Author: Snowman

Deacon Off

  Donal stopped inside the door of the saloon, stamping the snow from his boots and allowing his eyes to adjust to the gloom of the club. A quick scan of the room found the man who’d asked him to come sitting in a quiet corner at the back.  If it was meant to mask his presence it wasn’t working. His slight frame and pale face were too well known in Boston, his name rarely spoken without a spat gob immediately following.

  The old ball player couldn’t imagine why he’d received this invitation. They’d never been friendly, only rarely crossed paths, and this certainly wasn’t a place he could afford to patronize. Finally, he eased around the carefully cultivated cobwebs in the center of the room, sitting heavily across from the notorious industrialist.  “So, why is it I’m here?”

  “And a hawareya to you, too. Fine then. I’ve heard the rumours of a new league forming, I want in, and I want the Brotherhood behind me… quietly.” His voice was a sharp contrast to Donal’s, second generation American versus first, soft and sardonic rather than Donal’s harsh, guttural rasp, and honeyed with an upper class affect far from anything he’d uttered in his adolescence. is voice,

  Donal snorted, stared silently across the table for a moment, and chuckled again. “You’re nowhere near this stupid. The Brotherhood is done, same as the leagues. Himself overplayed our hand. What are you really after?

 “A new story, for both myself and the game.  It will survive, and I want to be its saviour, at least here.”

  “The big bugs who allied with himself stabbed us in the back, the big bugs who already owned teams never stopped stabbing us in the front, and whoever the new big bugs shall be, sure they’ll be more o’ the same. We’ve lost.”

  “If I own the Boston club, I have intentions of getting you every concession possible. And intentions of getting every concession possible from you.”

   “…what?”

  “I mean to broker the biggest bastard of a compromise the world has seen in years. I want both sides to absolutely despise it, and be forced to vote yea besides.”

  “So they have us down for a count and you want to throw us a lifeline at your own expense? Pull the other one, it has me bolls attached.”

  With a snigger, he gestured out the window. “Do you know what once stood there, across the street and down that way a bit?”

 “Aye, the Dragon. Are you now to help the bloody English find a better compromise as well? I think you’ve left that too late.”

  “Shut pan and think, friend. There began a revolution. And fifteen miles that way, a Quaker convinced a Puritan jury he should have freedom of speech, damned if we didn’t all get it as well. Down that way, Reverend Parker put pen to paper and convinced the men of Massachusetts they’d be willing to die to free the southern Negro. Now, the world turns under our feet again, and men want kinder livelihood.”

  “You must realize you’d be the shitehawk everyone will be throwing over in that instance?  You’d be defenestrated the first day of that revolution.”  He paused a moment, began to speak, and stopped again. Finally, “Ara you want us to help you convince everyone you’re suddenly the new Fiach, leading the people to freedom?”

  “Despite your sarcasm, I quite like the comparison.”

 “You’re mad.  You’re a villain, despised!”

  “That’s easily handled. Sure, now they say I’m a hypocrite, making my fortune off the people maimed in the factory and freezing in my holey, unholy homes.”

 “And that’s easily handled, is it?”

 “I’m to be the holy deacon. The man who ran a base ball team as a shining beacon of what the world can be. Who ran it at no profit, using every penny to fix up those homes and that factory. The man so good his works couldn’t match his faith until he had a fortune with which to better the world. That’s to be me.”

  Donal shook his head. “So you’ll put yourself at the fore of the reforms and hope everyone believes you a general rather than a charlatan?”

  “Aye, and what remains of your Brotherhood can be the first to benefit from my new munificence. “

  “Sure, all know you’re a sleeveen.  And why do you need us?”

  “Because I don’t know who is involved, or where it’s to be. Moneyed men don’t like me anymore than do the poor. You have the connections to make me involved.”

  “I’m sobbing for ye.” Donal sighed. “I’ll take it to him. But he’s not very trusting of your ilk these days.”

  “Do your utmost to convince him. It’s not likely you’ll find another ‘of my ilk’ with as much impetous to help your side.”

  “Aye, and that’s the only reason I’m taking this to him. If we’re doomed to a devil’s bargain, better the devil we know.”

  “Why was it you were never the top man? You’re quicker than he. You’d have never made his mistakes.”

  “He’s the inspiring one. Good looking, star player, well spoken. People want to follow. One like me, and you as well, we may be better at the machinations, but no one wants to follow an ugly culchie riding a bench. So himself is himself.”

  “And you do all the work in the shadows, he get all the credit, and then fate gets the blame when he fails?”

  “As ever it’s been.”

  “Just keep this close. Get me in that room. I have the coin, and a reputation to assure your other owners will never see me coming, unless someone’s gob spoils it.”  He stood and took his hat from the table. “Stay, order a meal and a drink before you go. They know to put it on my bill. No need for thanks, you can save them for when I’ve made it so you can afford the custom yourself.”

  “Cute hoor. I should order enough hamburger eels for fifty and feed me whole street.”

  “Sure, just let them all know who their new benefactor is. Never too soon to start building a legend, is it?”

  He was out the door before Donal could formulate a reply, a waiter immediately hurrying over to take his place by the table. 

  “Shite and onions!”

  The waiter raised one brow.  “Sir?”