Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wrigleyville Ch. 8 — Bad Billy Gets Busy

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4., Chapter 5, Chapter 6 and
Chapter 7 .

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

(From Chapter 7) The man sitting in the chair in front of a television that is still on looks just like Steve Bartman 2003. Dark sweatshirt, green turtleneck, the Cubs cap and, of course, the glasses. He looks like he’s watching a game, the game. He’s got a pained expression, like it had just happened. He had reached out, and he knew his life would never be the same.

This poor guy was frozen in that moment, and he would definitely not be the same.

“I’d say he’s been dead since last night,” Kowalski says. “TV is on WGN. Time of death could coincide with the Cubs game. We’re processing the scene.”

Sullivan snaps out of his reverie.

“Jesus H. Christ,” he says.


“How does nobody see nothing?” Sullivan says in the car after a long day of processing the scene, talking to neighbors. “Nobody sees a guy lugging around a goat head. Nobody sees someone coming or going from two dead guys’ apartments. What we got, a ghost?”

“No sign of forced entry again,” Jackson says. “Again within a few blocks of Wrigley.”

As they pull up to the station, Sullivan says: “I’m off the clock and going to get a beer. You want one?”

“Will wonders never cease,” Jackson says.

“Forget it,” Sullivan says quickly. “Just thought we could run over the case, but screw you.”

“Jeez, Sullivan,” Jackson says. “You’re like dealing with one of them Siegfried and Roy tigers. One minute you’re all friendly and then you bite my head off. Shit man, I’ll get a beer.”

“Fine,” Sullivan barks. “Follow me.”

Jackson gets his car and pulls around. Sullivan pulls out and leads him a few miles from the station into Rogers Park where he pulls up to a hole in the wall bar that looks like it is avoiding attracting customers based on the half-lit Old Style sign in front.

The assorted old men at the bar look up when they enter and do a double take that Jackson knows all too well. But they turn their white heads back to the bar soon enough, exhausted by the strain of that extra look.

Sullivan orders a Budweiser draft, and Jackson says he’ll take one too.

“Can I get a shot of Jim Beam too?” Jackson asks the bartender, who nods assent.

“Make that two, too,” Sullivan says, glad that Jackson took the lead on something stronger than beer.

“Lot of Q-tips in this place,” Jackson says after the bartender walks away.

“Q-tips, what the hell are you talking about?” Sullivan says.

“Look around,” Jackson says smiling. “White hair. Q-tips.”

“Very funny,” Sullivan says. “You’re lucky they don’t swab your ass out of here. Back in the day …”

The bartender sets down their beers and pours the whiskey.

“That must have been way, way back in the day,” Jackson says.

Sullivan starts to smile but takes a long swig from his beer before Jackson can see him enjoy the joke.

“Here’s to catching this freak Cubs fan,” Jackson says, raising his shot.

Sullivan picks up the whiskey and they both knock it back.


Billy admired the photo of “Bartman” for a while and would have stared at it longer, but he knew he needed to get back to work.

So he sits and studies his charts, trying to come up with his next move. He is deep in thought, his eyes moving systematically over the names and numbers in front of him, but something keeps trying to wiggle its way from the outside into his consciousness. He automatically keeps it at bay until frustration starts to infiltrate his studies. He’s not seeing what he needs to see. He’s not, not …

“What the hell is that sound?” he hisses and stops his work and cocks his ear.

He hears the faint meowing of a cat. Again and again.

He stands and follows the sound to the door, which he unlocks. Stepping into the hall he stops and finds that it is louder here. Down the hall, to the front door. The sound is coming from just on the other side.

He takes a quick look through the peephole and then unlocks the deadbolts.

The long-haired cat on the other side looks up. It is not afraid. It walks up and before he can step back, it rubs its side against his leg, purring. He recognizes it as Mrs. Milito’s cat.

Billy looks down the stairs and seeing nobody, snatches up the cat and quickly closes the door. The deadbolts snap back into place.


“Enough of talking about the nut job that we know very little about,” Sullivan says, his words a little slower and a little freer due to the beers and whiskey. “Why the hell are you a White Sox fan, Jackson?”

“My dad,” Jackson says. “He followed the White Sox. He grew up on the South Side, so I guess it made sense. We’d sit there at night, him with a 40, me with a Dr. Pepper. We had Harry Caray back in those days. Jimmy Piersall. Falstaff, right? They drank Falstaff, I think. Shit, I don’t know. But it was a good time.”

“Yeah, Falstaff,” Sullivan says. “Man, that was some shitty beer. But Harry and Jimmy, they were funny. I’ll give you that.”

“You got a son, right?” Jackson says. “He a Cubs fan or you turn him to the White Sox with your endearing demeanor?”

“Very funny, Jackson,” Sullivan says.

“Really, though, he a Cubs fan? You watch games together,” Jackson says.

“Yeah, we watched games,” Sullivan says. “He was a Cubs fan. I don’t know now.”

