Part 3- Complications- 1918

In the offices of the Baltimore Sun, Allison was shown a tiny desk in a corner of a very big office.
“Your first assignment will be an article on the Druid Hill Park Dog Show tomorrow,” said the editor, Joe Tully,a stocky man who seemed perpetually in a hurry.
“Dog Show?”
“Sure. You know; women stuff. The housewives eat it up.”
“Oh. Do I get to do real news at some point?”
“Missy, that IS real news. The dog owners will hang on your every word. Look, I know you’d like to go interview the Kaiser, but there are a lot of people in this town that read the news about dog shows, flower marts, and play openings religiously. Without them, the paper would fold. You do a good job and we’ll see where it goes.”
“Sure, Mr. Tully,” said Allison.
The editor drifted away and another man appeared at her desk.
“So I guess you’re one of the new girls.”
Allison looked up and saw a middle-aged man barely repressing a smirk. He stood with his head cocked and his thumbs hooked in his suspenders.
“Then I guess you’re one of the old boys,” she replied.
“Ha ha. That’s a good one. Say, honey. My name’s Bob. Bob on the Job they call me. What say you and me have lunch today?”
“No thank you…Bob on the Job.”
“Aw come on. We could have a few laughs.”
“I doubt it,” Allison replied evenly. “You haven’t provided any so far.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to be friendly.”
“I appreciate it, Bob,” she replied, pointing at his wedding ring, “but maybe you should be friendly with your wife. Or doesn’t she understand you?”
“The problem,” said Bob, “is that she understands me all too well.”
“So do I.”
The editor appeared with some papers for Allison. “Bob, are you bothering Allison?”
“Not at all,” Allison chimed in. “We were just having a nice chat and Bob was just leaving.”
“Uh, right,” said Bob. “Good bye, Allison. Welcome to the Sun.”
At lunch time, Allison took her sandwich out on the plaza and found a place on a bench. The day was warm and office workers were scattered everywhere, along with some hungry pigeons. So this is what working is like, she thought.
“Allison!”
She looked around and saw David approaching, scattering a few pigeons as he went.
“Allison!”
“Hello, David. What are you doing here? Do you have a big story you want me to cover?”
“Yeah; how about ‘female reporter comes to her senses and ditches sailor’?”
“I don’t deal in fiction, David.”
“Sorry. It just slipped out. So how is your first day of work in the literary world?”
“I’m not sure writing for a newspaper is considered literary, but it’s going fine. I’m already the queen of the dog show beat. With any luck I might work my way up to the Flower Mart.”
He sat on the bench next to her. “Look, Allison. I know I’ve been a pill off and on for the past few weeks, but I’m really confused about us.”
“Us?”
“I just don’t know where I stand. I feel like I’m playing second fiddle to a ghost, a guy that’s never here.”
“He can hardly help that, David.”
“Anyway, did you mean what you said about us seeing other people?”
“Of course. That’s how you find out who might be right for you, and vice versa.”
“I suppose. It’s just hard to understand.”
She put her hand on his arm. “David, nobody really understands why two people are compatible or not. That’s why poets go on about it so much. They’re in the dark, too.”
He nodded. “So you wouldn’t mind if I asked out someone else?”
“No in the least. If I am corresponding with Max, I can hardly expect you to live in a cloister.”
“No matter who?”
“As long as she isn’t already married, I don’t see what the objection could be. Do you have someone in mind?”
He stood up. “I’m thinking about it, but…”
“But what?”
“Nothing. Goodbye, Allison.”
Allison didn’t eat the rest of her sandwich. For some reason, she wasn’t hungry.
“Enter,” said the captain to the knock at his cabin door. “Ah, Mr. Hurlock. Have you gotten a confession yet?”
“No, sir, but I have a pretty good idea who killed Donotto.”
“What? It’s been less than 48 hours, and we’ve had a General Quarters when a lookout thought he saw a periscope. Everyone else is still going through personnel files.”
“Yes, sir.”
‘Well, spill it. Who do you think killed Donotto?”
“Machinist’s Mate Mason Wright.”
“Are you saying Wright is a German agent?”
“No, captain. There is no German agent. It was a fight over a woman.”
“What? No German agent? Are you sure, Mr. Hurlock? How do you know?”
“I thought from the beginning that the fact that a Bosun’s Mate was in the engine room was the key. He had to have a reason for going there and it sure wasn’t to get murdered. Furthermore, the fact that he was struck from the front seemed to prove it wasn’t a sneak attack by a German agent. Donotto was convinced his wife, Florence, was cheating on him and in his last letter to her, he said he knew who the man was and was going to settle things.”
“And you think he went to the engine compartment to confront Wright?”
“Yes, sir.”
“But how did it escalate to a murder?”
“I think Donotto just wanted to warn Wright off and end the affair, but then he saw Wright’s brand new tattoo and knew it was far more serious than he thought.”
“How would a tattoo tell him that?” said the captain.
“The tattoo was a heart and in the middle was one word; ‘Flo’. Anyway, the tattoo told Donotto how far the affair had gone and he became enraged. There was a struggle and Wright grabbed one of those steel rods from the bin.”
The captain nodded. “Impressive, Mr. Hurlock, but couldn’t the tattoo and wife’s name be just a coincidence?”
“No sir. Wright claimed he didn’t know Donotto, but then said Donotto was tall, so he was lying to distance himself from the crime. I recommend Wright be put in the brig until we get back to Norfolk and can have a proper court-marshal.”
“And if he doesn’t come clean, we can get Donotto’s wife to testify. Good work, Mr. Hurlock, or maybe I should say ‘Sherlock’ Hurlock.”
When confronted with the evidence, Wright confessed. He had met Florence at the NCO club at Norfolk one night when Donotto had been on watch, and they had carried on an affair for several months. He claimed Donotto attacked him when he noticed the tattoo. They had struggled for the steel bar and he had hit Donotto in self-defense A court martial would have to sort it all out when they returned to port.
Max, meanwhile, had become something of a legend on the ship, and was always called Sherlock Hurlock, behind his back by the crew, and to his face by his fellow officers.
He sat at the small desk in his cabin and took out several sheets of paper and a fountain pen. Then, mindful of wartime censorship, he began to write.

