Match to Flame 189

Nov 15, 2022

That night over dinner at Gino’s East (the best pizzeria in the Windy City) with my publisher’s family and some of their writers, I laid out my plan my to gain entry to the Sun-Times building (okay, I was the someone) and snag a memento for the bookshelf back at the cartoon castle. My publisher’s son, who at the time was in law school and should have known better, seemed especially ripe for joining me on the break-in venture. So, after dinner, the parties piled into separate cabs, and I asked our driver to go past the Sun-Times building and drop me off there. The cab with my publisher’s son in it had been following ours and I expected it to pull up and drop him off as well, but the cab never stopped and kept right on going back to the Sheraton. It turned out that his mother thought that an arrest record wouldn’t be helpful when it came time to pass the bar exam and be admitted to the bar. I can certainly see her point, but it was disappointing because, when you’re doing something like this, it’s always nice to have a wing person along for immoral support. Not to mention that he was holding the box with the leftover pizza, which, if there were guard dogs inside the fence that night, might have proven useful. It’s hard to imagine a dog passing up some tasty Chicago deep-dish just to bite someone. But you never know. I had dressed completely in black and was feeling quite commando (in the “dressed all in black” sense of the word). I found my spot where the security guard couldn’t see me and made it over the fence as planned and to the front of the building facing the river. I couldn’t find any bricks (duh, it was a metal and glass building . . . I probably should have seen that coming), but I did pick up a small chunk of a plaster wall and a little piece from the tinted plate glass windows. The first time I had ever set foot in the Sun-Times building was in January of 1972, and the last time was in December of 2004. Before I made my getaway, I paused a moment to take in a soon-to-become- unavailable view of the lights of the city sparkling on the river just below my feet. It was a romantic moment that my buddy the security guard would have never appreciated, and a tendency on my part that probably would have not boded well for me had I chosen to carry on with a life of crime.

Once I returned home, I kissed Cathy, placed my purloined mementos on my bookshelf, and happily settled back in behind my drawing board. Some may wonder about a lifetime spent hunched over that sturdy piece of wood, but, to me, it was where you .

made magic.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 11

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