"North" by Joseph Fick

Chapter 22 Chicago, Illinois…1884 P268~278

The office should have been busy and for some people it
was. Copy boys rushed about, reporters moving in and
out of rooms, a yell here, a call there. Notes were
scribbled and bells rang. Feet could be heard running up
and down stairs, there was excitement, you could feel it
in the air.

Jack Hollister was bored. As already stated the office
was busy for some but not for Jack Hollister, he was
just…bored. He sighed and leaned back in his chair at his
desk at the “Chicago Monitor” the paper that currently
employed him and wondered what spark or clue there
might be waiting to ignite his afternoon with a story of a
lifetime, or would that happen tomorrow?

Bored, bored, bored. It didn’t help matters that Nancy
Blake, the actress Nancy Blake was out of town. Nancy
and he were what people considered a couple. He had
met her five years before
in London. She was twenty-five, and well known. She
had more than her fair share of admirers. He was fortythree,
a well known journalist and adventurer and who
had his share of swooning ladies. She wasn’t quite sure
what to make of Hollister. He was clearly attracted to
her but didn’t fawn over her as others did. To Hollister
she seemed aloof and distant and wondered if the
conquest would be worth the effort it would require to
cut another notch in the bed post, after all Hollister had
pounded his share of bed springs in his time. The
question on the whole was academic. She left for New
York the next day while Hollister stayed in England and
traveled with the British army to Africa to cover the Zulu
War.

They didn’t see each other for over a year until they
met quite unexpectedly in, of all places, Chicago. He’d
just taken a job with the “Monitor”, she had returned
home to take care of her ailing mother. He asked her to
dinner and with no plans for the following evening, she
accepted.

They were entertained in one of the better eating
establishments in the city. Through conversation she
found out he was a former Confederate officer who liked
Kentucky bourbon, good cigars and Shakespeare. He
discovered she was an only child her father was a retired
U.S. Army colonel who died eighteen months before. She
loved champagne, the theater and ice cream. It was
enough to start with and they were seen together often
enough that people had no doubt they were together.
Within two months she was sharing his bed.

After the death of her mother, Nancy became involved
with an acting group in McVicker’s Theater on 25th West
Madison Street, it kept her busy and her fans were
happy to see her on stage again. At the moment though,
Nancy and merry group of thespians were performing at
the Fischer Theater in Danville, Illinois and were
scheduled to be there for another five weeks, performing
the play “Lights of London” .

Jack Hollister was bored. With a sigh he moved his ass
out of his chair and stood up, he needed to find a story
and there sure as hell wasn’t any in the broom closet
that served as his office. Grabbing his hat he walked out
only to be seen by his editor, Nelson Niven, a short thin
nervous man with dark hair who sweated a lot.

“Hey Jack, where the hell you going?”

“Out Nelson, there ain’t no news in my office.”

“Well, where ya going?” Niven asked nervously.

“I don’t know Nelson, out.”

“Well, when you coming back?”

“I don’t fucking know Nelson, when I get a story, ok?”
said Hollister who hightailed it out before the little
editor could ask him any more questions.

With no clear idea of where he was going to find the
ground breaking story of his career, he walked to the
police station two blocks from his office where he knew
the desk sergeant, a Union veteran who served at
Gettysburg during the war. He and Hollister often joked
that they saw each other during the battle. Walking in
the station, he saw the balding sergeant sitting at his
high desk.

“Hey Mickey, you got anything for me today?”
The Chicago Policeman, Sergeant Mickey Carlson
looked up. “Hell, Jack there’s always something in the
city. It ain’t even noon yet, I got two rapes, one reported
murder, one attempted murder, one mugging and four
solicitation charges, take your pick,” he said returning to
his paperwork.

“Anything good on the murder or the attempted one?”

The old sergeant shook his head, “Naw, both of ‘em just
drunks over dice, that’s all.”
“Shit! Why can’t I ever get anything like a God damned
McGargile or Mandelbaum story?” asked Hollister in
frustration.

Carlson grinned, “Hey Jack, come on give me a break,
a story like that takes time for Christ’s sakes.”

Hollister nodded his head, “Yeah, I know Mickey, it just
pissed me off that I missed that one, that’s all.”

