Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and hopefully enjoy my first novel, The Dreamers.

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Scroll down to July of "09" where you will open up the first imported chapters of my novel. Once opened up you can find Chapter 1 and begin your journey.

The work of fiction is about 2 very talented high school athletes about to embark on professional athletic careers. Due to choices each of them make their lives take many twists and turns, some for the better, and some not. As in real life, the choices we make seem right at that moment we make them, and often easily justifiable, but in the end they end up becoming the wrong choices and consequences are to be suffered.

Both of these young men have immense character and view each of their lives with nothing but the greatest of hopes, only to find for one of them that pain and suffering is coming his way. It is in many ways a story in which families are pulled in and suffer right along with our main characters which, ultimately, makes the choices that are made even more problematic.

If you like strong character, and believe that people having great character still matters, you should enjoy this story. If you like baseball and often wonder what happens in peoples' lives after each nine innings is played, this book should be for you.

It is ultimately a story of triumph over tragedy and how a romance can seemingly appear in the least expected places. It is a tale of how love of friends and family can lead to great happiness and joy.

I hope you enjoy The Dreamers, because we all had one at one time or another.

Jim Tavegia

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chapter 47

Chapter 47

The wedding was beautiful. God provided a sunny seventy-degree Indian summer day. The wedding was held outside in the flower garden of the Baptist Church. Becky and Gloria were absolutely stunningly beautiful in their white wedding gowns.

Four of my best friends from Hasting Mills brought their families out for the wedding. I felt sad that I had no immediate family to share this wonderful day with. I did feel lucky to have Gus, Mary, Red Dodge and his wife there. Jon and Chris Tavy were there, of course, as was the entire Madison team.

After the reception, Gloria and I headed off to Hawaii for two wonderful weeks. We sunned ourselves on the beautiful beeches, danced until the wee hours of the morning, falling more in love with every passing day.

We were just sunning ourselves in lunge chairs by the pool one afternoon. We had only two days left before we were scheduled to go home and really start our lives together.

"Fate is sure a funny thing," I said to my beautiful bride. "I mean, how else can you explain my lying on the beach here with you, and, your being my wife."

"Yes, I know,” answered Gloria. "I always thought it would be with Bob. I still can't believe he is gone. I don't think I will ever understand life, really, at least that chapter of my life."

"I know," I said. "He was a great guy and had so much to offer. He seemed to always make the right decisions. He was truly Dudley Do-Right if there ever was one."

"He was that," added Gloria, "even to his own detriment, I think."

"I guess we all think that every decision we make, at the time, is the right one," I add. "We think we look at all the options, understand the possibilities of what may happen, even think we know how things will turn out. I guess the reality is that we move too quickly with our hearts and not enough with our heads. Maybe Bob WAS to take that scholarship. Maybe he would still be alive today if he had. Who knows, I guess."

I took a sip of my lemonade. Gloria just starred out across the crystal blue water beyond the pool fence.

"I just hope he has found his peace, where ever he is," Gloria said, as a small tear rolled down her cheek. "Bill, thank you for marrying me. I do love you so."

"You're very welcome," I reply. "Was the least I could do."

I reach across and brush away the tear.

"I hope Bob has found his peace, too," I add. "I really do. I can't help but think, though, that his business is left unfinished. I have been having some strange dreams lately, almost visions if you could call them that. It’s like I'm supposed to be doing something to help bring closure to all of this. I don't know exactly what, though."

"What do you mean, Bill," asked Gloria. "How could YOU finish what Bob tried to start?"

"That's what I don't know," I reply. "I'm certainly not as religious a person as Bob, but I think that you and I have some serious soul-searching to do to try to figure out what God wants us to do about this. I know that we can't let Bob's murder be in vain. He was too special a person for that."

I take Gloria's hand in mine and look deeply into her eyes.

"I'll help you any way I can," she replied lovingly while leaning over to kiss me softly. "We're in this together, for the rest of our lives. She caresses my face with her soft hands. "God will let us know what he wants us to his own time. Some dreams do come true. Mine truly have."

Chapter 46 The Dreamers

Chapter 46

Gloria, Gus, Mary, and I had a wonderful dinner and went back to my condo. It had two big bedrooms with a sleep sofa in the living room. I slept there giving my guests the two bedrooms.

Saturdays' game was a two-o'clock start so we could have breakfast before I left for the park at 10AM. Gloria called her Mom and told her the news of our engagement.

Gloria and her Mom thought about a wedding date and both decided that, if I didn't mind, they saw no reason to wait very long, unless I wanted to wait until after the season was over. We would talk about it tomorrow. It might be difficult since there were not many days off the rest of the season. They even thought about a double wedding with Becky Lollar and Dave Bolton in October.

Back in Chicago the liberal press was all over the Metro Police about the execution of Motown Matthews and his thugs. The community, as a whole, was not upset at all, much to their surprise. It seemed that the press was less concerned about the real innocent victims than they were about the real hoodlums. There was a rash of talk shows and Sunday Morning community programs centered on this whole ordeal. It became clearer that the community had no sympathy for Motown or his men, period. They felt justice was served.

It certainly didn't bother Mookie or Marvin. They called Sergeant Jenkins and asked if he wanted them to do anything else. He told them not at the moment, but that he would appreciate seeing them about once a month, just to keep in touch with what was going down in the neighborhood. They appreciated that he cared enough to do that for them. All Mookie wanted was a safe place for Dwight to grow up in and be able to safely ride the bike Bob and Sergeant Jenkins had given his son.

They also liked the idea of the basketball league being cleaned up. They felt with Motown gone, so would the drug deals and the pimping. They just had to keep an eye out for someone else trying to take over.

The Monarchs continued to breeze through the league. My record moved to twelve and three and Jack's to 11 and two. Tavy continued his assault with eight more homers and twenty-three RBI's for the month. I also continued to hit over .300 and added another six homers myself. We went into the last week of the season tied with the Orioles for first place. The third place team was nine games out. It was to be between the Orioles and us for the A.L. East Crown.

The City was buzzing. Madison had clinched their pennant over the weekend. They had a twelve game lead, continuing to be the class of the league in spite of loosing three of their best players. Buck did a good job of keeping the team focused and helping the new players fit right in.

For the New York club the last three games were against the Orioles. It was going to come down to head to head play, for sure. We swept our three games with the Brewers while the Orioles took two out of three from the Indians. With a one game lead we would have to loose all of our games with the Orioles to not, at least, force a one game playoff. I was to start Friday night's contest, a 7PM start.

Jack was moved back to Sunday, in case that game proved to be critical. Red thought he could use an extra day off as he seemed to be getting tired having lost about five miles an hour off his fastball the last week or so. It had been a long and emotionally draining season for all of us. An extra day couldn't hurt.

I breezed through the Orioles for four innings not giving up a hit. In the top of the fifth Chris Hoiles, the Oriole catcher took me deep to left giving the Orioles a one to nothing lead. In the Yankee half of the fifth, I led off the inning with a sharp single into right center. Tavy took the count full, but fouled out to third.

Ruben Santos made up for it with a triple into left center with me scoring, tying up the game. The Monarch catcher took care of the rest with a towering homer into the monuments on the first pitch giving us a three to one lead and all the runs I would need for the night.

I pitched eight strong innings giving up four hits, striking out seven and walking only one. Hack Johnson closed out the ninth for his thirty-second save. The Monarch clubhouse was ecstatic with our two game lead. The Orioles had to win tomorrow, but it was not to be.

We came out bombing with four homers in the first four innings and climbed out to a six to nothing lead. All Scott Marsch had to do now was keep the ball in the ball park, which he did. The final score was: Monarchs 8, Orioles 2. It was over.

The Monarchs had come back from being eleven games out. Red Dodge and we new Madison players did it. We played not only like we belongs here, but like true champions. Our workman like attitude rubbed off on the older players. Red did a wonderful job with the older players and by not showing any favoritism to his own boys. The team respected that.

George offered Red a contract extension of two years, which he accepted with the condition that Gus Lollar could join him in some capacity, but only if Gus wanted. George agreed.

George offered Jack and Jon very nice bonuses with their two year contract offers. Jack and Jon signed immediately. I was already signed for 2 more years, which was part of my huge bonus package.

Gloria and I, after talking to Becky and Dave Bolton, decided to have a double ceremony back in Madison after the season was over.

We two couples had grown so close; it just seemed like the natural thing to do. It would even give us more time to plan a honeymoon which we would NOT take with Becky and Dave, no matter how much we liked them. Gloria and I wanted some real time alone. This had been some year for everybody.

We lost in the playoffs to the Oakland A's in a tough seven game series. Jack and I both win one to nothing games, and then I win five to one, and Jack gets a no decision.

It was still a great season and gave the Monarchs great hope for the future. The Monarch bullpen let us down in three of the losses. There would be changes made there in the off-season for sure.

Chapter 45 The Dreamers

Chapter 45

The Monarchs began one of the biggest turn-arounds in their history. The existing players seemed to get the message and Meyers, Tavy, and I were playing as well as we were in Madison. We never missed a beat. By months end I was six and one and was batting .325 with five homers. Jack Meyers was five and one, and Jon Tavy had hit nine homers for the month and named the League Player of the Month. He added twenty-four runs batted in. Collectively, we seemed to raise the level of play for everyone. There was a renewed sense of not wanting to let your teammates down.

The Orioles, in the mean time, had gone on two losing streaks of their own, one of five games, and one of seven games. We had moved within two games with over a month left to go in the regular season. The town and the media had gotten off George’s case, for a while.

The Madison Monarchs were doing just as well. Buck was enjoying managing again and it was like nothing had changed with the team. It made me, Jack, and Jon feel better about our own success. We still had strong affections for our ex teammates.

