Chicago sports columnist Stan Jedd always had latest scoop, the sharpest insight and the must-read analysis. For 35 years, he prowled the sidelines and dugouts of his beloved city for the scrappy Northside Courier, a twice-weekly tabloid that often beat the larger competition.
But Jedd’s glory days are long gone. He’s lost his job thanks to Sideline Sal, a sports blogger who specializes in sensational and cruel clickbait that drives profits. Sal’s brand of gutter reportage is what sometimes passes for journalism these days. In this new world, an in-depth piece stops at 280 characters and credibility goes as far as Wikipedia factoids and anonymous sources take you. Readers take a back seat to feeding the bots and trolls.
On Jedd’s last day, he limped from the newsroom on a bad hip. He held a box that contained dusty award plaques from years ago, a dog-eared dictionary and old notebooks with unreadable scrawls. The newsroom didn’t even spring for a sheet cake. But Stan Jedd isn’t quite finished with the Chicago journalism scene. He’s kept score on the lives Sideline Sal has ruined in exchange for page clicks, and the young blogger is going to apologize for what he’s done—and do it in a very public way. Stan Jedd will make the headlines scream one more time.
The problem? Sal is a young gym rat, veins popping from his biceps, his legs lathed by hours on a bike. Jedd is 62 with an enlarged prostate who never did get that hip replacement his doctor recommended. So he’ll need a persuader. He’s plied his old street sources and learned of a taco truck near Wrigleyville that sells more than food. Jedd is Polish-Slav, better suited to stuffed cabbage rolls than burritos. If he can get past the food, it should be an adventure.
But as he limps into his last assignment, Jedd re-discovers a lesson he learned long ago. People aren’t always what they seem. You think you find a good guy and he’s dirty. You want to nail a villain and maybe you should stop. Peeling back the layers of an onion on a story can make you cry.
Jedd also learns a new lesson, and this one will much more painful: Don’t wave a gun around Chicago unless you intend to use it.
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