McKenna nodded, his trench coat flapping around his legs in the warm spring breeze. "A vault, really. I'll want you to be sure to make it weather-tight. I'd recommend poured concrete, if I could be so bold."
Luther said, "And where do you want me to build this vault? Your house, sir?"
McKenna leaned back from the suggestion, an odd smile on his face. "I'd never let your kind in my home, Luther. Good Lord." He exhaled a small whoop at the entire idea, and Luther could see the weight of carrying a fake self for Luther's benefit leave him, the man finally ready to show Luther his depths. With pride. "An ebon on Telegraph Hill? Ha. So, no, Luther, the vault is not for my home. It's for these 'headquarters' you're so nobly aspiring to build."
"You want me to put a vault in the NAACP?"
"Yes. Under the floor. I believe last time I was over there, you'd yet to lay in the floor of the rear room in the east corner. Used to be a kitchen, I believe?"
Last time he was over there?
"What of it?" Luther said.
"Dig the hole there. The size of a man, we'll say. Weatherproof it, then cover it with the flooring of your choice, but make sure that flooring is easy to lift. I don't presume to tell you how to do your job, but you may consider hinges in that regard, an inconspicuous handle of some sort."
Luther, standing on the sidewalk by now, waited for the punch line. "I don't understand, Lieutenant, sir."
"You know who's proven my most irreplaceable intelligence source these last couple of years? Do you?"
"No," Luther said.
"Edison. They're grand ones for tracking the movements of a person." McKenna lit a half- smoked cigar and waved at the air between them once he got it going. "You, for example, terminated your electric service in Columbus in September. Took my Edison friends some time to discover where you started it up again, but eventually we got it. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, in October. It's still being supplied to your Tulsa address, so I can only assume you left a woman there. Maybe a family? You're on the run, Luther. Knew it the moment I laid eyes on you, but it was nice to have it confirmed. When I asked the Tulsa PD if they had any unsolved crimes of note, they mentioned a nightclub in niggertown that someone shot the hell out of, left three dead. A full day's labor someone did."
Luther said, "Don't know what you're talking about, sir."
"Of course, of course." McKenna nodded. "Tulsa PD said folks there don't get too riled up when their niggers start shooting each other, 'specially when they can put the blame on one of the dead niggers. Far as they're concerned, it's a closed case with three coons in the grave no one'll miss. So on that score, you are in the clear." McKenna raised his index finger. "Unless I were to call Tulsa PD back and ask them, as a professional courtesy, to question the sole survivor of said bloodbath and in the course of questioning mention that a certain Luther Laurence, late of Tulsa, was living up here in Boston." His eyes glittered. "Then I'd have to wonder how many places you've got left to hide."
Luther felt all the fight in him just roll up and die. Just lie down. Just wither away. "What do you want?"
"I want a vault." McKenna's eyes sparkled. "Oh, I want the Crisis mailing list."
"The Crisis. The newsletter of the National Association for the Advancement of Chimpanzees."
"I know what it is. Where would I get the mailing list?"
"Well, Isaiah Giddreaux must have access to it. There must be a copy of it somewhere in that nigger-bourgeoisie palace you call home. Find it."
"And if I build your vault and find your mailing list?"
"Don't adopt the tone of someone who has options, Luther." "Fine. What do you want me to put in this vault?" Luther asked.
"You keep asking questions?" McKenna draped his arm over Luther's shoulders. "Maybe it'll be you."
Leaving another ineffectual BSC meeting, Danny was exhausted as he headed for the el stop at Roxbury Crossing, and Steve Coyle fell in beside him as Danny knew he would. Steve was still coming to meetings, still making people wish he'd go away, still talking about grander and grander fool-ambitions. Danny had to report for duty in four hours and wished only to lay his head to his pillow and sleep for a day or so.
"She's still here," Steve said as they walked up the stairs to the el. "Who?"
"Tessa Ficara," Steve said. "Don't pretend you've forgotten her." "I'm not pretending anything," Danny said, and it came out too sharp.
"I've been talking to people," Steve said quickly. "People who owe me from when I worked the streets."
Danny wondered just who these people could be. Cops were always under the misguided impression that people felt gratitude or indebtedness toward them when nothing could be further from the truth.
Unless you were saving their lives or their wallets, people resented cops. They did not want you around.
"Talking to people is a bit dangerous," he said. "In the North End particularly."
"I told you," Steve said, "my sources owe me. They trust me. Anyway, she's not in the North End. She's over here in Roxbury."
The train entered the station with screaming brakes, and they boarded it and took seats on the empty car. "Roxbury, uh?"
"Yeah. Somewhere between Columbus and Warren, and she's working with Galleani himself on something big."
"Something bigger than the landmass between Columbus and Warren?"
"Look," Steve said as they burst from a tunnel and the lights of the city suddenly dipped below them as the track rose, "this one guy told me he'll get me an exact address for fi fty bucks."
"Why do you keep repeating what I say?"
Danny held up a hand. "I'm tired. Sorry. Steve, I don't have fifty bucks."
"I know, I know."
"That's over two weeks' pay."
"I said I know. Jesus."
"I could lay my hands on three. Maybe four?"
"Yeah, sure. I mean, whatever you can do. I mean, we want to get this bitch, right?"
Truth was, ever since he'd shot Federico, Danny hadn't given Tessa a sole thought. He couldn't explain why that was, just that it was.
"If we don't get her," he said, "someone else will, Steve. She's a federal problem. You understand."
"I'll be careful. Don't you worry."
That wasn't the point, but Danny'd grown used to Steve missing the point lately. He closed his eyes, head back against the window, as the el car bumped and rattled along.