Gloria, Gus and Mary were coming up for the weekend series with the Red Sox. Gus had gotten someone to fill in for their weekend series. He and Mary needed to get away. The last month had been tough, but they got through it. It was time, they knew, to get on with their lives. Maybe this weekend in New York could be a new beginning. They drove down and parked at my apartment. I had a limo take them to the stadium. Chris Tavy had already moved down here to be with Jon. Everything was going well for them, too.

I met Gloria, Gus, and Mary in the huge visitors' lounge adjacent to the locker room. I gave her the biggest hug of my life, or hers. I had missed her so much. I gave Mary a big hug as well and warmly shook Gus' hand.

"I'm so glad you all could come down," I began. "I missed you all so much."

Gloria was just beaming. "You think YOU missed US," she added? "I got news for you sailor," she added. Everyone started laughing.
"Listen," I said. "I've got to get ready for the game today. It is Jack's turn to pitch. We'll go out for a nice dinner to night."

"Sounds great," said Mary. "Should we meet you back here after the game?"

"That's fine," I replied. "See you then." I reached for Gloria and gave her a warm, passionate kiss. "I'll see YOU later, too," I added with a big smile. She returned it, as well.

Jack pitched a four-hitter for seven innings and the Monarch relievers closed out the game with six strikeouts, and no runs to complete the shutout of the Red Sox.

Both Jon and I hit two-run homers, mine came in the first inning with Moss aboard. Jon hit his in the fourth inning with me on with my second hit, a double into the gap in left center. Rubin Santos hit a three-run homer in the seventh for insurance. We just kept on rolling.

I met my new family as planned and a limo quickly sped us down to Mickey Mantle's Restaurant. It was easy for players to get in, reservations or not. I made them. I was not looking for any special treatment.

We took our seats and I ordered a nice bottle of wine for all of us to share. We sat talking about the game and how all three of us Madison players had brought so much to the team. It was something out of a dream they all thought.

I reached into my pocket and took out a small navy blue hinged box. I sat it by my plate. I was growing nervous. Mary spotted the box and quickly asked Gus to escort her to the ladies room so she wouldn't get lost. Gus didn't understand, but went anyway.

"Gloria," I began, "you know I've grown very fond of you. You are a very remarkable woman. You've been through a lot in your short life. And when I think about all that has transpired, I know that I am truly in love with you. I would love for you to me wife, if you'll have me?"

I opened the small box that had a huge diamond engagement ring inside. I took it out of the box and held it in my left hand. I reached for her left hand with my right.

"Gloria," I said as lovingly as I could, “Will you marry me?"

Gloria sat stunned for a moment. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. It was the words she had hope to hear for months.

"Oh, Bill, You know I will," she replied. "I love you so much." Her eyes welled up with tears as she leaned across the table to kiss him. She sweetly and gently touched the side of his cheek.

I slipped the beautiful ring on her finger. It fit perfectly.

"How did you do that," she asked?

"Got one of your rings from your Mom and had it sized," I said. "You're Mom has known for two weeks. She is really good at keeping secrets."

"She sure is," said Gloria. "I guess I didn't know how good, myself."

Gus and Mary made their way back to the table. They could sense some good news was about to be announced.

"Gus and Mary," I beamed, “this beautiful, young woman has agreed to become Mrs. Billy Alan." Both Gloria and I were smiling like Cheshire Cats.

"Oh," said Mary, "that is wonderful news. We always hoped this day would come. We love you both so very much." Mary leaned over and gave Gloria a kiss on the cheek.

"Congratulation," said Gus, giving me a pat on the shoulder.

"I know it's soon, but have you thought about a wedding date," asked Mary?

"When ever Gloria wants," I said. "I'll leave that up to her. I just plan to be there."

"We can talk about that the rest of this weekend, if that's O.K. with everyone," said Gloria. "I’ve got to call Mom tonight as well."

The waiter came by the table and asked if we were ready to order. He also asked for a favor.

"Mr. Alan," he asked sheepishly, "could I get your autograph for my son? He is a big fan of yours."

"Sure, what's his name," I ask?

"Martin," replied the waiter.

The waiter placed a clean piece of paper in front of me and handed me his pen. I began writing.

"Keep you eye on the ball and your mind in school," I wrote. "Best wishes, Bill Alan."

"Thanks,” said the waiter.

"Any time," I replied. "Come on everyone, let's eat."

Chapter 44 The Dreamers

Chapter 44

Word of the firing-squad execution of Motown and his boys spread quickly. The Brown Panthers had dropped the bodies at Beaupre Park. They must have figured that it was the appropriate site. Within five minutes of the Panthers anonymous tip the police dispatched the City Morgue to pick up the bodies.

Both Jenkins and DA Johnson had decided to go directly to the courthouse that morning. Sergeant Riccio called him there and told him what had transpired. He and Johnson quickly made their way back to the precinct. Johnson said on the way over with Jenkins in the car that the only winners here were the taxpayers. Literally Millions and millions of dollars were saved in trial costs and nine life sentences. He felt sure that the outcome would have been plea-bargained to life-in-prison with no parole in exchange for guilty pleas.

Even if you count fourty-five thousands dollars for each of forty-plus years of maximum security prison stays, it came to well over a few cool million dollars in incarceration costs for each of them, not counting inflation. Johnson wasn't so sure what had happened was such a bad thing after all. Jenkins wasn't so sure. He hated to see a massive trend of vigilante justice cropping up. He was glad to see the moral outrage within the Black Community, but not like this. Now he had to worry about both sides in this fight. As if he didn't have enough problems already.

The media had moved quickly and had their remote trucks at Beaupre. Captain Moss was at the precinct. The Mayor’s Office called and said the Mayor was on the way, too. They all met in Jenkins office.

"Sergeant Jenkins," said Moss," fill us in, will you?"

Sergeant Riccio was in the room as well. He knew more of what transpired downstairs. He passed along the account he got from statements from the guards and transport personnel.

"Do we know who heads up the Brown Panther group," asked Moss? "We need to bring in someone for questioning, before we look like total idiots," he added sarcastically.

"Total idiots, is that what you think we are," snapped Jenkins? "Where have YOU been during this investigation while the rest of us have been working eighteen to twenty hour a day on this case?"

"Watch it Sergeant," snapped back Moss.

"Watch it," snapped back Jenkins, now seething with anger. "I've had it with your involvement only at photo-op time. The rest of us have been killing ourselves working on this case, all you worry about is your chances to become Police Commissioner. Why don't you do the rest of us a favor and go play some more golf or whatever it is you do. I am tired of your sarcasm and crap. You don't like it, you can take this job and you know what you can do with it."

Moss was taken back. Jenkins never talked to him like this before. He never believed the animosity ran so high. The Mayor stepped in.

"Listen, this can wait," he chimed in. "I want to know what you want to do here Jenkins. What's our next move?"

"We know some of the key players in the Panthers," Jenkins stated. "We will go question them this morning. I don't think we're going to get any confessions. We have no witnesses to the executions. No one seemed to remember the vehicles they drove. We have no license plates, and all the assailants had on brown ski masks. I also believe that eighty percent of the public is not going to be that morally outraged about what happened. Mr. Mayor, what this should be is a wake up call to our Judicial System and Legislators that the public has grown very tired of the judicial systems failing them and bankrupting them at the same time."

"You know we spend over six percent of our state budget just locking these guys up." Jenkins went on. "That doesn't count what we spend on the court systems that put them there, or what we spend on municipal law enforcement. And, another thing, of the fifty-thousand people we arrested last year whose sentences would have been minimum-mandatory three year terms, we had to drop the charges on forty-thousand of those cases because we had no place to lock them up. If we did, prisons would account for over twenty-five percent of our state budget. That would be a crime in it self. Our dysfunction is both killing us and bankrupting us. We need this money for far more important things than prison. Our studies show that eighty-percent of our prisoners cannot past Fourth Grade Mastery Tests on Course Subject Material. Forty-percent have high school diplomas. What's that about?"

"Get the Legislative Leadership in my office sometime this week, even today if you can," said the Mayor firmly to members of his staff who came with him. "I think it is time we had a little heart to heart talk. Jenkins I want you there when they come. Any problem?"

"No, Sir, none at all," replied Jenkins. "I’ve been wanting this kind of meeting for a long time."

"Consider it done," said the Mayor. "I am calling a press conference for one hour from know. Jenkins, come with me and we'll talk about what we SHOULD say at this point."

"Give me five minutes, Sir," asked Jenkins, "I want to give Riccio the names of the Panther' Leadership I know."

"No problem," said the Mayor. Everyone, including Moss left Sergeant Jenkins’s office, except Riccio.

"Ric," said Jenkins, "here's the list. Tell them to be here at 1PM today, on their own, or we will come pick them up at OUR convenience. Tell them it is their choice, this time."

"O.K. Sarge," said Riccio. "I'll take care of it."

"Listen; are all of our men from down stairs all right?"

"Couple of scrapes and bruises, not much else," stated Riccio. "Seems like the Panthers made a strong effort not hurt any of our people. Give um some credit for that, I guess."

Jenkins nodded. He thanks Riccio for all his help and headed down to leave with the Mayor.

Their plan became to make this a legislative, judicial, educational problem. It was high time to really educate the public. They both hoped it could work.

Chapter 43 The Dreamers

Chapter 43

The court room was filled by 8AM. The media was treating this preliminary hearing like it was the trial of the century. That would be coming within a few months, what with possible continuances and all.

Down at the station all necessary arrangements were made with the prisoners about to be transported. The eight shooters were cuffed and escorted single file down to the end of the holding cell area. Two set of motorized bars had to be actuated to let them pass. A final manual set of swing-open bars were key locked with one final guard sitting at a desk just outside. A final locked, steel door went to the outside to the waiting prisoner carriages. Two rifle armed officers were positioned at the opening of the alley that led to the street.

The shooters were escorted, first into their waiting carriage. Motown was escorted out next to his private carriage. He was to be arraigned last and would be kept in a holding cell at the court house while the shooters went through their proceedings.

