On and on and on.
Fortunately, the crazed Masterson got nowhere with the D.A.—General Oakhart saw to that, as did the owners of the Greenbacks and the Tycoons. All they needed was Gil Gamesh tried for attempted murder, for baseball to be killed for good in that town. Sooner or later, Gamesh would be forgotten, and the Patriot League would go back to normal.
Wishful thinking. Gamesh, behind the wheel of his Packard, and still in his baseball togs, disappeared from sight only minutes after leaving the postgame investigation in the General's office. To the reporters who clung to the running board, begging him to make a statement about his banishment, about Oakhart, about baseball, about anything, he had but five words to say, one of which could not be printed in the papers: "I'll be back, you——!" and the Packard roared away. But the next morning, on a back road near Binghamton, N.Y., the car was found overturned and burned out—and no rookie sensation to be seen anywhere. Either the charred body had been snatched by ghoulish fans, or he had walked away from the wreck intact.
GIL KILLED? the headlines asked, even as the stories came in from people claiming to have seen Gamesh riding the rails in Indiana, selling apples in Oklahoma City, or waiting in a soup line in L.A. A sign appeared in a saloon in Orlando, Fla., that read GIL TENDING BAR HERE, and hanging beside it in the window was a white uniform with a green numeral, 19—purportedly Gil's very own baseball suit. For a day and a night the place did a bang-up business, and then the sallow, sullen, skinny boy who called himself Gil Gamesh took off with the contents of the register, and the uniform he'd brought with him to town in a cardboard suitcase. Within the month, every bar in the South had one of those signs printed up and one of those uniforms, with 19 sewed on it, hanging up beside it in the window for a gag. Outside opera houses, kids scrawled, GIL SINGING GRAND OPERA HERE TONIGHT. On trolley cars it was GIL TAKING TICKETS INSIDE. On barn doors, on school buildings, in rest rooms around the nation, the broken-hearted and the raffish wrote, I'LL BE BACK, G.G. His name, his initials, his number were everywhere.
Adolf Hitler. Franklin Roosevelt. Gil Gamesh. In the winter of '33-'34, men and women and even little children, worried for the future of America, were talking about one or another, if not all three. What was the world coming to? What would befall our embattled country next?