“What, he switched, lives someplace else, what?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Sullivan says, taking a swig.

“What?” Jackson says.

“Doesn’t fucking matter,” Sullivan says, setting down his beer and looking at Jackson sternly but with a hint of sadness where the core of anger usually resides. “I’m out of here.”

“No big deal,” Jackson offers. “Didn’t mean to pry.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sullivan says. “Big day tomorrow. Later.”

He turns and shuffles out the door.


The next morning Billy bounds down the steps, ever-present crisp and clean Cubs hat on his head, and heads toward the front door of the building.

Mrs. Milito throws open her apartment door.

“Hi Billy,” she says. “I’m glad to catch you. Have you seen my Mittens? I can’t find him anywhere, and he never stays out like this.”

Her voice edges toward frantic.

“Your cat. Why no, Mrs. Milito. I haven’t seen him,” Billy says. “But if I do I’ll bring him right home.”

He pulls open the door and then turns back.

“You have a good day, Mrs. Milito,” he says with a smile.


The sun hits Sullivan’s eye and causes him to twitch, but he remains asleep. The light expands across his face and he squints.

He looks around and realizes with a sinking feeling that he didn’t make it out of his recliner. Two beer cans sit on the table next to him. The television is on.

“This day is gonna suck,” he says, pushing the chair to an upright position, which makes his head spin a little.


“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” the little voice repeats over and over.

“What buddy?” Jackson says, opening one eye to see his son’s head five inches away from his own.

He’s standing next to the bed. “You gonna stay in bed all day?” he says.

“Not all day, buddy,” Jackson says. “Maybe 15 minutes.”

“15 minutes,” his son says. “That’s forever. Mommy says that if you’re going to be out all hours you gotta pay the price. How much you gotta pay Mommy, Dad?”

“Probably a lot, buddy,” Jackson says with a weak smile and struggles to sit up.

Continue to Chapter 9.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Wrigleyville Chapter 7 — Bye Bye Bartman?

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4., Chapter 5 and Chapter 6.

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

(From Chapter 6) “You know we’re going to check into all of this,” Jackson says. “And we respectfully ask that you come to the station and provide us with some DNA. Want to rule you out.”

“Sure, whatever helps,” O’Reilly says, sounding really tired. “Just please don’t get me in trouble with work. Really. Please.”

“We’ll try,” Jackson says.

“I need a drink,” O’Reilly says.

“Don’t we all,” Sullivan says as he and Jackson walk away, leaving O’Reilly looking confused and deflated.


More than a week had passed since Sullivan and Jackson spoke to O’Reilly. The two cops sat in the precinct house going over the file.

“We’ve got a dead goat’s head filled with the blood of a woman, likely enough to say we’ve got a homicide,” Sullivan says. “Dropped off at Wrigley Field.”

“We’ve got a dead male, no personal connection to the Cubs, with a Leon Durham baseball card on his corpse,” Jackson says.

“We’ve got nothing on where this goat came from,” Sullivan says, looking through a file.

“Baseball card is nothing special,” Jackson says. “Topps made a bunch of them. Not rare or worth anything.”

“So we’ve got squat,” Sullivan says.

“Pretty much,” Jackson says.

They both lean back in their chairs and stare into the distance.

“Was watching the Cubs the other day. What do you think about that Baez kid?” Sullivan says.

“What? You talkin’ to me?” Jackson says.

“Yeah, I’m talking to you,” Sullivan says.

“Uh, uh, I think I’m gonna cry Sullivan,” Jackson says with a smile. “You never talk to me except to bark out orders about the job. And for all I hear about you being a Cubs fan, I was thinking you never watched a game in your life ’cause every time I talk about it, you …”

“Shut the F up,” Sullivan says. “Just forget it.”

“All right, all right, just so excited about having a civil discussion,” Jackson says as Sullivan glares. “Really, OK. You know what? I think he’s going to be damn good. Seems raw, gonna strike out a lot at first, but the ball jumps off his bat. What you think?”

“He does strike out a lot,” Sullivan says. “But he’s the first guy with three homers in his first three games since 1954.”

“Holy crap, now John Sullivan is quoting me stats,” Jackson says. “You drunk?”

“That’s it,” Sullivan says. “I’m done. You’re a smart ass. No decent manners.”

Jackson stops smirking. “You know what, you’re right,” Jackson says. “Sorry man. And that is correct, 1954. I figure when you do something in baseball, a game they been playin’ a damn long time, that only one or two guys have ever done, that’s something.”

“Who knows,” Sullivan says. “Sandberg sucked to start his career, and he turned out all right.”

“True,” Jackson says. “Very small sample size. Better to not get to excited. Not like how I feel about how we’re bonding.” Jackson smirks again.

“Idiot,” says Sullivan, not looking exactly happy but not quite as miserable as he has lately.

The phone rings, Sullivan picks it up and any semblance of contentment in his demeanor evaporates.

“We gotta go,” he says.