Little did anyone know trouble was brewing. The Brown Panthers, unrelated to the Black Panthers, had made a decision there was to be no trial. This was a vigilante type organization of black men who had grown tired of the violence in their community, mainly perpetrated by members of their own race. They felt it was time for them to take some action. They had decided to target Motown and his boys and make their first example out of them.

They had positioned two, large Ford Econoline vans just around the corner of the alley entrance. Each van carried ten commando attired men with automatic weapons. They all wore brown ski masks over their heads. Their plan was that no police officers were to be hurt.

Four of their men in normal looking trench coats walked up to the opening of the alley. The police officers were standing no more than five feet back from the sidewalk. Two of the trench coats quickly roll-blocked the guards, football style, while the other two subdued them as they hit the pavement. They were quickly brought under control and put into a large black Cadillac and whisked away. Two look-alike guards quickly assumed their positions.

The ten commandos quickly made their way to the side of the prisoner carriages. They quickly forced the guards to drop their weapons, pulling the drivers from the cockpit and putting their own men in place. They handcuffed the officers and placed duct tape over their mouths, sitting them up against the precinct brick wall. They got the keys to the back doors, climbed in with the prisoners and sped off. They made it look just like a standard prisoner transport, only they headed down to the docks to conclude their business.

It took them only fifteen minutes to arrive at the docks and pulled their carriages into an old, deserted building on the end. They piled out of the carriages pulling out THEIR prisoners, lining them up against on of the walls. They left Motown in his van.

Two black Lincolns pulled inside within minutes with four well dressed black men in expensive suits walked forward with their heals clicking against the cement flooring.

"You're all set," said one of the suits to one hooded man?

"Yes, Sir, we are," he replied.

The suited man moved in front of the eight shooters to address them. He stood and looked each one of them in the eye. They were growing very nervous. It was their turn to squirm. They didn't like it one bit.

"We've grown tired of you killing our neighborhoods," began the suit. "We would like to think the legal system could solve this problem and eliminate your kind, but reality is they are not prepared to do what is right. They aren't prepared to take an eye for an eye, like the Scripture says. Too many of our well meaning politicians think your kind is, somehow, worth saving. We, on the other hand, do not. We have grown so tired of you having no respect for your own race. You use up our children like pack mules. It is coming to an end. May God, somehow, if He sees fit, have mercy on your retched souls."

Eight hooded men with high powered hunting rifles took places in front of each of the shooters. They locked shells in each of their rifle's chambers, holding them firmly across their chest.

"Ready," shouted a voice off to the side.

"Aim," shouted the voice again.

"Fire," he said again.

Eight shots rang out hitting each of the shooters directly in the chest cavity, ripping through the heart of each victim. They all fell quickly to the pavement. One hooded man went over to each of the bodies, felt the each of the victim's neck to insure there was no pulse to be found. There was not.

They quickly placed each of the bodies into body bags and dumped them in the vans they brought and left just outside the door.

Motown was brought out of his carriage and lined up in the same manner.

"I am not even going to waste on once of breath on scum like you," he said angrily. "Move."

The eight hooded men all lined up again, Went through the same sequence. Eight bullets ripped through Motown. There was no doubt he was dead as a door nail.

His body was also bagged and dumped in the same van outside. The van sped away to a predetermined location. The police were given a call fifteen minutes later where the bodies were left.

There would be no trial. It was over.

Chapter 42 The Dreamers

Chapter 42

Jenkins and Johnson had a quiet dinner. Both expressed how disappointed they were in Martin and Mason. They were two of Johnson's best Attorneys. He was going to miss them. He couldn't believe what they did. What could they have been thinking, he thought?

They walked into Judge Menter's office and sat waiting to be announced. Judge McElroy entered the room. He recognized DA Johnson immediately. Johnson introduced Jenkins to the Judge.

Judge Menter came out of his office and asked the men to come inside. They did. They all took seats in the three leather arm chairs in front of the desk.

"What can we do for you," asked Judge Menter? "Seems rather important."

"It is," said Johnson, looking at Judge McElroy. "Judge have you had any personal contact with Motown Matthews," he asked? "We have reason to believe you have."

Judge McElroy looked down at his feet crossed in from of him. He said nothing.

"Judge McElroy," asked Menter? "What's this about?"

"Judge McElroy, you want us to tell what we suspect happened." asked Johnson?

"Go ahead," said Mentor.

Johnson showed Judge Menter the entries in Motown's ledger next to the Judge's name. He also showed him the two prosecutor's names, as well.

"Mark is this true," asked Menter? "Tell me it's not, will you."

"It's true, all of it," he replied in a subdued voice.

"Why," asked Menter? "Why?"

"Motown had his thugs kidnap Marky, my son, over a year ago," the Judge began. "He called about a week after it happened. No leads were forthcoming. I know there was a lot of pressure on the police to do something, but when you had no witnesses to the crime, no evidence, and no leads, what could anybody do. He said if I would cooperate, Marky would not be hurt, and that we could make some deal." stated the Judge.

"He had me meet him with no police down at the docks where he turned Marky over to me, unharmed," the Judge continued. "He said if I would make sure I was available to sit on any cases he was charged with that Marky would never be hurt. I love that kid with all my heart and soul, Jack. You know Martha and I thought we would never have any children, but when he came along late, it was like a gift, you know. I wasn't going to let anyone hurt Marky, no one."

"Go on," said Judge Menter.

"Well, he also said that he would compensate me for my services. It was later that the large manila envelopes began showing up with the cash in hundred dollar bills. Here it all is."

Judge McElroy pulled all seven envelopes out of his briefcase and placed them on Judge Menter's desk. He closed his case and placed it beside his chair.

"I didn't need the money,” continued McElroy. "I just didn't know what to do. I didn't want Motown to get upset and take Marky again. I never asked Bill's office or his prosecutors to take it easy in any of Motown's cases. I never did anything to give him a break. He seemed satisfied with how things always went so I never said anything to anyone, mainly out of fear. I don't need to remind you how these guys work. They can leave bodies. They can make them disappear without a trace. I didn't know what else to do."

"Bill, what does your office want to do here," asked Judge Menter?

"I have no ax to grind with Judge McElroy," DA Johnson responded. "I have no reason to believe he ever contacted our office looking for a favor. I can certainly understand the Judges situation here, especially when your kids are involved. I think that this can stay in this room. We may need the Judge to testify later and bring up Motown on charges of bribery and kidnapping, if we need it, if that is agreeable to the Judge, “asked Johnson.

"Mark, are you agreeable," asked Menter?

"Yes, that is the least I can do, I would think," he replied. "Just let me know when and where, if you need me."

"Judge McElroy," said Jenkins. "I’m sorry we weren't much help to you. I can sense your frustration and fear. We sense it everyday. It is very frustrating, but when it's your own kid, well, that is another matter. I'm not sure if I would have handled your situation any better than you did. It gets tough to know what is right in wrong in cases like that. Just let us know next time, if you would. We probably would have told you to do what you did, anyway. Seems like the only sensible course of action you could take."

"I know, I should have told someone," said Judge McElroy. "I was just so scared for Marky. I wasn't thinking of much else at that point. You need me for anything else?"

"No," said Jenkins. "I think the file on Motown is just about to be closed, for good."

Judge McElroy left the meeting. Judge Menter asked Johnson and Jenkins to stay for a moment.

"I just want to thank you for how you handled this today," said Menter. "Mark is a great Judge, a real caring person. He and his wife Martha are great people. Marky has brought a lot to their lives. Mark was being very sincere, today. Thanks again for your understanding."

"No problem," said Johnson. "Take care, Judge."

"Nice to meet you Sergeant Jenkins," said the Judge. "I owe you one."

Johnson and Jenkins went to their cars and headed home for the night. It was to be a big day tomorrow. They both hoped for a good nights sleep. They would need it.

Chapter 41 The Dreamers

Chapter 41

Back in Chicago Sergeant Jenkins was still working on putting his case together with the DA's Office. His only hope was that some witnesses from Beaupre would come forward and finger these thugs and not be gotten to before the trial. He was getting so tired of these guys, like Motown, beating the rap time and again. Bob Lollar would still be alive if the legal system worked, even a little bit.

He was fortunate enough because of the severity of this shooting and the communities' anger to get Judge Monroe to eliminate any potential bail and keep all the shooters and Motown locked up until the pre-trial hearing set for tomorrow. He had no fear that with Monroe, these guys were going no where until after the regular trial was concluded.

Plans for the transporting of the prisoners to the court house were reviewed over what seemed to be a million times to insure there would be no logistical screw-ups. The shooters would go in one wagon, Motown in another.

Two young black men were waiting outside Jenkins office, sitting in an old worn walnut parson’s bench that had to be as old as the precinct. It was Mookie and Marvin. Jenkins motioned for them to come in after the Desk Sergeant announced them by phone and he passed along some other messages, one from the Mayor's office about wanting to meet with Jenkins at 3PM, if it was convenient. Jenkins told him to pass along that he would be there.

"Come on in, Boys," said Jenkins. "What can I do for you?"

"Sergeant," said Mookie, "me and Martin, here, are on the Knights. We want to testify against Motown. Bob was our friend. We've had it with these guys blowin up our hood. We gotta stand up to-um sometime. Put Marvin in the hospital last spring. Should have done somthin then. Cracker might still be here if we had. We feel partly responsible, dig. We kept waiting for someone else to do it. Guess that ain't going to happen, is it?"

"No," said Jenkins. "It is not. You boys know what you're up against. The rest of Motown's boys may not be too happy.

"Word on the street," said Marvin, "is that Motown is finished 'round here. They have grown tired of his sloppy thuggery. Guess they realize this time he really crossed the line. They know you guys gonna come down with both feet on someone's neck. Too much pressure from the town on this one."

