Episode Three "Glued Shoes"
There is nothing like hearing a phone ringing while in a deep sleep — only to realize reality is sucking you back to the here and now. Although Garret tried in vain to ignore the incessant ringing, the battle was lost when he remembered he enjoyed playing in this world because as a newspaper reporter he was not responsible for most anything that happened. His work-life entailed relishing in the success of others while doing likewise for their failures.
“Huh,” he mustered groggily.
“Are you awake?”
“Yea, I’m awake, who’s this?”
“Forget who I am. Someone wanted me to call you to let you know six professional athletes were arrested early this morning and are to be released out the back door of the downtown detention facility in one hour. You got that?”
“Yea, I got that, who is this?”
It was no use, the informant hung up and Garret had no idea if he had ever heard his voice before. After a call to the newsroom to request the night photographer meet him as soon as possible, he was washed, dressed and on the road.
To his surprise, his paper was not the only media outlet at the scene. Sure, only the night news crews from most of the television stations were there, meaning a lower profile than if it had happened during the day, but he had never before received such a call in the middle of the night and not arrived at the scene alone. But since this was only the second such call he had received, he worried abruptly and went about to find the story.
Six players from the team, he learned, were the arrested gang. Billy Spikes was among them, although the rumor was he had been released just before the media arrived. Everyone agreed it was quite a coincidence.
Before learning anything further, three vans pulled up to the door and as the media rush and crush proceeded, Garret went along. None of the players would comment, however, and by the time the sinking, escaping fleet disappeared, Garret was only able to verify Williams and Tompkins were among the accused.
Hey, Barrick,” Garret hailed to the L.T.
"After more than 20 years at that rag of yours, you still get sent out in this early? I'd have thought you'd still be asleep, Garret.”
"Me? I was just about to ask you the same question. I know you work days, what's with you here? You just celebrity watching, or what?”
"Since making Lieutenant, they got me doing all kinds of crazy shit. Maybe if you're nice, I'll tell you about it someday.”
"I'll be there with the tape running, Ron.”
"I know you would, you sneaky son of a bitch. Now, I got to get out of here. Phil's got the press release cooking, and as you know, that's the only shit on the record, but off the record, I'll tell you this much — it was a slam dunk.”
The fleet had taken the five players to the arena where a meeting with Tommy was mandatory. It was not a long meeting, but for the five and Billy Spikes - who received the majority of Tommy's wrath - the session seemed an eternity.
Tommy returned to his office after sending his players home for the day. It was still before 7 a.m. and the morning paper had been held to wait for the story and therefore had not yet arrived. A media session was set for later in the day and when he had called Frank to let him in on the tragedy, he explained how since he was already out of town, he could duck the heat and remain out of touch. He assured Frank he would take care of everything. He just didn’t tell him how.
Days passed and Tommy only kept Frank partially informed, keeping him distracted by telling him to lay low. The press predictably blew up coverage of the bust, smearing the names of many fine men who had once only cared about playing a game, but who were now being completely played. Theresa had disappeared along with many of her girlfriends.
Even worse was that after being ridiculed in the press and only slightly defended by their GM, the team went into a predictable losing slump.
While Frank was seemingly content to lay low, he began growing weary and suspicious of his prolonged absence. He was routinely referred to by the press as an absentee owner who had long ago relinquished total control of the team to Tommy. Such statements burned him inside. Not because it wasn’t true, but because it was, and his ego wouldn’t allow it. He was also worried about the reports he picked-up from the newspapers. They routinely criticized the team and the value of the league. Columns were dedicated to the fall of the once mighty franchise. Frank had always thought if the situation called for it, he would give up his share of the team to pay his family insured debt. With these scandals, he suddenly owed more than he owned.
About a week after Joey was killed, Frank placed an absolutely frantic call to Tommy.
“Tommy, what the hell is happening? A car has been driving up and down the house road for the past two hours. I think they found me, Tommy. They’re gonna fucking kill me.”
“Nobody is up there, Frank. They would have come here looking for you before going anywhere else. And since I am the only one who knows exactly where you are, they would have had to beat it out of me. Do I sound like I have had the shit beaten out of me? Relax, Frank, relax. I’m going to take care of this situation.”
“God damnit Tommy, I’m not a fucking pussy. They are here and they fucking found me. We gotta do something.”
“Alright, alright, I’ll send somebody to pick you up. You and Monica stay in the house, don’t go anywhere, don’t go outside. Not even to do it in the barn, you got it?”
“Yea, okay, but you send that fucking guy now, Tommy, or else I’ll be dead man. A dead fucking man.”
Nearly three hours later, Frank was driven into the arena feeling more confident. He had survived and was back in the fold. Sure, getting out of town might have been a good idea, but that was starting to be very obvious, he thought. Besides, there was no way to hide from his debts forever. He was going to talk to Tommy about dumping the team. He wanted to get out from under. He could pay off the debt to the boss, whoever he might be, and be free. Maybe there would even be a little left over for an early retirement.
The hours on the drive were filled with contemplation. He wondered if his lifelong drive to be as rich, famous and powerful as possible was as wise to his 50-year-old mind as it once had been.
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