Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Prologue

Republisher’s Note: This is one of the best of the Manny stuck in the mob forever stories. This chapter was labeled Prologue by the author, but there is no Chapter 1. I’ve relabeled it Prologue/Chapter 1.

The Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Prologue aka Chapter 1

The sound of the beat of the heart monitor forced me to see that my father’s time on earth was quickly drawing to a close. His pulse rate was 58 and the BP 74/40. I knew in my mind that he had seen his last sunset and couldn’t imagine how his weak heart had any strength left to see another sunrise. All the nurses had been kind to offer me coffee and gentle pats on my hand after checking my father.  I thought to myself that Cedars Hospital always had the best care to offer all that came through their doors. They knew how to take care of their own. I had grown up in this community.

My father had come to Springfield as a young reporter and hadn’t expected to stay. He had wanted to see the world but ended up seeing it through the eyes of other citizens of Springfield. Everyone knew him as Fletcher around town. He saw himself as good father first and a well respected news reporter second. The respect from major broadcast companies had been his early on in his career. Many journalism interns had learned the news beat from my father. Now, they sat at anchor chairs around the world. No wonder that I had chosen to follow in his footsteps. I saw him first as my Dad while others saw a friend. He didn’t betray confidences and often let a story lie dormant to protect the innocent. He kept true to himself and always said, “Behind a good story is another story.”

When the opportunity came to purchase the Springfield Journal; he had jumped at it. Thus his fate had been sealed. Even in this small mid-western city, major news awards came to him. Often, he laughed and said that you wouldn’t expect a city this size to provide such opportunities. Early on, he had been able to establish a good rapport with the Spaulding, Lewis’s and Bauer’s. Each family in their own right had been power brokers. Friendships had formed and lasted a lifetime. He seemed content to stay put and all of his children born in the same hospital where he now laid dying.

So I grew up with a love of journalism and it seemed so natural to choose journalism as a major in college. After graduating from Notre Dame, I got to intern at The Baltimore Sun in Baltimore, Md. The day the editor offered me a permanent position was the happiest day for my father. I had made it own my own and in his eyes that meant more that winning a Nobel Award. The surprise came later when he found out that I was the editor of the Social Column. He didn’t see this as serious reporting. In truth, I had fallen in love with Baltimore and the excitement of being near our national capital. The city provided easy access to sporting venues and the opportunity to sail my boat out of Annapolis.

The years went bye quickly. I had married once but both of us were too career oriented for the marriage to last. The trips home to Springfield came at Christmas and the usual week in the summer. After my mother’s death, I watched Dad grow older and weaker. The life seemed to drain from him. My visits had become more frequent and when the phone had rang at work on Friday; I hadn’t expected to be sitting in an ICU in Springfield on a Saturday night. Dr. Fred Bauer Jr. had called and said,” your father has had a massive heart attack and his death is imminent. The plane trip and cab ride to Cedars had been a blur. Now, I was sitting in a chair in the ICU lounge waiting for the death angel.

The double doors swung open and immediately I was brought back to reality. A stretcher came through the doors with an ashen colored male patient with several priests at his side. The concern on their faces was a quick reminder of my own despair. The fear of death was written on their faces. I wondered why there were this many men of God with this man. The nurse in charge of that cubicle that received the patient asked if he had coded since leaving the ER. No was the answer but his BP wasn’t responding to the medication, as it should. By this time, the situation was becoming tenser and the patient’s condition unstable.

In the waiting room, I heard another visitor say to a young lady,” Did you recognize that man?”

“That was Father Ray Santos. He was our parish priest for years. He is a Cardinal from Chicago.”

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