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 The true history of it is unpublished.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.
“What’s your favorite color?”
Francesca asked Rich the all-important color question after she’d introduced herself and they’d risen from the leafy park grounds. The color question was Francesca’s favorite, along with, “Can you play?” Richard the hops-drinking vice president of something preferred, “What do you do?” or, “Where do you golf?” Sadly, this was the second-to-last time Rich would answer the color question, and so marked the beginning of the end for him. Once people stop asking you what your favorite color is, you’re done for.
Rich decided then and there his favorite color was something like her hair. “Blue,” he said. “You?”
“Red. Reminds me of my red friend, the esteemed Mr. Fox, of the Red Line.” Rich wasn’t sure who or what she meant by her red friend, the esteemed Mr. Fox, of the Red Line, but decided against any questioning on the subject. She might think it rude, or stupid—he wasn’t exactly sure what the word “esteemed” meant.
“Let’s see, blue and red, red and blue, blue and red,” Francesca thought aloud. “Mix those two, add a dash of stardust, and we have a lavender. That’s settled, tonight we’ll go for a Lavender Line ride.”
Here, Rich felt he should correct her. She could talk about esteemed foxes all she wanted, but when it came to city trains, he was the expert. His uncle was employed by the Chicago Transportation Authority in an important office job, and had educated him in all there was to know about city transportation. Rich was sure there was no Lavender Line. There were the Red, Orange, Purple, Green, Blue, Pink, and Yellow lines. Definitely no Lavender in there. Maybe she’d meant Purple.
Steve Wiley, Author
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.