Billy was angry at Mrs. Milito for poking her nose into his business. Really angry. But that was then. He now feels much more forgiving. He also doesn’t want to have a bad relationship with the landlady who doesn’t bother him in his apartment. It’s just these interactions on the front porch that are bothersome.

“Hi, Mrs. Milito,” Billy says when he sees her on the porch again. “Sorry about the other day. I was in a bad mood.”

She perks right up. “Oh Billy, thanks for saying so,” she says. “I felt really bad for butting into your business. You’re a good tenant, don’t cause no problems. Don’t want to drive you away because I’m a nosy old lady.”

“But you’re not nosy, are you Mrs. Milito?” Billy says.

She hesitates, sensing that dark something in him that she saw last week. “Uh, no,” she says. “Of course not. You pay your rent on time. Keep the common areas clean. Your apartment is spotless, as far as I can tell.”

“Have you been in my apartment, Mrs. Milito?” Billy says, the anger returning.

“No, no,” she says. “Just from what I’ve seen from your door. I mean, from when you are there. When I get the rent, I mean.”

Seeing her so flustered, Billy doesn’t feel bad. He feeds off her fear like a starving man gobbles up a crust of bread. But he doesn’t want her to be so afraid she would change their arrangement, so he tries to defuse the tension the best he can for someone who doesn’t actually feel empathy toward the uncomfortable person.

“It’s OK, it’s OK, Mrs. Milito,” he says smiling. “I’m just messing with you.”

He laughs and wonders if she notices that it’s forced. Her broadening smile reveals that she hasn’t noticed.

“Oh Billy,” she says.

Seeing that everything is back to normal between them, Billy is done with this interaction. He wants out as fast as he can. He had wanted to run up to his apartment, to look at his collection, but he had waited because he knew smoothing things over had to be done. Now, he’s done.

“Gotta go,” Mrs. Milito. “Game on soon.” And he walks away before she can get a word out.

Upstairs, he unlocks the two dead bolts and enters the dark apartment. The shades are drawn. What little light leaks in from the sunset outside reveals a spartan, neat living space. No big screen TV, no leather couch and recliner — just a wooden dining room chair sitting next to a basic green sofa and ugly coffee table. All of the furniture looks as if it came from six different garage sales and was procured for its cheap price and with no regard for how it would all fit together.

Billy walks through the room without registering anything about the contents. He heads down a long hall and stops at the room in the back. The padlock stands in stark contrast to the warm orange wood of the six-panel door. He unlocks it, enters and closes the door quickly behind himself. He secures a slide lock on the other side and stops for a second to listen. Nothing.

He looks up to take in the place where he feels safest in the world. At first glance, you would think it was a a journalist’s office. A sports journalist. Cubs banners, posters and memorabilia cover the walls and a bookshelf in the corner. But once your eyes adjust to the dim light, you’d also see the newspaper clippings of a recent murder in the city. And some kind of charts or brackets, big ones, on the walls. In the midst of this office setting, there is also a small refrigerator in the corner with a glass door revealing test tubes that looks like it would be much more at home in a lab than in a sports writer’s home office.

Billy takes a photo out of his pocket and pins it up on the wall next to the newspaper clippings. He sits back in a desk chair, smiles broadly and spins himself around. On the way back he looks again. Looks just like him, he thinks, just like him. He giggles.

Bartman, only something not right.


“Sweet Jesus, it’s him,” Sullivan says. “I wondered if we should warn the guy, but we thought we were smart. He didn’t kill Durham, just left his card, we thought. Now Bartman’s dead.”

“It’s not him,” Jackson says.

“My ass, it’s not him,” Sullivan says. “Believe me, I remember what the guy looks like.”

“Jackson’s right,” Kowalski says. “It’s not him.”

“Take away the hat, glasses and headphones,” Jackson says. “And it’s not him. If you think about it, can’t imagine that Bartman is still walking around with the same getup he wore in 2003. Not even Bartman would look like Bartman if we found him dead.”

Sullivan just stares.

“Don’t worry, Sullivan” Kowalski says. “We all had the same reaction.”

“Just the reaction he wants us to have,” Jackson says. “This is one twisted mother.”

The man sitting in the chair in front of a television that is still on looks just like Steve Bartman 2003. Dark sweatshirt, green turtleneck, the Cubs cap and, of course, the glasses. He looks like he’s watching a game, the game. He’s got a pained expression, like it had just happened. He had reached out, and he knew his life would never be the same.

This poor guy was frozen in that moment, and he would definitely not be the same.

“I’d say he’s been dead since last night,” Kowalski says. “TV is on WGN. Time of death could coincide with the Cubs game. We’re processing the scene.”

Sullivan snaps out of his reverie.

“Jesus H. Christ,” he says.

Continue to Chapter 8.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Wrigleyville Chapter 6 — Possible Suspect

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4. and Chapter 5.

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

(From Chapter 5) “Catch him,” Gloria Johnson yells a little too loudly, and then when they turn around she lowers her voice. “He was a good boy. A good boy. I wish I knew more about him as a man. Oh God.”