"Yes, I think you are right on that," said Jenkins. "You guys will have to help me out, though. We need more witnesses from that night. Can you guys ask around, kinda quietly, and see if any neighbors or businesses down the street saw anything, or heard any thing? We've been asking, but every body’s tight lipped. Too scared I think. They're gonna have to help us if we are going to clean up this mess. We always get their too late."

"Ya, me and Marv can ask around for you," said Mookie. "Least we can do. Check in which ya in a couple, if we hear anything. Thanks man."

"No, thank you boys," smiled Jenkins. "Maybe we'll get some where this time. Thanks, again, for comin in."

Mookie and Marvin left walked out and stood for a moment on the precinct front cement top landing, just kind of looking down the street to see if anybody was spying them. They didn't see anything and started walking home.

Sergeant Jenkins was getting his papers and thoughts together for the Mayor's meeting in an hour. He loaded a few things into his brief case and called the DA's Office. He let them know about the meeting in an hour. They weren't invited, but they appreciated being kept informed. Jenkins said he would let them know what it was about if he thought it remotely involved them.

He headed out the door and went out to his car and started to drive down town to the Mayor's office. Upon arriving he spotted remote news vans from channels 2, 5, 7, and 9. Reporters were all on the outside steps of City Hall doing their normal audio and video checks. Jenkins wondered what this was all about. He hoped he was not to have some press conference sprung on his without some advance notice. That would be most unlike the Mayor and his staff.

He climbed the stairs up to the front doors. No one from the new media paid any attention to him at all.

He went into the Mayor's office reception area and told the receptionist who he was. He took a seat in one of the chairs and waited, fumbling through some old magazines eyeballing just the covers. The mayor came out of his office and greeted him.

"Jim, thanks for coming on such short notice," said the Mayor with a big smile. "Please come on in. Martha, please hold all my calls."

They both went into the Mayor's plush office. Jenkins took a chair in front of the Mayor's large cherry desk, as he motioned.

"Jim, I asked you here to fill me on from your perspective on the case," began the Mayor. "I've talked to Capt. Moss, but he is just too politically correct to really believe even half of what he blows your way. What's happening up to this point?"

Jenkins appreciated the Mayor's respect and honesty. It was nice to know that someone appreciated hard work and dedication.

"Seems like we have a good case against all the shooters and Motown this time," began Jenkins. We have some witnesses we hope we don't lose before the trial, plus a couple of Knight Players who vowed to testify about all of Motown's activities they know about. One of the boys was hospitalized last spring by Motown's thugs. He has a debt to repay it seems. They also volunteered to check around the neighborhood for any other witness who may testify. The DA's ready to go tomorrow with our pretrial motions. We are seeking twenty-seven counts of capital felony murder against each shooter and Motown. Judge Monroe is presiding. Thank God for that."

"Sounds like great new and good work on your precincts part," said the Mayor.

"We also got a search warrant for Motown's pad," added Jenkins. "Our people are over there right now going over ever inch of the place, forensics, photo, everyone. I'm meeting them there after our visit."

"O.K.," said the Mayor. "Is there anything you need at this point from our office?"

"No, Sir, I don't think so," said Jenkins. "I appreciate the offer, though. Sir, there is just one thing. What's with the media outside?"

"Not sure, yet" said the Mayor. "My staff is checking into it right now. What I don't need is for them to get the community more riled up than they are already. A good day in court tomorrow will diffuse that, I think," concluded the Mayor.

"Well, thanks Sir," finished Jenkins. "Think I'll head over to Motown’s and see how we're making out."

The Mayor smiled, rose, and shook Sergeant Jenkins hand. Jenkins left, passing by the reporters on his way and sped over to Motown's condo on the north side. Amazing the nice places drug dealers can afford he thought. Fancy homes, fancy cars, plenty of booze and women, but what a mess they leave behind for everyone else to clean up.

Sergeant Jenkins entered Motown's condo; the door had been left open by his people. Four Police cars and two City Vehicles were parks out front.

Sergeant Riccio was in charge and met Jenkins at the door. He held a black address book of some kind in his hand.

"Sarge," said Riccio, as he motioned for Jenkins to come into the unoccupied kitchen. "You won't believe this," he added, handing the book to him.

"Look in the back," he said to Jenkins. "Names, dates, and dollar amounts. Look who some of the names are," he added.

Jenkins scanned down the list. Some appeared to be nick-names; others were just last names, three he spotted immediately.

"Oh, no," said Jenkins. "I don't believe it, or maybe I do. This does change things, doesn't it Ric."

"Yes Sir, I think it does," said Riccio with a glint of a smirk. Thought we were all supposed to be on the same team?"

"So did I," said Jenkins. "Guess we're not."

Two names in the book were attorneys in the DA's office. The other was Judge McElroy. Jenkins thought back how often he remembered he sat on Motown's cases. How convenient Jenkins thought.

Dollar amounts next to each of the prosecutors totaled over twenty thousand dollars, with four separate dated entries. Seven dated entries followed the Judge's name totaling over fifty thousand dollars. This was a ton of money Motown was dishing around. Jenkins wondered if this was all of it?

"We're looking for other books or files right now," added Riccio. "We've taken his computer downtown already to our computer people to check all his old files. He made have deleted some he didn't want anybody to find. Our guys are good. If they are there our guys can retrieve them. I'll keep you posted."

"Good," said Jenkins. "Where's the phone?"

Riccio pointed over to the wall. He placed a call over to the DA's office.

He told the DA he was on his way over and to have attorneys Mason and Martin in the DA's office in ten minutes. He said he would.

When Jenkins arrived all the players were seated in the office. Jenkins was mad, but he did his best to keep his composure. DA Johnson was getting a little uneasy.

"What's up," asked Johnson? "Something to do with Mason and Martin, here?"

"Yes Sir, it does," said Jenkins matter of factly. "Seems your boys have been doing some possible moonlighting."

"What kind of moonlighting," he inquired?

Jenkins handed his the book and pointed to the entries by their names. Johnson stood motionless, just starring into the ledger.

"Where did this book come from," asked Johnson?

"I just picked it up from Motown Matthew's Condo just an hour ago," said Jenkins. "Look at this other name," pointed Jenkins.

"Oh my God," said the DA. "Judge McElroy, too?"

"Looks like it," said Jenkins.

"Gentlemen," began Johnson, "if that is appropriate at this point. This ledger Sergeant Jenkins brought over here contains your names with some dated entries. How much money we talking about here, Jenkins," he asked?

"Over twenty a piece," he answered.

Johnson walked over to both attorneys and pointed to the entries. Neither of them blinked.

"Want to explain how your names got in this hood," Johnson asked?

Mason and Martin looked at each other. Mason spoke.

"We both needed the money, plain and simple. Student loans, little children, you know the pay is not enough. We never worked on any of Motown's cases, you can check. We just took the money and kept quiet. We just thought it would go away. The last entry was eight months ago. We thought it was over and easily forgotten. We didn't know he kept a book."

"You guys have your resignations on my desk by five today," said Johnson angrily. I will get each of you a month’s severance pay. It is only for your families that I am doing this. You guys make me sick. If you guys had financial problems you could have come to see me first. Now get out of here."

"Oh, by the way," asked Johnson, "do you know why Judge McElroy's name is in this book, too?"

"Have no idea on that," said Martin. "Remember his seven your old son was kidnapped, for about two weeks wasn't it, a little over a year ago. Maybe Motown had something to do with that. Maybe the kidnapping was just a warning of what might happen if the Judge didn't cooperate."

Jenkins looked at the DA, both had forgotten about the kidnapping. Very few end up with happy ending like that one. Maybe it wasn't such good police work, after all.

Mason and Martin left the office. Jenkins, somehow felt sorry for them. Their legal careers were over. All that education, all that talent. What a waste he thought.

Johnson went out to his receptionist and told her to call Judge Menter who was in charge of all the Judges. He said he wanted to have a meeting as soon as possible with him and Judge McElroy. He wanted a call back immediately.

She made the call. Fifteen minutes later Judge Menter's office called back. The meeting was set for 6PM in the Superior Court building. Jenkins called his office and told them were he could be reached. He and Johnson decided to go to dinner before the meeting. They had much to talk about. Court tomorrow, Judge McElroy today.

Jenkins wondered how much more stress either of them could deal with. He knew that when this was over he and his wife were taking a real vacation. They hadn't had one in over five years. When this was all over, it was going to be THE time.

Chapter 40 The Dreamers

Chapter 40

I completed my warm-up pitches and Mike whipped the Ball down to second. The Monarch infielders tossed it around the infield with Tony Fado flipping the game ball back to me.

"Good luck, kid," said Tony. "Keep it in the park, we'll snag it," he added.

The Yankee infield was filled out by Randy Moss at Short, Pat Pitts at Second, and Jon Tavy at First. The outfield was Paul Day in Left, Bernie Willis in Center, and Ruben Santos in Right. Santos would have normally be the Designated Hitter, But Red was kind enough to let me hit for my self. He really put himself on the line with that decision.

I looked in for the sign. Mike asked for a fastball and moved slightly to the outside against Ricky Henderson of the A's. I held the glove against the left side of my ribs, and then I moved it out and slid my hand into it to grip the ball. I rocked back a step while my hands and glove went back over my head. I turned my foot sideways against the pitching rubber, forced my upper body toward the plate, and, with a strong push of my muscular right thigh, whipped my right arm toward home plate. The ball sped toward home plate at 96 miles per hour, cutting the outside black, knee high.

"Stee-rike one," yelled the plate umpire. The crowd cheers seemed deafening to me. Fifty-thousand fans were a little different than the three to five-thousand the Meriden club was used to. No mind, I took the throw back from Mike and re-toed the rubber. Ricky Henderson looked down at Stanley.

