“The Day I Found Jimmy Hoffa” by Jim Gustafson

Spring Waves, Joyce Polance

The Day I Found Jimmy Hoffa

In 1964, air conditioning is something for big buildings and rich people’s cars.  The rest of us live with windows down, table fans scanning for cool air. I finish high school in the suburbs, kinda look around for a summer job. I like to go to Chicago and wander about with those who have purpose and go to places with cool air. I change trains at Howard Street and ride to “The Loop.”  “The El” has windows you can open to search for a breeze. The steel wheels’ shrill churn blasts soaked sweat. The dark underground at Armitage brings shade and cool air.  Chicago’s July owns the smell of dirt, hot dog mustard, the disordered mingle of underarm aerosols— Old Spice, Secret, Ban and Sure—mostly those with nothing upholstering their air. Just off Dearborn at West Jackson I push the chrome bar to move through the revolving door into the cold steel lobby of the Federal Building Jimmy Hoffa is on trial on the second floor, no one stops me, and I walk right through the high courtroom doors. He is short, Napoleonic little. His sable hair’s slicked back with at least a half-bottle of Wildroot. His skin is stretched and pale. He’s been kept from the light. His chin dares to be punched. His shoulders shrug beneath his shark skin suit. He appears subdued and exudes a cocky air. Jimmy’s eyes are darker than his hair. He seems tired. I stare and see him as a pacing panther behind the bars of the gallery rail, as he moves to the defendant’s table and reluctantly takes his chair. I swear he stops his oscillating eyes on mine and shakes his head like a pitcher rejecting a catcher’s signal.  His eyebrows grow taller. We are locked in each other’s crosshairs. And I seem to hear the words, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” float through the lint in the sun streaks that cut the air.


JG Bio PicJim Gustafson is the author of three books of poetry: Friar Fred’s Diary (Big Table 2018), Unassisted Living (Big Table 2017), and Driving Home (Aldrich Press 2013). He holds an MDiv from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Tampa. He teaches creative writing at Florida Gulf Coast University.  His work has most recently appeared in Rattle, The Red Wheelbarrow Review, The Main Street Rag, and The Tishman Review. Jim and his wife Connie live in Fort Myers where he reads, writes, teaches, and pulls weeds.

0817191448k+(1)a1Joyce Polance is a Chicago-based painter working in oils. Polance was born in New York City in 1965. She attended Wesleyan University and received a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has exhibited internationally and has work in many private and corporate collections. Polance is represented by Judy Ferrara Gallery in Three Oaks, MI and Elephant Room in Chicago. She may also be contacted directly for purchase of paintings.