Tears stream down her face. She can barely talk but chokes out, “Talk to Bob O’Reilly. Ask him about our son. And ask him to call me.”

Her face snaps back into composure like someone who steps away from the distortion of a funhouse mirror.
“I want to know too,” she says.


Heading back to the city, they track down the whereabouts of Bob O’Reilly. Lives Near North, pretty fancy building. They get a phone number and leave a message. Jackson does a Google search and figures out that he works at the Board of Trade.

“Let’s just pay him a visit at work,” Sullivan says, “so we can get the show on the road.”

“I had a cousin who was a runner at the Board of Trade,” Jackson says. “Did pretty good for himself in the end.”

“Ain’t that nice,” Sullivan says. “Aspire to be Mr. Charles Johnson, did he?”

“Damn, that man was more twisted than a jumbo ballpark pretzel,” Jackson says. “You imagine turning your back on your son like that, gay or not?”

Sullivan sits in silence.


In the lobby of the Board they find O’Reilly’s firm on the directory and head for the elevators.

“You see that Cubbies game last night?” Jackson says.

“I thought you were a White Sox fan,” Sullivan says.

“True that, as they say,” Jackson says laughing. “But I like to keep up on the enemy. Sixteen innings. Your boy John Baker, the catcher, pitched an inning and then scored the winning run.”

“Yeah, I fell asleep,” Sullivan says.

“What kind of fan are you?” Jackson says. “Baker became one of like four position players in the last million years to get a win as a pitcher. It’s history.”

The elevator opens and they get in, press the button.

“History. I know history,” Sullivan says. “The Cubs never win. That’s the history. I’m a fan, but it’s a last place team, and I fell asleep.”

“Well, it was the longest game in Cubs history, and you are really old, so I guess I can see …” Jackson says.

“Screw you,” Sullivan says as the elevator doors open.


“How was work today, Billy?” says an old but strong looking woman sitting in a rocker on the stone porch of a two-family house.

“Good, Mrs. Milito,” says a man in a shiny Cubs jacket and crisp hat walking up the stairs.

The sports apparel and slight build make him look younger than he probably is. He moves quickly toward the door, head down.

“Where you going so fast, Billy, got a big date?” Mrs. Milito says smiling.

“Very funny, Mrs. Milito,” Billy says, sounding annoyed but remaining polite.

“I’m just joking Jimmy,” she says, “but there is that nice girl across the street. What’s her name. Evelyn? That’s it. Evelyn. Such a nice girl.”

Billy fumbles with his keys trying to get the right one in the lock. As she keeps talking he drops them.

“And I see how she looks at you Jimmy,” she continues. “She likes you. I’d bet this chair I’m sitting in, she does.”

He recovers the keys and stands up. Whereas he had been flustered, he know looks suddenly poised.

“It’s none of your business, Mrs. Milito,” he says coldly, enunciating each word.

Her smile fades in the shadow of his glare.

“I’ve got to go,” he says as she just stares open-mouthed. “Game’s on in an hour and (his voice brightens) I’ve got to eat.”

He goes through the door.

“Good night,” she whispers behind him.


“What you think about that Arrieta kid?” Jackson says as they approach the receptionist’s desk of a swanky, modern office.

“I don’t think much about him,” Sullivan says and then turns toward the pretty woman behind the desk. “Excuse me, Chicago police, we’d like to talk to Bob O’Reilly. He works here, right?”

“Um,” she says looking intimidated. “Yes, he works here. I mean, uh, let me see if he’s in.”

She picks up the phone and a moment later says, “Hi Mr. O’Reilly, the, uh, police are here to see you.”

She listens for a few moments and then says, “OK, yes sir. I’ll tell them sir. Yes, yes, OK.”

She hangs up and looks up.

“He will be out shortly,” she says. “If you’ll just take a seat over there.”

They look over to the row of seats in the waiting room.

“We’ll just wait here,” Sullivan says.

“Arrieta man,” Jackson says. “You sure you’re a Cubs fan? His ERA is in the 2s. Ball darts this way and that way. Looks like he could be the real deal. For a sad sack Cub, I mean.”

Sullivan is not paying attention. He’s looking around the room and sees someone walk quickly out of an office down a hall to his left. The man turns away from them and darts a glance over his shoulder. He picks up his pace down the hall.

Jackson follows Sullivan’s gaze and sees the man too.

“I see it,” he says quietly to Sullivan. “He’s on the move.”

He leans in toward the receptionist.

“Ma’am, look to your right right now. No, not at me. Now, look to your right,” Jackson says.

She does.

“That’s Bob O’Reilly, isn’t it?” he says. “The guy hightailing it out of here.”

She nods, looking a bit shellshocked.

O’Reilly ducks into a door.

“Where does that door go?” Sullivan snaps.

She just stares.

“Where?” he barks.

“Stairwell,” she says absently and then turning to Sullivan says, “Back stairs, down to the parking garage.”

