One of the Slavic men looked over his shoulder. Two of the men on the sidewalk pointed. Matt March called, "Hey, you three!"
That was all it took.
The three men ran, and the dockworkers broke off in pursuit, and Hardy and Jeffries ran after them. A half block down the Slavs were tackled to the pavement.
Hardy and Jeffries reached the pile and Hardy pulled one of the dockworkers back and then his nightstick caught the glow of the streetlamp as he swung it down on the head of one of the Slavs.
Danny said, "Hey!" but Matt March caught him by the arm.
March gave him a level gaze. "This is for Stoddard."
Danny pulled his arm free. "We don't know they're Bolsheviks." "We don't know they're not." March twirled his nightstick and smiled at Danny.
Danny shook his head and walked up the street.
March called, "You're taking the narrow view, Offi cer."
By the time he reached the dockworkers, they were already turning away. Two of the victims crawled along the street while the third lay on the cobblestones, his hair black with blood, his broken wrist cradled against his chest.
"Jesus," Danny said.
"Oops," Hardy said.
"Hell you guys doing? Get an ambulance."
"Fuck him," Jeffries said and spit on the guy. "Fuck his friends, too.
You want an ambulance? You find a call box and ask for one yourself."
Up the street, Sergeant Billups appeared. He talked to March, met Danny's eyes and then walked up the street toward him. The dockworkers had disappeared. Shouts and breaking glass echoed from a block or two over.
Billups looked at the man on the ground, then at Danny. "Problem, Dan?"
"Just want an ambulance for the guy," Danny said.
Billups gave the man another glance. "He looks fine to me, Offi cer." "He ain't."
Billups stood over the man. "You hurt, sweetheart?"
The man said nothing, just held his broken wrist tighter against his chest.
Billups ground his heel into the man's ankle. His victim writhed and moaned through cracked teeth. Billups said, "Can't hear you, Boris. What's that?"
Danny reached for Billups's arm and Billups slapped his hand away.
A bone cracked and the man let out a high sigh of disbelief.
"All better now, sweetie?" Billups took his foot off the man's ankle. The man rolled over and gasped into the cobblestones. Billups put his arm around Danny and walked him a few feet away.
"Look, Sarge, I understand. We're all looking to knock some heads. Me, too. But the right heads, don't you think? We don't even--"
"I heard you were seeking aid and comfort for the enemy this afternoon, too, Dan. So listen," Billups said with a smile, "you might be Tommy Coughlin's kid and that gets you some passes, okay? But if you keep acting like a pinko cocksucker? Tommy Coughlin's kid or no, I'll take it fucking personal." He tapped his nightstick lightly off Danny's tunic. "I'm giving you a direct order--get back up that street and hurt some subversive assholes, or else get out of my sight."
When Danny turned, Jeffries stood there, giggling softly. He walked past him and then back up the street past Hardy. When he reached March, March shrugged, and Danny kept walking. He turned the corner and saw three paddy wagons at the end of the block, saw fellow offi cers dragging anyone with a mustache or watch cap down the sidewalk and heaving them into the wagons.
He wandered for several blocks, came across the cops and their newly found working-class brothers going at a dozen men who'd wandered out of a meeting of the Lower Roxbury Socialist Fraternal Organi zation. The mob had the men pressed back against the doors. The men fought back, but then the doors opened behind them and some of them fell backward and others tried to hold back the mob with nothing more than flailing arms. The left door was wrenched off its hinges and the mob washed over the men and flowed into the building. Danny watched out of his good eye and knew there was nothing he could do to stop it. Nothing at all. This terrible smallness of men was bigger than him, bigger than anything.
Luther went to Costello's on Commercial Wharf and waited outside because it was whites-only. He stood a long time. One hour. No McKenna.
In his right hand, he held a paper bag with fruit he'd slipped out of the Coughlin household to give to Nora, as long as McKenna didn't decide to shoot him or arrest him tonight. The "list," typed up from fifty thousand telephone users in Philadelphia, was tucked under his left arm.
Luther left the wharf and walked up toward Scollay Square. Maybe McKenna had been hurt in the line of duty. Maybe he'd had a heart attack. Maybe he'd been shot dead by plug-uglies with an ax to grind.
Luther whistled and hoped.
Danny wandered the streets until he found himself heading along Eustis Street toward Washington. He decided he'd take a right when he reached Washington and cross the city until he reached the North End. He had no intention of stopping back at the Oh-One to sign out. He wasn't changing out of his uniform. He walked through Roxbury in sweet night air that smelled more of summer than spring, and all around him the rule of law was being enforced, as anyone who looked like a Bolshevik or an anarchist, a Slav, an Italian, or a Jew was learning the price of the likeness. They lay against curbs, stoops, sat against lamp poles. On the cement and the tar--their blood, their teeth. A man ran into an intersection a block up and took a police cruiser to his knees. Airborne, he clawed at space. When he landed, the three cops who'd exited the cruiser held his arm to the ground while the cop who'd stayed behind the wheel drove over his hand.
Danny considered going back to his room on Salem Street and sitting alone with the barrel of his service revolver propped over his lower teeth, the metal on his tongue. In the war, they'd died by the millions. For nothing but real estate. And now, in the streets of the world, the same battle continued. Today, Boston. Tomorrow, someplace else. The poor fighting the poor. As they'd always done. As they were encouraged to. And it would never change. He finally realized that. It would never change.
He looked up at the black sky, at the salted splay of dots. That's all they were. That, and nothing more. And if there was a God inveigled behind them, then He had lied. He'd promised the meek they would inherit the earth. They wouldn't. They'd only inherit the small piece they fertilized.
That was the joke.
He saw Nathan Bishop staring at him through a kicked-in face and asking his name, the shame he'd felt, the horror at his very self. He leaned against a streetlamp pole. I can't do this anymore, he told the sky. That man was my brother, if not of blood then of heart and philosophy. He saved my life and I couldn't even get him proper medical care. I am shit. I can't take another fucking step.