It was a black-and-white-movie morning when I opened my office, looked out the window down the Cuyahoga River, and saw the angry thunderheads hunkered over Lake Erie. It was one of those mornings we get in Cleveland at the end of April. We’ve been looking at gray skies and fastening our coats and jackets up to the top button for almost eight months, and the longing for a spot of sunshine and warmth to burn through the pewter-colored overcast becomes as urgent and palpable as the throbbing of an infected hangnail.
Virginia Carville was, as usual, right between my bare feet.
That’s because she was the special reporter and sometime coanchor on the eleven o’clock news on Channel 12, and I’m generally lying on my bed when I watch her.
I met her once or twice several years ago when she was an eager college intern at the station and still known as Ginger. It wasn’t until after she’d progressed to newswriter and then to full-fledged reporter that she began insisting everyone call her Virginia because it was more dignified.
I owed Victor Gaimari a favor. Favor being a broad, all-purpose word subject to many interpretations, you might think I’d be picking up his dry cleaning or driving him to the airport or taking his homely visiting cousin to dinner and a show. But it wasn’t that kind of a favor.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. Joe Bradac was the last guy I’d expect to see standing on the threshold of my apartment at nine o’clock on a Monday morning. A cop at the door wouldn’t have surprised me. It could have been my landlord—I try to pay my rent by the fifth of the month, but occasionally I forget. Maybe a Jehovah’s Witness. Once in a while even a dissatisfied client shows up at the door—things happen, after all. But not Joe Bradac …
Like me, Matt Baznik is Slovenian, a big solid guy with a receding hairline, a roll of fat around his middle. He was huddled in frigid misery in his car coat, draining his sixth beer, which undoubtedly added to his chill, cheering listlessly every time the Steelers fumbled or had a kick blocked, which seemed to be every few minutes or so. He didn’t appear to be having a very good time. “You want another beer, Milan?” he said. “Or maybe a sausage sangwidge?”