In 1882 the Chicago Police Chief, William McGargile
under the pay of Chicago crime lord Michael Cassius
McDonald, known as “King Mike”, was indicted for graft
and fled to Canada, big news, at which time Hollister
was covering a story in New York. Hearing the news he
rushed back to the windy city as fast as he could,
unfortunately the pickings were slim. He ditched the
story he was working on and stayed in the city hoping for
some sort of follow up he could give to the paper, but it
never happened. In 1884, Fredericka ‘Marm’
Mandelbaum, a tough German woman, who was one of
New York’s biggest fences and ran the Grady gang out of
business, was arrested. She was released on bail and fled
to Canada. Hollister always wondered if McGargile and
the Mandelbaum dame ever hooked up, that would be a
story.

“Alright, thanks Mickey. If you hear anything you let
me know ok?”

“Jack, have I ever let you down?”

Hollister shook his head. “Thanks Mickey, I appreciate
it.” Leaving the police station, Hollister went to the
Union Stockyards where hogs and cattle from the west
were slaughtered, the slabs of meat sent further east for
those willing to pay for a good meal. Arriving at the
stockyard he met the foreman and asked for a fifteen
year old named James Patrick O’Leary, better known as
“Big Jim”.

O’Leary was a well known numbers runner with his
ear to the ground and a strong dislike for newspapermen,
Hollister was an exception and there was a reason for it.
In 1871, the conflagration known as the “Great Chicago
Fire” happened. In 27 hours 17,400 buildings were
destroyed, more than 250 people died and another
100,000 became homeless. The city’s worst disaster was
blamed Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, on an Irish
immigrant and his wife, Jim O’Leary’s parents. For years
he and his parents had been blamed for something they
had nothing to do with and throughout it all a lingering
hate was fostered for newspapers and those that worked
for them. Hollister understood this and did everything he
could to clear the O’Leary name for being responsible for
the fire and though it had done little good, Jim O’Leary
was always grateful to Hollister for his efforts.

Hollister found the boy sitting on top a fence post,
watching some newly arrived cattle from the west. “Hey
Big Jim!” he called.

The fifteen year old boy turned and shaded his eyes
from the sun and seeing the newspaperman he smiled.
“Hey Jack, whatcha’ doing down here?”

Hollister walked to the fence. “I’m bored Jim, slow day
for news, was wondering if you knew anything going on
or just happened?”

The Irish boy scratched his head, “Haven’t heard much,
there was that thing on South Clark Street.”

“You mean number 311, that thing between the two
colored guys, Johnson and Alexander?”

“Yeah, that’ un. Ain’t much. I can tell ya, nobody’s
gonna miss Alexander, that was one mean ugly nigger,”
said O’Leary.

“Yeah, somebody else told me the same thing.”

“I heard King Mike’s pissed off at Mayor Harrison
cause the cops arrested all them people at Mike’s joint.”

Hollister nodded his head. For years the mayor had
declared that there was no gambling in Chicago with full
knowledge that there were a great many gambling
houses operating in that city. Complaints came to the
surface and the mayor felt compelled to act. Ordering the
police to launch raids throughout the city and arresting
all the patrons at Mike’s places of business. King Mike
laughed it off and posted bail for all those taken into
custody but inside he smoldered and intended to get back
at the spineless hypocrite who was the elected head of
the city. “Yeah, but everyone knows that Jim, got
anything else?”

The boy shrugged his shoulders, “That’s all I got Jack.”

Hollister knew that wasn’t so but to push the issue
would do little good. “Thanks Jim, you hear anything you
let me know,” said Hollister.

“You know I will,” said Big Jim.

Hollister was hungry. It was two o’clock in the
afternoon and since he couldn’t make the news happen
he decided a beer and sandwich were in order and he
knew exactly where to go.

Kelly’s was one of those places where everyone who
went there was known to each other and strangers were
not often seen. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a
neighborhood bar run by a retired cop named John Kelly,
who poured the beer and shots while his wife Claire
made sandwiches in the back. Hollister had spent a lot of
time and money there.

