The Case of the Missing White Boys

Bill Daley snapped the metal hook on his body harness to the slender steel cable running between his jet and a nearby DC-10. He took a deep breath and jumped. The next moment he was being pulled into the other plane.

“This better be good,” said Bill as he plopped into a seat next to his brother, Rich. Bill was U.S. Commerce Secretary, in the middle of an important international trade mission. But Rich was mayor of Chicago, and he’d sent Bill an urgent message–first things first. Rich was on his way to visit yet another of Chicago’s sister cities, though nobody could remember which one anymore.

“Oh, this is good all right!” Rich grinned. “We’ve got a real mystery to solve! Remember Roland Burris?”

“Sure,” said Bill. “He was the first black elected to statewide office in Illinois. He went from comptroller to attorney general before he crashed and burned in the ’94 gubernatorial primary.”

“Don’t forget he ran against me for mayor as an independent,” added Rich darkly.

“Oh no, those polls again?” Bill exclaimed. “The Chicago Tribune poll gave Burris only 19 percent of the vote, but he claimed he had his own polls. Then when reporters asked him what his polls said, Burris kept saying things like, ‘I’m not going to tell you!’ You’re not still trying to solve that mystery, are you?”

“Naw,” said Rich, “I gave up on that a long time ago. But now he’s running for governor in the Democratic primary against our old pal John Schmidt.”

“Ahhh, I see,” nodded Bill. “You’re right, that’s a mystery! How does John campaign against Burris without alienating black voters he’ll need in the general election?”

“That’s a problem, but it’s not the mystery!” Rich giggled. “Somebody slipped Channel Seven a tape of Burris talking to an African-American community group, and some people say he called his opponents ‘nonqualified white boys.'”

Bill whooped with laughter. Then he frowned.

“So what’s the mystery?” he asked. “Looks like we’ve got him.”

“The tape was on public-access cable twice, but somebody dubbed out the words ‘white boys,'” Rich explained as he flipped through that day’s newspaper. “Here it is. Burris says, ‘I have no factual information that I even said this. If I’ve offended my colleagues, then I apologize to my colleagues. I don’t even know whether or not I said it.'”

“Sounds fishy!” said Bill.

Suddenly, the plane’s door burst open and a man in a dark suit tumbled into the cabin.

“Roland Burris!” chimed the Daley boys. “You don’t belong here!”

“Well, I’m here anyway!” Burris barked. “And I want to tell you I’m tired of white boys telling me where I don’t belong!”

“Gosh!” exclaimed Rich. “Does that mean you really did say ‘nonqualified white boys’?”

“I already admitted that during a candidate debate!” snapped Burris. “And I don’t have a racist bone in my body!”

Burris reached into his coat. Bill’s bodyguards moved toward him, but it was too late. Burris pulled out a Supersoaker and drenched Rich with one pull of the trigger. Then he leapt to the door.

“Wait!” cried Bill. “Who erased ‘white boys’ from the tape? And how did you get on our plane, anyway?”

“I’m not going to tell you!” Burris cackled as he parachuted out the door. His laughter disappeared in the deafening wind.

Bill looked at Rich, who was dripping all over the seats. “Well, chum,” he said, “it looks like Chicago has a wet mayor after all!”

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