Who Is Leaving Chalk At the Harrison Red Line Stop — And Why?

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life 20
Photo and forensic-looking annotations: Me.
I’ll get more pictures. You can’t see it as well from this distance but I wanted to show you how much there is on any given day. Maybe I should start an Instagram account just for this! Photo and forensic-looking annotations: Me.


There’s mystery afoot!

Actually, it’s underfoot — and it’s time to blow this thing wide open. I’ve been intending to write this post for months. Here we go.

Every time — and I mean every single time — I enter or exit the southwest entrance to the Red Line subway at Harrison, fresh, multicolored chalk is present on the stairwell down to the trains. These crumbles of chalk are fresh: Without fail, random, chocolate chip-sized chunks of yellow, blue, pink, purple, and/or white pieces seem to have been (very) recently crushed into the tiles in different spots on the landing between the two flights of stairs to and from street level, every time I come or go.

Yeah, it’s weird. I know. But I’m telling you: Someone is regularly dropping colored chalk on the Harrison Red Line subway stairs.

But who? And why?

Maybe the delay in sharing this peculiar discovery with you is due to my embarrassing — okay, delicious — fear that these chalk droppings (ew) are some kind of sign or signifier for a secret society and by noticing it and then cracking the case, I’m essentially making myself a character in a Dan Brown novel: The innocent blogger heroine plunged into the sick, twisted world of…something weird.

The novel — the first in the series, of course — would be called The Chalk Leaver and I would be very, very beautiful i this novel and in grave danger, having poked my nose and my laptop into places it does not belong! There would be a smolderingly attractive, precocious-but-mercurial young man who has crucial information that could be the key to everything — but he’s trapped in the receiving room! I would be on the run from this secret chalk society and at some point, me and the mercurial young man would be trapped in an elevator together and probably kiss. The end of the book would end with me and the mercurial young man in Tuscany, seamlessly blending into a crowd on a piazza. We wear Ray-Bans and…a map. Or something.

The second book would be titled something like Chalkduster and this book would go deep into my psyche as a character but also we’d get a lot of information about the secret society that marks its paths — its secret paths! — with chalk markings. Someone would die. I’m not sure who. Not me. Actually, the main villain would die but it would be revealed that he wasn’t even the baddest baddie and now that he’s gone, the real bad guy emerges in a cliffhanger for the third book!

The third book, Chalk Is Cheap, would be the best one yet, according to the New York Times. I’d definitely almost die. There would be a new love for sure, maybe a tall German…doctor. Something like that. And some of it would take place in the Sahara so that I could wear gorgeous khaki items and Isadora Duncan-y scarves and a pith helmet. There would be something about jewels and stolen art in this book. I would definitely be able to fly a Cessna in this one.

Seriously, though, I am really curious: What’s up with all that chalk at the Harrison stop? Has any other person in Chicago who uses this stop regularly noticed this? It’s kinda driving me crazy at this point; I do want to know. It’s weird, that fresh chalk all the time.

I would like to close on a dramatic note in the spirit of the Dan Brown novel series that is clearly good enough to option for a movie by this description alone. You’re going to help with this. Please imagine me in some kind of physical peril, like… Picture me dangling off of some craggy precipice — or at least imagine me very thirsty and underfed. And I look really good and I have lipstick on. Got it?

Okay, your line is:

YOU: Why, Mary? Why did you ask about the chalk? Just… Dammit, Mary! Why did you have to go looking for trouble? You could’ve just — (You turn away and put the back of your sleeve to your face , ashamed to let me see you cry.)

ME: (Smiling, sweet and frail.) Never stop looking at your feet, darling. You know that. You never know what you’ll find if you don’t look down. I think… I think it’s time to look…down at the world, now…

YOU: (Whirling on me, you shake me; I”m losing consciousness.) NO!!!

ME: (Hardly audible.) Don’t ever stop looking…for the…pink…chalk…

[the end for now]