“There’s a parking attendant, yes?” Jackson says.

“Yes,” she says.

“And you have the phone number, right?” he says.

“Yes,” she says.

“Call him, NOW, and tell him that the police are here and do not want them to give him his car until we get downstairs,” Jackson says. “Got it?”

“Yes,” she says and picks up the phone.

They go down the hall toward the stairwell door. Jackson looks over his shoulder to see the receptionist talking on the phone.

When they get downstairs, O’Reilly is arguing with a couple of guys outside the booth where they handle the valet business.

“Who told you not to give me my car?” he says.

“That would be us,” Sullivan says walking up.

“Why? What do you want with me?” O’Reilly says, obviously rattled despite his expensive suit and well kept hair.

“Why are you duckin’ us?” Jackson says.

“What, I’m just leaving work,” O’Reilly says.

“Hmmm, right after your receptionist told you we were here to see you,” Sullivan says. “That’s what we call suspicious.”

“Let’s go talk someplace,” Jackson says.

They all start to walk back toward the interior of the building.

“Maybe I need a lawyer,” O’Reilly says.

“Maybe you need a lawyer or you need a lawyer,” Jackson says.

“I don’t know,” O’Reilly says, sounding surprisingly like he could cry. “What do you want?”

“We want to talk about Thomas Johnson,” Sullivan says.

“Tommy, Tommy,” he says. “What about Tommy. He’s dead.”

“Yeah, and him being dead and you trying to ditch the cops looks kind of bad, don’t you think?” Sullivan says.

“We should do this at the station,” Jackson says.

“No, no station,” O’Reilly blurts out. “No station.”

“Why?” Sullivan says.

“Tommy was my best friend,” O’Reilly says. “His death. I don’t know anything about that.”

“So why you runnin’?” Jackson says.

“Oh god,” O’Reilly says. “I thought you were here for something else.”

He looks around.

“Look, I’m a mess,” he says lowering his voice. “I’m in some trouble. Partying. Money problems. Work is on my ass.”

“Profits going up your nose?” Sullivan says. “Tommy involved in that?”

“Tommy? Christ no,” O’Reilly says. “He didn’t get mixed up in any of my crap. He was the one trying to help me, trying to help me get my shit together.”

“Maybe that pissed you off,” Sullivan says.

“What? No,” O’Reilly says. “I loved Tommy.”

“Oh, you loved Tommy, you say?” Sullivan says. “Lovers’ quarrel?”

“No wonder people hate cops,” O’Reilly says. “You guys … look, Tommy was my friend. From childhood. I knew he was gay. Big deal. I’m not gay. Big deal. Things are different that when you grew up in the middle ages.”

Sullivan looks like he’s getting really pissed, but Jackson interrupts their back-and-forth.

“And the night he died?” Jackson says.

“I saw him,” O’Reilly says. “He met me for a drink. I was talking out my ass. Under the influence, you might say. He was trying to talk some sense into me. I blew him off. He left. And I never saw him again.”

His voice trails off.

“You know we’re going to check into all of this,” Jackson says. “And we respectfully ask that you come to the station and provide us with some DNA. Want to rule you out.”

“Sure, whatever helps,” O’Reilly says, sounding really tired. “Just please don’t get me in trouble with work. Really. Please.”

“We’ll try,” Jackson says.

“I need a drink,” O’Reilly says.

“Don’t we all,” Sullivan says as he and Jackson walk away, leaving O’Reilly looking confused and deflated.

Continue to Chapter 7.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Wrigleyville Chapter 5 — Victim Not A Cubs Fan

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4..

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

(From Chapter 4) “Agree. And we’ve got another thing to think about,” Jackson says.

“What’s that?” Sullivan says.

“There is no limit to Cubs heartache,” Jackson says. “1989, 2003, didn’t they lose in ’32. We’re talking over 100 years. Let’s hope this clown isn’t pissed about it all.”


“Jesus,” Sullivan says. “Bartman.”

“No shit,” Jackson says. “Do we have to go find the guy?”

“I don’t know,” Sullivan says. “This nut job didn’t kill the goat guy. He didn’t kill Durham.”

“I hear ya. And that leads us back to who are these victims and do they have a connection to the Cubs?” Jackson says.

He opens the file on his desk.

“Thomas Johnson, 32 years old, single, no evidence that he was a Cubs fan, or a baseball fan at all,” Jackson says.

“And the blood from the goat is not saying it was a Cubs fan,” Sullivan says. “We have any family on the second vic?”

“Yes, the Johnsons of Oak Park,” Jackson says.

“Let’s go have a chat,” Sullivan says. “Good to get out of here. And I need a smoke.”

“You smoking again?” Jackson says. “What’s up with that? What does Eileen have to say about that?”

“She says screw you,” Sullivan says. “Let’s go.”


On the way to the Johnson house, they give the Oak Park cops a courtesy call to tell them what they’re up to. One of the detectives on duty is appreciative and helpful, telling them that the Johnsons are basically a pillar of the community. Father is in financial something or other. Mother does a lot of church work. Old school.