"He doesn't plan on doing that all afternoon, does he," asked Ricky with a smile on his face. "If he does, it looks like I won't be hitting a first-inning dinger, does it?"

"Hope not," answered Mike, returning the same smile. "That's IS the plan, you know."

"Figured as much," replied Henderson, digging back into home plate.

My next pitch was the same only this time on the inside black. Ricky over-swung trying to catch up to my fastball and swung over the top.

"Strike two," yelled the ump.

The crowd was delirious and rose to their feet, chanting again. "Bill-eee," Bill-eee".

I, again, took the return throw and walked back to the top of the mound. I got the sign from Mike, a slider, and moved to the outside again.

I rocked and fired, starting the pitch knee high, on the outside half of the plate. By the time Henderson began his swing the pitch darted a foot outside with Stanley back-handing it six inches off the ground. Ricky could have only touched it with a seventy inch bat.

"Strike three," was the call.

The crowd was shouting the house down. Mike whipped the ball down to third and started it around the horn. Henderson was leaning against the nub of the bat regaining his balance after lunging for my last pitch. He slowly walked back to the A's dugout tapping the barrel-end of his bat, mumbling to himself.

The next two batters grounded out to short and second. I was hoping to not have to face mark McGwire in the first inning. That would come in the second with no one on. That was the best way to face him with the year he was having.

The crowd was chanting again as the Monarchs ran in from the field. It changed to mostly applause as I crossed the first base line and moved into the dugout. Jack Meyers was the first to great me.

"Great job, Billy," said Jack with a big grin on his face.

"Thanks, Jack," I said, sitting down to put my jacket on my arm and reaching for a towel to wipe down my forehead.

To open the Monarch first, Pitts walked and Moss singled softly to left. Fado tried to advance both runners, but his bunt down the third base line was so perfect no one could make a play.

Ron Darling, the A's pitcher was clearly in a jam. Jon Tavy strolled to the place with the crowd going nuts. This was an even match up. Darling knew nothing about Tavy, and Jon knew nothing about Darling. This was just going to be good, old fashioned hardball. Tony LaRussa, the A's Manager sent Dave Duncan, their pitching coach out to mound for a talk. It lasted less than thirty seconds.

Tavy got into the left-side batter's box and began smoothing out the dirt. It was mostly a nervous habit, since Fado, Santos and I were the only other left-handed hitters and we didn't dig in that much.

Darling was ready and got the sign from catcher Steinbach. He rocked and fired a waist high fact ball toward the plate. Tavy cocked, opened his hips and pulled threw a powerful, level swing. The ball touched his bat so briefly and was launched high into the right field air. Darling turned, bent over at the waist, put his hands on his knees and looked into the ground.

The crowd became silent with anticipation and erupted as the ball landed into the upper deck. The Stadium erupted! Tavy rounded the bases emotionless, not trying to hot-dog at all. He crossed home plate with hardly any emotion showing on his face. He was greeted with high-fives from his batted-in teammates. Monarchs four, A's nothing. This truly was a storybook beginning. Tavy came down the steps and was first greeted by Red. It was bedlum!

"Man, am I a great manager, or what," said Red beaming ear to ear while slapping Tavy on the shoulder?

"Guess so, skip," said Jon with a big grin on his face. "Smart enough to bring the three of us with you." They both started laughing. If wasn't always going to be like this. You had to really enjoy these moments went the came.

The score remained the same through five innings. I only gave up two scratch singles in the third and fourth innings. One was to Ricky Henderson, who also stole second, but was left stranded.

My pitch count was at seventy-eight and so Red told me only one more inning, so he sent Jack Meyers out to get warmed up.

I got through the sixth inning except for Mark McGwire. I put a perfect fastball on the outside black; knee high that McGwire just flicked into the fifth row in the right field stands. Mike walked out to the mound with a new ball.

"Bill, don't worry about it," said Mike. "That was a good pitch, and hitters like Mark, well, sometimes a good pitch is still not good enough. Forget about it and let’s get this last guy and get out of here. You have pitched one heck of a game. Stay focused."

I nodded and retook my place at the rubber, twirling the ball inside my glove. I sent a wicked dropping curveball toward the plate that was weakly tapped toward short. Velarde threw the runner out by six steps. I had done my job for today. The crowd roared with approval and admiration. My performance was more that anyone had a right to expect. The only problem was they didn't know this was norm and how it was to be and how hard I worked to make it look so easy.

The Monarch were about to be turned around. The town and the fans just needed to be ready. The rest of the year was going to be exciting.

Jack Meyers breezed through the seventh and eighth innings with an assortment off-speed breaking pitches that were in sharp contrast to what I had showed then for six innings. Jack has a ninety mile an hour fastball, too, but he kept throwing what was working.

The Monarch closer came in and mopped up the ninth with his wicked split-finger pitch. Three strike outs to close the game had the Yankee fans beside themselves with excitement. Maybe what George had done was just what was needed. One game was not a turn around, but it would be hard for the press to be critical of anything that happened today.

After the game the first thing Red did was to call Gus and tell him the news. He just had to talk to his closest friend.

"Hey, Gus, did you watch the game," asked Red?

"About ten of the players came down to the park and we watched the game here," beamed Gus. "Billy was something to watch, wasn't he," added Gus.

"He was just vintage Billy," replied Red. "And Tavy, man did that set the tone of the game in a hurry. I think I am most happy for him, if that's possible. The last couple of years for him have not been pleasant. I hope this is a big turning point in his life, for him and Chris."

"Me too," said Gus. "Jack did well, too," added Gus. "That would be something if both we and you win our pennants. That would be unbelievable."

"Who knows," said Red. "Take one game at a time. Have your replacement players shown up yet?"

"Ya, they have," said Gus. "George was true to his word. He also threw in this young, black, string-bean of a pitcher from California. He looks like a strong wind would blow him into Rhode Island. He throws ninety-plus, though. Kid's got the longest fingers I ever saw and throws a wicked fork-ball. We should be all right, after all. Buck is a good guy. Feel sorry for him. What was going on in New York was not all his fault. Taken it like a man, though. Players seem to like him."

"That's great," said Red. "Listen I got to go. Another press conference takes place. This is going to take some getting use to. In Madison the paper could have cared less about us. Here they seem to be crawling around in every one of your pockets. Take care Gus, keep in touch."

"Good luck, Red," stated Gus. "Talk to you soon."

Both men hung up. They both had their jobs to do. Gus had a night game to get ready for and some new lockers to prepare. Red had to become Mr. Diplomacy for the Monarchs. Only today was going to be easy.

Chapter 39 The Dreamers

Chapter 39

The announcement was made prior to the game concerning the Monarch players who were cut. As each of the cut players came into the clubhouse they were called into the manager's office. They were told by the Monarch General Manager. The only player who took it badly was the first baseman, Biff Johnson.

"Who does George think he is," shouted Biff at the G.M.. "This is my career, my life. He can't do this. I'm going to the player's union and file a grievance!"

"On what grounds," snapped the GM? "You’re bating .220 with only seven homers and thirty-eight RBI's. You have left over thirty runners in scoring position this month alone. You should have been benched over a month ago. It was George who wanted you left in the lineup, not the Skip. Look how he got repaid, a trip back to double A. Maybe YOU should be the one he should thank for his wonderful career move? Stop your whining and get out. You earned very little of the million you've been paid. Don't make a scene out there and force me to call security."

Biff stood there for a moment and then stormed out of the office. He left quietly. He wasn't going to file any grievance. His only hope was to try and get picked up by some pennant contender who might need and occasional designated hitter and part-time first baseman. Biff still could play good defense.

We MADISON players were escorted over to our apartments and allowed an hour to settle in best we could. Our cars would be waiting for us in the parking garage below after the game.

We got back to the Stadium a little after noon. The club house manager showed us to our new lockers and gave us our uniforms. I didn't know how they did it, but the uniform fit like a glove. Jack, Jon, and I dressed and were somewhat in awe of where we were twenty-four hours ago and where we were now.

"Hey, Bill," said Jon from across the room. "Have you pinched yourself yet, to see if this is real?"

"It's real, all right," I answer. "It might be nice to stay for a while. I hear going back down is hard to take."

"That would be nice," chimed in Jack Meyers. "Wouldn't it be something if we had something to do with the Monarchs winning the A.L. East? That would be a trip, wouldn't it?"

"It might be something if you just didn't trip over your shoe laces," laughed Tavy. I laughed, too. We all had too much nervous energy to get rid of.

"That would be bad, wouldn't it," I said. "Walking out to the mound this afternoon and trip and fall flat on my face would be a great way to start my Major League career."

"Don't worry, Bill," said Tavy. "We have every confidence you'll at least make it to the mound in one piece. Just don't let them light you up in the first inning."

"I won't." I reply, "even if I have to walk everybody in the park, including the ball girl."

"Very funny," said Jack. "I hope you last longer than that since I’m supposed to relieve you in the sixth or seventh inning. Don't make me come pitch in the first inning today. They want one hundred pitches from you and about twenty from me. It would be the same 20+ pitches I would do from the side anyway. I’d rather get baptized tonight with you. They would like their closer, Hack Jackson, to finish the game in the ninth."

"Well, now that I know the plan I guess I know what I have to do," said Bill. I immediately ran down the hall and into the toilet area.

Jon and Jack ran done the hall and saw a two legs with cleats attached from underneath a stall. The sounds coming out of it were not good.

"Bill, you O.K.," shouted Jack.

"Ya, I'll be all right in a minute," I groaned.

"Here we thought you were the man with nerves of steel," said Jon.

"It's not my nerves I'm losing," I groaned, again. "I'll be out in a minute."

The left the bathroom area, mainly before they both got sick as well.

I regained my composure and made my way out to the Monarch bullpen in center-field. The game started at two-ten PM. it was about one-twenty PM and time for me to start getting loose.

