At Suffolk County Superior Court, sixty-five suspected subversives were brought before Judge Wendell Trout. Trout ordered the police to release all who had not been formally charged with a crime, but signed eighteen deportation orders for those who could prove no U. S. citizenship. Dozens more were held pending Justice Department review of their immigration status and criminal history, actions Babe found per--
fectly reasonable, though some others did not. When the labor lawyer James Vahey, twice a Demo cratic candidate for governor of the Commonwealth, argued before the federal magistrate that internment of men who had not been charged with a crime was an affront to the Constitution, he was upbraided for his harsh tone and the cases were continued until February.
In this morning's Traveler, they'd compiled a photo essay that took up pages four through seven. Even though authorities weren't confi rming yet whether their wide net had caught the terrorists responsible, and that made Babe mad, the anger flared only for the briefest moment before it was tamped out by a delicious, itchy trill that thumped the top of his spine as he marveled at the sheer wreckage of it: a whole neighborhood smashed and tossed and smothered in the black-iron slathering of that liquid mass. Pictures of the crumpled firehouse were followed by one of bodies stacked along Commercial like loaves of brown bread and another of two Red Cross workers leaning against an ambulance, one of them with a hand over his face and a cigarette between his lips. There was a shot of the firemen forming a relay line to remove the rubble and get to their men. A dead pig in the middle of a piazza. An old man sitting on a stoop, resting the side of his head on a dripping- brown hand. A dead-end street with the brown current up to the door knockers, stones and wood and glass floating on the surface. And the people--the cops and firemen and Red Cross and doctors and immigrants in their shawls and bowlers, everyone with the same look on their faces: how the fuck did this happen?
Babe saw that look on people's faces a lot lately. Not for any particular reason, either. Just in general. It was like they were all walking through this crazy world, trying to keep pace but knowing they couldn't, they just couldn't. So part of them waited for that world to come back up behind them on a second try and just roll right over them, send them--finally--on into the next one.
Aweek later, another round of negotiations with Harry Frazee. Frazee's office smelled like whorehouse perfume and old money.
The perfume came from Kat Lawson, an actress starring in one of the half dozen shows Frazee had running in Boston right now. This one was called Laddy, Be Happy and was, like all Harry Frazee productions, a light romantic farce that played to SRO crowds night after night. Ruth had actually seen this one, allowing Helen to drag him to it shortly after the new year began, even though Frazee, true to the rumors of his Jew heritage, had failed to comp the tickets. Ruth had to endure the disconcerting experience of holding his wife's hand in the fifth row while he watched another woman he'd slept with (three times actually) prance back and forth across the stage in the role of an innocent cleaning woman who dreamed of making it as a chorus girl. The obstacle to those dreams was her no- good Irish blatherskite of a husband, Seamus, the "laddy" of the title. At the end of the play, the cleaning woman contents herself by becoming a chorus girl on the New England stage and her "laddy" makes his peace with her pipe dreams, as long as they remain on a local level, and even lands a job of his own. Helen stood and applauded after the final number, a full-cast reprise of "Shine My Star, I'll Shine Your Floors," and Ruth applauded, too, though he was pretty sure Kat Lawson had given him the crabs last year. It seemed wrong that a woman as pure as Helen should be cheering one as corrupt as Kat, and truth be told, he was still plenty sore about not getting the tickets comped.
Kat Lawson sat on a leather couch under a big painting of hunting dogs. She had a magazine on her lap and her compact out as she reapplied her lipstick. Harry Frazee thought he was putting one over on his wife, thought Kat was a possession to be envied by Ruth and the other Sox (most of whom had slept with her at least once). Harry Frazee was an idiot, and Ruth didn't need any more confirmation than the man leaving his mistress in the room during a contract negotiation.
Ruth and Johnny Igoe sat before Frazee's desk and waited for him to shoo Kat from the room, but Frazee made it clear she was here to stay when he said, "Can I get you anything, dear, before these gentlemen and I discuss business?"
"Nope." Kat smacked her lips together and snapped the compact closed.
Frazee nodded and sat behind his desk. He looked across at Ruth and Johnny Igoe and shot his cuffs, ready to get down to business. "So, I understand--"
"Oh, hon'?" Kat said. "Could you get me a lemonade? Thanks, you're a pip."
A lemonade. It was early February and the coldest day of the coldest week of the winter thus far. So cold Ruth had heard that kids were skating on frozen molasses in the North End. And she wanted lemonade.
Harry Frazee kept his face stone- still as he pushed the intercom button and said, "Doris, send Chappy out for a lemonade, would you?" Kat waited until he'd released the intercom button and sat back. "Oh, and an egg-and-onion."
Harry Frazee leaned forward again. "Doris? Tell Chappy to pick up an egg-and-onion sandwich, too, please." He looked over at Kat, but she'd gone back to her magazine. He waited another few seconds. He released the intercom button.
"So," he said.
"So," Johnny Igoe said.
Frazee spread his hands, waiting, one eyebrow arched into a question mark.
"Have you given any more thought to our offer?" Johnny said.
Frazee lifted Ruth's contract off his desk and held it up. "This is something you're both familiar with, I take it. Mr. Ruth, you are signed for seven thousand dollars this season. That's it. A bond was forged. I expect you to hold up your end."
Johnny Igoe said, "Given Gidge's previous season, his pitching in the Series, and, may I mention, the explosion in cost of living since the war ended, we think it only fair to reconsider this arrangement. In other words, seven thousand's a bit light."
Frazee sighed and lay the contract back down. "I gave you a bonus at the end of the season, Mr. Ruth. I did not have to do that and yet I did. And it's still not enough?"
Johnny Igoe began ticking points off on his fingers. "You sold Lewis and Shore to the Yanks. You unloaded Dutch Leonard on Cleveland. You let Whiteman go."
Babe sat up straight. "Whiteman's gone?"
Johnny nodded. "You're flush, Mr. Frazee. Your shows are all hits, you--"