Jackson and Sullivan pull up to a large, brick Colonial in North Oak Park. Manicured lawn, Mercedes in the driveway. Everything looks perfect, except their son is dead. This is probably going to be awkward, Jackson thinks, and Sullivan feels the same but doesn’t admit it to himself because he’s thinking “mother f’ing rich people.”

As they walk up the front walk, it’s clear to both of them that they are fitting in like, well, like a black man in a lily white neighborhood. And Sullivan doesn’t feel any more at home in his second-rate suit and bad haircut.

They ring the bell and wait. And wait. They don’t even want to look at each other. In another neighborhood, one of them would say “What the fuck, the car’s here. They’re home. Answer the f’ing door.”

This time they wait quietly and feel weird about themselves for doing it.

Finally, a perfectly rich looking woman in her 50s answers the door. She’s very composed but looks like she had to work a little to get to that point.

“Can I help you?” she says.

“Hello ma’am,” Sullivan says. “I’m John Sullivan and this is James Jackson. We’re with the Chicago police and we’re investigating the death of your son. We’d like to talk to you. We’re really sorry for your loss. Is this a good time?”

“No, it is not,” Mrs. Gloria Johnson says. “We’re trying to plan the funeral of our son. It sucks, actually.”

She doesn’t shut the door, however, and both Jackson and Sullivan have had doors shut in their faces. But they are a bit rattled by her frankness and momentarily frozen.

Jackson shakes it off.

“Totally understand, ma’am,” he says. “We won’t take long, and it’s important to talk to you as soon as we can.”

“Oh God,” she says. “I guess you should come in.”

She turns away leaving the door open and they follow her in.

“Who the hell is it,” a booming male voice calls from somewhere deeper in a house that looks like it has depths of rooms.

“It’s the police,” Gloria Johnson says.

“Jesus H. Christ,” the voice says. “And you let them in? I don’t want to fucking talk to them.”

But the three of them have now passed through a large living room that looks like in has never been lived in and are entering a side room with many windows and more comfortable looking furniture.

“Well, they’re here,” she says. “Right here.”

“Hello Mr. Johnson,” Jackson says. “James Jackson, and this is my partner John Sullivan. Sorry for your loss.”

He extends his hand, but Mr. Johnson doesn’t acknowledge it. He barely looks up from some pile of papers he’s examining.

“Yes, sorry for your loss, but we’re trying to catch your son’s, ah, killer and need to act fast,” Sullivan says. “And any information you can give us would be very helpful.”

“What the hell information would I have?” Mr. Johnson says.

“Sir?” Jackson says.

“Don’t give me any ‘Sir’ crap,” Johnson says. “That gonna help you get what you want? Bullshit.”

“I was just saying …” Jackson says.

But Sullivan interrupts.

“Anything you can tell us about your son’s life would help us,” he says.

“I didn’t know dick about my son’s life,” Johnson says, and then turning to his wife says, “Gloria, why do we have to do this? Who cares how he died? He made choices, and now he’s dead. Those were his choices. That’s it, right? Dead. He’s dead.”

He puts his head down and looks like a robot whose batteries are running down.

“It does matter,” Gloria Johnson says looking directly at the top of her husband’s head. “I want to know who did this to him. I want to know.”

Her voice starts to break, but she gathers herself and turns toward the policeman.

“Our son is, uh, was gay,” she says with a much more business-like voice. “Charles here couldn’t handle that, but that’s the truth.”

Charles Johnson grunts but doesn’t look up.

“We don’t know much about his life (she glares at her husband’s bald spot) because we turned our backs on him,” Gloria Johnson says.

“Bad relationship? Anybody that would want to hurt him?” Jackson says.

“No, uh, well we don’t really know,” she says. “I wish we did.”

“Places he frequented, anybody he hung out with?” Sullivan adds.

“WE wouldn’t know,” Charles Johnson barks.

“My God, Charles,” Gloria Johnson says, almost sobbing. “They’re trying to help. They’re trying to help. They’re trying to help.”

The facade of Gloria Johnson starts to collapse like a slow motion video of a building imploding. She appears visibly shorter, less sophisticatedly beautiful. The tears flow and she collapses back into an arm chair.

“Ma’am, we’re really sorry,” Jackson says. “Just a few more questions.”

“Any friends, any that you know of?” Sullivan says.

“Bob O’Reilly,” Charles Johnson spits out. “Went to high school with him. He’s the only one I know that stuck with him through, through …”

“OK, thanks,” Jackson says. “Just one more question, and it’s kind of weird.”

Both Gloria and Charles Johnson look up.

“Any connection to the Cubs?” Jackson says. “Specifically the 1984 Cubs.”

“The Cubs?” Charles Johnson says. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“He lived near Wrigley Field,” Gloria Johnson says.

