In the middle of the night, as I flushed my contribution to the White River and prepared to return to bed, I was startled by two sharp raps on the bathroom door. From behind the door, a gruff voice said, “Boss wants to see ya.” In my jockey shorts, I opened the door and was face-to-chest with the specter of a large, rough man. “I said da Boss wants ta see ya,” he repeated.
“I heard you the first time.” A glow came from around the edges of the door to the Study. In that room, seated in a chair from beyond the grave, sat the late Richard J. Daley in a weird, ghostly, high-backed leather office chair.
“Take a load off,” Hizzoner said, with a smile.
I took a seat in the chair at my desk. “I’m surprised you didn’t take my seat.”
“Me? Sit in that cheap piece of crap? Besides, the way things in the afterlife work—if you got the right connections—your chair, or anything else you need, can go right along with ya wherever you go.” To illustrate the point, he stretched his arms and leaned back in his chair. “Let me get to the reason for my visit.”
“Please do.” I admit I was impatient. The late Mayor, second-longest-serving in Chicago history (second only to his son who retired in 2011) had visited me several times in the past few months. The first time was on me. I had summoned him through a medium and a seance. The second visit I figured he evened scores for the seance. Subsequent visits had been a pain in the butt. They usually occurred in the middle of the night, and the people who worked for him were not very nice.
Hizzoner chuckled. I had not seen him so giddy. “I read your blog a coupla minutes ago. About how you’re runnin’ for Mayor! You’re runnin’ as a Republican! That’s how I got elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. That’s what gave me my start!” I said I was unaware of that. “What?” he asked. “You don’t have Wikipedia? Anyway, runnin’ if they don’t have a candidate is really smart.”
“What I wrote was satire,” I started to explain, but he cut me off.
“I’ve read about these ‘stealth’ candidates. You can do that. You wear a nice suit, have an American flag in your lapel, make nice with local voters’ meetings, and say nothin’ to indicate you’re anything but a Republican. Once you’re in office, remember the Golden Rule.”
“‘Treat others as you would have others treat you’?”
He seemed disgusted. “Hell no. Make sure you’re never on the ‘take.’ You want power. Let others in your administration do what they want. You never do that yourself. Let others have the Gold, you want the Power.”
“Okay, but I wouldn’t be a ‘stealth’ candidate.” I explained what a stealth candidate is—and, in so doing, passed on the chance to ask if he had access to Wikipedia—and that I was out-front about my views and positions. “In fact, conservative friends of mine agree with a lot of what I’ve said about issues. Anyway—I’m not a candidate for Mayor.”
“Who’s gonna be your campaign manager?” he asked and ignored by protestations. “If you got nobody, I have just the guy. He won’t charge you very much. You just gotta sign a contract.”
“Let me guess, I’d have to sign in blood. He’s a guy whois quoted as saying he’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven. The Rolling Stones wrote a song about him.”
“I don’t know about—who are the Rolling Stones?—but you could do a lot worse than have him in your corner. I know that Rove guy’s on the ‘outs’ with him right now.”
“But I am not a candidate,” I said, emphatically.
“Let me ask you a question. Let’s say it’s the—what’s the date for registering your candidacy?” I said I didn’t know. “Then go find out. So let’s say it’s one minute before registration closes and there’s no Republican filed. Now the selection will be up to the Aldermen...”
“Precinct committee chairs,” I corrected.
“Whatever. So there’s nobody declared. You mean you wouldn’t jump in?” He sensed my hesitation. “That seals it. I gotta go.”
“I gotta get your campaign manager. He’ll have somebody stop by to have you sign some papers. They’ll provide the pen, too—you’ll provide the ink.”
His chuckle echoed into the distance, his chair and aide disappeared behind a foggy wall that folded back into itself.
I went back to bed. When I awoke the next morning, I was sure the whole thing had been a dream. I showered and dressed for work.
I knew it all was ridiculous. Besides, Satan would not be involved in politics. He was too busy with the New England Patriots right now. He wouldn’t break away for a municipal election.