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