Tag Archives: Bartman

Wrigleyville Ch. 9 — Goat Clears The Way

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, Chapter 7 and Chapter 8.

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

(From Chapter 8) “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.


Sullivan and Jackson regroup with their CO at the station, and these meetings are now getting uncomfortable for everyone. They need answers, everyone knows they need answers, and everyone knows they don’t have them right now.

Sullivan can almost feel the weight of the dead bodies pressing him down toward the earth. “Just a hangover,” he thinks, but the thought doesn’t lighten his load. It’s all he can do to not collapse to the floor.

“You OK, Sullivan?” the CO says. “Rough night?”

“I’m fine,” Sullivan snaps, looking from him to Jackson. “What have you got Jackson? Thoughts?”

Jackson starts to go over the case again, and Sullivan’s mind returns to the weight on his head, his shoulders, pushing him down. Two dead bodies, one of them that Johnson kid whose parents turned on him, are crushing him. He strains his head up and can almost see the goat head being shoved at his forehead. Pushing, pushing, heavier, heavier, can’t hold it back.

“What?” Jackson says. “What the hell you talkin’ about?”

Sullivan snaps out of it, feeling lighter but confused.

“I didn’t say nothing,” Sullivan says.

Jackson and the CO look at each other.

“Uh, yeah, John,” the CO says. “You said ‘Goats in the air?’ What does that mean?”

Sullivan looks baffled.

“The goat, the goat,” he says quickly, his mind scrambling. “Goats in the air, goats in the air …”

Jackson’s mouth is agape and the CO’s face hardens. There have been rumors about Sullivan’s private life, but it never affected his work enough to intervene. And now he’s gone off the rails.

“Jesus Sullivan,” the CO blurts.

“The air,” Sullivan says again. “The airport, the airport. I knew I had seen something about goats. We couldn’t find where the guy got the goat, but O’Hare has been using goats to clear vegetation. I read it.”

All three men look visibly relieved.

“OK, good,” the CO says. “Check it out. Get going.”

On the way out, Jackson turns to Sullivan and quietly says, “You OK?”

“I’m fine,” Sullivan snaps. “Let’s go.”


“You should really call your dad.”

“He never answers.”

“Still.”

“I know.”

John Sullivan Jr. sits at a table outside a coffee shop in downtown Naperville across the table from his wife.

“If I am ready to forgive him,” Alicia Smith-Sullivan says, “then you can forgive him. Or at least talk to him.”

“I don’t know that I’ll ever get over it,” Johnny Sullivan says. “In this day and age, a grown man can turn his back on his only son because (lowering his voice) he marries a black woman. Are you kidding me?”

“I know, I know,” she says.

“I mean, can he be a worse stereotype?” he says. “Irish, bigoted, hard-drinking Chicago cop? What a joke.”

“Does your mother talk to him?” she asks.

“Not that I know of,” he says and then standing. “Speak of the devil. Mom.”

Eileen Sullivan walks up to the table. She’s a slight woman but well dressed. She does not look like she would be married to the aforementioned stereotype. And though she technically still is, it is clear she is putting physical and mental distance between herself and those days.

“Mom, you look better every time we see you,” Alicia says.

“No kidding,” Johnny says, hugging his mom and giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“I feel better,” Eileen says.

Johnny pulls out a chair for his mother and after she’s seated maneuvers back to his own seat. As he sits down he notices a young man passing by quickly on the sidewalk. Their eyes meet for a moment and then he is gone.

Like a thin passing cloud a thought floats into Johnny’s head. It’s kind of hot for that Cubs jacket, he thinks. And then his head clears.


Jackson calls the Department of Aviation and after some runaround is connected to someone who knows something about the herding program at O’Hare.

“That’s great, that’s great,” Jackson says. “Sounds like a great program. But I have a question. Have any of the goats gone missing?”

He listens.

“Oh, you sure? Yeah, OK. Who? Well, if you hear anything, tell me. OK, thanks.”

He hangs up.

“No missing goat, according to that woman,” Jackson says.

“Shit,” Sullivan blurts out. “I thought we were on to something.”

“Yeah, what you have a vision or something this morning?” Jackson says.

“Very funny,” Sullivan says.

“Really, that was weird, Sullivan,” Jackson says.

“Screw you. So I had a couple too many pops last night,” Sullivan says. “I was tired and thinking. Thought I came up with something.”

“Maybe we should head out to O’Hare anyway,” Jackson says. “We can put the Cubs on the radio if you want. Jorge Soler’s home debut.”

“I’ve been a Cubs fan my whole frickin’ life,” Sullivan says. “And this is the first September when the team sucks that I have given a crap. Some of these kids are gonna be good. Or maybe I’ve just drunk the Kool-Aid too long.”

“Well, it ain’t Kool-Aid you been drinking,” Jackson says. “But these kids do look good. Soler has been ridiculous. I think he might be the best of the bunch. Quick bat, good eye. You see that second homer he hit against the Cardinals the other night?”

“I did,” Sullivan says as they walk into the hall and head toward the back door. “Reminded me of Kingman or Glenallen Hill. He killed that ball.”

Jackson’s cell phone rings.

“Jackson here,” he says. “Yeah, no kidding. Yeah, yeah, thanks. We’re on the way.”

He turns to Sullivan.

“Goat did go missing. Hole in the fence,” he says. “She failed to mention she was on vacation for the past few weeks and missed it.”

They half-run to the door.

Continue to Chapter 10.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

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.