I took off my NY windbreaker and threw it on the bench on the side. The bullpen catcher, Rick Rodriguez, flipped me a new ball he had been rubbing up. I stepped about fifteen feet in from of the mound and began soft-tossing with Rick. After about twenty throws I went to the top of the mound and toed the pitching rubber. I looked in and sent a ninety mile an hour plus fastball toward Rick.

"Good stuff, Billy," said Rick as he fired the ball back. "Keep it comin baby." It was now about one-forty PM.

I was warm by about one-fifty PM and feeling no ill effects of my previous bathroom experience I grabbed my jacket which I put only over my right arm and began walking through the outfield, toward the Yankee dugout.

"Good luck," shouted Rick. "Keep it down, baby, you'll be all right!"

I made my way into the dugout. The crowd behind the dugout began chanting "Bill-eee", Bill-eee". Players began patting me on the back wishing me well. The catcher, motioned me over and took out a spiral notebook and told me to have a seat.

"Don't worry about what to throw today," said Mike. "Just worry about location. Just watch where I set up and work into that zone. Stay out of the middle of the plate and you'll be O.K.," Mike added. "How do you feel? Did you get loose?"

"Ya, I said. "I feel good."

"You should," said Mike. "Rick called; they clocked some of your pitches at ninety-four, ninety-five and a couple at 98. If you stay there and pitch to'll be just fine."

Mike tapped me on the knee and walked down to the end of the bench and got a drink of Gatorade. He came back with a small glass for me, as well. Red had joined me on the bench.

"Feel all right, kid," asked Red?

"No problem, skip," I replied. "I'm ready to go."

"Then let's go," Red stated. "It's Showtime."

The rest of the Monarchs burst onto the field. I took off my jacket. I didn't even notice the bat boy was waiting to take it from me and hang it up.

"Thanks," I said.

"No problem," said the kid.

I climbed the steps and felt the soft grass hit the bottom of my cleats. The crown rose to their feet and began chanting again, "Bill-eee", "Bill-eee". I picked up the ball lying on the first base side of the mound and placed it firmly inside my A2000 glove’s pocket. I reached down and grabbed the rosin bag, squeezing it a couple of times and flipping it so it landed on the back of my right wrist to kill the slight amount of perspiration there. I dropped it to the ground behind the mound. I looked around the outfield at the white fa├žade. Man, this was too much.

Robert Merrill sang the National Anthem, as always. The announcer shouted, "Play Ball".

"Let's do it, Kid," shouted Mike from behind the plate. "You and me, baby."

I toed the rubber and sent his first big league warm-up pitch toward the plate, right down the middle. Mike shook his head in agreement and fired the ball back. I then walked back to the top of the mound and looked around the field at the players taking grounders from Tavy at first. This WAS it, I thought. I had finally made his dream come true. I thought of my parents, my grand parents, my sisters, Gus, Mary, and Gloria, and how I wished they could be here to see it. Maybe my parents were, I thought, from Heaven, perhaps.

Mike walked out in front of home plate and shouted, "Bill, you O.K.?"

I turned and smiled the biggest smile of my life.

"Ya, I'm O.K.," I replied. "Let's play some ball."

Chapter 38 The Dreamers

Chapter 38 The Dreamers

Jack, Jon, and I arrived at the ballpark early. Red was in his office cleaning out his desk. Gus was in helping him. Two cardboard boxes were on top of the desk and one thirty gallon trash can was to the left. The boxes were mostly empty. Red decided to consolidate and take only one to New York.

"Boys, come on in for a moment," yelled Red. The players entered Red's office.

"Ya, skip, what's up," said Jon? "Hey, Gus," he added with a warm tap on the shoulder.

"George sent a small commuter jet to pick us up," announced Red. "It’s sitting out at Mackie Airport. Decided he wants us at the press conference for 10AM. He is sending up four drivers to take our cars down to New York. He has even taken care of getting each of us an apartment up-town so we don't have to worry about setting up house-keeping. A driver is waiting outside for us. We’ve got about five minutes. Any problems?"

"No, guess not," I said. "You want our car keys now. I left my personal stuff in my car. That O.K.?"

"Ya, I don’t see why not," said Red. "Why don't you do that."

Everyone dropped their car keys on Red's desk. Gus picked them up and told them he would take care of it.

We players went into the locker room and picked up our equipment and headed out to the limo waiting for them. I stopped and came back into Red's office.

"Red, could I have a minute with Gus," I ask?

"No problem," said Red. "I'm done in here anyway." He turned and took the box with his saved belongings and left.

Gus was fumbling with what was left on the desk and what was left was garbage. Gus was nervous.

"Gus," I said, "I just wanted to say thanks for everything. You and Mary have been great to me. You opened up your home to some stranger. You cared for me like I was your...well, one of your family. You and Mary will always be special to me. Gus, I just wanted to say...I love you and Mary and will miss you."

I walked over and gave Gus a big hug. Gus turned and embraced me hard. The tears were streaming down Gus' face.

"Hey, listen, get out of here, kid," said Gus," not really meaning it. He tapped me on the cheek.

I walked toward the door. I turned to look at Gus once more.

"Hey, Mr. Monarch," said Gus to me, smiling. "Don't be a stranger."

"Don't worry," I replied, smiling. "I won't. Take care...Dad."

I left and boarded the limo with my teammates. The new adventure was about to begin.


We arrived in New York just after 9AM where a limo whisked us to the stadium. Jorge Canasta was waiting for them at the gate to usher us up stairs to the press area. It was flooded with reporters and cameras.

We assembled in an outer office adjacent to the press area. As soon as we entered we were spotted by Mr. “S” and he greeted us warmly.

"Red, introduce me will you," asked George?

"George, this is Bill Alan, Jack Meyers, and Jon Tavy," said Red. George shook each of our hands after we were announced.

"Boys, it nice to have you here," said George. "I know I seem to do some wacky thing once in a while. Some even think I own the Bellevue Monarchs, but, believe me I love this team and just want to bring this town a championship more than anything."

George went on to describe how the press conference was set up. He was going to make the announcement of the changes and introduce Red as the new manager. Nothing was in any of the morning papers so this was going to be quite a shock. Red would then introduce the new players from Madison and then we would all have to field a few question as a matter of protocol.

"You gentlemen ready," asked George? "Then it's Showtime!"

George led the way into the Media Room. The camera flashes immediately began going off. He went up to the podium which seems to have hundreds of microphones glued and scotch taped all over the place.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the press," began George, "I called this press conference to announce some immediate changes to the New York Monarchs. After consulting with Dan Mann, our General Manager, we both agreed that this team was not responding and failing to live up to its' potential. Our Manager has agreed and will immediately take over managing the double-A Madison, CT. ball club. Mr. Red Dodge, standing to my left, will immediately take field control of the New York Monarchs," George continued.

"In addition, Red has brought along with him his three most talented prospects who will take over starting assignments immediately. To my far right is First Baseman Jon Tavy. Next to him is Pitcher Jack Meyers, and to his right is Pitcher/Third Baseman Bill Alan. Mr. Alan will be starting this afternoons contest. The announcement of those current Monarchs who will be released will be announced prior to game time. They have not been told as of this moment, but the decisions have been made who they are. We will be glad to answer any questions you may have," he concluded.

"George, isn't this just some stunt to deflect attention away from the Monarch’s poor performance, and aren't you making scape-goats out of these players you are about to release," said a voice from the back of the room? It was Jack Milton of the Times.

"No, Jack," stated George sarcastically. "This is not just for your benefit, to give you something more to write about. The team stinks right now, but we are only eleven games out. If the Orioles fade at all and we start playing like we are capable of we could end up, at the very least, respectable. The fact that we have brought up two fine pitching prospects, I believe our main weakness, should indicate that we at least understand our problems and our needs. Next question."

"Mr. Dodge," asked a reporter from the Post," do you have any immediate plans shake up the line-up today?"

Red moved to the podium. He removed his new Monarch hat.

My immediate line up will include Tavy at First and hit clean-up with Alan pitching and batting ninth today. When Bill is not pitching he will play Third and bat third." announced Red.

"You're kidding, right," responded the reporter?

"Son, you might as well learn right now that I don't kid about much of anything," snapped Red with an intense look on his face. "Mr. Alan has an eleven and one record and is batting .360 with nineteen homers and 68 RBI’s. Mr. Tavy has twenty-six and is tied for our league lead in RBI's with 81. Mr. Meyers, not to be forgotten, is eight and two. I believe after looking at tens of hours of Monarch game tape that these players are as good as anybody currently in a Monarch uniform. Now, some of the players here might not like me saying that, but it is up to THEM to show me otherwise. These three, new players will have to play themselves out of the line up, just like some current Monarch have already done. All George and I ask is you give them a chance before you begin crucifying them."

Red stepped back from the stage. The media was kind of taken back by Red's matter-of-factness. It was obvious that there would be a different presence in the Monarch dugout from now on.

"Mr. Alan," asked the woman reporter from WFAN Radio, "How do you feel about pitching your first game in the Stadium?"

I moved up to the podium. I kept my cap on.

"It was to be my regular turn in Madison, anyway," I said calmly. "It would be nice to know the hitters better, obviously, but it's really not a big deal. The secret of pitching is not making mistakes and getting behind in the count. I'll take my cues from Mike March, our catcher, and work on keeping my composure and control. My job is to put my best pitch where he wants it. If I do that my success will continue. Dave Bolton, our catcher in Madison, was doing a great job preparing both me and Jack. We still had to do our job with good pitches. It will be no different here."

"Mr. Meyers," asked the same reporter," is that how you feel?"

"There's not much to add to that," said Jack as he moved onto the podium. "Neither of us is 100 MPH over-powering, but Billy is certainly very close. He is going to surprise many hitters up here. We pitch to spots and stay out of the middle of the plate. There is pitching and throwing. If you are a thrower you can only rely on luck and the hitter weakness. You really don't have much control over your team’s destiny if you do that."

