Stray Seasons of a Fox
“Hey, Mr. Fox, why don’t you get out of the snow?” Rich yelled across the short distance of tracks.
The fox clearly hadn’t noticed Rich or Francesca until just then. At the sound of Rich’s yell, he leapt back on his hind legs in a defensive stance so quickly that his hat fell off and went tumbling down the tracks with the wind and snow, revealing two tall, pointy fox ears. After a few seconds, the fox regained his composure. He approached his edge of the tracks and responded in a voice that sounded like a tin whistle. “It is a terrifying fright to make your acquaintance this night. Why don’t you introduce yourself, sir? You are an accomplice to the wind in the theft of my top hat!”
“Sorry, Mr. Fox, I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m Rich. What’s your name?”
“My name is Mr. Fox,” Mr. Fox responded gruffly.
“Glad to meet you, Mr. Fox. Where are you off to tonight?”
“East Side, obviously. I am waiting for the oh-so-slow Red Line. It is horribly late tonight, and every night it seems these days. I have to get to the old king, out in the harbor lighthouse at the breakwater of the river, on the horizon of the lake. The old king is the reason for the seasons and this damnable weather!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What on earth do you think it means? What explanation did you have for something as strange as falling snow in fall, not to mention here on the North Side? Look at this weather!” The Fox held his paws in the air.
“I guess it is strange weather we have here. A little early to be snowing, that’s for sure.” Rich realized how erratic the weather had been all night. It had started ordinary, but since then had snowed, rained, and snowed some more. The wind was also temperamental.
“Well, of course the snow has come early. It never does come on time, not anymore. You see, the old king partitioned the city into the four sides some time ago, when he was still old by young standards, and the city was young by old standards. The old king decreed each side of the city should have its own season, as was customary for kingdoms of the time. The East Side received summer because of the many beaches, the water, and, of course, the magic. The North Side was given autumn for the many trees in that part of the city, so that they might be magnificently colored all year. The old king flipped a coin to decide which of the remaining two sides would get spring, and the South Side won it. The South Side was wild even back then, and so got all the wilder, being quickly overrun with the springtime wildflowers. The West Side got winter because there was no place left for it, and it has been a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy for the West Side ever since, to be honest—more of the cold and less of everything else out there, wherever ‘there’ is. I’m not certain where the North and South Sides stop and the West Side begins.”
Title: The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan
Author: Steve Wiley
“Did you know most anything that matters in this city was built by magic before it was built by men? Of course you didn’t. This city is different from other cities. The true history of it is unpublished. Lucky for you, I know it all by heart.”
~ Francesca Finnegan
In Chicago, a secret L train runs through the mythical East Side of the city. On that train, you’ll find a house-cat conductor, an alcoholic elf, a queen of the last city farm, the most curious wind, and an exceptional girl by the name of Francesca Finnegan.
When we first encounter Richard K. Lyons, he is a man who has long forgotten the one night, when he was still a boy called Rich, when Francesca invited him aboard the secret L for an adventure though the East Side. The night was a mad epic, complete with gravity-defying first kisses, mermaid overdoses, and princess rescues. Unfortunately for Rich, the night ended like one of those elusive dreams forgotten the moment you wake. Now, Rich is all grown up and out of childish adventures, an adult whose life is on the verge of ruin. It will take the rediscovery of his exploits with Francesca, and a reacquaintance with the boy he once was, to save him.
Steve is a father, husband, uncle, brother, friend, and purveyor of fairy stories. He grew up in and around Chicagoland, where he still lives with his wife and two kids. He has been published in an array of strange and serious places, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., to Crannóg magazine in Galway, Ireland. This is his first book. He has an undergraduate degree in something he has forgotten from Illinois State University and a graduate degree in something equally forgotten from DePaul University. You can email Steve at Lavenderlinepress@gmail.com, or visit thewileymancan on Instagram.
Chris is an artist who studied at Columbia College Chicago. He is a Chicago native and has lived here all his life. Chris’s paintings have been showcased in many local galleries and beyond. When he feels like it, he travels elsewhere to find inspiration. You can reach him at Chris.firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit _ccihon on Instagram.
Book Website: www.fairytalechicago.com