The bell at the top of the door rang when he entered
letting everyone know of the most recent arrival. There
weren’t many people in the place, Hollister knew this
would change at about five or six o’clock when most men
were finishing their day jobs and would stop in for a
drink or two. The people he did see were the ones he
expected to see that early in the afternoon. There was
Ben Wilson, who worked as a night watchman at a shoe
factory, quietly smoking a cigarette and nursing a beer.
Two tables over from him was Mike Crane, who worked
for the city and next to him was Brian Eastman, whose
job nobody was quite sure of. At the bar were Stanley
Williams and Jim Richards and seeing them there,
Hollister knew where he was going to have his lunch.
Williams worked for one of the meat packing houses and
Richards worked at the stockyard. They had been friends
for over ten years though listening to them talk as they
were now, you wouldn’t think so. Hollister sided up to the
bar. “Good afternoon, boys.”

Williams and Richards looked in the direction of the
greeting and both men smiled.

“Hey Jack, good to see ya,” said Richards.

“Hey Jack, not working today?” asked Williams.

Hollister shook his head, “Naw, Stanley, I’m working,
just don’t have anything to work on.”

“Nancy still in Danville?” asked Richards.

Hollister nodded. “Yeah, she’s doing that show down
there, won’t be back for another month.”

“Well, cheer up Jack, you got us!” said Williams which
caused Hollister to laugh.

Hollister ordered a beer and a salami on rye. After
taking what he thought was a well deserved swig of beer,
Williams drew his attention to the topic he and Richards
had been discussing.

“Hey Jack, you know baseball, tell us which one is
right.”

“Ok, what’s the problem?”

“Jim here says in 1882, Larry Corcoran pitched two no
hitter games against Worchester and Providence and I
say it was that Jew kid, Fred Goldsmith, so tell us,
whose right, huh?”

Hollister thought for a moment. Since the end of the
war, he had become a major baseball fan. If anybody
would know it would be him.

“Ok,” said Hollister thinking back, “Jim’s right. In
August, 1880 Larry Corcoran pitched against the Boston
Red Caps, Chicago White Stockings 6, Boston Reds 0. In
September of ‘82 he pitched against the Ruby Legs, that
one came out Chicago 5, Worchester 0 and in June that
same year against Providence. End result, Chicago 6,
Grays 0.”

“Son of a bitch. I was sure it was that Goldsmith kid.
Are you sure Jack?”

“Yeah, Stanley, it was Corcoran.”

“Ok Jim, I owe you a beer,” said Williams as Hollister’s
sandwich arrived.

“Hey Stanley,” said Richards, “how come Cap Anson’s
so pissed off at Charlie Morton?”

Hollister smiled. Anson was the manager and first
baseman for the Chicago White Stockings and Morton
was the manager of the Toledo Blue Stockings.

“You don’t know?” asked Williams.

“No, that’s why I’m asking you.”

“Where the fuck was you last year?”

“I was in Kansas, business for the yard, shithead,” said
Richards.

“Oh yeah, I forgot,” said Williams who took a drink of
his beer. “Ok, well Chicago was scheduled to play Toledo,
‘cept they got that colored guy on their team, you know,
that catcher, what’s his name?”

“Moses Walker,” said Hollister chewing on his
sandwich.

“Yeah, that’s right Walker. Anyways you know how ol’
Cap Anson feels about coons an’ he says he ain’t playing
on the same field as no darky.”

“No shit?” said Richards

“Yeah, no shit. So they, they’s go back and forth on this
thing and finally Morton, he says, he says, fine. If
Chicago don’t play, they forfeit the game and the gate
receipts. Now you know Cap Anson, he don’t like niggers
but he sure as hell ain’t giving up no God damned gate
receipts, so they end up playing the game.”

“Ain’t that something” boy, I wish I could’ve seen that
one.”

“Hey Jack, let me ask you a question,” said Williams,
“Jim thinks that Mike Kelly’s a better outfielder than
catcher, what do you’se think?”

“Hands down, outfielder,” said Hollister.

Williams slammed both hands down on the bar,
“Outfielder? You guys don’t know shit about baseball, you
know that!”

“I told you Stanley, catchers they got,” said Richards,
“He’s more useful in the outfield.”

“He’s right Stanley,” said Hollister.

Williams just shook his head, “Hey John, can we get
three more beers down this way? Outfielder…shit!”

It was six o’clock when Hollister left Kelly’s and made
his way back to his office. Ignoring Niven, he went to his
desk where a telegram was waiting for him. Opening it
up, he read it expecting bad news. A smile slowly came to
his face. “Hey Nelson, I got a story!” he shouted and
started to laugh.

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