of the young officers I trained had been shot and severely injured. As I write these words, he continues to cling to life. It’s the nightmare scenario you always know is possible, but never think is likely.

Erik was wonderfully sympathetic, repeatedly asking me if I needed to leave or anything else. But in the end, I’m 300 miles from the crime scene, and retired from the job. There’s nothing I can do but wait and hope.

But for now, the records I bought yesterday have been rendered mostly insignificant.

13:15

Waiting at Starbucks

I checked out of the closet, walked 150 yards, and checked in to my favorite hotel. Alas, my room isn’t ready. So I sit in a Starbucks, sip green tea, and worry about my cop kid.

It’s a warm, sunny day out. I need to go for a walk. I will soon enough. There’s plenty to see and do along these three or four streets. I don’t feel like branching out any further. I was really hoping I’d be in a room, sleeping. No such luck. Since check-in isn’t supposed to be until 15:00, I can’t (and won’t) bitch about it.

I just hope I can avoid crying between now and then.

15:19

Hotel “Helluva Lot Better”

There’s still no view, but I couldn’t possibly care less. This hotel isn’t situated for that kind of thing. Yet it remains my favorite in this neighborhood. It’s also normally more expensive than the other places. This time, I HAD to bite the bullet. I’m glad I did.

Of course, sacrifices had to be made. The TV is considerably smaller. It would have been more appropriate in the other room, and vice versa. Oh, well … I can breathe.

A nice walk and a bus ride led me to Wrigley Field for the second time.

How strange is it to be in front of a legendary stadium on a warm summer day and have absolutely nothing going on. Granted, the Cubs are in Cincinnati. But even if they were here, no one would be inside taking in the game. I’ll be glad when we get control of this damned bug.

Unlike last time, I took time to walk around the stadium. I was disappointed to notice that, unlike Busch Stadium, you can’t peek through the gates and see the field. I guess that will make my first game here that much more special. A friend of mine seemed convinced that moving here will turn me into a Cubs fan. Clearly, he doesn’t grasp how team loyalty and rivalries work.

The Harry Cary statue is pretty impressive. And since he was a Cardinals broadcaster before he went to Chicago, I felt a photo was appropriate.

To rest.

16:03

My phone has rung twice with the worst news imaginable: my kid didn’t make it. I’ll be going home to a funeral.

Dammit.

September 1, 10:03

Room 319, Chicago

It’s time to go back.

I have one more bit of business. Then it’s off to Union Station to wait for my evening train. Once home, it’s time to gear up for mourning.

I was asked to do a couple of media interviews yesterday. How odd it feels to be quoted in a newspaper and not have the bosses go apoplectic. But someone had to speak for Bo. Someone who actually knew him. I wasn’t eager to do the interviews, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

Save for a couple of walks, I spent a good chunk of yesterday on the phone, talking to my former coworkers. This is what we do when someone goes down; we check on one another. I called people, and a few people called me. I haven’t been gone that long. There’s still an attachment.

And in the most warped of ways, this will be my chance to say goodbye. Not just to Bo, but to everyone else. Because I never got that final roll call. And a HUGE change is in the offing. This may be my last chance.

14:39

The Texas Eagle

I arrived at Union Station at 12:45, content to spend my afternoon there (save for a possible adventure in Chinatown). Instead, I was offered a seat on the train leaving in less than an hour. I actually hesitated. But I knew I needed to get back.

This should be a joyous train ride. The next stage of my Great Transition is all but complete. I should be celebrating. But I am in no mood to celebrate. I just received official word in the funeral arrangements. My priorities lie there for now.

Everyone who takes on and wears a badge knows the danger. We know the risks we will have to take. We know when we leave home and family, there’s a chance we won’t return. But nobody every really expects it. But that’s where we are. That’s what we have to deal with for the rest of the week. One of us didn’t go home.

From my Facebook page:

In all the time I spent training Tamarris Bohannon — and certainly in the time since he went out on his own — I don’t think I ever called him by his full name. Not once. He was “T” at first. Then “Bo.” Nothing else made sense. It’s just who he was.

He came to me from the nightwatch. I could see right away that he had been blessed with the gift of common sense. That makes things so much easier. He never stopped learning. He always asked good questions. Some days, he would tell me what was wrong before I had a chance to tell him. Bo just “got it.” That’s the only way I can describe it. His evaluations were almost fun to write.

My probes were required to tolerate my music in the car. Bo absorbed it like few others. He was particularly fond of guitarist Allan Holdsworth. One day while driving, he sat at a green light for several seconds. He looked like he was in a trance. When I yelled out his name, he snapped back and grinned sheepishly at me. “Sorry,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe what that guy was playing!” All I could do was laugh.

How could I NOT love him?

He was just getting started in this world. The citizens of St. Louis have been robbed of a great young officer. He treated strangers like family when he could. After being released from training, he came to me for advice when he needed it. But those calls tapered off quickly. He “got it,” and he could handle it.

Bo was my son, even though there was no biology involved. I loved him, and I’ll miss him terribly. Heaven has gained a mighty guardian.

The rain outside seems appropriate.

I don’t know how many police funerals I have attended. It’s more than a few. But I can’t overstate how different this one feels. Cancer took my best friend from the Academy. We were able to prepare for that one, even if it still hurt. This man was young, healthy, full of life, and nowhere near fulfilling his potential. Discussions of “God’s plan” are completely lost on me.

We will get through this. We always do. It that doesn’t make it any less sad.

September 2, 17:26

Home.

Everything happens for a reason, they say. So I suppose taking the earlier train served more than one purpose.

I wasn’t all the way home from the train station when I was texted, requesting my presence at Bo’s house. So I dropped my bags at home and went right back out. It was good to talk to his widow and see some of the old gang. I’ll see even more of them throughout the week.

I’ve done little to nothing today. The thought of writing about music isn’t exactly palatable right now. I’m listening, to be certain. Music is my healer. The Great Elixir. But I need another day or two before I can start writing.

Funny thing is, I’m starting to feel Bo’s push toward getting back to it. “This is what you wanted to do,” he’s saying. “This is why you retired! And you know I want to hear about it, too!”

Soon, buddy. Soon.

September 4, 17:48

The Reverberation Station

A Robert Fripp soundscape plays in the background, lush and contemplative. It’s the appropriate music to mark a loss.

I wondered if the opportunity to use this music at a gathering would ever present itself. I wondered if Robert would be okay with that. I asked the question via Facebook, tagging Robert in the process. While we have exchanged friendly comments, I didn’t really expect to hear anything. And then I saw this, taken from Robert’s page:

Cedric Hendrix: I wonder if Robert Fripp would allow me to borrow a soundscape to commemorate the loss of a friend and former colleague taken too soon? All I can think of now are Robert’s deep and emotional moments.

RF: Every moment of need, every day of the week. My condolences to Cedric and his colleagues, and gratitude for their service.

A classy move from a classy man.

The weekend will be busy. And I have an unexpected speaking engagement.

#cirdecsongs

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.

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