“Kristy, call for you on line two.”
“Thanks Judy,” the auburn haired woman said. She punched the button and said “Kristy Flannigan speaking.”
“Ms. Flannigan, my name is Marvin Bremmer, Jerry Reinsdorf’s executive assistant,”
Kristy rolled her eyes. This was just the sort of joke her cousin Sean Kowalski would pull. “Knock it off, Sean,” she said. “It’s too early for April Fools, and you’ve done better.”
“I assure you this is no joke,” said the disembodied voice. “Mister Reinsdorf has a case for you and it involves the Sox.”
“Yes, can you make to the park?”
“Sure. I’ll be there right away. Do I come in through the employee’s entrance?”
“Yes. Do you know where it is?”
“I worked at the concession stands while I was at Loyola.”
“Good. Can you be here in less than an hour?”
Kristy hung up and left her private office. She crossed the outer office to the office of her identical twin sister, Kelly. “Kell, you’re not going to believe what sort of case I have!”
“Try me,” Kelly said.
Kristy repeated what she’d been told. “What about the details?” Kelly asked.
“I guess I’ll have to find out when I get to The Cell,” Kristy said.
“See you at home, then.”
Kristy took the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line train to the usual 35th Street stop and got off. Or her right, north of 35th, was the site of the original Comiskey Park, now a parking lot for season ticket holders. On the left was the second park, now officially U.S. Cellular Field, but referred to by Chicagoans as “The Cell.” She’d grown up in this area, and knew it very well.
She was indeed challenged at the entrance, but the guard knew she was expected. Five minutes later, she in Marvin Bremmer’s office, and judging by the expression on his face, he was quite serious. He went right down to business: “It’s not a well know fact, but it’s not just the players and coaching staff who get championship rings for the World Series, but the front office and scouting staff as well,” he said. “The players’ rings were being given out at a ceremony before Tuesday afternoon’s game, and the rest afterward.”
Kristy caught on to the “were to” part. “But for some reason there’s a snag,” she said.
“Exactly. The rings are missing.”
“That’s what we’d like you to find out. If we go to the police, it will be all over the media, and if recovered, the rings will be impounded as evidence.”
“So you’ll need a discreet investigation. I can assure you of that.”
“Exactly. This is the outfit that made them.” He handed her a business card. The card had a phone number and address on it.
“Okay, I’ll be right on it,” she said.
Kristy punched up the number almost as soon as she left the office. She was able to get through with no difficulty, but a meeting could not be arranged until the next morning. Once at ground level, the magnitude of the crime sunk in. The ball park was at the southeast corner of 35th Street and Shields Avenue. A little further up Shields, between 34th and 33rd, was Armour Square Park, a municipal park. She and Kelly learned to swim in its pool and play tennis on its courts. Her family had lived in Bridgeport since the 1850’s. Kelly, Kristy, their sister and two brothers were fourth generation White Sox fans. To them, the Sox were part of their neighborhood, not merely a sports team. The loss of the rings was not a mere theft, as she was thinking of it as, but a personal affront.
Home wasn’t too far away. Four blocks west along 35th, then two south. The grid pattern of the streets made for easy walking. The first time she visited relatives living in post-war suburbs, she’d been amazed by the twisty streets that looked as if they’d been designed by a drunk. In time, she reached the brick house she and Kelly shared.
With plenty of time to prepares dinner for a change, Kristy prepared chicken, stuffing from a boxed mix, and green beans. She knew Kelly’s habits well enough to know what rain she’d take, when it would arrive at the station, the time it would take for Kelly to walk home, and even allowed for a slight delay. As a result, Kelly walked into the house to the aroma of a delicious meal.
While they ate, Kristy gave Kelly a run down on her case. The twins’ contrasting personalities were evident as they ate. Kelly seldom changed out of her business attire on arriving home, her only concession to casualness being the slippers on her feet. Kristy wore business attire only when needed.
“Who would want to steal a World Series ring anyway?” Kelly wondered aloud. “You could hardly say you earned it if you weren’t connected with the team.”
“People will shell out big money for sports memorabilia,” Kristy said. “But I’m having trouble buying that as a motive.”
“For starters, it’s way too soon. Olympians have auctioned off their medals to help put their grandkids through college, but I doubt somebody would have both the youth and the patience to do so.”
“You’re right. Most thefts are for short term rather than long term financial gain. It could be spite.”
“Are you saying some jealous Cub fan is behind it?”
“Not necessarily. It could be somebody with against Mister Reinsdorf.”
“He has alienated a few of the fans. But winning should cure those problems. Look at all the people Steinbrenner’s offended over the years, but nobody’s swiped any of the Yankees’ rings.”