Jack stepped back to his original spot. He winked at Red, who smiled back.

A couple more softball-type questions were lobbed up and were easily handled. The press did their best to find out who the released Monarchs were. A lot of speculation centered around Biff Johnson the current First Sacker, a couple of pitchers with losing records and big salaries. George would not budge with any hints and told them to be around prior to game time.

Chapter 37 The Dreamers

Chapter 37

I drove over to the diner after the game. This was a day filled with just too much change and disappointment. Bob's murder seemed to overshadow everything else. It seemed to make everything else insignificant.

I sensed that something was wrong, or certainly strange about the funeral. Too many people seemed to be holding back too many tears. Mary, Gus, Gloria, Becky, and Gloria's Mom all seemed to fight back any release of pain and loss. It was almost eerie the lack of emotion showed at the funeral. Had Bob's being gone for so long in the service and now his being off at school in Chicago kind of placed him out of sight, out of mind? Had these people emotionally disengaged themselves from Bob along time ago? His personal career choices had clearly disengaged himself from his family and hometown friends. I wondered why? At some point these people were going to explode with emotion.

I had arrived at the diner and went inside. I found Gloria sitting at a booth by herself, but in her regular clothes. It was clear she had not been working. I went down and sat across from her. She looked up as I moved into the seat and gave me a big smile.

"Listened to the game on the radio," said Gloria. "Just didn't feel much like going to the park tonight. Team is still playing well."

"Ya," I replied, "I don't think many of us felt like playing tonight. Maybe it was best we did, but it was hard to keep focused, our minds on just the game. This has been a strange day."

"I know," said Gloria. "I still can't believe we were at Bob's funeral. Here he is, a great guy, wanting to go in the ministry and help these kids and two months later he dead in some stupid shooting that no one understands. If this is God's idea of some kind of sign he sure needs to explain it to a lot of people."

"My grandmother used to read us Old Testament stories about how mad God would get and wipe out entire nations," I stated. "She also liked the story of Job who had a very happy and wealthy existence until God was challenged by the devil, whose opinion was that Job was only loyal to God because he blessed him with riches. God challenged the devil back, but no matter what evil the devil heaped on Job he still remained faithful."

"I really don't know," I continued. "Maybe sometimes WE put too much importance on what happens here on earth instead of dealing with eternity, what God wants of us, how we treat others, and how much leadership we provide in our little corner of the world. In Bob's case, maybe there is no message, except that the devil does have dominion over THIS earth. That much I know is Scriptural. Maybe Bob was going to make a difference, we won't know now. His dreams are certainly gone by this senseless shooting. Maybe now Chicago will get all these thugs off the streets and in prison where they belong."

"I always wondered how different things might have been had Bob accepted that athletic scholarship and stayed in school," thought Gloria out loud. "His emotions seemed to take over his head, leaving that dream behind. He seemed to have no regrets, though. Maybe his success as an Army pilot made up for his lost college athletic career. Bob was the type that created success where ever he went what he did would have probably made little difference. If he had done tidily-winks he would have most likely been All-World. At least he would still be alive. Maybe for many of us Bob died a long time ago. He walked out on us, left us behind. I think it hurt more back them because we loved him so. His new life choices made us start again, too. Some strange twist of fate, though."

Mel brought over two cups and a thermal pitcher full of coffee and set it down in the middle of the table.

"You kids want something to eat before I shut the griddle down," he asked? "I know it's late, but I don't mind. Bill, you must be hungry?

"No thanks, Mel," I answer. "Don't feel much like eating tonight. Thanks anyway."

"O.K.," replied Mel. "Take your time, I’ve got plenty of cleaning up to do. Just gonna turned down some of the lights and shut the sign off."

"How are Mary and your Mom holding up," I ask?

"She seems all right," replied Gloria. "Mom is going to stay close to Mary for a while. Mom remembered how depressed she was after Dad died, didn't realize it, though. She had just a sense of carelessness, like not wanting to do anything or go anywhere. She was just content to sit around doing nothing. That wasn't like Mom and is certainly not like Mary. In Mom's case it just seemed to take time. With Mary, I just don't know."

"Gloria, we have another problem," I stat. "It really compounds things, I think."

"Bill, what is it," asked Gloria with much concern in her voice?

"George has decided to shake up the New York Monarchs," I continue. "He has fired the manager and replaced him with Red. He is also taking three players from Madison with him...I am one of them."

"Oh, Bill," said Gloria excitedly. "That is great news for you. I am so happy for you. You are going to get to realize your dream after all.

Gloria paused. She sensed my lack of excitement.

"Bill, what is wrong," she asked? "How can you not be excited about this chance?"

"I just don't think that leaving Gus and Mary right now is a good thing for them," I state sincerely. "Becky spends more time off with Dave Bolton. They're getting married in less than three months and it just doesn't seem like a good time to leave the house so empty right now."

"Bill, you listen to me," snapped Gloria. "This is not about Gus and Mary; it's about you, period. Have you forgotten that you gave up on your dream once already? Most people don't get second chances, Bill. You got one. Don't say no, this time too. No one is going to think badly of you for thinking about yourself first, this time. Please do this for yourself, for me, for Gus and Mary. Quite frankly, we don't need any more guilt right now. Please go and do this."

"O.K., I'm going," I said with a small smile on my face. "You don't need to have a liter of kittens right here in the diner over this." I laughed. Gloria did too.

"I'm not going to have a liter of kittens," said Gloria. "I still haven't found the right TomCat yet, or, maybe I have, but he just doesn't know it yet."

My face became a little flushed. I was caught off guard and wasn't sure what to say. I sure had strong feeling for Gloria, I really loved her. It was the first time she had even made so much of a hint of her true feelings for me.

"Look at your face, Mr. Alan," said Gloria smiling. "First time I ever made a Big Leaguer blush."

"I hope it's not the last," I reply. "I sure hope it is not the last."

I reached across the table and took both of her hands in mine. Gloria responded by squeezing mine very tightly. We sat there quietly and finished our coffee. There was not much more that needed to be said tonight.

Chapter 36 The Dreamers

Chapter 36

"Gus, come on in here for a second will ya," shouted Red from his office. He had spotted Gus putting out the last of the uniforms for tonight’s game in the player stalls. "Come on in and close the door."

Gus did as he was asked. He shouldn't have been at the ball park in the first place. Bob's death, the funeral, he could be taking some time off. As long as Mary was not alone he was doing the right thing if it made him feel better thought Red.

"What's up, Red," asked Gus "Need me to do somethin before game time for ya?"

"No, nothin like that," answered Red. "Take a seat. I want to talk to you a minute."

Gus sat. He could sense something was up. He and Red hardly ever had conversations in Red's office.

George wants me to come to New York and take over the Monarchs," announced Red to Gus. "Really wants to shake up the boys in the Big Apple. I don't really have much of a choice but to take the assignment, Gus, you know George. His way or the hi-way."

"I know," said Gus. "Just, why does it have to be right now?"

"I know, the timing stinks," replied Red. "It could have been last week or just as well next week. The only time that applies is when George is ready. You know that."

"I know," said Gus looking at the floor. "I guess it really doesn't make that much difference."

"One other thing," said Red. "I'm taking three players with me from this team. I want Billy to be one of them. I think he is ready, Gus, really I do. I wanted to let you be the first to know. Even Billy doesn't know. With Bob's death and all I'm not so sure it the best of ideas for you and Mary. That's why I asked you in here, to talk to you about it."

"You really hit a guy with both barrels don't you Red," stated Gus. "This one really hurts. You know how fond we've become of Billy. He and Bob are so much...were so much a like. It will be really tough on Mary, I think. Maybe Gloria and her Mom can help keep Mary busy for a while. It will be tough, but I think we can do it."

"You sure," asked Red. "I want you to O.K. this part. Otherwise Billy stays."

"No, it's not fair to the kid," said Gus. "He came here to make his way to the big leagues. It's not fair for us to stand in the way. He’s earned it, Red. We'll manage."

"O.K., Gus, if you say so," said Red. "I'm going to make the announcement after tonight’s game. The only other person who knows is Reggie. I'm taking Tavy and Jack Meyers, too. Tavy is out of options. Reggie understood. Billy and Jack will give the team some needed pitching. I think there both ready. They both pitch smart. That's more important than speed. We'll sure find out tomorrow. Billy's turn would be here tomorrow afternoon. He'll just be doing it eighty miles to the south, that's all," finished Red.

"Thanks Gus for understanding," said Red with a big smile on his face. "I’ll start thinking about being in New York next year. If I get asked back I want you there, too."

"We'll talk about that later," stated Gus. "I've got some things I need to do." Gus left the room. He knew full well he wasn't going to New York, ever. Reality was, so did Red.

The Monarchs won their game five to one. The club house mood was not festive. There was kind of a sullen nature to the bench all game. It was hard for the players not to thinking about Bob, the funeral, Gus and Mary. There was a business like attitude the whole game. Even after Reggie hit is twenty-third homer in the sixth to put the game out of reach, there was not much celebrating in the dugout.

Red gathered the team in the center of the locker room to make his announcement. Gus stood by his side.

"Men, I have some tough news to tell you," Red began. "New York wants to make some changes with the big club and is going to announce at 10AM tomorrow morning that I will be the new New York manager."

A big cheer goes up in the room.

"Way to go, skip," said a voice from the back. "You deserve it," said Mario. "For once George made a smart choice."

Laughter fills the room.

"Right on," said Reggie. "That's the truth."

"All right," said Red. "I'm taking three of our players with me. Jack Meyers, Jon Tavy, and Bill Alan. We leave first thing in the morning and all will be starting tomorrow in New York."

"Oh, man," says Mario. "There goes our chance for the pennant. How can he do that to us?"

