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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.
“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.
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