“We know that,” Sullivan responds. “But any other connection? Loved the team? Maybe back in ’84. Went to a lot of games? Knew a player? Anything?”

“Loved the team?” Charles Johnson says. “Are you kidding me? Didn’t you hear my wife? He was queer. Baseball? Are you frickin’ kidding me? 1984! I cared, I cared plenty. You don’t think I tried? Jesus H. Christ. You’ve got to be kidding …” He trails off.

“Well, just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you don’t like …” Jackson starts to say, but Charles Johnson stops him with a glare. “I’m just saying,” he mutters quietly.

“OK, well thank you for your time,” Sullivan says. “We’ll be in touch. We’re doing everything we can to catch your son’s killer.”

“Do whatever you want,” Charles Johnson says angrily, not looking up.

The two cops turn around and start for the door. Gloria Johnson follows, and after Jackson opens the door and starts to walk out ahead of Sullivan, she clears her throat. They stop and look back.

She just stares at them with tears in her eyes, looking too vulnerable for her picture perfect environment.

Jackson and Sullivan turn away and start down the walk.

“Catch him,” Gloria Johnson yells a little too loudly, and then when they turn around she lowers her voice. “He was a good boy. A good boy. I wish I knew more about him as a man. Oh God.”

Tears stream down her face. She can barely talk but chokes out, “Talk to Bob O’Reilly. Ask him about our son. And ask him to call me.”

Her face snaps back into composure like someone who steps away from the distortion of a funhouse mirror.
“I want to know too,” she says.

Continue to Chapter 6

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Wrigleyville Chapter 4 — Cubs Heartbreak

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

On the way to the crime scene, Sullivan corrects Jackson.

“Technically, this isn’t another body,” he says. “This is our first body. Gotta a lot of blood from the first one, and a body would make this a heck of a lot easier. Maybe we’ll get a break here. And we got to remember that these two cases might not be linked. We might not get this one.”

Jackson hears him, knows that’s how they should approach it but has a feeling the baseball card is too random to not be related.

The call takes them to the 3700 block of North Greenview, to a clean looking, brick two flat.

Tape is up, uniforms milling around.

“Sgt. Kowalski, we meet again,” Jackson says.

“Hey guys,” she says. “You guys got called in because of the obvious baseball connection, but it’s tough to see anything else related.”

Jackson sounds interested. “They said baseball card. Whose baseball card?”

“Take a look,” Kowalksi says.

They enter the first floor of the building.

“No sign of forced entry,” Kowalski says.

Apartment looks to be in order. They head down a narrow hall to a bedroom on the right.

There lying on a made bed wearing nothing is a white male.

“Neighbors didn’t hear anything, didn’t see anything,” Kowalski says.

“Of course,” replies Sullivan. “Who found him?”

“Cleaning service,” Kowalski says.

“So the guy was doing OK if he had a cleaning service,” Sullivan says. “Drugs?”

“They’ll run him through the system, but nothing obvious,” Kowalski says. “Looks like he was strangled.”

“He looks arranged,” Jackson says.

“You think so?” Sullivan says with a sneer.

And the body is reposed as if in a coffin, arms peacefully arranged with his hands crossed on his chest, with one thing that doesn’t fit — a baseball card between his fingers.

“Leon Durham,” Kowalski says. “The baseball card, I mean.”

“Damn, Leon Durham,” Jackson says. “Pretty good player,” and looking at Sullivan, “for a Cub.”

Sullivan grunts.


Back at the station, Sullivan and Jackson go over what they have.

“Likely homicide but no body,” Sullivan says. “Goat’s head with an earring dumped at Wrigley Field.”

“No. 2,” Jackson says, “we have a body with a baseball card — Leon Durham — which to me establishes an interesting connection.”

“Gee, you think so?” Sullivan rips.

“Yeah, some old man Cubs fan has finally had enough and is knocking people off,” Jackson says. “Say, where were you last night?”

Sullivan just shakes his head as Jackson laughs.

“Not just the obvious Cubs connection,” Jackson says, “but I’m talking about specific heartbreak in Cubs land. The goat, that’s from 1945, the last time the Cubs were in the World Series. Can you believe that shit? That still blows my mind, that they can’t even get to the big dance, not once in all those years. You really have to be inept to …”

“Shut the F up Jackson,” Sullivan interrupts. “What is your point?”

“Yeah, yeah, so 1945, a guy, I think his name was Billy Cyanide or something like that, a Greek guy, Billy Sianis, that’s it, his goat gets kicked out of Wrigley Field because it stank” Jackson says. “He puts the curse on the Cubs saying they’ll never win again.”

“Yeah, and?” Sullivan says.

“And now we’ve got Leon Durham, more Cubs heartbreak,” Jackson says.

“The ball between his legs,” Sullivan says.

“Opened the floodgates in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the ’84 NLCS,” Jackson says. “Sutcliffe and the Cubs fell apart after leading that series 2-0. Padres went to the World Series.”

“Everyone thought it was the Cubs’ year that year,” Sullivan says wistfully.