"Hey, I know this is tough," stated Red. "You'll have three talented prospect coming up from A ball. Mike Miller is coming up from Chattanooga. He is seven and two and they tell me he pitches like he's thirty. Memphis is sending Mark Martin, their first baseman, who is hitting .310 with nineteen homers. Replacing Billy is going to be a problem. George is working on that one with his scouts tonight. These players will be here tomorrow. They can help you guys win this thing. Help them out and make them feel at home. That's all I ask."

"O.K.," said Dave Bolton. "We'll take care of it, Skip."

"No problem," added Reggie. "Any body messes with the new blood will have to mess with me. We’re winning this pennant for us and Bob Lollar."

"All right," said Red. "Just one other thing. I just wanted to tell you guys that I was really enjoying this year. We were having some fun, breaking a few windows as they say. You guys were playing your behinds off for me and I appreciate it. I look around this room land see no reason why you all couldn't join me in New York in a few years. Thanks again for a great year. I'm going to miss you." Bolton yells out, "Three cheers for the coach."

"HIP, HIP, HURRAY! HIP, HIP, HURRAY! HIP, HIP, HURRAY!" shouted the team. Red disappeared into his office and closed the door. Leaving was tougher than he thought.

The players all quickly showered and left. Jack Meyers and Jon Tavy cleared out their lockers into a couple of team bags. Gus told us to be here at the park by 10AM for the trip to New York.

I was the last to dress and still had not packed my gear. Gus came over and sat next to me.

"What's wrong, son," asked Gus. "Your big chance tomorrow," He lightly socked me in the arm.

"Gus, I don't think I can do it," I said. "I can't leave you and Mary right now. It's not right."

"Listen, Bill," began Gus, "I know you feel bad about Bob, we all do, but reality is that life goes on. Bob would not want you to miss taking your shot in the big leagues because of him or his death. The best thing you can do to honor him is to go to New York and make it big. That was Bob's dream, to play for the Monarchs. You have to take his place. He would want you to."

"Gus, are you sure," I ask. "You say the word and I'm not going. That's it."

"No, you go, son," answered Gus. "That is the right thing to do. Mary will understand."

Gus rose from the chair and began cleaning up. He turned back to me.

"Now, get a move on." said Gus emphatically. "You've got some news to tell Gloria, boy. I'll see you at home later."

I finished getting dressed and packing my things, leaving the bags in front of the locker. I pulled the tape off the top of the locker that had my name on it. I wadded it up and threw it in the waste can as I left the room.

I went out to my car, unlocked it and just sat behind the wheel for a moment. I started it up and pulled out of the parking lot, turning toward the diner. I hoped Gloria was not going to be a problem. This was one heck of a day I thought. I was glad it was almost over.

Chapter 35 The Dreamers

Chapter 35

Father Spencer got back to Chicago. Ben was waiting for him at Midway. Their ride back to campus was made in silence. What was there to say, really?

In his office, Father Spencer put in a call to Sergeant Jenkins. Jenkins had been grilling all of the suspects, if you could call them that, all night. They had finally gotten one of the triggermen to tell where Motown Matthews was probably hiding out these days. He was and the Police brought him down to the station at 9:45AM. They had been interrogating him for over 6 hours straight without a single break. It would go on longer if need be.

"You know, Motown, you will be here for as long as it takes," snapped Jenkins. "We're just going to keep bringing in the fresh bodies and keep asking the same stupid question, getting the same stupid answers, until you decide to give us the straight scoop on what went down last night. We have you at the scene with at least three eye witnesses. Two of your triggermen are prepared to testify how you planned it all out. We would just like to know why? Why did you have to kill so many? What did you hope to accomplish?"

"Man, I copping the fifth, dig," chirped Motown. "You got sompin on me, we'll dance in court. Wasting my valuable time with this jive."

"Think it's Jive, do you," snapped Jenkins. He slammed a portable cassette player on the table. "Listen to this choirboy." He played the tape from an interrogation of one of Motown's boys.

"We was at Motown's pad last Friday, planned the whole thing out on a napkin. Couple of his mule/players wasn’t quite keepin up. Thought he needed to teach them a lesson. None of us thought it was going down like this. Was only spose to be couple of shooters. Didn't know Motown brought in reinforcements. Would've skipped known that," said the voice on the tape. Jenkins shut off the tape player.

"I think that might get you life this time, Motown," said Jenkins sarcastically. "Twenty-five counts of murder. You might have to live to be two-thousand to make parole this time. That is unless you decide you want to spill the beans on your whole operation. If not, we'll play it the DA's way. He wants a piece of your behind worse that I do."

Motown sat silently in his chair. He had refused an attorney. He was much too smart to need counsel.

Jenkins couldn't imagine what was going through his mind. What could some guy who just killed over twenty-five people be thinking? Maybe that was the problem. There was no cause and affect to him. The only rule was he was not to be inconvenienced. No life mattered but his. What a shallow existence Jenkins thought. Jenkins motioned to two officers in the room. They moved toward Motown.

"Silence is golden," said Jenkins. "You can take up space just as well in the lock-up. Take him down."

The officers grabbed Motown by the biceps and lifted him out of the chair and took him down stairs. They had cleared out a number of cells to make sure the each of the shooters and Motown had their own cell.

Motown knew who the talker was there just wasn't anything he was going to be doing about it now. He also realized that maybe; just maybe, he wasn't going to be doing anything about it from the outside, probably for a long time as well.

Father Spencer had made his way downtown to the station. Jenkins assigned one of the junior officers to help Father get through the paperwork with the Coroner's Office. Bob's body would be transported back to Connecticut in two days. Father Spencer and Ben would both be accompanying the body. Miller Funeral Home made arrangement to pick them up at Bradley Airport.

The following two weeks were a nightmare for Sergeant Jenkins and his precinct. Countless press conferences, luckily handled by Captain Moss. He assured the community that HE had the perpetrators of the hideous massacre in custody and would be working with the DA's Office and would be seeking the death penalty for everyone involved. What grandstanding thought Jenkins. What election fodder for Moss.

He had enough to do making sure the evidence all fit, no loop holes, no conflicting testimony. He also had to make sure his witnesses didn't get cold feet and/or take a walk. That usually happened in all too many of these cases. No witnesses. No case. Wouldn't be the first time Motown got to the witnesses. Probably wouldn't be the last. Jenkins was determined those days were over.

The Funeral for Bob Lollar was beautiful. It seemed like the whole hometown came out. The street was lined with people as far as the eye could see. It was even being carried by the local cable company. Bob Lollar was certainly loved by the whole town.

Father Spencer and Ben stayed for the funeral and flew back immediately afterwards. There was just too much going on for them to be of much use or help.

Father Spencer told the Lollar's before he left that he was going to establish a Scholarship Fund in Bob's name that would annually pay the full tuition to some inner-city kid who wished to enter the ministry. The Lollars were grateful and knew that Bob would be proud and honored.

The Monarchs had a game that night that the President of the league offered to cancel and be made up later. The team decided to play the game and dedicate the rest of the season to Bob's memory. They all knew that Bob would not want the game called on the account of him. That was not his style. The team would wear black arm bands on their uniform with a gold cross embroidered on the outside.

The family was doing as well as could be expected. Billy and Gloria had grown quite close since her return from California over two months ago. She would be drawing her strength from Billy for a while. It was good that Billy was living with the Lollars. They had been treating him like their lost son ever since he got to town. A role he never really felt comfortable with, but now was truly going to be filling.

He knew what the Lollars were going through. He knew how he felt when his mother, sisters and grandparents were killed. There is nothing to be said. No way to prepare. You just must move on. He could only try and help everyone do just that.

The Monarch’s Owner had been in town and attended Bob's funeral, as well. He had spent the better part of yesterday and today in the company of Red Dodge, the Madison Monarch’s Manager.

Everyone wondered what was up with that. What did George want? What plan was he cooking up this time?

"Red," said George, outside the church fellowship hall where the reception was being held. "Let's go back to the park and your office. Got a couple of ideas I want to bounce off you," he added.

"O.K.," said Red. How could he refuse the Big Boss?

"Red," George began, "the big club stinks. It’s not the manager's fault, but the team is just not responding to anything he has tried. We've decided to really shake them up. Here's the plan."

George said the plan was to fire the manager and put him in charge of the Madison team for the rest of the season. Make Red the new manager of the big club and bring up at least three Madison Monarchs and make them instant starters. The players they replace would be given their immediate release and told to clean out their lockers within two hours. There is no doubt that would get a rise out of the team, just no telling if would have a positive affect and get the team to pull together. Only time would tell.

Red made it clear that he was quite happy with his Madison assignment, but that he would do all he could and be a part of the plan. The fact that he would be bringing some of his players made it more palatable.

Red and George talked about the immediate needs of the team and realized that pitching was most critical. Red made the decision to bring Billy Alan, Jack Meyers, both pitchers, and his toughest choice between Reggie Bond and Jon Tavy. He made the choice on Tavy because this had to be his last year in the minors and now was a good time to see if he could make the jump to the Show.

Red knew that Reggie was at least going to be in triple A next year, maybe even make the jump to the majors next spring training. Jon would not have that luxury, Red thought. George was not usually that patient. Now was the time. Red explained that later to Reggie, who said he understood and had no problem with Red's decision. Reggie wished Red the best and hoped they would be reunited next year in New York. Red promised to do all he could to make that happen. He reminded Reggie a continuation of the great year he was having would make that happen.

Red told George that he would like to make the announcement after tonight’s game. He also made George promise that he would re-stock the Meriden clubs' pitching. It was not fair to the other players who had a chance to make the playoffs to take their top two pitchers in the middle of a pennant race. George agreed.

The affected players and Red could easily make the trip to New York for tomorrow afternoons, Saturday game. George would call a press conference for 10AM tomorrow morning. The bomb would be dropped then.