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