“I don’t know if they would have beaten Detroit,” Jackson says, “but they would have had a chance.”

Sullivan is tempted to comment on Jackson actually giving the Cubs a chance to do anything, but he regains focus.

“So we’ve got some nut job who is pissed about Cubs failures of the past?” Sullivan says. “But what do the victims have to do with it? Random?”

“That’s the easiest explanation,” Jackson says. “Guy snapped, kills people and leaves evidence of his angst.”

“But it does seem too simple for all the effort he’s putting into this,” Sullivan says.

“Agree. And we’ve got another thing to think about,” Jackson says.

“What’s that?” Sullivan says.

“There is no limit to Cubs heartache,” Jackson says. “1989, 2003, didn’t they lose in ’32. We’re talking over 100 years. Let’s hope this clown isn’t pissed about it all.”

Continue to Chapter 5

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Wrigleyville Chapter 3 — Swing And A Miss

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

Sullivan awakes with a start, feeling hot and sweaty all over except for the cool wetness of the beer can in his hand.

“What the hell?” he asks himself.

He had been dreaming, and the images stuck with him for longer than the usual few moments upon waking.

In the dream he had been in a big crowd on the street, but he wasn’t working. He was celebrating. All of these people, lots of people were outside Wrigley, and someone shouted “I can’t believe they won the World Series!” He realized that that someone was his son. As he wrapped his brain around seeing his son for the first time in a long time, a smile started to break through the hardened frowns on his face, and then another person emerged from the shadows. His wife.

She smiled lovingly — like the day they were married — and opened her arms. He went to her and his son bear-hugged both of them and the crowd yelled and fireworks went off in the distance and the warm night swirled around him, and he was … happy.

And then he tripped and fell backward. He landed on the sidewalk as the crowd parted. Stunned, he looked around at what he had tripped over. The goat’s head. Blood still spilling from it. The eyes fixed on him. He recoiled and looked up. But his family wasn’t there. There were no fireworks. No celebrating crowd. It was the crime scene from earlier in the night, and all the cops and technicians were looking at him.

That’s when he woke up sweating and alone.

Sullivan takes a big slug from the beer, nearly finishing off three-quarters of a can, and heads off to the shower.


When Jackson gets back to the precinct, voice mails are waiting for him. Preliminary forensics shows that the bulk of the blood in the head did come from a person — type O — and there was enough of it that this does look like a homicide. The earring is platinum with a couple of carats of diamonds. Not cheap and looks custom. Not much on the goat except that the head was severed with a serrated knife. Likely find out more later.

Jackson thinks this thing could be wrapped up quickly with a missing persons hit using the earring and some personal connection to the victim. But some instinct tells him it won’t be that easy.

Just as he’s thinking that Sullivan walks in.

“What you got?” he says. “Missing person killed by boyfriend, bingo bango, right?”

Jackson fills him in.


While CSI tracks the origin of the earring, Jackson and Sullivan send a patrol to canvas around Wrigley for witnesses, and their initial report gives them nothing. They’ll keep checking on delivery drivers etc., but it doesn’t look good. Somebody would have remembered a guy dumping a goat’s head, probably would have even reported it. It looks like the perp chose a very quiet part of the day in a big city and got lucky.

They also hear back from missing persons — nada.

They do a quick search and discover a couple of wholesale meat plants within a few miles of Wrigley. They decide to pay a visit themselves.

In the car, Sullivan says “The goat, the frickin’ goat. I really didn’t want to deal with this goat.”

Both places — one near Lincoln and Racine and the other close to Irving Park and Western — yield nothing but a stink that both Sullivan and Jackson find very difficult to shake after they leave. The companies don’t deal in whole animals and act more as middle men between the processing plants and the restaurants all around the city. They could probably get you a goat head, but nobody had asked for one.

Sitting in the car eating a couple of hot dogs — it was the only thing they could agree to eat — Sullivan says, “Screw that goat chase. Jackson, for once I’d like to hear you go off one of your asinine tangents. What do you think about this Arrieta kid the Cubs have?”

“He ain’t no Chris Sale, I’ll tell you that,” Jackson says, perking up to the idea of getting their minds off what they’ve been dealing with.

“What does Chris Sale have to do with anything?” Sullivan asks. “Just forget it.”

“OK, old man, settle down,” Jackson says smiling wide. “I was just saying you can’t compare the White Sox’s promising young starter to your retread from Baltimore.”

“Retread or not, he’s pitching great,” Sullivan says.

“I’ll give you that,” Jackson says. “He’s just never done it for an extended period of time. I think his career ERA is around 5.”

Jackson’s phone rings, and both men stare coldly at it. He picks it up and listens and nods.

“We might have something,” he says after hanging up.

“We already got something,” Sullivan snaps.

“I know. I know,” Jackson replies. “But it’s another body. A guy this time.”

“Yeah, so?”

“He was holding a baseball card,” Jackson says.

“Crap.”

Continue to Chapter 4

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.