The Case of the Well-Paid Ghost

Rich Daley was hiding behind his desk, fiddling with a model airplane, when his brother Bill bounded through his office door.

“Hey, chum,” laughed Bill, just back from Washington, where he’d been sworn in as United States commerce secretary. “You look spooked! Did you faint?”

“You shouldn’t surprise people like that!” Rich snapped. “Haven’t you heard about the ghosts around here?”

“Awww, you don’t believe in ghosts, do you?” Bill asked.

“I don’t believe in hiring ghosts, no,” said Rich nervously.

“OK, little brother, tell me what’s going on,” said Bill.

“Well,” Rich replied, “former alderman Joseph Martinez just admitted to federal prosecutors that he worked for three City Council committees from 1985 to 1992 and never did a lick of work. He felt bad so he sent me some letters and included checks to pay back his salary.”

Bill chuckled. “So?”

“Bill! Martinez worked for Ed Burke’s law firm, and he says Burke made him a ghost!”

Bill laughed gleefully. Ed Burke was the most powerful man on the City Council. He and Rich were political allies, but the Daley boys had never forgiven him for running against Rich in the 1980 state’s attorney’s race.

“You didn’t tell Eddie that Martinez was sending you that money and tip him off to the federal investigation, did you?” Bill asked.

“No way!” giggled Richie. The two brothers slapped each other on the back. But Rich still looked glum.

“What is it?” said Bill.

“There’s a problem,” said Rich. “Some guy named James Stack signed a performance review for Martinez before he was even scheduled to start the first job. People are trying to link me with Stack.”

“Stack, Stack,” Bill mused. “Sure! Don’t you remember him? He’s been a loyal 11th Ward precinct worker since dad was mayor!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” said Rich.

“Sure you do, Rich! We used to see him all the time–” Bill stopped. Rich was glaring. “Hmm,” said Bill. “Sounds mysterious.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration by Jim Flynn.