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.