Dear Allison,
Things have been pretty routine on board. The weather is all right, and the food is good. When we get back to Norfolk, I’ll grab a ticket on an Old Dominion Line steamship for Baltimore and we can see each other once more. I will have a lot to tell you…

He looked at what he had written.
“She always did appreciate understatement,” he said out loud.
Allison poured her heart into the Dog Show article and the editor published it without any changes, which was the closest he ever got to a compliment. Meanwhile, she was given several charitable events to write up. If it wasn’t a very high toned literary endeavor, it was at least writing for pay, something not every writer ever accomplished.
“So, what do they have you working on?” Bob on the Job was back at Allison’s desk.
“Something that doesn’t leave me time for visiting,” she replied, without looking up.
“I’m on the sports beat, myself. Baseball. Maybe you’ve read some of my stuff.”
“You write about the Orioles?”
“Well, not exactly. I cover some of the more, well, compact sort of teams.”
“I see,” said Allison. “Just how compact? They still have nine men on a side, don’t they?”
“Hey, you’re a great kidder. Naw, I just did a big article, almost a full column, on the new Piedmont-Westerport Drybugs. They play in the Blue Ridge League.”
“That makes the Flower Mart sound exciting,” said Allison.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Look, I appreciate you covering for me with the boss the other day. He got after me about trying to chum up with the ladies before.”
“Then why don’t you just stop doing it?”
“Good idea. I’ll have to try it sometime. Anyway, I figure I owe you a favor.”
“Bob, you don’t owe me a thing except a bit of solitude. I really have to get this article done by five.”
“And the favor is that I’m going to tell you what I heard the boss tell the senior editor yesterday.”
“What?”
“He said he really likes your stuff and wants to try you on a real news story as soon as Ted Tarkington retires next month. That way, the rest of them will be so swamped with work, they won’t mind a woman horning in so much. Of course, you’ll get the worst stories, but any new reporter would.”
Allison looked at him. “Thank you, Bob. That’s good to know. I appreciate it.”
“So now how about lunch?”
“Nice try.”
“Well, you can’t blame a guy for trying. Say, what’s all the commotion over by the teletype?”
Allison looked over at a group of people anxiously reading the paper scrolling from the clattering machine.
“An Armistice!” one of them shouted. There’s an Armistice! The war is over!”
The excited voices in the newsroom began blurry and indistinct. Allison could only think of one thing.
Max will be coming home.