Kristy pondered the idea for a while. “There is another way to gain money from the rings,” she said after some thought.
“What’s that?” Kelly wondered.
“Are you serious?”
“It’s that old Sherlock Holmes thing ‘If you have eliminated all possibilities except for one, then that one, no matter how improbable must be the reason.’”
“Has there been a ransom demanded?”
“No. At least none I was told about.”
“Seems to me you need another motive.”
“We’ll have to see.”
“I have to take a deposition tomorrow, so I can’t help you out. Put a message on my voice mail.”
The next morning the two went their separate ways. Kelly took public transportation to the Loop, while Kristy took their car to the jewelers. The capricious Chicago spring weather had turned warmer, but not blazing hot. She started with blue jeans and a thin white turtleneck. Over the turtleneck went a black sweatshirt which commemorated the Sox’ Series triumph, while her Starter jacket went into the car.
On arrival at the Jewelers, Kristy was sent to see the manager and the foreman. She didn’t waste any time in asking the most pertinent question: “Is there anybody who had a sudden unexcused absence?”
“Sure,” the manager said. “George Finley, in the shipping department. Funny thing, he’s only been here six months.”
“What’s his address?”
Five minutes later, armed with the address, Kristy left a message on Kelly’s voice mail. Finley’s address wasn’t far from Midway airport. There was also a White Castle nearby. It was just warm enough to enjoy a couple sliders and a chocolate shake the proper way, in your car.
As a precaution, Kristy parked the car a few blocks from the address. She had her cover story ready, and was ready to use it.
At first, she thought there would be no answer. However, she never used it, as the person who answered definitely not George Finley. Kristy was surprised to see Dite (short for Aphrodite) Spring, who barely two weeks earlier involved Kelly and Kristy in the Killarney Emerald affair. She pointed a nine millimeter automatic at Kristy’s waist. “Inside,” she ordered.
Kristy did just that. “George, you should have said you had the flu!” another man said, calling somebody not in the room.
Another man entered. “Who is she?” he asked.
“I’m not sure.” Dite said, “But she has a twin sister who should be coming around looking for her. Take her down stairs.”
Kristy was taken down to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs, her wrists were lashed behind her back. “You must be George Finley,” Kristy said.
“You talk too much,” Dite said. “Cork up that mouth, Walt.”
The other man took a blue silk scarf that was knotted in the center. Her crammed the knot into Kristy’s mouth and secured the ends at the back of her neck. Throughout the basement, oversized ring boxes took up space.
“We stopped counting around four hundred,” Dite said as Kristy was led to a post in the basement. “They must be planning to give some to the peanut vendors.” Kristy’s ankles were bound next. She was stood up against it and secured to it with two large lengths of rope. Around went around her waist and upper arms went a fifteen foot length, while a ten foot length went around at the knees.
“That’s good, but not enough,” Dite said. She pulled a bandana out of her pocket and secured it around Kristy’s eyes. “There. I know it’s a little over the top, but it’ll keep you out of mischief. We plan to get some cash out of those rings, but doing the exchange will be difficult.”
All through the deposition, Kelly had a sense of trouble about her sister. Once finished, she checked her voice mail and heard Kristy’s message. Of course, Kelly got no answer. She had one idea to use. She checked her desk calendar and to her relief found that Sean Kowalski would be off duty that day.
Through the dark, uncertain hours Kristy had no idea what was going on She lost feeling in her fingers and toes. Her mouth felt dryer than it ever had before. Even the ringing of her cell phone didn’t help her disposition. Would Kelly de captured as well? And to what lengths would the trio go to preserve their secret?
More time passed. Suddenly, Kristy heard the sound of furniture being knocked over. Next, something fragile broke, then another breaking sound. Finally, she heard what sounded like somebody falling down the stairs, then footsteps.
“Damn, I didn’t know you had it in you, Kell!” came a familiar voice, that of Sean.”
“It’s okay,” Kelly said just before the blindfold came off. Kristy saw Dite sprawled at the base of the stairs, dazed and rubbing the back of her head, with Sean standing over her.
Kelly threw her arms around Kristy and said “Are you all right? Did the hurt you?”
“Uh, Kelly, do you mind cutting her lose?” the voice belonged to Sean’s sixteen year-old son, Tom.”
“He’s on Spring break.” Kristy explained as she removed the gag.
“At least you got me and Dad out of yard work,” he said, pitching in help release Kristy.”
“The other two are cuffed upstairs.”
The rope was used to tie up Dite until squads could arrive. The rings were recovered and sent to a secure warehouse. The Flannigans and Kowalskis saw the opening game, but only Kelly and Kristy stayed long enough to see the whole game, which the White Sox won 10-4. They left the ball park at 1:30 in the morning, wet but happy.