Twenty years after the war.
Lovejoy has a column for the Detroit Times, a slice of life thing that can be a little of whatever he wants or can pitch to the editor. Crime, romance, sob stories, profiles of the Forgotten Man, that kind of thing. He runs in the morning edition, which means he works nights, which suits him just fine; he doesn’t sleep well these days, but it’s easier when the city is awake around him. The roar of commerce drowns out his thoughts, which run bleak.
So he goes walking, just feeling his way around, looking for anything interesting among the night owls, the third shifters, the barflies, the dopers. There’s a crowd outside of Delgado’s Gym, and as he’s walking toward it curiously it suddenly surges and scatters like a sheen of oil when a soap flake hits it. In the center is McGillicuddy, swinging fists the size of Christmas hams around wildly. McGillicuddy’s a pug, a quondam heavyweight champion before all the blows to his head drove him punchy.
“Velma!” he’s yelling. “I gotta see Velma!”
Ah ha, thinks Lovejoy, a little sadly, a story.