In the offices of the Baltimore Sun, Allison was shown a tiny desk in a corner of a very big office.
“Your first assignment will be an article on the Druid Hill Park Dog Show tomorrow,” said the editor, Joe Tully,a stocky man who seemed perpetually in a hurry.
“Dog Show?”
“Sure. You know; women stuff. The housewives eat it up.”
“Oh. Do I get to do real news at some point?”
“Missy, that IS real news. The dog owners will hang on your every word. Look, I know you’d like to go interview the Kaiser, but there are a lot of people in this town that read the news about dog shows, flower marts, and play openings religiously. Without them, the paper would fold. You do a good job and we’ll see where it goes.”
“Sure, Mr. Tully,” said Allison.
The editor drifted away and another man appeared at her desk.
“So I guess you’re one of the new girls.”
Allison looked up and saw a middle-aged man barely repressing a smirk. He stood with his head cocked and his thumbs hooked in his suspenders.
“Then I guess you’re one of the old boys,” she replied.
“Ha ha. That’s a good one. Say, honey. My name’s Bob. Bob on the Job they call me. What say you and me have lunch today?”
“No thank you…Bob on the Job.”
“Aw come on. We could have a few laughs.”
“I doubt it,” Allison replied evenly. “You haven’t provided any so far.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to be friendly.”
“I appreciate it, Bob,” she replied, pointing at his wedding ring, “but maybe you should be friendly with your wife. Or doesn’t she understand you?”
“The problem,” said Bob, “is that she understands me all too well.”
“So do I.”
The editor appeared with some papers for Allison. “Bob, are you bothering Allison?”
“Not at all,” Allison chimed in. “We were just having a nice chat and Bob was just leaving.”
“Uh, right,” said Bob. “Good bye, Allison. Welcome to the Sun.”
At lunch time, Allison took her sandwich out on the plaza and found a place on a bench. The day was warm and office workers were scattered everywhere, along with some hungry pigeons. So this is what working is like, she thought.
“Allison!”
She looked around and saw David approaching, scattering a few pigeons as he went.
“Allison!”
“Hello, David. What are you doing here? Do you have a big story you want me to cover?”
“Yeah; how about ‘female reporter comes to her senses and ditches sailor’?”
“I don’t deal in fiction, David.”
“Sorry. It just slipped out. So how is your first day of work in the literary world?”
“I’m not sure writing for a newspaper is considered literary, but it’s going fine. I’m already the queen of the dog show beat. With any luck I might work my way up to the Flower Mart.”
He sat on the bench next to her. “Look, Allison. I know I’ve been a pill off and on for the past few weeks, but I’m really confused about us.”
“Us?”
“I just don’t know where I stand. I feel like I’m playing second fiddle to a ghost, a guy that’s never here.”
“He can hardly help that, David.”
“Anyway, did you mean what you said about us seeing other people?”
“Of course. That’s how you find out who might be right for you, and vice versa.”
“I suppose. It’s just hard to understand.”
She put her hand on his arm. “David, nobody really understands why two people are compatible or not. That’s why poets go on about it so much. They’re in the dark, too.”
He nodded. “So you wouldn’t mind if I asked out someone else?”
“No in the least. If I am corresponding with Max, I can hardly expect you to live in a cloister.”
“No matter who?”
“As long as she isn’t already married, I don’t see what the objection could be. Do you have someone in mind?”
He stood up. “I’m thinking about it, but…”
“But what?”
“Nothing. Goodbye, Allison.”
Allison didn’t eat the rest of her sandwich. For some reason, she wasn’t hungry.
“Enter,” said the captain to the knock at his cabin door. “Ah, Mr. Hurlock. Have you gotten a confession yet?”
“No, sir, but I have a pretty good idea who killed Donotto.”
“What? It’s been less than 48 hours, and we’ve had a General Quarters when a lookout thought he saw a periscope. Everyone else is still going through personnel files.”
“Yes, sir.”
‘Well, spill it. Who do you think killed Donotto?”
“Machinist’s Mate Mason Wright.”
“Are you saying Wright is a German agent?”
“No, captain. There is no German agent. It was a fight over a woman.”
“What? No German agent? Are you sure, Mr. Hurlock? How do you know?”
“I thought from the beginning that the fact that a Bosun’s Mate was in the engine room was the key. He had to have a reason for going there and it sure wasn’t to get murdered. Furthermore, the fact that he was struck from the front seemed to prove it wasn’t a sneak attack by a German agent. Donotto was convinced his wife, Florence, was cheating on him and in his last letter to her, he said he knew who the man was and was going to settle things.”
“And you think he went to the engine compartment to confront Wright?”
“Yes, sir.”
“But how did it escalate to a murder?”
“I think Donotto just wanted to warn Wright off and end the affair, but then he saw Wright’s brand new tattoo and knew it was far more serious than he thought.”
“How would a tattoo tell him that?” said the captain.
“The tattoo was a heart and in the middle was one word; ‘Flo’. Anyway, the tattoo told Donotto how far the affair had gone and he became enraged. There was a struggle and Wright grabbed one of those steel rods from the bin.”
The captain nodded. “Impressive, Mr. Hurlock, but couldn’t the tattoo and wife’s name be just a coincidence?”
“No sir. Wright claimed he didn’t know Donotto, but then said Donotto was tall, so he was lying to distance himself from the crime. I recommend Wright be put in the brig until we get back to Norfolk and can have a proper court-marshal.”
“And if he doesn’t come clean, we can get Donotto’s wife to testify. Good work, Mr. Hurlock, or maybe I should say ‘Sherlock’ Hurlock.”
When confronted with the evidence, Wright confessed. He had met Florence at the NCO club at Norfolk one night when Donotto had been on watch, and they had carried on an affair for several months. He claimed Donotto attacked him when he noticed the tattoo. They had struggled for the steel bar and he had hit Donotto in self-defense A court martial would have to sort it all out when they returned to port.
Max, meanwhile, had become something of a legend on the ship, and was always called Sherlock Hurlock, behind his back by the crew, and to his face by his fellow officers.
He sat at the small desk in his cabin and took out several sheets of paper and a fountain pen. Then, mindful of wartime censorship, he began to write.

