When news broke of what appeared to be a vicious attack on an actor right in the centre of the city of Chicago, it caused quite a stir.
Jussie Smollett was well known. Maybe not an A-Lister, but he was one of the leads in a hugely popular network television programme.
And he is black and gay, a role model to many, many people.
Then came the details, and to any rational thinker who mulled over them for close to 30 seconds, it was clear there was something deeply suspicious about his story.
Smollett claimed he was attacked by two unknown assailants in the city centre. There was something about a rope, maybe acid and that his assailants shouted: “Make America great again.” Or were they wearing those red MAGA hats? Without ear muffs, or was it a new range on the market?
This is January, in Chicago, in the middle of the night. It is double digit freezing. No Chicagoan is outside at that time, unless they absolutely have to for work – or are moving quickly between taverns.
So, if it happened, they must have been out of towners, maybe up from the south or some other red state, unfamiliar with the general nose hair freezing weather situation, stalking a middling actor, armed with ropes and acid.
On reflection after two minutes, it sounded like complete and utter garbage.
But this was our city, so had to check in with people locally and take the temperature, maybe have a chuckle, express some outrage at his audacity.
There was outrage alright, that Jussie Smollett was attacked by a pair of violently deranged, Trump-supporting nut jobs. And in our city. Just like them. This was from left-leaning people.
After very tentatively posting a suggestion that he may not be telling the truth, and receiving very measured replies expressing real hope that he was not lying, it was time to get a different take.
It was absolutely necessary then, as a working journalist, to head down to the local dive bar, Ricky G’s, a “mixed” bar – a term that can be used quite deliberately in the US these days where politics are talked - but with an afternoon crew that leaned heavily to the right.
Laughter lit up the place. No-one believed him for a second and they were loving the idea that what they saw as some lefty-liberal actor, gay and black too, would get up to such antics. Just like them.
The laughter has hardly lessened. Last night, a meme dropped from one of the lads of a picture of Smollett and the Nike swoop and the words: “Believe in something. Even if it didn’t happen.”
Jussie Smollett will likely get probation for essentially wasting police time. He is a troubled man and needs help. Other stuff happened after, including around the prosecution. Otherwise that is it.
But the reaction during those few hours on the day after the night before perfectly captured just a little bit the sometimes deeply unreasoned, and divided, state of America these days.