Descent: Part 2

from Nick Suss

July 3, 2013, 11:53 a.m.

Part 2: The Bastard

Ella Davis was a socialite. If there was a party in Chicago, she attended it. If a prominent man was to be married or buried, she was the first to RSVP. She set all of the trends in fashion and ended the ones with which she disagreed. Every girl in the city wanted to be Ella Davis and every man wanted Ella Davis. Only one lucky man held the charm and the resources to woo such a woman: B.W. McClardy, a member of Chicago’s first family and the city’s favorite son. His father was the city’s mayor, and his grandfather before him. The two were married on the eve of Election Day, and just hours later B.W. rightfully claimed his inheritance: Chicago. Just a year later, Ella bore him a son, Benjamin McClardy IV, and a year after that came their daughter Eleanor. But Ella Davis was never suited for a life of domesticity. She was never the symbol of motherhood; she wasn’t first lady material. Ella Davis belonged in the public eye. And one minor indiscretion made her more public than she could ever imagine.

After eight years of marriage and two children, Ella could not bear the thought of what she had become any longer. She still attended the parties, but she was no longer the object of anyone’s fantasies. She had become boring. Women no longer envied her, the empathized with her and respected her. Ella resented that. She resented a lot during those times. But she had to keep up her appearances. B.W. was in the thick of a heated gubernatorial race. He wanted Illinois. And at the time, 56% of Illinois wanted him. But with the election six months away, Ella snapped. She was attending one of her husband’s campaign rallies. She’d attended a thousand identical functions if she had one. Something about the monotony of what her life had become led her to stroll down the wrong path for the first time in her life. That path led her into the arms of another man in the coat closet with her husband just a room away. Luckily for Ella, she was not caught in the act during her one night of passion, but that one night of passion did lead to the conception of Ella’s third child.

B.W. knew that the child wasn’t his. From the second Ella tried to enthusiastically explain the pregnancy to him, B.W. knew he couldn’t have possibly been the father. He forgave her for her lapse in judgment, but refused to allow the child carry on the good McClardy name. All seemed to be sorted out – they would keep the nature of Ella’s pregnancy a secret until after the election and would only reveal the details if word spontaneously spread itself – but word spontaneously spread itself. An anonymous tip from a reputable source in the McClardy house went to the presses and soon the whole country was deeply entrenched in the saga of Ella and B.W.’s illegitimate child. B.W. lost the election by 15 points. The two stayed married, but truly that was in name only. They were separated majority of the time. B.W. was disgraced. After the failed gubernatorial run, he lost his mayorship a year later and was never elected to public office again. He became an alcoholic and was arrested countless times over the next two decades on counts of assault and battery. His affairs became legendary; he would sleep with any woman who asked him just to get his hands on some booze, which became ever tougher when the prohibition era began. But despite the public nature of B.W.’s disgrace, it was truly Ella who felt the biggest burden. Not only had her affair broken apart a marriage and ruined the life of a truly great man destined to do great things, but her youngest son would always be a symbol of that and would forever be associated with her wrongdoings. She raised that son, Spade, in secrecy and gave him her maiden name as to dissociate him from her husband and his family. Her wealth never disappeared, B.W. let her retain their assets so his natural children could grow up with the amenities he had, and so Spade equally reaped those benefits. Spade Davis was different then his half-siblings. For as long as he could remember, Spade dreamed of walking a beat. When his friends would play baseball and chase girls and gaze at the great beyond, a young Spade holed himself in his room with Sherlock Holmes novels and dreamt of being a sheriff in the old west. Being an officer of the law was always his plan, but his mother never approved. She wanted him to move to the country, to be far away from the scandals of his past, and live his life where the big city could never touch him. Ella naturally favored her two older children, but she coddled Spade and tried to keep him the safest. She pampered all of them, but she couldn’t control her justice-hungry youngest. Benjamin was just like his father and Eleanor was just like her mother. But Spade was unlike any McClardy or Davis before him. While Benjamin and Eleanor were sent to private schools and were ready to follow in their parents’ footsteps, Spade squandered all of these opportunities. Spade was expelled from three boarding schools before his mother finally gave in to his demands and let him drop out in order to become a cop.

For the first few years of his service, Spade was happy. While his half-brother served with honor in the last years of the First World War, a still teenaged Spade patrolled the streets of Chicago as no man before him ever had. He was the youngest man ever to attain the rank of detective, but by the time he had he was already disillusioned with the trade. He saw so many good men go in and either get corrupted by organized crime or killed by it. Spade was a survivor. If he wanted to, he’d of been commissioner by the time he was 30, but he felt the best way to root out crime was to do it himself. Detective Davis was the best Chicago had ever seen, but it was his family secrets which put the target on Spade’s back.


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