Dear Allison,
Things have been pretty routine on board. The weather is all right, and the food is good. When we get back to Norfolk, I’ll grab a ticket on an Old Dominion Line steamship for Baltimore and we can see each other once more. I will have a lot to tell you…

He looked at what he had written.
“She always did appreciate understatement,” he said out loud.
Allison poured her heart into the Dog Show article and the editor published it without any changes, which was the closest he ever got to a compliment. Meanwhile, she was given several charitable events to write up. If it wasn’t a very high toned literary endeavor, it was at least writing for pay, something not every writer ever accomplished.
“So, what do they have you working on?” Bob on the Job was back at Allison’s desk.
“Something that doesn’t leave me time for visiting,” she replied, without looking up.
“I’m on the sports beat, myself. Baseball. Maybe you’ve read some of my stuff.”
“You write about the Orioles?”
“Well, not exactly. I cover some of the more, well, compact sort of teams.”
“I see,” said Allison. “Just how compact? They still have nine men on a side, don’t they?”
“Hey, you’re a great kidder. Naw, I just did a big article, almost a full column, on the new Piedmont-Westerport Drybugs. They play in the Blue Ridge League.”
“That makes the Flower Mart sound exciting,” said Allison.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Look, I appreciate you covering for me with the boss the other day. He got after me about trying to chum up with the ladies before.”
“Then why don’t you just stop doing it?”
“Good idea. I’ll have to try it sometime. Anyway, I figure I owe you a favor.”
“Bob, you don’t owe me a thing except a bit of solitude. I really have to get this article done by five.”
“And the favor is that I’m going to tell you what I heard the boss tell the senior editor yesterday.”
“What?”
“He said he really likes your stuff and wants to try you on a real news story as soon as Ted Tarkington retires next month. That way, the rest of them will be so swamped with work, they won’t mind a woman horning in so much. Of course, you’ll get the worst stories, but any new reporter would.”
Allison looked at him. “Thank you, Bob. That’s good to know. I appreciate it.”
“So now how about lunch?”
“Nice try.”
“Well, you can’t blame a guy for trying. Say, what’s all the commotion over by the teletype?”
Allison looked over at a group of people anxiously reading the paper scrolling from the clattering machine.
“An Armistice!” one of them shouted. There’s an Armistice! The war is over!”
The excited voices in the newsroom began blurry and indistinct. Allison could only think of one thing.
Max will be coming home.

DON’T MISS PART 4- THE EPIDEMIC 1918-1919